You browse around, and see a tremendous variety of fuzz pedal options available. Something in your head ticks over – a question: what's the point of a fuzz pedal, when these days we have stomp boxes with nearly rack-unit sophistication? Fuzz isn't nearly as complex as some modern stomps. It doesn't do everything. It isn't transparent. Sometimes, there's a learning curve that OD pedals generally don't have. So, you might think to yourself, looking at the purple box of the LA Machine, wondering if you should… What's the point of fuzz?
That's easy! The point is that fuzz ROCKS. Fuzz is pure, raw, contradictory: it doesn't care what decade it is – fuzz is always "in." Fuzz is the grandfather of high gain, the child of original rock minds, the sound that was first recorded by legendary artists and remains just as useful today as ever. Fuzz wants you to rip tone from the guitar like you're trying to cut the air, to smash through polite sounds and make a profound sonic statement. Fuzz doesn't whisper. Fuzz shouts!
So what makes the LA Machine Rock?
This particular fuzz, the MXR Custom Shop LA Machine, rocks in a way that is very, very cool, because it pays clear homage to a particular, sought-after classic fuzz tone while offering some absolutely outstanding modern sounds, textures and features. Housed in a chassis no bigger than any other familiar MXR pedal, it features very sturdy jacks and switching. It has several stand-out sonic capabilities that beg you to play harder, louder, more! Tons of volume on tap with the Level adjustment, a huge range of fuzz amount from the edge of OD to near brutal at the extreme of its Distortion knob, and a very effective Tone control that allows you to sit just right in the mix – a problem that some fuzzes have, but not this one.
Then, just when you think you've got it figured out, it adds in a finger-switch activated octave-up that completely shifts the sonic landscape to a totally different world. Playing with the octave-up turned on is a very unique and potentially very inspirational sound – chords sound unfamiliar and angry, single notes get anywhere from a hint of an octave up to more octave than note, and it's not up to you where it happens – it's just part of the magic. Playing this pedal, I felt I was really onto something, and I think you will too – an amazing, rocking, octave up fuzz with features that meet modern needs and a sound that bridges the past and the present. Given the MXR C.S. LA Machine's build quality, I think it's a safe bet it'll be rocking well into the future, too.
What We Like
This is an awesome, affordable, high quality octave-up fuzz that doesn't just resurrect a classic sound, but gives it some modern legs that let it cover even more tonal distance. It's a blast to play, and the octave-enabled tone makes this more or less two pedals in one with how it changes the tone.
There will be some folks who wish they could switch the octave on and off with their foot instead of their finger, say to perform a particular solo written for the octave part live. That is, unfortunately, not an option – but, to be fair, at this price point and in this tidy enclosure, it probably wouldn't be especially feasible.
Tone : Fuzz lovers know that fuzz tone is really, really subjective – perhaps even more so than some other types of dirt pedals. However, this is a great "generalist" fuzz and will provide a satisfying sound for most players.
Build Quality : MXR's Custom Shop construction is solid and gives the impression that it will last.
Value : It is rare that you pay this little for a tone this big – let alone two tones in one box, with the flip of a switch.
Overall : This is a fantastic fuzz that offers a huge range of sounds, including both its regular and octave up-modes. Given the relatively low price, I think it deserves some real attention!