Only a couple of pedals have been on my own personal pedalboard for over a year—in fact it might be closer to three years now—and both are circuits designed by Bjorn Juhl, maker of BJFE, BearfootFX, Mad Professor, and now One Control. One of those pedals is the Candy Apple Fuzz, which is probably one of my favorite fuzzes of all time. That said, I was excited to try another BJF fuzz when the Baltic Blue Fuzz arrived, this time from his new partnership with One Control.
One Control’s lineup of 15 pedals, and has a different look and feel from his other pedals. They are much smaller pedals, designed to take up minimum space on your pedalboard, yet they can still be powered by a nine-volt battery. They are also quite affordable while giving you great tone.
The Baltic Blue Fuzz is the first fuzz pedal in the new line, and is something a little different, yet familiar at the same time. While my aforementioned Candy Apple fuzz is sort of a Tone Bender-meets-Fuzz-Face design, the BBF is Bjorn’s take on a vintage Big Muff circuit, yet it’s not a clone, is op-amp driven, and has some additional circuit design features internally that set it apart.
At first demo, I have to say I was slightly underwhelmed with the BBF. But, of course, it was user error. See with the Candy Apple, there’s an immense amount of volume with the control at 9 o’clock, and I suppose I was expecting the same with the BBF. With the BBF, the Volume control really doesn’t come alive until its set past noon. And from about 1 o’clock on, the BBF starts to roar, as a good fuzz pedal should. The Sustain control (amount of fuzz) is varied, taking you from sort of a medium-gain distortion to cranked being an all-out fuzz.
Once I figured out this slight misstep, the BBF gave me all sorts of great distorted fuzziness. And this is an important point, because I think it’s worth pointing out that in general, the Muff type of circuit has characteristics that aligns with the distortion pedal camp as well as fuzz. Yeah, it can be fuzzy and wooly, but with the Sustain dialed back, it fits into the distortion camp as well. Really, who cares though, as long as it sounds good, right? Right.
The Tone control deserves special mention here, as it indeed really changes the overall character of the fuzz, from a bright searing type of fuzz, to a darker, moodier type of distortion. My personal preference was to set the BBF with the Sustain control rolled up pretty high. You can then brighten it up with the Tone control a bit past noon, or dial it back to have a more liquid, Santana-like tone. Don’t be afraid to dial in the controls to any and all extreme settings, you might just find what you’re looking for here.
WHAT WE LIKE
BJF has a great ear for fuzz, and I’ve liked most everything I’ve heard from him, the Baltic Blue Fuzz is no exception. If you’re looking for something in the Big Muff camp, that has maybe a more vintage type feel to it, but still has enough variety of going from a distortion to a fuzz, the BBF is a great choice. Plus, it has the added benefit of being small, battery operated and a very reasonable price for working musicians.
Keep the Volume control up past noon to get the most out of this fuzz, otherwise no concerns at all.