Pairing a phaser with a fuzz pedal dates to the halcyon days of stompbox invention. Hendrix’s Fuzz Face and Uni-Vibe certainly set the stage. But by 1975, Roland packaged phaser and fuzz together in in the AP-7 Jet Phaser, which Larry Graham would use to drive his bass to heavier and funkier places.
The minds behind New Jersey’s Fuzzrocious pedals have composed their so-called “love letter” to the Jet Phaser in the form of the Electric Ocean, an original take on a fuzz/phase circuit that is nonetheless heavily inspired by the Jet Phaser’s functionality. Created in collaboration with Nicholas Williams of Dunwich Amplification, the Electric Ocean is a relatively straight-ahead stomp. But don’t let the simplicity fool you: There’s a lot of fun to be had here.
At 5.75″ x 4.75″, the Electric Ocean takes up more pedalboard room than some will like. But its enclosure—emblazoned with neon pink and yellow seahorses—will have plenty of folks asking, “Hey, what’s that one?” after the set ends. Three hot-pink knobs control the volume of the phaser signal and two different phase rates, which are selectable via the left footswitch. The two yellow knobs control fuzz volume and tone. At the top of the unit, two toggles select the fuzz/phase effect order and turn the fuzz on and off (the fuzz is not footswitchable). An internal trim pot alters the phase voice via a bandpass filter. It has an impressively wide sweep that offers everything from dark to tinny voicings and a useful range of more conventional phase sounds. To my ears, the trim pot yielded the widest range of tones in the middle setting, so I left it there. Pink and yellow LEDs for the bypass and phase rate switches add extra saccharine charm.
Dialed-In from the Get-Go
Fuzzrocious took care of much of the guesswork associated with using fuzz and phase together by dialing in the basic voices and keeping the ability to adjust them to a minimum. But while there’s less control over certain parameters, the basic voices sound really good, so I’m not going to argue with their approach. Using the phaser on its own, I was reminded of the Bob Moog-designed Maestro MP-1, which, like the Fuzzrocious, is a 6-stage OTA-driven circuit. I would happily swap the phaser volume control on the Fuzzrocious with a dry blend knob or the Maestro’s “balls” (depth) control. That said, the Fuzzrocious gives me all the control I need to go from satisfying warm, slow ooze to fast ray-gun vibrato sounds, and I can use the left switch to jump between them to my heart’s delight. (Switches between phase settings do not ramp in speed and intensity.)
With nothing more than a little spring reverb, the Electric Ocean served doomy riffage just as well as Fillmore-style noodling and basement strumming.
The midrange-focused silicon Fuzz Face–style circuit pairs well with the phase circuit. And pair it shall, because the fuzz effect cannot be used in isolation. The fuzz tone control is subtle, so I mostly set it and forgot it, and used the level to move from moderate fuzz to fully doused saturation. That said, there’s nothing delicate about the fuzz in any mode.
With my sound fully sauced, the most dramatic control on the pedal was the effect order switch. It’s a lot of fun to hear the fuzz and phaser interact in different ways. With a slower phase feeding the fuzz I found the effect touch-sensitive and interactive. With just a little spring reverb, the Electric Ocean served doomy riffage just as readily as Fillmore-style noodling and basement strumming. And in this effect order you can really hear how the Electric Ocean’s simplicity lends flexibility.
Flipping the order and bumping the fuzz volume creates a totally heavy-handed, saturated sound that, like many strong flavors, might not be what you want all the time. But when you want to sound over the top and are less concerned about dynamics, this is the move.
Some might gripe about the Electric Ocean’s limited controls. Personally, I applaud Fuzzrocious for keeping the variables to a minimum. It’s a confident move that makes the pedal’s intent clear and streamlines operation. Sure, I can imagine an external depth knob adding flexibility. But the Electric Ocean sounds great exactly how it is. From clean gurgle-y phaser tones to liquid fuzz bliss, I found my tones quickly and spent my time playing my guitar rather than twiddling knobs.
Fuzzrocious Electric Ocean Demo | First Look
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