The word “boutique” gets tossed around a lot these days in the world of music equipment. What used to mean pedals hand-crafted by small operations (notable for the quality, care, and attention afforded to each of their products) has grown into a marketing buzzword that is made to sell more gear. Fortunately, there are still many awesome builders who take the word seriously and it shows in what they create. One such manufacturer is TSVG, a Philadelphia-based effects maker that has been churning out amazing stompboxes since 2011. While they haven’t been around as long as some of the more established brands, they have managed to grow a healthy following on the back of their solid reputation. Today, we’re taking a look at one of their more popular effects, the Angry Jeff, a pedal perfect for players looking for a different take on traditional fuzz tones.
Like the legendary Fuzz Face, the Angry Jeff is based around germanium transistors and while it’s not the most striking or most unique looking boutique pedal around, the wolf decal grows on you and is definitely indicative of the tones hidden inside.
Interestingly enough, there are no labels on any of the three knobs. While it is definitely a unique albeit counter-intuitive choice to go without them, they are easy enough to remember once you’ve tried each of them out. From left, you have the Volume, the Fuzz/Drive and Bias. The Volume knob is exactly what you’d expect. The Fuzz and Bias knobs meanwhile – with the latter in particular – offer much more interesting results. More on that in a bit.
The pedal itself is solid, built tough with plenty quality shown throughout. Taking a look inside behind the back panel, you’ll see the hallmarks of a beautifully hand-assembled pedal. Instead of a traditional circuit board, the Angry Jeff features a uniform array of cloth wire, each of which is soldered point-to-point on either of the two AC128 germanium transistors along with Mullard and Sprague capacitors.
While the pedal might seem unassuming at first glance, there are numerous tones inside of the Angry Jeff. The germanium transistors give the Angry Jeff a frantic feel to it much like the original Fuzz Face but with a wilder twist. Those looking for traditional Fuzz Face tones can get very close to the same signature 60s fuzz sounds but the bulk of what the Angry Jeff brings is a bit more unique with more of an edge to it.
The Fuzz control on the Angry Jeff is surprisingly flexible, able to crank out a wide range and variety of tones on its own. With the Volume and Fuzz controls cranked all the way up, power chords begin to sound wild, giving off a great mixture of chaos on top of a thick, smooth layer of harmonic overtones. Better yet, they still maintain plenty of articulation and string-to-string clarity. Turning the Volume knob down a bit will get you closer to the traditional Fuzz Face territory but will sacrifice some of the harmonic textures that make the Angry Jeff sound particularly special.
Out of all of the three knobs, the Bias is easily the star of the pedal, able to dramatically change the way the Angry Jeff behaves. It allows you to control the amount of voltage sent to the transistors. Turned all the way counter-clockwise, the Bias is essentially off and allows the full, raw fuzz tones to shine through, featuring plenty of output and rich harmonic coloration. Around 9 and 12 o'clock on the dial, the Bias control has a smoothing effect on mids, creating a slightly boxed tone. Despite this, the sound remains rich and thick, perfect for lead work. Past the half way point on the knob, the pedal gets more chaotic, giving mid- to high-frequency overtone that increases its wild edge.
Overall, the Angry Jeff is a great fuzz stompbox that that perfectly captures what a boutique pedal should be — a hand-built pedal that has been expertly crafted with individuality and versatility in mind, able to deliver what the big guys don't or won't. That being said, the Angry Jeff is not for everyone, particularly players that want a traditional fuzz effect and the well-known tones those type of boxes offer. But for those out there that want fuzz tones with more of an edge to them and aren't afraid to experiment with sounds, the Angry Jeff is well worth the price of admission. If you need help finding the right Fuzz pedal (or any other effect), don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our friendly guitar professionals here at PAL!
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What do you look for in a fuzz pedal?
Sound off in the comment section below!