This is the coolest looking pedal I have ever seen.
And that was almost the end of the review. See, I bought this pedal because BJFe effects pedals are like, all the rage right now amongst the boutique snobs (and I mean that in the nicest possible way, especially considering that some might consider me one of their kind). They’re handmade in Sweden by Bjorn Juhl, and it’s rumored that he has learned the ancient Swedish art of enslaving mini-gnomes to run on treadmills inside the pedals to allow the signal to be not just analog, but actually alive. Well…close. Some of the rumors are not that far from saying he has ‘mini-gnomes.’ I’m serious. People get crazy about tone. And about…uh…who has the most handmade-looking pedal. But, because of all the hype, I really had to try one out for myself.
Now, they’re a little expensive for my blood, so I fully expected to sell it after demo-ing it. I’m always a little skeptical about pedals that get hyped with rumors of fairy tale men living together inside them. But then I pulled it out of the package. It was like opening a box of rejoicing. Here, let me show you the rejoicing:
See what I mean? Fabulously deep and swirled, bowling ball-textured wine red in color. And that led? Yep. Brilliant blue. And it even has that handmade touch of the lettering being written in that craft paint your Mom used to let you play with as a kid in the ’80’s if you were able to go a whole week without convincing your sister she liked baseball so she would spend all her birthday money on your baseball cards so you would have more money for more baseball cards. (Uh…) So anyway, when I first held the rejoicing in my hands, I knew that I would have to keep this pedal so that I could have an automatic win in the unspoken but oh-so-real game of ‘Who has the coolest pedalboard at the gig’ that we guitarists silently play with each other every time we get together.
Luckily, I have no money right now, so I knew I could only keep this one or my current fuzz, the Hartman. So after gazing at it from a respectful distance and with the proper lighting a pedal of this magnitude requires for a good few hours, I was finally able to plug it in and demo it. Here’s the video…with extremely poor lighting so that you will be able to judge the pedal’s sounds objectively without getting hypnotized by its rejoicing. (Actually, I just forgot to turn my desk lamp on.)
So this pedal has the most fuzz I have ever heard in a single pedal. It’s fuzz knob at 11 o’clock is most fuzz pedals’ fuzz knobs cranked. You can really go crazy with this pedal. It’s like it’s able to compress all those harmonics and fullness into this incredible sustainy tone…but without the compression. I’m not sure if that makes sense. But it’s like all the goodness of compression without squashing the tone. And that nature knob is very useful because of it’s built-in gate. So you can crank the fuzz sounds and get this over-the-top fuzz, but the gate keeps it from becoming un-playable. Overall, a huge sounding pedal, with more fuzz and more useable sounds in it than any fuzz I have played as of yet. Beautiful harmonics, almost too much sustain, and a lot of guts. It is a more vintage-voiced pedal, and there is not a tone knob. It’s definitely a good voice, but a vintage one. A little thinner than some of the more modern sounding fuzzes out right now. But it’s still a germanium fuzz, so the sound tends to just spread out and saturate, which makes it warm and full, even though the actual voicing is a little more in the upper range. Very clear, and fairly responsive at the lower fuzz settings. The high ones, obviously…well, once you get to setting the fuzz there, you’re looking for nasty fuzz sounds, not responsiveness. But just gorgeous, rich, and full sounds coming from this pedal. Looks and sounds beautiful.
If I had not yet played the Hartman fuzz, this BJFe would have been a keeper; and I would have won all the silent pedal wars of coolness. But alas, for my uses, the Hartman is a little warmer, and a little deeper-voiced. And off went the BJFe. One day I’ll meet the guy I sold it, too. And his pedalboard will beat mine…because of the BJFe Candy Apple Fuzz I sold to him. And there will be no more rejoicing. I’m told that pedalboards are about tone, and that I should be keeping the pedals that sound the best. I’m seriously wondering right now if I shouldn’t just be picking the coolest-looking, rarest, and most handmade-looking-magic-mojo pedals. Would my rig be less toneful? Maybe. Would it be cooler? Absolutely.
Look what the pursuit of tone does to us.