North Effects

The AD-50


In "fuzz", nothing was lost in translation when it went to Japan. It only got fuzzier.

This one is based on an obscure classic - the Roland AD-50 Double Beat fuzz-wah that came out around 1973. Although better known for their keyboards, drum machines and rack gear Roland certainly had form on the fuzz front, namely the formidable Ace Tone Fuzz Master series.

Admittedly, the wah part of the Double Beat is not much to write home about, but the fuzz is an entirely different matter. It is genuinely huge, and most deserving of your attention. Having got my hands on an original (thanks Jim!) and a bag of new old stock Toshiba 2SC1000-GR transistors, I think it's time for a revival.

What's it sound like? It looks like Roland have taken an existing design (the venerable Fuzz Face) and taken it from the kiloton to megaton range. They then added a rotary switch to select between 3 preset fuzz "waveforms", for a bit of variation. The "Sine" setting takes off some of the top end, for a nice warm fuzzy blanket. "Triangle" squeezes everything through a little 250pf capacitor; result - extreme bass cut, perfect for a great 60s style garage fuzz. "Square" is, for my money, the star of the show. It's like snapping the filter off a Marlboro red for the fullest, unfiltered nastiness imaginable.

Being based of the Fuzz Face, it also responds to your guitar's volume control in interesting ways. All the way up, you get some great "sag" and glitchiness, back off a bit and it gets more dynamic and, if anything, even more aggressive. It has a ton of output on tap (though less so in "Triangle" mode) to really push your amp's front end.

The only departure from the original is the addition of a standard 9V DC jack and red lensed status LED. It's all housed in a textured black powder-coated enclosure, with genuine Daka-Ware pointer knob for the "waveform" selector, and the others are not too shabby US-made Eagle Plastics.

Clips to follow...