UK based Design Retro Works (DRW) recently released a new Bass Fuzz pedal to round out their line of high-end effect pedals. Founded by David Willets, DRW’s pedals are the product of his 20-year career in professional audio, having worked with companies like Neve and AMS (to name a couple). DRW’s stated goal is to provide high quality pedals based on classic vintage designs with an eye to the future. Their Fuzz Bass pedal landed in my lap for a review, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to put it through its paces.
Most bassists are relatively simple creatures when it comes to fuzz pedals. Generally speaking, we want a fuzz that sounds great (to our individual ears), is easy to use and dial in, and retains low-end fullness when engaged. Often, fuzz/distortion pedals sacrifice low-end clarity while producing all kinds of harmonic distortion, fuzz, and drive. In my experience, having the bottom drop out when I engage a drive/fuzz pedal is a deal-breaker. I mean, I had one job right? At the very least, I aim to provide solid low-end bedrock to the bands sound. Any pedal (regardless of how cool) that undermines that effort gets chucked fairly immediately! Luckily, the DRW excels at providing fuzzy grit while keeping that plump low end fully intact. In fact, the DRW provides a good amount of tonal variation and shaping options, all while keeping things low and deep. (DRW responds: Keeping the low end intact was one of our main aims in the design of the Fuzz Bass. We tried a few different types of circuits, most of which we thought gave unsatisfactory results. We went through a few variants until we thought we had a product that gave a great boost all the way to a full-on Fuzz, importantly keeping that bottom end. We have also tried to keep the design as “low-noise” as possible and compared with other products, we think we achieved this well. Whilst testing with other effects in the chain we also noted that the Fuzz Bass doesn’t obliterate the sound, if used with a chorus or flanger for example, both effects really do “shine” through very nicely).
The metal enclosure, knobs, and true-bypass footswitch are as hearty as they come. Everything feels very sturdy and high quality, and the pots have a very smooth feel with a nice amount of resistance, which not only increases longevity, but also keeps the pedal’s settings from being bumped by accident. It’s obvious that DRW puts a lot of effort into build quality and component choices, and the end result is a pedal that feels rugged and sounds great.
I hesitate to try to quantify or compare the sound of the DRW pedal to another bass fuzz pedal, as they are all quite different in their tonal range, effect and responsiveness, but I will say that testing the DRW was a joyful experience, and I was quickly and easily able to dial in a host of usable fuzz bass sounds. The DRW Fuzz Bass sells for roughly $225 (delivered), and is easily on par with other fuzz and distortion pedals in this price range. As subjective as musicians are about ‘good’ and ‘bad’, this subjectivity seems magnified when talking about overdrive/fuzz pedals. It seems almost everyone has a different preference and goal when it comes to how their fuzz pedal performs. With that in mind, the DRW is a great choice for many, as it provides a nice array of usable tonal options, and keeps the low-end fullness that we all can agree is crucial. Check out DRW’s website for more info on the Fuzz Bass and their other great pedals.