Joining the Flavor Crystals gave me the best excuse to get into effects pedals once again. Before this, I’d mainly concentrated on clean tones with minimal effects (overdrive, delay, or tremolo). But the Crystals require a different way of going – experimental sound is the major driving force in the writing process – which is why my pedal board has become larger and heavier with more pedals (over 10 last I checked).
At a recent practice session, Dan (our Frisco-based guitar man) brought in his latest find: the Truly Beautiful Disaster pedal from OohLaLa. Originally designed and manufactured by Devi Ever for her Effector 13 line (now called Devi Ever), it was ’boutique’ at its finest. The pedal has had a few cosmetic overhauls over the years, having a look resembling the U.S. Electro-Harmonix designs, custom-painted versions, and the most recent green silk-screen design that is on its current production. The sound? As it’s name implies, a truly beautiful disaster (although ‘beautiful’ is subjective) and can be scary at times, which is just what I would expect from a boutique pedal of this type.
The TBD is described as an oscillating fuzz with an effects loop and photosensitive eye. Knob controls are volume, fuzz, oscillation, blend, and feedback along with on-off toggle switches for gate, photo-eye, and loop feedback. The fuzz control is quite scary, for it produces a popping distortion that sounds like your speaker is about to blow. This type of fuzz is an arpeggiated effect. The blend knob controls the mix of your dry guitar signal and the fuzz. The pedal has 2 footswitches, one for fuzz and the other for the feedback loop. The feedback knob controls the amount of feedback from the loop chain. When the loop is on, the photo-eye acts as a theremin-like controller that responds to the shifts of light in the room. The pedal includes effects send and return jacks – this is where you create your signal chain (distortion or other pedals, etc.) for the feedback loop. You can watch the pedal in action here.
Dan connected a Moogerfooger MF-101 Low Pass Filter to the TBD’s feedback loop chain and the sound he created (along with overdrive and analog delay) was one of the coolest I’d ever heard. The Low Pass Filter’s dynamics created a spontaneous wah and phase effect in the feedback loop. This was then blended into his normal guitar signal with the effect beautifully responding to his nuanced playing. The Moogerfooger took away the high frequencies and left us with this very pleasing and warm fuzzed out guitar sound. I decided then I had to get one.
I found a gently used one on eBay with all the schwag – inkjet printout of the instructions, box with catalog, and a very cool anime character-looking fleece pouch. My son E thought it was very cute. Somehow he got a hold of it from my guitar case and got it out of it’s pouch exclaiming “Wow! Wow! Wow!” Even at 2, he knew this was one special toy.
It took a few days of playing with it to get familiar with the controls. Be careful of the fuzz knob – I keep it low or near 0 (my first try at this control, I thought the pedal was broken – it created intense explosion sounds thru my amp!) It’s incredibly wild with a distortion pedal and some form of modulation in the feedback loop. The photo-eye adds a little extra to the mix by changing the pitch of the feedback signal as the ambient light in the room changes (with my foot or hand over the sensor). It will take some time to integrate this into my rig as it is unpredictable in nature. But this is all good. Now I just need to get that damn Low Pass filter…