BEWARE THE WIZARD!
Today we are taking a look at the Dunwich Amps Wizard Fuzz. But first here is a little background about the builder Dunwich Amps. With a slogan of “Plug In, Turn Up, Doom Out” it is pretty easy to see who Dunwich’s target demographic is, but Dunwich gear can be used in any situation or genre. When it comes to boutique builders, Dunwich is right up there in terms of quality and tone and the prices are very reasonable when you consider the amount of work and quality that goes into the entire lineup. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better bang for your buck boutique amplifier/pedal maker. Nicholas Williams is the man behind Dunwich, he’s extremely knowledgeable (working on his Ph.D in Electrical Engineering, and a great guy to work with. On top of the standard products, Dunwich can work with you on custom builds. However, keep in mind that it is a one man operation, and the waiting list is quite long for custom builds, but totally worth it in the end based on all the happy customers out there.
Nick started building his own amplifiers mainly because he wasn’t satisfied with the tones he was getting out of the amplifiers he’s tried. He began by modifying existing amps, tweaking circuits to eventually designing and creating his own amplifiers. After a few builds people began to take notice and started asking Nick to build them amplifiers. Thus, Dunwich Amplifiers was born. Eventually Dunwich entered the world of pedals. Cheaper and faster to make, they offered a more affordable way for people to get their hands on some tasty Dunwich gear.
Unlike a lot of fuzz pedals today that are simply tweaks of old/classic designs like the Electro Harmonix Big Muff (in its various revisions) or the Arbiter Fuzz Face, the Wizard Fuzz is an original design that combines three different transistors (JFET, FET, BJT) in its gain stages to help achieve its unique sound. The first thing you notice when you get the pedal is that it is freakin’ huge, but more on that later. The pedal has several controls to help you tailor the
sound, beginning with the “Depth” control, which sets the amount of low end frequencies to enter the gain stages. This will alter the character of the fuzz. It can go from a fully blown out sound with lots of bass or you can dial it back and get a tighter sounding distortion/fuzz. In addition, the Wizard Fuzz offers a two-band Baxandall style EQ, bass and treble. This tried and tested EQ is simple to use and very musical. It doesn’t take a lot of work to figure out how to coax out various sounds from the EQ, from a grindy midrange, to warm and mellow, or a big scooped mids kind of sound. Combining the two-band EQ and the depth control, the options are quite limitless and almost everyone will be able to find a handful of useful sounds. The last two controls are your standard Gain and Master controls. The gain determines the amount of fuzz while the master volume sets your overall output level. There is lots of output on tap so be careful when adjusting the volume; it can do some serious damage.
Opening up the Wizard Fuzz reveals the true craftsmanship in Nick’s designs. Everything is meticulously wired together using only the highest quality components. One thing that struck me as a little strange was why Nick chose such a large enclosure. The circuit could easily fit in a more standard size box. I asked Nick this question and his answer was “just to look imposing”. That it does! But looks aside, the sound is just as imposing. I’ve had the Wizard Fuzz for several months now and have tested it with various basses and amps. It always delivers. This pedal can produce some seriously crushing fuzz, it can obliterate a mix if you want it to, but at the same time, dialing the gain knob back can act as more of a subtle fuzz that can be on the entire time. John Braymer, bass player for Supervoid, has described it as a preamp for his rig, which is a strange way to describe a fuzz pedal, but I totally get what he is saying. Tone wise, the Wizard Fuzz doesn’t sound like any other fuzz pedal, and I’ve tried and heard a ton of them. The best way to describe the Wizard Fuzz is that it doesn’t sound like an effect, it sounds like a tube amplifier being pushed way past its limits. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a tube emulator pedal like the Tech 21 SansAmp or anything like that. It is still a fuzz pedal, but it sounds so natural it makes you forget that it’s a pedal. This pedal is flexible enough to be used with guitar or bass or anything else that you want to plug into it. The key with the Wizard Fuzz is to experiment. It will react differently depending on your bass/guitar signal and the way you set the controls. This pedal truly sounds as impressive as it looks. I highly recommend it if you are in the market for a distortion or fuzz pedal.
The real trick is getting your hands on one of these, or any of Dunwich’s products for that matter. Typically the pedals are built in small batches a few times a year*. The best thing to do is to follow Dunwich Amps on Facebook as any new builds will be announced there. Occasionally some used Dunwich gear is available on forums like ilovefuzz.com or stompboxes.co.uk which is where I scored mine, but you have to be vigilant as they don’t last long, demand is high and rightfully so! It is safe to say that there is little chance this pedal will ever leave my board. – SAM
Check out the entire lineup of Dunwich products at www.Dunwichamps.com
ALL SOUNDCLOUD RECORDINGS WERE CREATED BY COREY YOUNG
(Sam Beydoun in an avid audiophile, gear collector, and quaker of bowels. This dude has stereo equipment that can launch rockets into space. When it comes to getting our fix of what is awesome in the world of sound equipment and fuzznastic tone gear, rockandrolljunkie.com goes straight to Sam. Sam also plays bass guitar in one of the finest instrumental fuzz stoner bands in the world called Monobrow. You can check out their wizardry here.)