Buffalo FX Stiletto
Jesse from Rogue Guitar Shop here to bring you an interesting and unique fuzz pedal. Buffalo FX has started to get a name for itself among musicians. Offering original and classic designs all with their own unique Buffalo FX tweaks for enhanced musicality and dynamics. This is unique in a market filled with clones of clones seemingly differentiated only by their paint job. The Buffalo FX Stiletto fuzz is no exception to Buffalo's way of doing things. The appearance is much like the other Buffalo FX pedals, simple and black, each with a unique font. Very simple and classy like a tuxedo. As I've stated in other reviews, fuzz is my favorite sort of effect. So it should be a blast to look this one over! The goal of the Stiletto fuzz design was to create a fuzz similar to a Fuzz Face type effect with NKT- 275 germanium transistors. Only without using those specific transistors, thus saving money for the buyer without cutting down on features.
The feature set is a unique one among this type of fuzz. The external controls consist of Cut, Gain, Volume, and Bias. Internally we have Q3 Bias, which I don't recommend anyone messing with, and a LED brightness control. I find the LED brightness control to be a very nice touch, as I tend to prefer my LED dim, though it lets those who need a bright one blind themselves delightfully. Gain control is effectively similar to the Fuzz control you find on most Fuzz Face type effects. However, it seems to be dialed in a way that works more like the Gain control on an overdrive or distortion pedal. Most Fuzz Face type fuzzes have little gain, then there's a massive jump when you get the fuzz control close to max. Volume seems to work similar to most Fuzz Face circuit volumes, only with a bit more there. The Bias control is sort of common these days, however this one lets you dial in a wider range of sounds than most germanium based Fuzz Face effects. The most unique control is the Cut control, allowing one to effectively cut the flub and dial in many more possible tones. The true bypass switch is of the semi-soft touch variety, very nice. Inside the pedal also reveals three germanium transistors, very interesting for this sort of fuzz.
I hurriedly plugged the Stiletto fuzz into my cooking just on the edge of breakup tube amp. Having personal experience with a certain NKT-275 based Fuzz Face before. I first wanted to try with the Control fully counterclockwise, which is supposed to get that NKT sound. Of course I had to dime the Gain and have the Volume control up to push my amp a bit more! With my Strat styled guitar tuned to Eb, I cut the guitar volume control to 9 and play the main riff of Manic Depression. Just like I always do with all Fuzz Face type fuzzes. I was greeted with that familiar woody Hendrixy vibe that I love, sounding virtually identical to that certain NKT-275 based fuzz I hold dear. But this thing can supposedly do a lot more than that. So onward I charge into the depths of fuzz tweakage, one of my favorite vacation spots.
Setting the Gain low, and the Cut all the way down, and Bias at noon (when the transistor is properly biased). I was greeted with a nice beefy overdrive tone, totally unlike a fuzz in any way. A very cool and unique sound for a fuzz pedal. Next I wanted to experiment with the Cut and Bias controls a bit. So I turned the Gain control up to about 3:00, the Cut up to around 1:00, and the Bias to around 11:00 to add a slight gated quality. I was greeted with a Tone Bender MKII – esque sound, but with even better guitar volume control cleanup. This was a surprise to me, but perhaps attributed to the 3rd transistor or maybe the nature of the Cut control? Using the Bias and Cut controls, both of which were highly interactive with the Gain control. I was able to dial in anything from super muffy fuzz sounds to overdrive to Monster Magnet madness and super splatty gated sounds. The Cut control seems to have the same goal as an Input level control found on some other Fuzz Face type fuzzes. Doing a similar thing, but using a type of EQ curve instead of messing with how your guitar volume interacts with your fuzz. Due to this controls powerful nature, you can even cut the Gain back and dial in Treble Booster-esque sounds. This is the magic knob, folks.
This is about the most versatile Fuzz Face based effect I've ever used, and I've used too many to remember. One possible con is this pedal isn't exactly cheap, but you get what you pay for in this case. We at Rogue Guitar Shop believe this pedal deserves to go down as a boutique classic.