When it comes to blistering lead tones and thrashing rhythm, many players have a choice to make: Fuzz or Distortion? While these effects have been reborn in countless iterations, any fan of serious grind has to acknowledge the staying power of the "originals", namely The Big Muff Fuzz and the RAT Distortion. Whether it's prog, metal, fusion, jazz, punk or funk, you could make a never-ending list of guitar giants that would argue these classics are a necessity for any pedal board. Well the good folks at Crazy Tube Circuits certainly agree and are proud to offer you both analog circuits in one harmonious union: The Motherload.
We are huge fans (and users) of the RAT style distortion because to our ears it's just about the most musical and versatile distortion unit ever. In production for over 40 years, the RAT excels with it's broad range of near-clean to outright fuzz and nearly every shade in-between, while cleaning up nicely when turning down. Naturally voiced on the bright side, the Filter control can be used to name the natural edginess of the RAT. Compared to a real RAT that we've had in the shop and another RAT-style pedal (also from Athens) all three are remarkably similar at higher gain settings. The RAT and the Crazy Tube also behave pretty similar at lower gain settings and ratchet up the gain quicker but with slightly less low end response than our other pedal from Athens. Overall, it's very close to the real McCoy.
The Big Muff has been in production even longer and has been made in various iterations including the famed tank-like "Russian" versions built in post-Soviet Russia in the 90's. The the name "Muff" may conjur up images of dark, wooly and creamy fuzz tones, and it does all that. But the Tone and Voice controls can take you from can-of-bees tone to gritty, spitty, punk tones, or violin-smooth leads. We've not had a Big Muff on our board in years, but the Crazy Tube version covers a remarkable range of fuzz voicings.
The fun really begins when you engage the white EQ Link switch. When engaged the Tone, Voice and Filter controls are available to both pedals. While we've alway like the RAT, the addition of the Muff's Tone control made it feel even more alive, tactile and 3D. It took a pedal that we already really liked, and made us even more crazy about it.
Pedalboard real estate is always a conundrum, and the Crazy Tube Circuits Motherload does not force you to choose between two of the most famous stompboxes of all. It solidly cops the response and feel of both pedals, and the EQ Link while simple in concept, is pure genius. The Crazy Tube Circuits Motherload really does hit the jackpot.
In the words of Crazy Tube Circuits:
Motherload pays homage to the classic fuzz / distortion pedals that set the benchmark of saturated guitar sound. At the heart of this pedal, you will find two distinct all analog circuits inspired by the Holy Grail of Big Muff® and RAT® designs.
R circuit goes from a touch of overdrive all the way up to roaring distortion. The filter knob is there to ensure that you will smooth out high frequencies or cut through the mix when needed.
M side is the classic fuzz distortion beast you would expect but with great string separation and rich in harmonics for almost infinite sustain. The tone knob is the classic muff style knob while the voice knob helps you cycle through the wide spectrum of muff design variations.
Each circuit is independent from the other with its own EQ control(s) until…you hit the LINK EQ button. This is where all the magic happens! Now all the EQ controls are active in both circuits and a whole new sonic palette is revealed.
The Motherload is a true bypass pedal that requires a 9V tip-negative power supply (it does not have a battery compartment). All Crazy Tube Circuits pedals have a 5-year warranty from date of manufacture.