IMPORTANT!: do not forget to enter the drawing to win a smallsound/bigsound Team Awesome! Fuzzmachine! Drawing ends December 7th. Details here.
Brian Hamilton will be the first to tell you he doesn’t take himself all that seriously. After all, when your company, smallsound/bigsound, has pedals named “F**K Overdrive,” “Sparkle Motion,” and “Team Awesome! Fuzzmachine”, it’s pretty clear that you don’t. But that doesn’t mean Brian’s not a serious fellow, far from it. He’s now 29, but ever since his junior year in high school, Brian has made decisions and acted upon them with serious hard work and intensity, but always staying true to his artistic self.
He was a very musical sort, but didn’t decide until his junior year in high school that he wanted to dedicate himself to playing piano. Not only that, he wanted to go to the Berklee College of Music. So he dove right in, and after a year of busting his ass, he was accepted to the school. Serious indeed. Once he started attending the College, it became clear to him that music education was not where he wanted to devote his energies. So a decision was made to enter the Music Synthesis program to stoke his creativity and further his education. And with this, the ability to create sound has led him to become one of the most sought after effect pedal designers for guitar players and bass players alike.
Out of college, Brian started a stint with the band, “Bon Savants.” Brian noticed band’s bass player using an old green Big Muff, a splitter pedal, and a few other knick-knacks to get his tone, which seemed a bit much to fiddle with. So, Brian suggested a single box with a few tweaks to get the desired sound. After some tinkering and adding a clean blend control, the first iteration of what would become the “Team Awesome! Fuzzmachine” was complete. It sounded phenomenal. Around this time, Brian relocated to Brooklyn. And pretty soon, he found himself building and modding pedals for friends and other musicians, drawing regional raves for their amazing tone and top notch quality. Most all musicians, me included, would rather being playing a gig than actually working a day job, but you gotta pay the rent. So Brian decided that building pedals would be the best way to keep gigging, do something he really enjoyed, and earn a living. With that, he launched smallsound/bigsound, a name representing a combination of words he liked, coupled with the visual aesthetic of the lower case letters.
Back to the TAFM. It’s a heavy, full range germanium bass fuzz with clean blend, so it really is designed for bass, but guitar players shouldn’t be dissuaded from checking it out or using it. Careful, it’s got a huge output, so there is a disclaimer on the ss/bs web site deflecting responsibility from speaker damage. You’ve been warned! Here’s what the pedal does:
INPUT GAIN: Controls the amount of gain at the input stage. It works together with the Clean Boost too. With Clean Boost disengaged it works as a pre-fuzz gain control which further saturates the fuzz. Engaged it still works with the fuzz, but it also affects the clean volume by boosting or overdriving the clean signal and inverting the clean phase for more nasally distorted sounds. Twiddling with both Input Gain and Fuzz controls yields different distorted flavors.
FUZZ: Alters the fuzz amount and harmonic structure from clean fuzz to the highest setting which will make for a noisier flavor with more hum and/or feedback.
SHAPE: All the way back, the filter is darker, as the knob is turned up, more mids are introduced and tone becomes brighter.
FUZZ VOLUME: Makes the Fuzz louder, a good thing.
CLEAN VOLUME: Makes the Clean signal louder, though not quite as loud as the Fuzz.
CLEAN BOOST SWITCH: As mentioned before, disengaged Input Gain affects the Fuzz only, engaged it Input Gain affects both Fuzz and Clean signals and inverts the clean phase.
SHAPE SHIFT/MIDS SWITCH: Disengaged, the mids are slightly scooped, engaged there is a slight boost in the high mids which is subtle, but more pronounced at higher gains.
FOOTSWITCHES: ON/OFF and GATE ON/OFF
Stomping the “ON” switch unleashes a grind similar to a circular saw slicing through peanut butter, gnarly but tempered. Even with the clean volume totally counter clockwise, the low end ballsiness is left intact. Indeed, a vast degree of fuzz shaping is capable between the Clean, Shape, and Fuzz controls. All of the snarly, scoopy, noisy elements of the TAFM are totally useful and never degrade the inherent fatness of whatever bass you plug into it. And…it’s loud.
It’s no wonder that over the last five years, Brian Hamilton has cultivated a legion of musicians buying and digging his pedals, including the Team Awesome! Fuzzmachine. Touring with his current band, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Brian has also been able to get his pedals into the hands of many working bassists, who get to sample his wares first-hand, on the gig. And, they have become even more sought after for the “one-off” style that he offers with various random graphics. Culled from antique National Geographic Magazines and other sources, everyone can get a pedal uniquely their own. Another example of whimsy juxtaposed with purpose. Even the Team Awesome! name comes from a casual suggestion made by a female acquaintance. It just sounded right.
There are many choices of fantastic fuzz pedals for bass players and guitar players alike. To date, The Team Awesome! Fuzzmachine is even considered by some other pedal builders to be the best bass fuzz box available. So check it out and see if it’s worth adding to your arsenal. And don’t let self effacing, artistic leanings of the Team Awesome! Fuzzmachine and smallsound/bigsound fool you. Both are to be taken very seriously.
About the author:
“I created BassEFX.com because the bass community clearly needed a place that would consolidate all the best effects pedals in one place. BassEFX.com gives bass players – and only bass players – a resource that showcases what’s available, offers the best advice and gets you the right effect. My background: I co-founded Bass Northwest, the world’s largest bass-only retail operation, and ran it for 15 years, (1994-2009.) In 30 years as a bass player, I’ve seen, heard, and played just about every amplifier, bass, cabinet and effect pedal imaginable.”