While the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, Sola Sound Tone Bender, Electro Harmonix Big Muff, and Univox Super Fuzz are widely regarded as the four titans of Fuzz, there are many lesser-known Fuzz circuits that still left their mark on guitar history. This series will round up some of those less famous Fuzz circuits with cult followings and suggest some modern versions of them, starting with this article about the best Best Harmonic Percolator fuzz clones & evolutions.
The Original: The Interfax HP-1
The HP-1 lived in obscurity for decades, but thanks to the co-sign of Nirvana / Pixies engineer and Big Black / Shellac frontman Steve Albini, the Harmonic Percolator has seen a massive surge in popularity over the last few years. The HP-1 was invented in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early 70s by Ed Geise, who ran a small electronics repair business but sometimes built his own devices. The HP-1 was only released in a few limited runs, making the originals very hard to find. The Percolator has a splatty sound different from a Fuzz Face or Tone Bender. Albini would use the HP-1 on noisy, clangy guitar passages when he needed some intense feedback.
5 Best Harmonic Percolator Fuzz Clones/Evolutions
Partially responsible for the hype surrounding Harmonic Percolators over the last couple years, Land Devices’ best-known pedal is a beautifully tuned and designed HP-1. Land adds a toggle switch for removing clipping diodes, allowing for more output and a less compressed sound.
2. Catalinbread Karma Suture (Ge or Si)
This fuzz attempts to make good on the legend that the HP-1 only generates pleasing even-order harmonics. Catalinbread adds knobs for diode tuning and fuzz density, allowing for more tonal shaping. The pedal comes in Germanium and Silicon varieties, the former sounding warmer and closer to the original HP-1, while the latter ups the gain and brightness to definitively cut through a live mix.
A highly tweakable evolution of the HP-1 by a UK builder that has developed a reputation for improving vintage circuits, the Utility Perkolator employs Russian Germanium transistors for a tighter and more controllable fuzz that also features higher gain and lower noise than the vintage unit. A toggle switch lets you choose between Silicon and Germanium diodes, while the Ring toggle activates a ring modulation circuit for splattery octave effects
UK-based Latent Lemon shoots for the sound of Steve Albini’s personal HP-1, but adds several tweaking options. A sputter control biases one of the transistors, and a diode switch chooses between Silicon or Germanium clipping diodes. The deep switch adds more bass into the signal, generating a lower octave effect.
5. Theremaniacs Harmonic Percolator
If what you are after is an exact replica of the Interfax HP-1 (including the huge footprint), this is an exact, part-by-part duplicate of the original, using the same obsolete type number Germanium transistor and same number Silicon transistor and other New Old Stock parts.
Other Fuzzes Inspired by the HP-1
Here’s a list of other fuzzes inspired by the Interfax Harmonic Percolator.