Fairfield Circuitry is an oddball, boutique audio effects company from Canada. I note the canadian heritage in that the physical aesthetic choices as well as the functions of the effects are reminiscent of a backwoods experiment by bearded men with too much time and whiskey on their hands. Fairfield stompboxes come with no fancy graphics. They are housed in utilitarian chassis with a minimalist font that emphasises the power that these pedals have. The knobs and switches feel solid and well thought out as if to give confidence that these pedals can take a heavy band practice with musician stomping abound. I was given two pedals to review The Unpleasant Surprise and The Barbershop.
The Barbershop is a simple and playable overdrive pedal with guitar amps in mind. With only three controls, The Barbershop is quick to set, and pairs well with driving an amp hard and playing into the distortion with dynamics. This pedal is made for guitarists who want to quickly grit up their sound without an array of options that have little to do with simply playing the guitar. I could see fans of Lucero or The Replacements gravitating towards the tones possible with The Barbershop.
The controls on the Barbershop consist of drive, sag, and volume. The drive increases input gain, while the volume controls output gain as one would imagine from a pedal like this. The sag control reduces the voltage to the amplifier as it is turned counter clockwise. I found that this had significant impact upon the attack of the guitar when sag was set to the full counter clockwise position. It also affected the eq curve of the distortion in a subtle manner somewhat similar to pushing an amp harder. It is this sag control that puts The Barbershop into a unique category of pedal that can create a guitar tone that is specific to the user.
In my experimentation with the pedal, I was always pleased with the tones that I could get with guitars, but what excited me more about the pedal was using it on other sources. I play bass in a band with a similar aesthetic direction to an amped up Neil Young. The Barbershop on bass was the perfect thing for this project. The notes rang out properly but with just enough grit that it cut through the other guitars without bulldozing over the arrangement. I also used a clean gain boost before The Barbershop to push the distortion on choruses a little bit. The pedal held together with a similar sonic footprint while pushed which sounded natural in the circumstance.
Fairfield Circuitry Barbershop V2, Builder’s Notes
Have you ever sat in a barber’s chair wishing your tone was as slick as your freshly shaved upper lip? With the Barbershop Overdrive on your pedalboard, you could keep your moustache and sound good doing it.
Less is more with this simple, original design. Handmade from JFETs matched to specs, this versatile pedal will treat your pickups with the respect they deserve. In return, they’ll thank you with some of them sweet tones.
The Sag control reduces the voltage to the amplifiers as you turn it counter clockwise, giving additional control over the character and feel of the saturation. The lower the Sag, the browner the sound. Full voltage is applied when the control is set fully clockwise. It is at this setting that the pedal has the potential to be its cleanest and loudest.
Sets the interstage gain of the amplifiers. More gain means more distortion. The wide operating range allows you to go from an almost clean gain to a tasty rich overdrive.
A 3-position switch allows
to select between different flavours of high cut. In the middle, there is no cut, like the classic Barbershop of days passed. To the right, a subtle high cut to tame ever so slightly the feeling of bright- ness accompanied with the Barbershop. To the left, a more extreme cut for those times when you want to delve into your dark side.
Controls the output volume of the pedal while keeping the effect unchanged. This is where you have plenty of room to boost.
WATCH THE VOLUME
It’s best to start with the Volume control at a minimal setting to avoid damage to your ears and equipment.
FIND THE SWEET SPOT
There are combinations of settings that will put your setup right on the edge of breaking up, allowing you to go from clean to saturated with only variations in playing dynamics
NOTES ON POWERING
The Barbershop Millenium Overdrive was designed to operate using your typical centre negative, regulated 9-9.6 VDC power supply. The pedal is protected against reversed polarity. The pedal will function with voltages up to 18 VDC but the char- acter of pedal will drastically change. The higher the voltage, the less drive you will have. Always check your power supply for proper voltage and polarity before connecting. There is no battery connection inside the pedal.
Oct 30, 2022
I suspect they’re coming out with a new version soon