The California based stompbox manufacturer Dirty Boy Pedals bring an interesting back story to the boutique pedal game. The company was founded by Alex Saraceno – the father of session ace and former Poison guitarist, Blues Saraceno. Dirty Boy aims to create only high end handmade pedals for the most discerning player, and Blues serves as the primary spokesman and demo player. Most of Dirty Boy’s prices range anywhere from $375 to $525, so we are talking about a pro (or Wall Street) budget here, but keep in mind these are small run individually tested boxes.

Dirty Boy got its start focusing on building loud amps to mimic the towering crunch of classic rock/blues guitarists like Leslie West (probably the loudest guitar player I’ve ever heard) and Mark Farner. Eventually, Dirty Boy moved to pedals though as they realized that the vast majority of guitarists don’t have the luxury of playing ridiculously loud amps on stage, as they aren’t playing big rooms and they don’t have roadies. Hence, the next best thing is to take a high end pedal that can transform a shitty backline amp into that big tone he loves. The Dirty Boy pedal line emphasizes various types of fuzz pedals for huge lead tones like you might expect from bands like Cream, Mountain, or even Jimi Hendrix.

The latest offering from Dirty Boy is a dual pedal that combines fuzz and vibrato called the Dirty Boy Shifty. This pedal aims to give guitarists access to a true “vibrato” as Dirty Boy finds that most amps that claim to contain a vibrato are actually more of a tremolo and not a nicely balanced vibrato like you might find from a vintage amp.

The Fuzz component, as all Dirty Boy pedals do, uses vintage germanium transistors most of which tend to come from old keyboards or radios from the 1960s. The hand testing element of the process tends to emphasize the inconsistency problem that haunts a lot of fuzz face circuits. This fuzz should sound more or less the same regardless of the amp, guitar, battery vs. power source, and any other conditions like the weather. The fuzz component has a three frequency switch and it can be used with or without the vibrato. The pedal retails for $525 so this is not your everyday Guitar Center fuzz pedal, but if money is no object, these tones are huge. – Ryan Dembinsky