Norwegian pedal manufacturer Fjord Fuzz builds edgy and sturdy stompboxes with a consistent bronze-looking finish. The new Fjord Fuzz is an original circuit inspired by two legendary fuzz circuits of the ’60s: the Tone Bender and the Fuzz Face.
Although the stylized appearance of the Berserk might make you think this is a rather simple device, delving deeper in the features reveals quite the opposite: a set of 4 internal trim pots (for Impedance Fine-tuning, Output Gain, Bias and Led Trim) interact with the 5 main controls (3 knobs for Gain, Thickness, Volume and 2 push buttons for Impedance and Output Fix) to grant the player an almost infinite palette of sonic possibilities.
Notably, the Output Fix button engages two Space/Echo-style preamp gain stages for extra volume and grit, while the Impedance one allows the pedal to interact seamlessly with other problematic circuits, like wahs, vibes and buffers.
The Thickness control, on the bottom right, acts as a Low Pass Filter, (counterintuitive) letting through all the low frequencies when turned up, and progressively taming them the more you turn it to the left.
Hear the fuzzy sounds of the Fjord Fuzz Berserk in the videos below.
To me, a Norwegian pedal builder, there’s an obvious parallel between the Invasion of Britain as inflicted by the muscimol-fuelled Berserker Vikings, and the British Invasion led by young, fuzz pedal-fuelled guitarists of the 1960s. I couldn’t resist it! It was too good!
BERSERK takes two of the most central fuzz circuits of the time, the one Jimi used and the one Jimmy used, and turns them into one amazing little unit, solving a bunch of 50+ year old problems and wraps it all up in a package that should work for absolutely any occasion. It’s glorious.
OK so let’s talk about the issues concerning the good old smiley-boy, liquid sunshine fuzz of our dreams.
The input and output impedances of this circuit are flipped as compared to modern practices. This creates a few problems, but it also causes that amazing clean tone you can get when rolling back your guitar’s volume knob. However try placing it after a buffer or a wah. No thank you.
Fjord Fuzz to the rescue! Many have used the very cool AMZ pickup simulator trick to solve this and while this does kind of work, it also adds a bunch of noise and definitely impacts the volume knob cleanup. The rightmost push button on BERSERK engages a simple, weirdly biased, single transistor gain stage preamp in front of the original circuit.
Gone are the wah and buffer issues, but does it still clean up? Does it still allow you to get that super sticky, thick, asymmetric clipping? YES! It’s almost indistinguishable from the original preampless circuit, with none of the problems. Doesn’t this turn it into more of a MK2 style fuzz though? Yes and no. Topologically speaking it definitely does, and by dialling back the thickness knob you can get into the MK2 territory, but the intention here was to retain all the tonal characteristics of the smiley pedal and I did.
There’s a trimmer on the inside to help you match this feature with you specific use case. If you don’t intend to stick this pedal after a wah or a buffer or whatever, you can also use the trimmer to increase gain and chase down that MK2 route even further if that’s more your speed!
The control set is simple. In addition to the two push buttons, you have a huge knob controlling gain the same way you would by turning down the guitar’s volume knob. There’s also an output volume knob obviously, but I think you’ll find that third knob to be the most useful of all. It’s a thickness control. Turn it all the way up if you want to let through all the bass. Just so much bass. It’s wonderful. Unless you intend to use it with a humbuckered guitar, that is. Just turn the thickness knob back a bit and you should have a much more workable fuzz. Same goes for a live situation where you for whatever weird reason don’t play in a power trio, through a cranked British half stack. Can’t hear yourself through the mix? Just turn the thickness down, friend! Now you can!
Speaking of British half stacks, what about the output section?
If you’ve ever tried slamming head first into a 60s japanese style chorus/vibrato pedal without a buffer in between them, you may have noticed the output impedance issue of the original smiley circuit. I had to fix this too obviously, but I decided to fix another problem at the same time. The original circuit was intended to have a unity gain output. The main thing that is changed as you engage the pedal is the saturation, not the output volume.
This is of course boring and weird. I want loudness with my fuzz!
The solution is hidden beneath the second push button. Engage it and you are now running into not one, but two space echo preamp gain stages, running in series! Impedance is now repaired and you should have a bit of an extra volume level kick as well as more pronounced mids. Oh and infinite sustain. There’s a trimmer for this section too so you can get as much boost as you need.
So there it is.
Hopefully this solves a few issues for you too. I can’t wait to hear all the amazing music you will make with it! You don’t even have to ever turn it off! Just turn down your guitar’s volume knob or use a volume pedal in front of it and you’ll have everything from the spankiest, shimmery clean tones, through wonderful mid gain drive tones and all the way into the thickest, saggiest fuzz tones, all available without tip toeing around on your pedal board.
BERSERK is biased to 6.66V which is how most of my pedals are biased, but you can change that if you want. Go for 3V for that Johnson farty boy tone or 4.5-5V for a more vintage correct fuzz tone, if there is such a thing. The PCB is clearly marked with instructions on how to do this!
Like all Fjord Fuzz pedals, BERSERK features Steve Demedash’ amazing Incandenza all-analogue true bypass relay switching, backlit graphics, top mounted jacks and a real copper control plate.
Do not be alarmed if yours has started corroding when you receive it. This only means Earth’s atmosphere is still breathable. The control plate can be easily removed if you ever decide you want to clean it. It will start corroding again though, until we reach a post-oxygen society!