German pedal makers KMA Machines have increasingly been gravitating towards uber-tweakable devices (with a soft spot for toggle switches), and the Chief Disruptor (sold direct by Thomann) is their take on the uber-flexible, do-it-all Muff-style fuzz.
The core of this circuit is the Voicing toggle, which delivers the following three fuzz modes:
Tight: modern Big Muff sound with tight lows, focused mids and a crisp top end
Vintage: Classy Muff Sound, low- to mid-gain distortion, balanced frequency response
Heavy: full blast Big Muff sound with massive low end and plenty of gain
A series of controls, comprising seven knobs and four more toggle switches allow the tone-seeker to tweak those voices to taste.
The EQ section features knobs for Bass and Highs, but particular attention is given to the Mid Frequencies, with a studio-style fully parametric two-knob EQ that allows the selection a specific frequency to boost or cut. This section can be activated or turned off through a dedicated Mids footswitch, which can act as a “solo” mid-boost found in some amps.
A useful Clean knob allows the reintroduction of the dry signal, which reintegrates some of the performance’s dynamics. This signal can come in either pre EQ or Post EQ, depending on the settings of the Blend toggle.
At the end of the chain, aTop Boost toggle turns on/off an extra high-mid boost for sharper attack and increased top-end distortion.
From the video below, the KMA Machines Chief Disruptor sounds like an inspiring and flexible device. We added it to our article about the Best Muff-style Fuzz Pedal evolutions.
You can buy this pedal while supporting this blog at no extra cost to you by purchasing it from Thomann.
KMA Machines Chief Disruptor, Builder’s Notes
Sets the overall volume
Sets the amount of fuzz/distortion
Blends in the input signal
TIGHT: modern Big Muff sound with tight lows, focused mids and a crisp top end
VTG (Vintage): Classy Muff Sound, low- to mid-gain distortion, balanced frequency response
HEAVY: full blast Big Muff sound with massive low end and plenty of gain
TOP BOOST (Toggle-Switch)
Turns on/off a high-mid boost for a sharp attack and increased top end distortion
Sets the insert point of the clean blend, either PRE EQ or POST EQ
Active bass control to boost or cut your low end (+/-15dB)
Active treble control to boost or cut your high end (+/-15dB)
Sets the centre frequency of the mid-eq (from 100 Hz to 2 kHz)
Active semi-parametric EQ for high frequency boost (up)/ cut(down) with adjustable centre-frequency between 1.4-5 kHz via below potentiometer (midpoint: 2 kHz)
Activates the parametric MID-EQ (yellow LED indicates the on/off state)
Activates the pedal (red LED indicates the on/off state)
Over the years, different muff drives had different levels of gain, so we derived three major distinctive gain structures all based on what we consider to be the best versions. The Vintage Mode (VTG) will give you every shade of discrete overdrive, while the Tight Mode will give a more focused and modern tone with less bass and super crisp harmonics. Heavy Mode is the essence of what we all love about muffs. Heavy, sustaining and crazy thick fuzzy distortion, with bone-shaking lows and chewy mids. Just crank the Disruption (Gain) Control and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about here.
Tonal shaping was one of the true weak points of classic muff pedals and something we absolutely knew we had to remedy. We’ve opened the gates to more modern tonal flexibility through our active Bass and Treble controls, which let you boost or cut highs and lows with up to 15 dB, while our parametric Mid-EQ with adjustable centre-frequency and level boost/cut allows you to fine tune the mids with extreme precision, for everything from classic scooped fuzz tones, modern mid-focused dirt tones and all the way to cocked-wah saturation.
You can take complete hands-free control of the Mid-EQ frequency via an expression-pedal. This lets you make instant tone changes on the fly, as well as unleash fast and quacky wah-like sounds or slow and enveloping phaser-like sweeps. If you feel like the filter needs to be more resonant for screaming synth-like sweeps or needs to be subtler, then you can adjust the Q of the Mid-EQ via an internal trimpot. The mids can also be turned on and off via the relay-based soft-switch, allowing you to kick in the mids for soaring solos, cutting chords or when you want to get filter freaky.
Having super saturated mids and lows can sometimes result in a perceived loss of highs. To fix this, just engage the Top-Boost to give your high-mids a big push for more crunchy harmonics and bite to cut through any band mix. We’ve tweaked the Top Boost to our personal taste, but if you feel like it’s either too loud or not loud enough, you can also adjust the Top Boost Level via an internal trimpot.
We carefully balanced the gain control to achieve total control of even the slightest harmonic nuances. So, whether you’re looking for low gain drive, crunchy medium gain rhythm tones, singing or saturated lead sounds or skull-crushing doom tones, the Disruption control can and will cover all of them!
A lot of gain rules! But gain also means compression, and the more we compress our sound, the more our instrument will lose definition. Yes, bass players, synth slingers and extended range guitar rockers, we hear you! To preserve your precious core tone the CHIEF DISRUPTOR sports a clean blend control and a toggle switch to define the insert position. Insert your dry signal before the EQ section for a more cohesive sound or place it post-EQ to keep your dry signal completely unaffected.
Last but not least, we always felt the original muff pedals (and clones) lacked output, hence we implemented our stacked headroom topology to keep the EQs from getting saggy when cranked, all which results in the tightest, most punchy and LOUDEST muff-style tone on the market.
Go forth and empower your creative side, with tone that has true vision to inspire. If you are ready for a change in distortion history, then it’s time to follow the CHIEF DISRUPTOR!