Alien Twister Review

manufacturer: Analog Alien date: 06/14/2012 category: Guitar Effects
Analog Alien: Alien Twister
Thick, rich and natural sounding, you can achieve both Vintage and modern rock tones with the Twister; developed by studio engineers, this is the real deal and is in a league of its own compared to most other pedals in its category.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 10
 Ease of Use: 8
 Overall rating:
 4.5 
 Reviewer rating:
 9 
 Users rating:
 0 
 Votes:
 0 
review (1) pictures (1) 1 comment vote for this gear:
overall: 9
Alien Twister Reviewed by: logicbdj, on june 14, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Ease of Use: BACKGROUND: My main "go-to" pedal is Analog Alien's FuzzBubble-45, a purple beast that generates thick classic rock tones reminiscent of Pete Townshed and Jimi Hendrix, and far better than I've heard from other "tribute" pedals. Sometimes I may switch to more modern sounding distortions, ranging from analog to digital in nature, but more often than not I'm reaching for the FuzzBubble-45. I suspect my preference in this regard is in my age and being influenced by rock tones from the 60s and 70s. When I heard that Analog Alien was coming out with a fuzz (Alien Twister), based on the Texas Square Face design used by Stevie Ray Vaughan, I was intrigued because the Alien Brothers (Jack and Joe Napoli) put both feet in the door of reputation with the FuzzBubble-45, which delivers more than a one-trick pony. Likewise, the Alien Twister does not disappoint on both grounds, in both quality and diversity. This analog pedal may be marketed as a "fuzz", but its diversity allows a player to dial into more of a distortion... Or more of an Overdrive character... If so desired a true multi-drive of sorts. And the sound is nothing short of full-body spectacular tonal mojo! As with the FuzzBubble-45, the Twister sounds so organic and rich as though it's an extension of one's amplifier, and far removed from what a person typically expects from a pedal. Moreover, your guitar's volume knob has great control over the effect of the pedal. Just a minor reduction in volume output affects overall volume modestly, but while the character of the tone ranges from thick and dirty to only modestly grungy or crunchy in a flash. What really got me excited about this pedal is when Jack Napoli, one of the brothers behind Analog Alien, emailed me this teaser: "Joe and I have many pedals at the studio - well over 50. One of them is an original Caesar Diaz Square face, one that is identical to the one he made for SRV. Joe loves the pedal, but like so many fuzz pedals it only does one thing and that's it. So one day he said to me, 'do you think you can take this fuzz and improve on it.' After much trial and tribulation I came up with a different circuit, one that not only sounds better, but does a whole hell of a lot more. The controls are Input, Output and Stab. The Stab control, unlike the Haze control on the Jimi (FuzzBubble-45 pedal), doesn't control the feedback voltage, it sets the bias current to the final transistor, which is a GE. There is no feedback voltage control... The voltage is set by me inside the box - the Diaz doesn't do this. Like the Jimi, the Stab and input are linked together. You can go from full fuzz to Ts-9 in a heartbeat! This pedal has a tremendous amount of output gain. You reach unity gain at around 10:00! All in all it's a fuzz to be reckoned with!" Although this pedal is easy to use (only three knobs to turn), the degree of tone possibilities vary significantly depending on the settings, which make this pedal far more 'fun' to use than intimidating or frustrating. // 8

Sound: THE CONTROLS: Input The Input knob controls the level of the effect's signal, which (in effect) varies the degree of fuzz. It is because of this control that the Twister does produce a range of fat fuzz down to distortion or to overdrive. And even this character is influenced by the Output and Stab(ility) knobs. For example, if I'm looking for that Overdrive or distorted edge, but only a hint of fuzz, turning the knob down to 9 o'clock delivers the goods in spades... yet keeping all factors equal and turning up the input suddenly gives your tone a lock and loaded fuzz tone that drips Vintage rock. Output The Output knob controls the amount of ass-whoopin' to the amp, and this part of the pedal offers some serious Drive to say the least. Reaching unity gain at only 10 o'clock, cranking this knob up full transforms the tone from laid back rock to a rumbling rawness that typically can be achieved only when pushing an amp to the limits. Amazingly, doing so does not strain the amp (as the intensity can be experienced at any amp level), but the tone achieved certainly gives the impression that a Marshall is on number 11. Stab This is short for "stability", and it controls the amount of voltage sent to the final transistor stage in the Alien Twister. A simple way to think about this feature is that the higher the voltage the smoother the tone or signal, whereas the lower the voltage, the more the tone splatters or burps its HOT sauce onto a burrito. In other words, you can achieve a staccato-type effect at one extreme, fat classic-rock harmonics in the middle, and very smooth and defined tones at the other extreme (viz., maximum sustain and fuzz production for a modern lead sound). The middle-ground is a nice area for classic rock, as a bit of tweaking in that area gives you a growl or breaking up crunch for which Hendrix was well known. Obviously the extent of sensitivity of this control is influenced by your guitar's pickups. I have two custom guitars made by Casper Guitar Technologies, one with humbuckers and the other single coils, both of which offer a plethora of tonal variations with the Twister. In all, it is clear that what you can achieve with this pedal is axe- (and amp-) dependant. Humbuckers certainly pull more Drive and depth, but my Strat-style guitar definitely sings and still screams harmonics. And as I switch from Marshall to Fender voicing, or to Vox or Boogie voicing through my Pritchard Black Dagger amp, the results vary accordingly. In effect, I love this pedal, but I suspect just about any guitarist will discover unique nuances relative to his or her gear, which is a benchmark of any quality equipment. Buffer My gear setup is fairly basic, and it's amazing the tone I get from this one pedal through a clean amp and some delay. For that reason I never used the "buffer" function, but this preamp circuit is ideal for those needing signal strength that must make its way through a long chain of effects. The result of a Buffer with monster effects boards (and particularly with those using a Vintage Wah pedal, which needs a high impedance to work properly) is no loss of tone or signal strength. Jack Napoli offered further explanation on this feature: "(During the design of the pedal) I thought about it and what I came up with is something that is always over-looked by so many guitarists... A Buffer circuit! Plug your Wah pedal into a fuzz and it never works. But put a Buffer in between and... Wah lah!... There you go. And so that's what I did. The best part is that you can switch the Buffer in and out independently from the fuzz. So you have a wah, the Twister and let's say you have a Vintage Dallas Arbitor or peppermint fuzz or whatever and you need a Buffer with them to make your Wah work right... now you've got one! It's an IC Buffer too, and so it's top of the line. You can run several feet of guitar cable from the output of the Twister and go right into your amp and there is no loss in signal or coloration." Cooking with the Twister Just like any recipe, adjusting the ingredients will produce a different outcome with the Twister. This is where varying results or tones are produced by how you balance or blend the elements. Analog Alien provides several suggestions, to get started, and it's apparent from the get-go how versatile this pedal can be in both driving your amp, but also achieving so many tonal deviations. The most obvious example was explained earlier, in that reducing the input also reduces the degree of fuzz, so that you get either more of a distortion or Overdrive (shifting from one to the next as you turn it down); but increase the output and you get more breaking-up and note definition and relative to the level of the Input. And the Stab control is something I've rarely seen on pedals, but which is worth the price alone as you can tweak your way from fat percussive notes to searing smoothness in a flash. Moreover, link this baby up with Analog Alien's FuzzBubble-45 and the "balls-to-the-wall" Drive seems almost over-the-top. For an auditory tour, I recommend the following video:

// 9

Reliability & Durability: This is as durable as a pedal gets, with solid steel construction and heavy plastic knobs. The foot switches produce a solid click when stepped upon. The cords, when plugged in, also produce a solid click, as though they are "locked in". This is a new pedal, but if it's anything like Analog Alien's FuzzBubble-45, which I've used for the most part over the past year, I suspect this pedal is built to last. // 10

Overall Impression: Pluses Thick, rich and natural sounding, you can achieve both Vintage and modern rock tones with the Twister; developed by studio engineers, this is the real deal and is in a league of its own compared to most other pedals in its category; quality construction with a one-year warranty, Analog Alien also offers a 48-hour trial period (and if you're not happy, you can return the pedal); comes in a cool wooden-crate package with cloth carry bag and a bottle of Twister HOT sauce. Minuses This pedal produces a full-bodied thick fuzz... It and was not designed for those industrial metal-heads looking for something more digital and processed-sounding; would love to see pre-sets, but that would contradict the "analog" concept of this pedal however, it takes little effort to turn a few dials for a change in tone. // 9

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