Price paid: $ 105
Purchased from: http://monsterpiecefuzz.com/
Sound — 9
Fuzz's in my opinion react more to guitars and amp setups more than any other type of OD pedal. This fuzz is no different. The sound completely changes if you are using a Les Paul, a single coil LP, a Strat, Tele, Gretsch, etc. I find generally that most pedals (boutique or not) are pretty one dimensional and the sound of the pedal overpowers the sound of the guitar and makes everything sound the same. For some people that might be ok, but for finding a transparent pedal that brings out the uniqueness of every guitar, the Monsterpiece NPN does a great job. My live setup usually consists of this: Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro or Gibson 61' SG or Fender RoadWorn Telecaster Pedal Board Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker or Marshall 2061x. To say the least it's a pretty nifty rock and roll tone. On my own I dabble and play mostly blues rock but when playing live I am playing in a cover band and actually use the fuzz most for when I have to cover a horn section in conjunction with a wah. None the less the fuzz really reacts well to all the gear I own. There is a point to be made though, the amps I use do not have a master volume and no pre-gain. When the amp is on the verge of breakup, which is quite low with the LP & SG (around 2-4 volume) the fuzz really shines. It keeps the original sound of your guitar but can really add a spitty fuzz sound to your tone bringing out a lot of sounds from the 60's. When I am playing with the amp turned up (Volume 6+/10) the fuzz does not add as much to the overall tone. In this range it is more of a clean boost. I have had a tough time dialing this in since using a HOT plate and having the amp volume turned up. To combat this I have been splitting the coils on my Les Paul to get the sound I want, which is fuzz, a spitty spitty fuzz. On the older NPN I have it only has three knobs. The middle bias knob really gives you a full range of fuzz tones. If turned all the way to the left you can get a bass heavy Big Muff sound and all the way to the right can deliver a very spitty fuzz sound. You can really get a wide variety of sounds when changing both the fuzz knob and the bias control.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall I have been extremely impressed by Richard's work on the Monsterpiece NPN Fuzz. It has had some changes over the years and from what I have heard the new 4 knob models are great as well. It has a great feel to it, people always ask what it is, probably because it is hand painted and sounds amazing. Fuzz pedals are a dime a dozen but to get a good one, one that is versatile for your different guitar sounds can be challenging. If you are able to order one directly from him I would recommend doing so, if you can find one used try it out. They are great pedals and pretty damn cheap for what you get.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The word boutique gets thrown around a lot today. Boutique pedals aren't really boutique anymore considering the popular music chains are selling some of them on a National level (Zvex, Lovepedal, just for starters). Stores have really started to use boutique as a marketing word and for me has tarnished the market. There are still companies though where you can talk directly with the owner/maker of the pedals about what you want your product to sound like. This is one of those companies. Richard is based in St. Louis, MO and is MORE than happy to talk with you about your needs and wants in a pedal. When I look into pedals if they are in the boutique scene I like to know I can talk directly with the person soldering the pedal together. One thing I must mention that the inside of this pedal is cleaner and tidier than any other pedal I have ever seen in my life. Ever. It is astounding how clean his work is, I have never seen this from any manufacturer. I will try to get an online picture for you on my profile by the time this is posted.
Ease of Use — 8
This pedal is not that easy to use even though the version I have is only 3 knobs, Volume, Bias, and Fuzz. Reason being is that these pedals can take a while to dial in and with slight changes in amp volume can really change the sound of this pedal. I will dive into that a little more during the sound in regards to how it reacts to amps and guitars differently. Details from the Monsterpiece web page are as follows: "This is the fuzz for Vintage silicon transistor fuzz lovers. Covers a LOT of ground, extremely versatile due to the interactivity of the input bias, transistor bias, and fuzz controls. Get tones ranging from near clean boost, to gritty OD, to crunchy distortion, to classic silicon fuzz tones, to gated/compressed dying battery sounds. Super dynamics... very responsive to your guitar's volume control and your picking dynamics. DETAILS 2 transistor silicon fuzz utilizing BC108 or BC109 transistors Controls (all external) are volume, input bias, transistor bias, fuzz True bypass 3PDT switching with LED indicator Battery on/off mini-toggle switch Rugged cast aluminum enclosure" If you are simply looking to immediately plug in to this and just have a Fuzz sound just for you it will not be the case. That is part of the fun of it though, at least for me. Finding your own sound that fits your playing style and your gear is what this pedal is all about. If you give it time and are patient with it, it will definitely fit your style (if you want a silicone fuzz sound) and it will deliver every time!