REVIEW > CLOUD 9 AUDIO
CLOUD 9 AUDIO
BY STEVE OUIMETTE
Hailing from a recording studio on Long Island, New York, that bears
the same name, Cloud 9 is a relative newcomer to the effects business. But there’s a
lot of practical experience behind the company’s first pedal, the Analog Alien Fuzz
Bubble- 45 (FB- 45). A peek at Cloud 9
Recording’s website reveals a rather enviable
collection of gear, suggesting that Cloud 9’s
founders, Joe and Jack Napoli, have heard
a cool sound or two and grappled with the
challenges of recording great fuzz sounds.
The FB- 45 may not solve every problem
involved in getting and managing a good
fuzz tone. And the concept—a dedicated
overdrive on one channel and a Fuzz Face
clone on another—isn’t revolutionary. But
the pedal offers a wealth of options that can
help you dial in many fuzz and overdrive
sounds on the fly, and that’s a boon to stage
and studio guitarists who need fast access to
multiple fuzz flavors.
Pete and Jimi
The FB- 45 is housed in a 5 3/4" x 4 3/4"
x 1 1/2" purple-sparkle box that you’re not
likely to miss on a cluttered pedalboard.
Because the FB- 45 actually contains two
units, controls are color-coded to match
their respective effect—a simple but smart
touch. Things get clever when you notice
the overdrive section is named Pete (you
can guess at the inspiration) and the fuzz is
called Jimi (duh).
On the Pete side, you’ll find Out (output
level) and Year (distortion amount) controls. The latter uses ’ 67 and ’ 77 as names
for its minimum and maximum settings.
There’s also a Tone toggle switch that helps
you tame low frequencies.
The Jimi channel features three purple
knobs—In (which controls the input level
from the guitar), Out (output level), and
Haze (fuzz intensity). The Jimi section
also has its own Tone toggle switch, which
works just like the one in the Pete sec-
tion. On the bottom left is a Bypass stomp
switch followed by an Effect selector stomp
switch on the right.
Many Shades of Oomph!
I decided to begin auditioning Fuzz Bubble
with the Pete section. So I set the Out con-
trol to noon, the Year to ’ 67 and put the Fuzz
Bubble between a Hamer Korina Special
with Lollar P-90s and a HipKitty Panetone
set for a chiming clean tone. With the FB- 45
engaged, the overdrive was light, but contrib-
uted a little more grit and bite to the already
cutting P- 90 tone. With a bit more push of
the Year knob, I was able to pull out some
pretty mighty Page and Townsend tones—
beautiful for chords or leads. With the Out
knob at 2 o’clock, I found a great sweet spot
that had power chords barking and hitting
hard with attitude, grit, and clarity. This is
a great overdrive. Cranking up the Out and
Year to max yielded wailing lead tones, and
switching the Tone toggle thinned the tone
slightly, but actually tightened up the bottom
end. It’s a trade-off that works better with
humbuckers than single-coils.
PREMIER GUITAR MAY 2011 169