a more aggressive J. Mascis or Mudhoney
tone, you’ll want to kick gain up to 2 or 3
o’clock. At this level, the Olympia delivers whiplash lead tones with a heap of bass
presence, a sweet, sharp high end, and a
responsiveness that coaxed nuances from
both sides of the spectrum, depending on
picking intensity. It’s clearer—more transparent even—than the suffocated, almost
synth-like output that Big Muff-based pedals sometimes have.
With a Les Paul driving the works, you
can delve further into woolly regions like
those on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Maxing
the gain gives you those aggressive Iommi
tones without sacrificing picking dynamics, while backing off the gain increases the
detail in note-to-note interplay and gives
you the bark and bite you associate with
Jimmy Page’s more stinging moments form
the first four Zep LPs. You may want to
kick up the volume a tad if you’re sticking
with humbuckers, as the difference between
a clean signal from a hot humbucker and
the Olympia with everything at noon is less
than pronounced. Even so, there’s more than
Pros: Wide range of fuzz tones. Great harmonic clarity.
Caroline Guitar Company Olympia, $145 street, carolineguitar.com
Cons: May not have enough hair for fans of extreme Muff
and Fuzz Face tones.
Ease of Use
enough headroom to help you rise to bombastic levels when you kick the pedal on.
If you’re yearning for a more ethereal
lead tone, the Olympia also works great
with a high-headroom, open-back amp like
a Fender Twin Reverb. In these airier envi-
rons, the Olympia’s lower frequencies blend
exceptionally well with the brighter tones—
especially in loud, live settings. Against a
fuzz-saturated bass and a second overdriven
guitar, the Olympia cut without the aid of a
separate overdrive. And with the gain raised
near full mast, you can achieve the opulent,
round, and raging sound of a Sovtek-built
Big Muff without giving up any clarity.
Stack some reverb on top of this roar, and
you’ll be deep in shoegazing bliss—teeter-
ing on the edge of outlandish feedback and
squealing harmonic overtones, especially
with single-coil in the blend.
Searching for the right fuzz can lead to a lot
of pedals that do one thing really well. But
the Olympia provides both authentic Muff
and Fuzz Face tones. Even better, it actually
has more clarity and broader harmonic content than what you’ll find in many Muff and
Fuzz Face specimens, which means it can
cover a lot of ground and suit multitudinous
combinations of guitar and amplifier. The
fact that Caroline Guitar Co. has managed
to build a classic-sounding fuzz that excels in
terms of fidelity and versatility at a reasonable price, suggests the Olympia is bound for
more than a few fuzz freaks’ short lists.
Other companies make overdrives — Here’s where they got he idea.
Maxon OD808 The ORIGINAL Overdrive