If you are into fuzz, chances are you know about the company Wren And Cuff. I met Matt Holl from Wren And Cuff through a 2009/2010 email correspondence when I was investigating his Pickle Pie Hella Fuzz. I am known to use my trusty Sovtek fuzz but I was getting weary of using it on tour and possibly damaging it, irreparably. I found Wren And Cuff and Matt made me a Pickle Pie Hella Fuzz (shown in my Premier Guitar rig rundown video) which took the place of my favorite fuzz on my touring board.
A great Matt and Juan story is Matt didn't believe I could hear the difference between my Sovtek and his fuzz. One day, in Matt's old Wren And Cuff factory/garage, he asked me to turn around while he A/B'd the two fuzz pedals and I was sitting there going "that's mine, that's yours, that's yours. that's mine...etc" and I guessed what fuzz was my Sovtek with 100% accuracy. Though I think his fuzz boxes are amazing (and the Pickle Pie Hella Fuzz came pretty damn close) I still stand by my Sovtek as the best fuzz I have ever found, and I'll hear it out of any fuzz you could put it up against!
1. What is your number one/go-to pedal on your pedalboard and why?
Our Gold Comp. It can be used as a near-clean boost with some dirt to smash the front end of an amp to get some OD going, it can be used to slightly enhance things, or can squash the hell out of things. Lots of good stuff.
2. What is your favorite combination of pedals? It can be a combination of 2 pedals or multiple pedals!
I have an old long-dash DS-1 that has a bit darker tone and some unidentifiable mojo that most DS-1’s don’t have… Made in 1981 I think. In combo with the Gold Comp, that’s pretty much my sound. That old DS-1 and I have a lot of history together so he’s like my little buddy. Even if it’s not always the best sounding pedal, I literally feel like that pedal would be sad if I left it off the board. It’s a little crazy, I know, but I’m sure some people can relate to that. For muffs, As you might imagine, I have no allegiance. I switch out different Wren and Cuff muffs at will. I keep the vintage stuff at home. I’m a little partial to the Russians… the Tall Font and Box of War, but I’m always trying different stuff. For wet stuff, I’m pretty much a chorus and/or trem guy. That’s a big part of making our Sonder. Chorus with a tap trem is one of my favorite things ever. So much fun to have some epic wall of noise happening, then be able get a super choppy trem going and locked in with the drummer with the tap feature. So simple but effective. I know this probably sounds like I’m doing a Wren and Cuff commercial, but I make pedals I’d want to use, so of course I’m going to use them.
3. When did you realize a pedal(s) could evolve your playing/sound and what pedal(s) was it?
Not sure if I even think of it that way. For me, one of the first amps I had was an old Ampeg combo with no master volume. To get distortion, you had to use a pedal, so I just used a Rat or Big Muff out of necessity. During the 90’s there was a definite feeling of, I’ll get a “real” amp, like a Marshall half-stack, when I have the dough, then I’d bail the pedals and use the amp’s gain. Ampeg combos weren’t considered very “cool” back then. I finally got a JCM900, and after a week or so, I realized I had made a big mistake selling the Ampeg and stompboxes. As soon as I could, I got a Fender, and have been a Fender amp guy ever since. I just like the way a pedal hits the front of a tube amp. I like it better than even some of the best self-overdriving amps. So I can’t really say pedals evolved my playing, I just learned what I like, and what works for me.
4. In the future, what would you like to see pedal builders create (from scratch) or modify on an existing standard?
I have a couple ideas, but I ain’t telling ya before they come out!
5. What advice can you give to musicians who are trying to expand their musical horizons with pedals and effects?
If you’re new to the whole pedal game, don’t get caught in the buy and sell trap before you give a pedal some time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried a pedal or other piece of gear, thought it sounded like hell, and was ready to get rid of it. Then a couple weeks later realized it’s a fantastic piece of gear. Years ago I had a Keeley comp that I hated for the first two practices. I just didn’t get it. Third practice, I dialed it in, and then I “got it” (the whole compression thing). I used it all the time for three years straight after that. I see guys that will try a pedal for one half of a practice, decide it sucks, sell it, then buy another two days later. It takes time to really find out what works, and we’ve all had the next day phenomenon where we were sure a piece of gear, a song mix, a recording, or whatever, sounds like hell, then you come back with fresh ears and realize something is fantastic. If you hate a pedal, thats fine, but give it a couple tries to make sure you hate it, haha. The one you just sold may have been the one that’d inspire you, but you just didn’t give it a chance!