The Swollen Pickle fuzz avoids bluriness and allows chords and note clusters to retain focus
This reissue follows a similar pattern to the others with Loudness to set the overall output, Sustain to set fuzz level and Filter to roll off the high frequencies – but two new external controls have been added, enhancing functionality and giving Way Huge purists something to moan about on the internet. The Swollen Pickle always had a mid scooped sound, but with the new Scoop control you can set how much you want. Crunch has also been added to adjust the compression intensity of the fuzz. The internal set-and-forget controls are Clip, which varies between a pair of diodes and a pair of LEDs for the second stage gain, and Voice for setting the intensity of the external Scoop control.
There’s no mention of silicon or germanium transistors, but the Swollen Pickle certainly makes a classic fuzz sound – or rather a range of classic fuzz sounds. It always avoids blurriness or mushiness and retains a keen composure that allows chords and tight note clusters to retain focus. Some of the most interesting stuff occurs at low gain with Crunch and Scoop almost fully anti-clockwise, giving a fine Fuzz Face-style sound with a pleasing rasp and not too much sustain. To my mind Big Muffs occupy the other end of the fuzz spectrum, and if you turn Scoop and Crunch the other way, apply some Filter and boost Sustain, the Swollen Pickle will do a fine thick, velvety impersonation.
The factory default setting negates the clipping LEDs, but when you bring them in with the Clip control the Swollen Pickle acquires a rough, ragged edge, adding a pleasing texture and a sense of danger. The Voice control is very powerful, and some experimentation might be needed to optimise the way it interacts with Scoop to dial in a more contemporary rock flavour.
Im extremely impressed with all three of these pedals. They look and sound like regular pedals, but the degree of tone shaping is more on a par with digital modellers and multiple gain stage tube amps. Each one can generate a huge range of sounds, and the fine degree of control over gain structure and frequency response would make them equally adept in the studio or on the stage. With the possible exception of the Pork Loin, they impose themselves on your tone to the extent that it doesnt really matter what guitar youre playing but thats really the whole point