ANOTHER MICHIGAN NAME seems on the verge of joining Rocktron on the list of effects legends from the Wolverine State: Cusack. We reviewed the company's Tap-a-Whirl tremolo in our Holiday '06 issue, fi nding it to be innovative, versatile, and terrifi c-sounding. This month we look at a pair of its pedals in the overdrive/fuzz category, the Screamer and Screamer Fuzz. LOOKS Both pedals are available either unfi nished-for that industrial look-or with a Powder Coated Black fi nish. If you're going to be a boutique effects god, it helps to have a cool-looking product, and with their embossed lettering and colored "chicken-head" knobs, these two deliver. LAYOUT In many ways, the two pedals are similar; they both share level and gain controls (the latter called Drive on the Screamer and Scream on the Screamer Fuzz), and they both have a bi-color LED, which glows green when the effect is off and red when it's on. This means that in either position, you can tell the pedal is powered up and running-not crucial, perhaps, but defi nitely a nice touch. The LED starts blinking once your battery's drained to about 7.5V. At approximately 6.5V the pedal goes into bypass until you change the battery. The small but sturdy and mechanically silent true-bypass switch bypasses the effect using a telecommunications relay. SOUND The Cusack Screamer is admittedly a Tube Screamer copy, but while it serves a similar purpose, it sounds very different: rounder, fuller, and darker. It also feels a bit more responsive and less compressed. Most important, it offers about twice the gain of a typical TS-style pedal. With the Drive control all the way to the left, the Screamer acts as a clean boost with a tone control; with the Drive about halfway up, the pedal's tone is at its most transparent. The Screamer Fuzz, meanwhile, replaces the Screamer's Tone knob with one labeled Fuzz, which acts almost like a tone control, adding extra teeth to the basic Screamer sound. Turn the Fuzz all the way down and you've got a Screamer with the tone at noon; turn the Scream all the way down and it's a fuzz pedal. And turning the Fuzz all the way to the right cuts your decay for a modern bit-reduction sound. Experimenting with different combinations offered hours of fun and a plethora of different tones-all musical. Both pedals make amazingly natural fuzz and overdrive sounds in a '60s vein, with the Screamer Fuzz throwing in some cool "broken amp" simulations for good measure. These overdrives don't clean up all the way when you back off your guitar volume, but they sure sound great when you turn it up, giving sumo-wrestler girth to a Strat and Bluesbreaker bite to a Les Paul. ARE THEY FOR YOU? If you long for the early Clapton tone or spend a lot of time learning Bad Company tunes, you'll want to try the Cusack Screamer. If you occasionally like to walk on the electro side as well, the Screamer Fuzz will well suit.