Review: EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter

In a creative rut? This might be the pedal for you...

In a creative rut? This might be the pedal for you...

Like me, you probably saw the name “Data Corrupter” and wondered, “What does a device that hacks credit bureaus, spreads computer viruses and commandeers Twitter feeds to disseminate fake news have to do with guitar?” Well, grasshopper, just think of the notes you play on guitar as “data.” As for the “corrupter” bit? Well, it’s fuzz, Jim, but not as we know it.

Simply put, the EarthQuaker Data Corrupter is the wildest fuzz pedal you’ll likely encounter in this lifetime, capable of producing psychotic oscillation, mutated modulation and synth-like octaves that are dynamically responsive and unusual yet predictably repeatable.

FEATURES The EarthQuaker Data Corrupter combines a wicked squarewave fuzz circuit with various synth-like controls arranged in four sections: Voice Mixer, Subharmonic, Frequency Modulator and Master Oscillator. The Voice Mixer features individual controls for adjusting the levels of three different voices: Square (fuzz), Subharmonic (-1 to -3 octaves with various interval divisions) and Oscillator. The Subharmonic section features a rotary switch with eight different octave/interval settings and a Unison/Oscillator switch. The Frequency Modulator section has a Glide/Vibrato switch and a Rate control. The Master Oscillator section also has an eight-position octave/interval rotary switch, plus a Root switch for selecting unison, -1 octave or -2 octave settings. There’s also a master level control, ¼-inch mono input and output jacks, true bypass switching and a jack for a standard 9V center negative power supply (not included).

PERFORMANCE If the section above was about as coherent as a drunken sailor during Fleet Week, let me just cut to the chase. This pedal generates some of strangest and most gruesomely beautiful fuzz tones I’ve ever heard, with violent, speaker-ripping intensity and oddly complex overtones that are bizarre yet musically useful. The output of this pedal is LOUD (unity with the dry signal was barely past “1”), and since it’s monophonic it’s best for playing solos or melodic lines, as chords can get pretty mangled and mutated. The Glide mode produces a portamento effect between different notes (think ELP’s “Lucky Man”) while the Vibrato mode delivers insane laser gun stuns that will make Steve Stevens pop out of his pleather pants. The octave effects may be synth-like, but the fuzz says loud and proud that this is a guitar, and you’d better pay attention or it’ll mess you up.

MANUFACTURER: EarthQuaker Devices,

  • Separate Voice Mixer, Subharmonic, Frequency Modulator and Master Oscillator sections provide a variety of controls for dialing in synth-like octave fuzz effects.
  • The Frequency Modulator section offers Glide and Vibrato modes with variable rate to create smooth note-to-note glides or wickedly warbling vibrato.

Whether your taste in music leans toward the outer edges of experimental or you just want to get out of a creative rut, the EarthQuaker Data Corrupter offers a multitude of unusual but musically useful tones and textures that are violently beautiful.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.