Review: EarthQuaker Devices Terminal Fuzz Pedal — Video

If pedal effects were colors on a painter’s palette, I’d describe overdrive as black or white, distortion as red or blue, and fuzz as purple, mainly because fuzz is typically best used sparingly.

Describing the EarthQuaker Devices Terminal, which is a fuzz pedal, I’d go even further by comparing it to a glossy, metal-flake hue of heliotrope, but one that you’d want to use in excess, such as to paint a hot rod.

Far from a mild-mannered effect, the Terminal is raunchy and ratty and has practically nothing in common with classic fuzz.

Features: The Terminal pedal is based upon the Jax FY-2 fuzz pedal made by the Japanese Shin-Ei company during the early Seventies (also sold as Companion, Tele-Star, Thomas and other brand names). Take that as a starting point, however, because the Terminal goes well beyond the average fuzz box, providing considerably more gain, fine-tuned EQ and volume boost. The circuit features an all-analog design, but the carefully selected components deliver low-noise performance without sacrificing vintage vibe and character. Four controls on the top panel let you adjust level, voice (midrange), treble and fuzz, making it possible to dial in everything from razor-sharp tones to mammoth crunch. Other pro-quality features include true-bypass switching, a bright white LED and nine-volt battery or adapter power.

Performance: While the Terminal can easily produce the usual buzz that sounds like angry bees in a glass jar, it goes well beyond most previously imagined concepts of fuzz to provide thoroughly modern square-wave distortion tones. The voice knob is where most of the tonal magic lies, particularly in the lower-midrange tones that are produced when the knob is in the range of seven to 10 o’clock. Delicious Octavia-style octave-fuzz overtones emerge when the treble and fuzz knobs are cranked way up. The volume knob can deliver a very generous volume boost, so players don’t have to worry about their fuzz tones fading to the back of the mix.

Whereas many fuzz pedals can be very finicky about the guitars and amps they’re paired with, the Terminal plays well with others, from single-coil- to humbucker-equipped guitars and any variety of amps, including Fenders, Marshalls, Voxes and modern-day high-gain boutique amps. No matter what type of fuzz you love, the Terminal does it.

List Price: $165
Manufacturer: EarthQuaker Devices, earthquakerdevices

The voice and treble controls provide a wider range of sonic sculpting capabilities than the average vintage-style fuzz.

The volume control can deliver a significant amount of boost to ensure that the fuzz-processed signal remains prominent in the mix.

The Bottom Line: Although its circuit is based on a vintage fuzz pedal, the Terminal’s versatile, interactive controls provide a much wider variety of tones, from classic to modern.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

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.