Howard Gee has officially launched his new pedal company, kittycasterFX, releasing a brace of handsome-looking, US-built stompboxes, the Tremdriver and Groovy Wizard Fuzz Driver.
The Tremdriver is a preamp-cum-tremolo pedal that pairs a JFET preamp running internally at 24V with a harmonic tremolo. The Groovy Wizard Fuzz Driver is described as an “ultra-dynamic, touch-sensitive” fuzz pedal.
With Gee a self-confessed aficionado of ‘60s and ‘70s effects, it is no surprise that the Tremdriver and Groovy Wizard arrive in super-cool retro wedge enclosures.
Speaking to Guitarist in July 2020, the former Catalinbread design whizz had just formed kittycasterFX, assuming his role as circuit designer, with Scott Miller, Steve Hamari, Boris Lutskovsky and Jean Mastaler joining him, and graphic artist David Medel designing the enclosures.
Back then, he outlined his philosophy to effects pedals and electric guitar tone, identifying touch-sensitivity as a priority in his designs.
“A lot of pedals don’t respond to your playing very well, whereas my goal has always been to try and get the best dynamic response and touch-sensitivity possible,” said Gee. “Using more than the standard nine volts is a means to achieve that with greater headroom and dynamic range.”
That is indeed the approach Gee has taken with the Tremdriver and Groovy Wizard. The Groovy Wizard has controls for Volume, Gain, Presence and Contour, which sounds very much like there might have a guitar amp feel to the pedal.
There are PNP germanium and NPN silicon transistors under the hood, and the circuit is voiced to have a transparent overdrive quality, letting the tone of your guitar and amp shine through, with full-blown fuzz as you dial in more extreme settings.
As for the Tremdriver, it has a dual-footswitch design. One turns the effect on and off, the other toggles whether the harmonic tremolo is active or not. It combines a trio of EP-3-inspired JFET preamps and is designed to be placed near the end of your signal chain to reach “clean boost heaven”.
There are controls for Output and Drive, with kittycasterFX promising “to make any rig sound bigger and better”. On the harmonic tremolo side, there are dials for Speed and LFO bias.
In a statement, Gee said he wanted his pedals to be reactive to the player’s style, becoming an extension of their instrument. Also, they have to look good.
“I needed an enclosure that facilitated our hand-built style with no compromise,” he said. “I wanted it to be made in the USA, and have lines evocative of the classic pedals from the ’60s and ’70s. It also needed to be stage ergonomic and pedalboard friendly, and of course it had to look cool. Like Leo’s Stratocaster, ‘form follows function’ can be sexy!”
The Tremdriver is priced $399 and runs on 9V DC. The Groovy Wizard Fuzz Driver is priced $299, and can be run on 9-18V DC.