I’ve been looking forward to getting the time to develop this pedal for some time now. I’m a major octave-up fuzz fanatic and own several fine examples from other makers. What I wanted to do was take what I loved about them, eliminate what I thought were their shortcomings, and add a little bit of my own vision to it.
A lot of octave-up fuzzes do the upper fretboard octave thing just fine. But then maybe they didn’t sound very good on chords or low strings. Others were cool but way too compressed and pinched sounding for my tastes. It is an absolute requirement for me that the circuit responds to changes in playing dynamics and guitar settings, and also be able to stack into other dirt pedals.
So, I broke out the breadboard and went to work. I knew the circuit had to be “simple” and essential. Usually, the more parts and circuit complexity the more compressed and less dynamic the response. I also knew I wasn’t going to do a direct clone of any existing circuit.
After much experimentation, I ended up with a very elegant design that needs only 3 silicon transistors and two diodes at the heart of the circuit. There are two main blocks in an octave fuzz circuit – the driver and the inverter. I came up with a driver design that is very very open and gives a wide range of response while being dead quiet even with the controls maxed out. It incorporates a special variable frequency negative feedback loop of what gives Octapussy such an extreme range of touch sensitivity. The inverter circuit is where the “octaving” happens. For it to work the best it must be completely balanced at its positive and inverted outputs. To that end, there is a trimmer pot on the circuit board that allows us to tune each one for the perfect balance. It is not recommended that you fiddle with this trimmer. Should it get moved by accident (not sure how that would happen, but!..), contact us and we can tell you how to recalibrate it.
Another key parameter I worked is parts selection. I spent much time comparing the qualities of different types of capacitors and resistors in each position in the circuit and selected the types that gave the best possible tone and response. Many pedals are designed with no regard to the type of parts used, only considering the nominal value (e.g. 2.2uf or 1kOhm). It makes a difference! Sometimes subtle, sometimes epic! I don’t like to leave stones unturned so I investigate this area with every pedal I design in order to achieve the best sound and response I can.
I’m gonna stop writing now so you can stop reading now and get back to exploring the wonderful, mystical world of the Catalinbread Octapussy!
Play on brother, play on sister…
– Howard Gee, Catalinbread
Guitarist, Circuit Designer, and Audio Janitor