Growing up learning how to play guitar, my house had one pedal: my dad’s ’73 Rams Head. This sound is ingrained in my psyche. Black Mass started its life with me trying to clone this pedal. When I started working on The First Herald, I decided to start fresh. I scrutinized every component value, and spent months finalizing it. While the topology remains similar, the sound is modern, decisive, and unmistakably malicious.
The First Herald features two independent and reversible circuits. The Fuzz takes advantage of a modernized tone stack and three distinct clipping modes. The Tone knob operates how you would expect with more bass and less treble when counter-clockwise, to less bass and more treble when turned clockwise. An added Scoop control allows you to dial in exactly where you want to sit in the mix. All the way down, you have a full and present fuzz, but turn it up to add some of that signature midrange scoop. The clipping section is extra special. With the toggle to the left, both soft-clipping stages utilize a hybrid MOSFET/LED combo for a huge, open, cutting fuzz. To the right, the two clipping stages use traditional silicon diodes for extra compression and that smooth, squashed, vintage sound. In the middle position, all of the clipping diodes are removed from the circuit for pure unadulterated transistor abuse. The position is incredibly loud and amazing for bassists or smashing the front of a tube amp. To make the most of each clipping mode, the blocking capacitor values, which determine clipping frequencies, were carefully chosen for each mode and change according to switch position. This helps keep everything in balance, while still giving each position a unique voice.
The Boost side is a simple discrete boost circuit. The magic here comes from the order reverse switch that allows you to run the boost before or after the fuzz. Run Boost before for extra thick Fuzz saturation, or run it after to drive the amp harder or for a solo level boost. This is not a clean boost, it adds some color, grit, and tons of volume, making it the perfect accompaniment for the Fuzz side.
Controls: Volume: Controls the output level of the fuzz circuit. Tone: Mix of high cut and low cut circuits. Clockwise for more treble and less bass, counterclockwise for less treble and more bass. Scoop: Controls the amount of mid scoop. This control is very interactive with tone, and clipping options, giving you complete control over where you sit in a mix. Counterclockwise mids are flat. Clockwise mids are scooped into oblivion. Sustain: Controls the amount of fuzz saturation and sustain. Boost: Controls the level of independent boost circuit AB: Order reverse switch. Left runs fuzz into boost - great for lead boosts. Right runs boost into fuzz - great for smashing fuzz input for more saturation. Clip: Left position is a modern and aggressive sounding LED/MOSFET hybrid. The middle position removes diodes from both clipping stages resulting in an EXTREMELY LOUD, unique overdriven sound — great for bass players. Right position is a standard silicon clipping option for a more vintage fuzz. Power: •9v DC only. Do not run at higher voltages. Standard 2.1mm center negative power only. •Current Draw: <100mA. •Use an isolated power supply. Switching: •True Bypass, relay based switching. Defaults to bypass in case of power failure.
Legends always tell of the signs before the end and when otherworldly denizens come to reclaim the earth, you will remember that first moment it felt something in existence shifted. Growling, barking, moaning, screaming, a ragged breath pulled itself through their teeth. The figure opened their mouth, speaking with an otherworldly depth.
“IT IS ALMOST HERE.”
A bellow. An utterance. A resonant and foreboding warning of what would come.
The First Herald is a pedal possessed, the first chapter in an apocalyptic narrative. A definitive statement reminding you that the end, great and terrible, is on its way.
The First Herald isn’t reinventing the wheel; it is, however, reinforcing it.