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David Ross Submersion Octave Fuzz Pedal Review: INSANE Tones!

Submersion Octave Fuzz Pedal
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David Ross has been a guest on our podcast, and a long-term friend. The Submersion Octave Fuzz Pedal is a great new addition to his already innovative pedal lineup. Today we take a look at the pedal and explain what it does.



ELECTRIKJAM’s Favorite Pedal Designer!

Submersion Octave Fuzz Pedal: New Tones, Same Quality

David Ross has yet to let us down when it comes to his pedal designs. The Submersion Octave Fuzz may sound similar to his Spellbook Pedal from last year, but the Submersion is a whole different beast.


chris horton

David Ross thinks outside of the box, offering pedals that make sounds that you cannot find anywhere else. The Submersion Octave Fuzz is another great addition.

— Chris Horton, ELECTRIKJAM

Submersion Pedal Review

Quality & Feel

★★★★★

Tones/Controls

★★★★★

Price

💰💰

Best For

Ambient, Solos, Experimental

Overall

★★★★★


David Ross Does It Again!

If you take a look at the official David Ross Musical Instruments website it looks like a traditional, regular luthier page. My local luthier has a similar page, in fact, and my local guy does guitar repair like David.

The difference is that David also makes a few guitar pedals under his own brand. David is by no means your run-of-the-mill local guitar tech or luthier. I think he is a mad genius that the world is unprepared for.

I first met David Ross almost two years ago. We met unconventionally, via Reddit postings in the guitar forums. David was just a guitar repair business at the time, but he had a plan to expand his business.

David expressed to me that he was thinking about making pedals, and I immediately told him I would like to review them. I figured these would be interesting pedal designs, considering David had probably taken apart tons of pedals over the years as a guitar tech.

I expected traditional pedals with familiar circuits, made to a high spec. What we got, was something new to the pedal world. Something totally original, from the features down to the art design.

The eventual result was the Winter Storm Overdrive, David’s first pedal offering. See, the Submersion Octave Fuzz is part of a trilogy, of intentionally quirky pedals that have been inspiring to many guitarists.

The Spellbook Pedal was the next pedal we saw after his take on a modern overdrive with the Winter Storm. This self-oscillating fuzz inspired me to write a full track, which you now hear at the beginning of every episode of our podcast!

David Ross has been on our podcast, and at the time he was raising funds for The Submersion. He talked briefly about the pedal and his process for design. The episode can be listened to everywhere podcasts are found.

This brings us to the Submersion Octave Fuzz, probably the most simple layout we have seen from David thus far. With just two knobs, the Submersion is certainly different. But do not let the simple layout fool you, this pedal’s appearance is deceptive.

Today we are going to take a look at the Submersion Octave Fuzz, and how it works. This is not your typical octave device, and there is a lot to cover today. Let’s dive into The Submersion…


Submersion Octave Fuzz: Specs & Features

Submersion Octave Fuzz

If you were expecting a pedal that offers both up and down octave options, the Submersion might not be for you. Like David’s other pedals, this one does something different that your expectations have probably set.

The Submersion Octave Fuzz only does an octave UP. But not in the way you may think. It might even confuse you the first time you kick the pedal on. It confused the hell out of me the first time I kicked it on!

This can all be explained by the history behind this pedal. The Submersion Octave Fuzz came from different inspirations than you would assume. David explains:

“I’ve always enjoyed octave fuzz sounds but I could never find one that really suited me. Some personal design choices seemed worthwhile for this project. I didn’t want to have to rely on germanium transistors or components which are scarce and hard to find. “ -David Ross

This means using different components from something like a Fuzz Face, or a Big Muff. While these pedals have a legendary sound due to the traditional circuitry, they have been done ad nauseam by pedal manufacturers. David took a different approach, as he usually does:

“From this point, I knew what I wanted as far as an octave fuzz pedal was concerned, but I also had ideas to create a much more elaborate design. I had plans to include another more traditional fuzz circuit with a clean blend control, and also include a mid-boost and cut control with a switch to allow for a high shelf. I made a number of prototypes attempting to implement these design choices to the circuit, but each of them had issues”

So if you are looking for a standard octave fuzz with germanium circuits, go buy one of those pedals. Like David’s other pedals, he decided to use different parts, despite the seemingly “legendary” results from other circuits.


How It Works

The result is the Submersion Octave Fuzz, which acts as a clean boost along with an octave up fuzz effect. The unique design offers tones that I have never heard before from ANY single pedal.

The Volume knob acts as a “normal” volume up until the noon position. Past the middle, it acts as a 10db clean boost. The “Surface” knob adds octave fuzz into the mix, with a large amount of control you rarely see from fuzz boxes.

Most octave fuzz pedals are either fully saturated or barely audible, regardless of how you set the knobs. This was the problem David was attempting to fix with his design.

The Submersion offers several layers of effect using the Surface knob. This gives the user much more control over the amount of octave fuzz. No matter where you set the knob, the fidelity remains the same. Other pedals will suck out the midrange, burying your guitar in the mix.

The Submersion avoids this by having a wide spectrum of responses when it comes to using the Surface knob. You can add as little, or as much as you want. In fact, you can dismiss the octave fuzz altogether and use the Volume knob alone as a boost.

The Volume/clean boost can be used as a “solo” kick as well. This is sometimes built into guitars as a mod, but the Submersion can be used as a clean boost without engaging the octave fuzz effect. Just dial down the Surface knob to zero, and you have a simple clean boost pedal.

The pedal can be powered by a standard 9V power supply, or a battery if you prefer. The enclosure is standard, with raised artwork that looks great.

Overall, the specs & features are rather barebones when you compare the Submersion to David’s other pedals. But the secret is in the sounds you can get from this thing.


Demo & Review

I often use octave fuzz, and I am currently recording an album that uses fuzz on almost every track. But I usually use the octave down effect, to create a heavy tone.

I purposely did not watch David’s demos of the pedal, as I wanted to be completely surprised when I first plugged in the Submersion Octave Fuzz. I was surprised, for sure!

I spent the next 3 hours playing with the Submersion, trying out every knob placement possible. I tried it in front of the amp, as well as in the FX loop of the amp. Both provide similar results, sort of…

It may just be the amplifiers that I tried the pedal with, but the Submersion Octave Fuzz did not play well in the FX loop for me. Maybe it works great in an FX loop, but it did not with my amps.

The Submersion Octave Fuzz also did not play well with my computer interface. I use every pedal that we review with Amp Sims like STL Tones just to see how it sounds. If I get this to work, then I will update this article.


The Beast…

However, in front of the amp…the Submersion is an absolute BEAST. It is almost impossible to describe, so I will post the video review here when the video is finished. Alas, I will attempt to describe the pedal.

The Submersion Octave Fuzz works threefold when it comes to the effect on your guitar signal. The Volume knob maxed out acts as a clean boost/sustainer, while the Surface knob adds fuzz and an octave.

The octave effect is not noticeable in the way most octave effects usually work. It is in the mix, but more in the background of the fuzz. As I said, this is difficult to describe!

The effect almost sounds like a ring modulator when you play sustained single notes. When playing a solo with the Submersion, the sustain from a note being held bleeds into the higher octave. It actually sounds like a mistake or glitch, but it is intentional.

The best way to compare this effect to literally anything is another niche effect! Letting a note ring out works like a Sustainiac Pickup in harmonic mode, with the note ringing out until it bleeds into an octave higher or a harmonic.

Does that make sense?

The Submersion Octave Fuzz is definitely different, but it has inspired me to use it creatively. The band Failure often used ring modulation lightly on their “Fantastic Planet” album. The Submersion does that effect very well.

The result can sound like a keyboard or piano with distortion applied. Arpeggiated chords and note sequences make this effect, especially past the 12th fret or with higher strings.

Playing chords can sound like a mess, but I can see how this pedal would be good for layering in the studio. In fact, my demo of the pedal uses it that way. The Submersion shines with single notes or octave chords. You can use these to thicken up rhythm guitar tracks.

If you turn down the octave fuzz, the effect becomes more usable for chords. The effect can be as subtle, or over the top as you want thanks to the vast control of the knob. I played a few solos to a backing track with the Surface knob only at about a 1/4 power. This sounded melodic and much less extreme.

The simplicity of the Submersion Octave Fuzz invites you to explore different combos with just two knobs. A slight twist in either direction can vastly change the sound. This is something to keep in mind.

Overall, what seems like an incredibly niche pedal is a very usable effect. The Submersion can be shocking if you just turn it up all the way and attempt to play your guitar. This pedal takes some finesse, and creative thinking.


Submersion Octave Fuzz: Wrapping Up…

As usual, David Ross absolutely nailed this concept. I personally own two “octave fuzz” pedals that do exactly what you expect. Both pedals add fuzz, with an octave either up or down. That’s what guitarists think of when they hear “octave fuzz”.

So David is maybe being a little deceptive when he calls The Submersion an “octave fuzz”. I mean, technically it is exactly that. However, it may not be the effect you expect.

What you get is a very unique approach at an effect that has been heard before on tons of albums. Radiohead, Failure, and many other popular bands have used a similar effect. The difference is those bands needed MULTIPLE pedals to achieve this effect.

David has come a long way from his original Winter Storm Pedal design. While that pedal offered some options that guitarists rarely see on an OD, it was just the beginning of what I think we will continue to see from David in the future.

The Submersion Octave Fuzz is unlike any pedal I have used over the last 30 years of being a guitarist. I call David a “mad scientist” all the time when describing his pedals for a reason. The guy is literally in his shop making totally original products.

David likes to think outside of the known universe with his approach to designs. His last pedal was also a fuzzbox, however it was inspired by the oscillation that a delay pedal emits.

The Submersion Octave Fuzz is not going to be for everyone, it is too niche, but I think just about every guitarist would be surprised by the sounds this thing makes. With the right creative approach, you can make some really amazing tones.

It will take a special type of guitarist to really appreciate this pedal. The Submersion is perfect for people who like to experiment. If you are looking for a traditional fuzz for Doom or Stoner Rock…look elsewhere.

If you are looking for a pedal that stands with the same ilk as Walrus Audio or Red Panda… then David Ross is right up your alley. The Submersion is a totally unique idea that can be endlessly tweaked for outlandish tones.


Price & Value

You can buy The Submersion by clicking here. This is a deal for a custom boutique pedal. David often funds his ventures through Kickstarter, and delivers amazing pieces of art with his pedals.

Boutique pedals usually run twice this price, but The Submersion is limited and created by David himself. You will not find these pedals at a big box store. Get yours today, and support a small business!

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