Caroline Guitar Company CROM Fuzz Review

His arrival was foretold!

The mischievous band of fuzz fanatics over at Caroline Guitar Company have awakened a powerful deity too great to go by any other name – CROM. Locked away by his own vanity and hubris to a plain black box, Caroline Guitar Company has welcomed a titan into our realm – but what will CROM do now that he is free?

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A Fuzzy Deity

Always all the rage, your fabled vintage fuzzes stay relevant for good reason. Whether your pick is sputtering octave fuzzes, scooped op-amp fuzzes, or any other captivating distortion in the mix, it's really quite remarkable that our favorite fuzzy stompboxes have stuck around for so long. Today, Caroline Guitar Company has reached into their bag of tricks to add another entry to their line of distinguished distortions and the pleasure is all ours.

CROM synthesizes the tones of some of your favorite fuzz circuits into a sleek stompbox. Throwing back to the fuzz styles of the BC184 Supa Tone Bender, CROM comes alive as a beastly box of distortion that swings with the best of both vintage and modern fuzzes. CROM carries with it all the responsiveness and control of meticulous modern fuzz circuits with the same capacity for disaster as vintage fuzz circuits.

Three Distorted Trails

Seek audience at the altar of CROM and you'll be met with three dials. Their hieroglyphic design is enough to make even the most experienced fuzz fans shake in their boots. For reference, we'll refer to these cryptic symbols as Helmet, Mountain, and Sword.

To the left, Helmet controls the overall volume of CROM. The overall output of CROM off the bat is hefty, so if you are not shy about making CROM's arrival known, CROM gives back lovingly. Helmet ramps up quickly for high output but also responsively reels in to hit different volume levels as you dial them. Accurate and steady in volume control, CROM hits the mark dead-on for filling a room, whether you're practicing privately or taking to the stage.

To the right, Sword works as your gain control. This dial further solidifies CROM as a manageable fuzz effect with the option to go simply wild. Start at noon and you'll feel the balance of CROM's fuzzy roar and articulate sustain where a single plucked note will bloom and resonate with a thick fuzzed center. With a couple of low picked notes, you'll hear CROM's central pulse as trails of buzzing distortion ring out and decay.

In the center, Mountain acts as a tweed-inspired tone control. Instead of spiking or dulling CROM's voice, Mountain highlights and accentuates different parts of CROM's overall output. Reminiscent of how a tweed-style amplifier will allow you to mix through its output and gain controls and find different sweet spots that mesh with your rig, CROM allows for that same tonal exploration. Between Sword and Mountain, you have two tools to actively scale the sonic summit and gaze upon the tonal horizon CROM builds.

The Sword in the Stone

Multi-dial effect mixing is a specialty of Caroline Guitar Company, and their skills with this form of tone shaping are plain to see with CROM. Setting out on your tonal journey with your Sword gain control at the helm, you'll be met with an interesting character at noon. CROM's Sword halfway cranked shows the solid balancing act CROM can perform. Striking a balance between roar and articulation, CROM retains all the sonic heft and pulsing sustain that, for other pedals, may be mutually exclusive. We've all been in that spot with a vintage-style fuzz where either the fullness or articulation must take priority, but what's wonderful about CROM is that this trade off doesn't have to be so. You can easily get the best of CROM's throaty roar and articulate heartbeat at once.

Introducing the Mountain tone control alongside a higher Sword setting makes different fuzz voices emerge and evolve from CROM. The tweed-style tone control acts similarly to the one you may find on a tweed amp, where different in-between frequencies interact with your playing and the resonance of the fuzz. Mountain will reshape CROM in nuanced ways to make its overall output all the more detailed. Sword and Mountain interact in interesting ways to bring the most out of CROM and the streamlined three-dial setup.

Where CROM ups the ante is with a specialized "Turbo" switch. A press of this side-mounted switch will engage a room-filling boost that supplements CROM's fuzzy voice. "Turbo" will build on CROM's relationship with your amp, where cleaner amps can receive a loving push of gain. If you're into stacked or overdriven amplifiers, the "Turbo" switch can be clicked off to help CROM make a match, tighten up bass response, and make the overall tone punchier. In any instance, CROM is fitted to mix with an array of amplifiers and other drive pedals, so feel free to play matchmaker.

Caroline Guitar Company CROM Fuzz Final Thoughts

The quest CROM offers is welcome for all to embark on. Whether you're onto collecting your first vintage-style fuzz or your fiftieth, there is certainly a place for CROM on your board. Responsive and easily dialed, CROM works well with single-coils and humbuckers, thanks in addition to the Mountain tone control. CROM is quick, punchy, and not as scooped as other heavier fuzzes might be. This sonic structure makes CROM more agile than you may expect as he bursts and quiets quickly with a definitive fuzzy voice. Fans of metal, the blues, shoegaze, or any genre where some distorted heavy lifting is required are sure to find a couple sweet spots with CROM. He's a heavyweight capable of distorting a signal and making some new friends along the way.

A beautiful behemoth in a compact case, CROM smiles upon you.

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