guitar world reviews chunk systems brown dog & agent funk
CHUNK-A-LICIOUS - CHUNK SYSTEMS Brown Dog and Agent 00Funk Mark II pedals
GUITAR WORLD MAGAZINE - MARCH 2010
- By Ed Friedland
In the realm of bass effects, two types stand out as the most popular: the fuzz / distortion / drive pedal and the envelope filter, a.k.a. auto-wah. The ability to turn your bass into a raging bulldozer or a bubbling cauldron of percolation funkiness has never lost its appeal, and manufacturers are always hoping to develop the ultimate example of each effect.
Australian-based CHUNK SYSTEMS throws its hat in the ring with two cool new pedals: the Brown Dog Gated Bass Fuzz and the Agent 00Funk Mark II Envelope Filter. In addition to working independently of one another, the pedals connect together in ways that give you greater flexibility and synth-like clarity.
The Brown Dog has Soft and Hard modes to let you choose classic warm fuzz or acid square-edged tones, and dirty and clean level knobs so you can dial in the perfect mix of both signals. The clean control also offers a bit of extra gain if you need it. The gate control determines the input level that triggers the fuzz tone. This can prevent pickup hum and finger noise from being amplified by the fuzz circuit. It also controls the length, or "overhang," of the distortion. Setting the knob toward the "Tight" designation clamps down on the grind and leaves space for the attack of the next note, which is particularly useful when a lot of drive is applied. The range on the drive knob changes the character of the fuzz signal from mellow, almost tube-like grit to a highly saturated square wave. The Dog has true-bypass operation and a dedicated envelope output that can feed an inverted-phase clean signal with +12dB of boost to the Agent 00Funk's Envelope input.
The Agent 00Funk Mark II is a highly adjustable and sensitive envelope filter along the lines of the classic Mu-Tron III, but with the benefits of quieter circuitry, true bypass and availability. The Agent has four control knobs: pitch, which selects the pitch range of the filter effects; smoothness, which controls the speed of the filter sweep; sweep, which affects the width of the filter sweep; and squelch, which adjusts the filter resonance and the effect’s extremity. An up/down switch changes the direction of the sweep, giving you the choice between "wow" and "uhm" sounds.
Each pedal is powered by a nine-volt, which is tucked away in a battery drawer that can be opened without tools. The drawer is a cool idea, but the length of the battery wires is a little too short. The pedals can also run on external power supplies, which, unfortunately, are not included.
The Dog does well at subtle settings, getting closer to the chocolaty tone of a tube amp in heat, but having control over the clean/dirty mix and gate helps the bass retain focus, punch and articulation with high fuzz levels. With the pedal in Soft fuzz mode, the low-end blooms and the highs are smooth and natural, but switching to Hard mode brings out the mids and gives the tone an edgy presence.
The Agent 00Funk is a sensitive pedal that requires patience to master. Luckily, CHUNK SYSTEMS made one of the most sought-after tones easy to produce - just set all the knobs at 12 o'clock. The 00Funk has a ton of great sounds, but you must learn how to finesse your attack for each setting.
Connecting the pedals through the envelope in/out jacks really brings out the best in the 00Funk. The typical setup would be to place the filter before the distortion, as the filter is more touch-sensitive and the distortion accentuates harmonics of the filter's sweep. However, you can swap the order of the pedals and still connect the envelope, which yields a completely different-sounding effect. One other useful feature is that the 00Funk can be used as an effect loop to patch in other effect pedals using a mono ¼ inch Y cable.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Brown Dog is a killer fuzz that has lots of range and great presence in a live mix, while the Agent 00Funk nails all the classic envelope tones with hi-fi quality. Together, they become almost another instrument that adds analog synth-like expression to your bass lines.