Check out this new Orange-inspired gain stage hand built in Montreal, Quebec.
Learn more or grab your own from Fish Circuits website!
Fish Circuits is the newest kid on the block when it comes to boutique overdrives, though their offering is quite a bit more eye catching than most Instagram fodder I scroll through. But after digging a little deeper, I was quickly impressed with the specs and tonal fingerprint of the Model One, Fish Circuits’ inaugural pedal.
Based on the popular “citrus-colored amp” tone, this is a fuzzstortion pedal that can go from light breakup to nearly full on fuzz, thanks to flexible controls. You have standard gain and volume controls, plus a control knob for the high end EQ. Two toggles enhance control, one goes from a lower gain mode with lots of volume (n) to a more distorted, compressed, cranked-amp like side (b).
Lastly, the Body toggle switch gives you three options for how much low end cuts through the mix. A lot, medium, and a little is basically how I thought about it. All that is packed into an enclosure reminiscent of a early pedal designs with a bright orange coloring that catches the eyes. Not bad for a first pedal!
But What Does It Actually Sound Like?
This pedal absolutely exceeded expectations for me. It’s a bit clunky for some people who want a neat, tidy board, thanks to the large, heavy duty enclosure. But I love it, it feels like it can take a beating and has a total vintage vibe to it. I had endless fun dialing in tones, and barely even needed to touch the 3 control knobs to stay entertained. The two modes are both very different and very useful, think a Vox AC30 on steroids, in the same vein as some of the Orange amplifiers. It has that big saturated, high gain tone that could go toe to toe with a Marshall or Rockerverb, but cleans up into a chime-rich, jangle machine like an AC30 or ADH30.
You can use the body toggle switch to go from bass rich tones, to a more even round sound, all the way up to treble rich heaven. You get real differences in sounds, not just slight tweaks. There’s a good range of sweep on the control knobs as well, though they definitely are for more fine tuning of the sound you land on. This pedal can serve as a serious Orange-in-a-box option for those with low wattage, quiet amps or clean pedal platforms.
Simply put, the Model One can solve a lot of problems for you, and seems to play equally nice with digital amps and real live tube amps in my experience. It covers a ton of ground, and will stick out in a very positive way from the crowd of overdrive pedals. I’m very impressed with how Fish Circuits went about constructing the controls (a mix of toggles and knobs), not something you see in a lot of inaugural pedal releases.
Would I Recommend It?
Yeah, I really would. It’s got some quirk, cool controls, and a wide range of good sounds. I’m not going to lie and say it is revolutionary, because it isn’t. But it serves a good purpose and can bring a lot of gain versatility to your board.
It’s also not particularly expensive considering the quality and feature set. It’s $250 CAD, which roughly converts to $187 USD based on current exchange rates. That’s still expensive for sure, but it is not far from the norm for boutique gain stages. Take for example the $200+ USD price tag of many popular and well regarded pedals like the 1981 DRV.
Fish Circuits and the Model One should definitely be on your radar for high gain tones and amp-like chime that will nail most classic British guitar sounds. I’m digging it, and think it serves a great purpose, even if it isn’t revolutionary and groundbreaking.