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Watch EarthQuaker Devices’ Jamie Stillman and Wata talk about the making of the Boris guitarist’s Hizumitas fuzz

Boris
(Image credit: Roger Kisby/Getty Images; EarthQuaker Devices)

The Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainer is one of the stand-out fuzz pedals of 2021. Developed by EarthQuaker Devices’ Jamie Stillman with Wata, guitarist of avant-rock pioneers Boris, it is a faithful replica of her vintage ELK BM Sustainar – and exactly the type of out-of-production Japanese stompbox that turns up online for £750 and more.

Happily, the Hizumitas has those same tones at a more agreeable £149 street. But putting together a circuit like that to accurately replicates Wata’s vintage unit was not easy, and it ultimately took over a year for Stillman to be able to design one that would match the original.

In a new video feature posted on EQD’s YouTube page, Akron, Ohio pedal company’s founder, president and lead designer talks about his longstanding relationship with Boris, having toured Japan with them in his band, Relaxer, and the process behind the Hizumitas. While designing a circuit was on thing, making it sound exactly like Wata's original was different ball game.

EarthQuaker Devices supremo Jamie Stillman

EarthQuaker Devices supremo Jamie Stillman (Image credit: EarthQuaker Devices)

“Eventually I got up to seven revisions, and it took over the course of a year, sending it back and forth before I finally asked her to send me her pedal,” he says. “Because it was starting to sound so different from mine that I assumed that it must have been wired different. I actually took mine apart and measured each piece just to see what the tolerances were, and everything had drifted, pretty wildly.”

Upon its release at the start of November, the Hizumitas’s tasting notes promised, “heavy saturation with a gritty edge and massive bottom while maintaining a clear and dynamic tone with enough mids and top end to cut through any sludge”. And you get all this from a simple three-knob layout.

There are controls for Volume, Sustain and Tone, with the latter boosting bass and cutting mids as you turn it clockwise, adding treble when turned counterclockwise.

The Hizumitas is not Wata’s first signature fuzz. A while back, she and MASF Pedals collaborated on the Watafuzz, which was based on a Foxx Tone Machine, with a limited run arriving in 2015. Both, however, will feature on her pedalboard, and might be used together depending on the song. 

Wata’s pedalboard is a well-stocked and hard to replicate – after all, as Stillman says, some of those pedals might sound different to equivalents bought today. But Wata did have one piece of advice for anyone who picks up the Hizumitas – “I want people to try it in an environment where they can set amps very loud.”

Words to live by. The Hizumitas is available now. See EarthQuaker Devices for more info, and subscribe to its YouTube channel here.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.