The Kevin Shields Blender is the product of four years of R&D, and it rehouses a ‘70s Fender fuzz circuit in an expanded format with some all-new performance-friendly features.
The Blender fuzz units we know and love had four-knob configurations. Shields’ new signature pedal has eight, with four footswitches. You can now toggle the octave-up fuzz voice on and off via a push button. There are two footswitchable channels; one blends your guitar’s signal with fuzz, the other takes the clean signal out of the equation entirely and spikes it with a monophonic sub-octave fuzz.
There is a footswitchable reactive Sag circuit, with dials for Trigger and Sag that allow players to change the response of the fuzz and how it reacts to your playing and the electric guitar pickups in your instrument.
As the name suggests, these tones are blendable. This is a Nutribullet for fuzz. Simply adjust the Volume and Blend to set the balance between your guitar’s signal and the fuzz, and then adjust Fuzz and Octave knobs to taste.
Remarkably, given the maturation of the guitar effects pedal market, not to mention the fevered search for pedals that approximate the feedback, sustain and carbonated guitar fuzz of Shields’ My Bloody Valentine tone, this is only the first pedal Shields has put his name to.
“I really enjoyed the experience,” he said. “I’ve been using it a lot recently in the studio, it’s been great. I’m looking forward to hearing how other people use it. It’s kind of pretty extreme but also very interesting when it’s set up in a subtle way.”
Subtle or nuts, have it your way. And what's that about the studio? Did Shields just tease new music?
The Kevin Shields Blender comes with a signature backplate, a brushed aluminium chassis with vinyl touches for a retro ‘70s look. It has F-stamped witch’s hat controls. In addition to the Sag circuit controls listed above, the octave section has two dials for Fuzz and Octave, while the fuzz circuit has Volume, Blend, Tone and Sustain controls. There are Bypass, Octave, Sag and Expand footswitches.
This will be a holy grail for for many shoegaze fiends and alt-rock noise architects. All you’ve got to do is work out what you want to do with the reverb (would the Catalinbread X40 Soft Focus be to your taste?) and then to find a place where you can turn your amps up loud enough. That won’t be easy. My Bloody Valentine tone without volume is like a day without sunshine.
“He wanted to chop the cable because it was shaking his shop so much when we were doing You Made Me Realise,” said Shields. “The police turned up and arrested our tour manager during You Made Me Realise. They arrested him, put him in the car, questioned him and let him go and when he got back we were still playing it.”
At £449 / $499, you would not let a butcher nor his cleaver anywhere near this. The Kevin Shields Blender does not come cheap. It is limited to 700 units worldwide, and is exclusively available through Reverb, Andertons and Fender. Each unit is hand-signed by Shields himself and comes with a commemorative booklet.