When EarthQuaker Devices launched the Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainer back in November 2021 it was as though the Akron, Ohio pedal specialist had made one piece of an arcane puzzle available.
The Hizumitas is a Wata signature fuzz pedal, a faithful recreation of the Boris guitarist’s vintage Elk BM Sustainer – a rare and ornery Japanese take on the Triangle Big Muff that has been crucial to her electric guitar tone.
But it was only one piece. And Wata’s pedalboard remained something of a mystery, not so much as to what was on it but how she arranged her guitar effects pedals, carefully curating a signal path that would yield maximum dynamic range, and an opulently textured wall of fuzz noise when the occasion called for it.
Now, in the latest episode of EarthQuaker Devices’ Bored To Death YouTube series, Wata has peeled back the veil to offer a guided video tour and demonstration of her pedalboard, and to demystify her signal.
As you might expect, her ‘board is well stocked with fuzz pedals. Sharing space with the Hizumitas are fuzz pedals such as Mattoverse Electronic’s AirTrash – a pedal to make your guitar sound like “absolute garbage” – and the monstrous Dwarfcraft Shiva, and of course Wata’s signature MASF Watafuzz. And the Boss DS-1 distortion pedal plays a key role in allowing her to stack with the Hizumitas for a more aggressive sound.
With pedals such as EQD’s Hummingbird tremolo, Aqueduct Tremolo and Avalanche Run stereo reverb and delay, and the Bananana Mandala glitch pedal she has plenty of pedalboard options for augmenting her tone.
Perhaps coolest of all is how Wata arranges her mis en place, with her vintage Roland Space Echo unit mounted shoulder height on her right hand side so she can adjust that it the fly. Wata still uses an original unit, but with Boss releasing two pedalboard Space Echo variants this week, perhaps we will see this move to her pedalboard in future.
The Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainer was painstakingly recreated from Wata’s original Elk BM. Putting together a replica that sounded the same as the original unit took EQD’s Jamie Stillman over a year.
“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 said. “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.”
The Hizumitas is available now, priced $149 / £159. See EarthQuaker Devices for more.