Katzenkönig. The Cat King. It sings like a fuzz, yet is tight like a distortion. It loves single coils and humbuckers. It sounds great into a clean amp or into an overdriven amp (or pedal). So, is it a fuzztortion? Or is it a distorfuzz? We’ll leave the semantics up to you but what we can tell you is that Katzenkönig combines the best elements of a Tone Bender MkII fuzz with a Rat distortion. That’s right! The circuit is all discrete, using a trio of silicon transistors in a modified Tone Bender MkII arrangement with the output section of a Rat, including its clipping section, filter, and output buffer. Katzenkönig was tuned to offer a huge range of response from a really beautiful singing tone, to tight, harmonically rich crunch, all the way to fuzz mayhem.
Katzenkönig was tuned to offer a huge range of response – from a really beautiful singing tone, to tight, harmonically-rich crunch, all the way to fuzz mayhem.
A simple, four-knob control scheme allows you to dial in your sound quickly and without much fuss:
INPUT – Controls the input sensitivity. Turn it down when using higher output pickups and humbuckers or to dial in your wah sound (more on that later). Turn it up for lower output pickups or for when you want to go over-the-top!
GAIN – Controls the gain of the second gain stage. It is not a conventional gain control, rather, it controls the amount of negative feedback in that stage. What does that mean for you? It means you get a wide ranging gain control that sounds great throughout it’s entire rotation!
FILTER – Allows you to dial in your final tone from smooth and creamy all the way to bright and cutting. You can quickly find the sweet spot for your rig with this control. If you are familiar with the Filter control on a Rat then what you’ll find is that this is an even better version of that idea!
VOLUME – Standard volume control. You’ll find that Katzenkönig sounds great turned down quiet or cranked up and loud!
To get familiar with your new Katzenkönig, let’s begin by plugging it straight into your amp set to a clean sound with no other pedals in the chain.
Set the controls as follows: Volume – noon, Filter – noon, Gain – minimum, Input – minimum.
Now play a bit to get a feel for how it responds. Go ahead and mess with the Filter knob to see how it works. You’ll notice that unlike most fuzz and distortion pedals, Katzenkönig sounds great at minimum gain settings.
Now go ahead and start experimenting with the Gain and Input controls. You’ll notice that they both increase gain but in different ways. Leave one at minimum and start turning the other up. Then leave the other at minimum and turn the other one up. And yes, cranking them both up leads to extreme fuzz, sustain, and saturation!
At lower Gain and Input settings, Katzenkönig’s response is tight, like a great distortion pedal. You can play chugging, palm-muted riffs that you wouldn’t be able to get away with on a standard fuzz pedal. But turn up the Gain and Input, and you can get those epic harmonic blooms that you normally associate with a great fuzz pedal!
Generally speaking, you’ll get the best results plugging in to a non-master volume tube amp. But amps with overdrive channels can work well with Katzenkönig too. Super high gain amps... maybe not so much.