Gear Review: Earthquaker Devices Hizumitas

The latest collaboration from Earthquaker Devices, the Hizumitas, comes from one of the heaviest names in music over the last 2 decades, Boris, and their unique and singular guitar stylist Wata, who weaves her own special searing magic quite unlike any other guitarist today. Her main fuzz of choice for years has been the Elk Sustainer Big Muff, a Japanese variant of the Triangle incarnation of the classic fuzz.

Earthquaker Devices has not only copied her Elk perfectly but quite possibly made some improvements and added some stability to this curious circuit which many claim that no two Elk’s are the same.  Wata sent her own favorite Elk to Earthquaker and they soon realized that her personal pedal had a heavier saturation, grittier edge, and more massive bottom than other versions they had tested so they went about copying it exactly.

This fuzz/distortion brings tons of heavy distortion and smooth sustain plus an underlying grit that sounds like the speakers are on the verge of ripping apart while still delivering remarkable clarity from such an aggressive sounding pedal. 

Even small changes in the saturation control can greatly affect the overall tone so be judicious with your adjustments. The tone control is very interactive with the distortion/sustain control as well and works in reverse to what you may normally expect, in that clockwise is darker and more bottom, and counterclockwise is more cutting and filtered (bass frequencies are boosted clockwise and treble is boosted counterclockwise). 

There’s a massive amount of volume on tap topo and unity is much closer to 10 o’clock on the dial instead of noon which is actually a good thing in that it provides more flexibility for all guitar and pickup types.  For instance, Wata plays a black Les Paul Custom with humbuckers so if you play single coils you’ll likely be very happy with the extra gain available. Thanks to the interactivity of the tone and sustain, I was able to get an equally great sound from any guitar I pulled off my rack, regardless of pickup type. Just some slight tweaking to the sustain and tone did the trick to basically match the exact sound I wanted from any guitar and pickup combination.

The Hizumitas is an all-analog signal path, true bypass, employs silent, relay-based switching, and has a current draw of a mere 10ma, powered by 9v.  Even if you’re not a fan of Boris or don’t know their music but appreciate heavy sounds this could be your pedal. 

I’ve been following the band for many years so this is a very welcome release for me.  Even though I don’t make music at all in the same realm, I love the roar and it can be used very powerfully in almost any style of music. Whether you want massive, cutting rock power chords, thick, droning doom, or sizzling singe-note leads with body, it’s all there in the Hizumitas. Don’t be afraid because of the pedigree. It’s actually just a well-rounded, versatile fuzz with a lot of colors available. Wata is actually using the Hizumitas on the new Boris album, Reincarnation Rose, which is out now, rather than her old Elk BM. The Hizumitas is available now in a limited edition black art or standard purple. It may become your favorite all-around fuzz.

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