MOEN is a relative newcomer to the world of guitar effects founded in 2005. Located in Hong Kong, the company offers a full range of effects pedals including some very innovative models such as their Raw Tube Drive which is advertised as the world’s smallest high voltage tube overdrive and Stage Control line of programmable true bypass loops. We’ll look at two pedals from their vintage series today, the MO-OD Overdrive and MO-FM Fuzz Moo.
Ok, so it’s got perhaps the most generic name possible. And the pedal has a fairly utilitarian look to match in spite of its bullet-shatter-glass cosmetics. The unit even features all the standard stuff you’d expect to see on an overdrive pedal: a trio of controls (volume, tone, and drive), red led indicator, 9v dc power jack, and a handy, thumb-screwed battery cover on the back. The MOEN Overdrive is built in a hefty metal enclosure with an extremely solid feel to it giving me confidence that it won’t crumble under even the harshest conditions.
For my initial audition of the pedal’s tones, I cranked the gain and tone to max and set the level around noon, plugged it up with my trusty SX SST57, and into a Vox Pathfinder 15r set for a subtle breakup. Engaging the pedal, well, to say I was impressed isn’t quite a fair description. I was darn near hypnotized! After close to an hour of playing, I stopped to truly evaluate what I was hearing. I could hear a strong similarity to a Tubescreamer so I plugged up my TS9 for comparison and there was none. The MO-OD blew it away. It’s got all the midrange sweetness of the Tubescreamer with seemingly more compression yet the highs and lows remain intact unlike the weaker low end and predominant mid range hump of the traditional Tubescreamer. Hmmm…
I spent quite some time trying to figure out what exactly is going on until I realized that the pedal accomplishes its seemingly contradictory transparent vibe by passing a preset amount of the bypassed signal through the pedal even when engaged. Brilliant! However, as a result if you’re playing a really clean amp the effect is a little obvious as the overdriven and clean signal can be heard as two fairly distinct sounds. But when your target amp has a bit or grit dialed up this thing is simply magical. On top of it all, the pedal has a bunch of volume on tap for those who enjoy pummeling the front end of their amp.
Anyone looking for a Tubescreamer styled overdrive with a bit more transparency should definitely check this pedal out. The MOEN Overdrive is a bit of a tonal paradox: beautifully compressed and colored yet transparent at the same time. Highly recommended.
Fuzz Moo MO-FM
Ok, any pedal with bizarre name and an affordable price tag is going to get some of my attention and I don’t think I’ve heard another pedal outside of the Way Huge line with such an amusing name. The pedal is adorned with a rather serious cow skull graphic for having such a whimsical name, but it’s about how these things sound not look right? The pedal’s layout and features fall right in line with the MO-OD with the aforementioned pedal’s gain knob relabeled as sustain.
Plugged up, MOEN was definitely inspired by the Big Muff rather than Fuzz Face. However, I always found the Big Muff to be a rather muddy sounding pedal with an overly tubby low end. Even the name sounds muddy to me. The MO-FM has a leaner low end by comparison and pushes the gain up to 11. The filter sweep styled tone control will be familiar to Big Muff fans, but like the gain range seems to be wider without getting piercing on the top end nor muddy on the low end.
I paired the Fuzz Moo with everything I have. This pedal is a weapon with more in common with a laser than a traditional fuzz pedal. It obliterates any tonal signature of your guitar supplanting its devastatingly aggressive roar. Sustain is actually a perfect name for the gain knob on this little beasty as when it’s cranked up to max notes seem to hang on for days. This isn’t something for those seeking subtlety. No, this pedal is all about in your face, slicing fuzz and would be a perfect complement to the pedal boards of those seeking more non-conventional tones ala Muse or Radio Head. I could also see fans of industrial and death metal really getting some mileage out of the Fuzz Moo.
The MOEN MO_FM Fuzz Moo isn’t for everyone. But the tonally adventurous should seek one out. Combined with some filtering and/or octave effects, you’ll definitely be getting double takes from audience members wondering who’s playing the synth.