This Article Was Originally Published On: December 15, 2015 #Issue 17.

The Company Line

EarthQuaker Devices is an interesting and vibrant company that, as no surprise, calls Akron, Ohio (“The City of Invention”) as their home. Historically, Akron has paved the way for many inventions, and that might be why it is the location for the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame. The very kind people at EarthQuaker Devices are definitely living up to their hometown’s reputation. They are constantly trying to find ways to invent/reinvent pedals. They step up the game with not only unique sound effects, but some really interesting printed artwork.

I find it interesting and helpful to learn a bit about the path a given person or company has taken to get to where they are, so I asked the President of EarthQuaker Devices, Jamie Stillman, about the company history. “I started the company in 2005 with pretty much no intention of it being anything more than a hobby. The first two pedals were the Hoof Fuzz and the Disaster Transport Delay. I put a few up on ebay and posted about them on the Harmony Central forum. Little by little, people started putting orders in and things started to spread by word of mouth. The monthly orders slowly grew bigger and bigger and I started adding pedals to the line. By 2008, I had about eight pedals in the line and was shipping about 200 pedals a month. Things really took off around 2009, and I was putting in 18-hour days, 7 days a week between EQD and my day job as a graphic designer. I hired my first employee in January of 2010 (Jeff France; he is still with us as Production Manager) and quit all my other jobs to focus on EQD. By 2012, we had six people working in my basement about 8-9 hours a day. Jeff and I were sometimes still working 14+ hour shifts to keep up with demand. In the summer of 2012, we left the basement and moved into a 1,500 sq ft shop and my wife, Julie, came on to run the business end of things. We started advertising, going to NAMM and putting a little more effort into making ourselves more visible. Ever since then, we have grown week-by-week, with no sign of slowing down. We began adding more builders as orders were rapidly growing, and we quickly filled up every square inch of space available in the new shop. We are now a team of 30+ people and we can still barely keep up! We are just about to move into a new 15,000 sq ft building, so we can spread out and have room to keep up with the ever-growing demand, without resorting to outsourcing or employing robots to build the pedals.”

Pitch Bay Pedals

For this review, we will be looking at two EarthQuaker Devices pedals which work well on bass, the Hoof Reaper fuzz and the Pitch Bay.

Hoof Reaper

Let’s take a look at their Hoof Reaper pedal. This pedal – measuring 5 1/2” x 4 ½” x 2 1/2” – is bigger than your “average” pedal, but this is far from that, considering it is basically three pedals in one. Included in the box it came in was a cloth bag for the pedal and some literature explaining this particular pedal and the line of pedals they have. It also included a sticker of their logo with a gnarly looking human skull-headed octopus. Who doesn’t love stickers?

Looking down at the pedal and starting from the left side, or the side known as the Hoof, there are four knobs, which include from the top left the Tone knob, which yields a more trebly tone when rotated towards the right, and when rotated to the left, adds some very nice lower frequencies. To the right of that resides the Shift knob. This gives you the option to scoop your mid frequencies when turned to the right, or to add them when turned to the left. There isn’t a very drastic change in the mids, but it is noticeable. It is a nice option to have when used in combination with the Reaper. Below the Shift knob is the Fuzz knob, and yes, you guessed it, this knob intensifies the fuzz when turned to the right – and it gets kind of wicked. When the Fuzz effect is turned all the way to the left, you get a nice direct signal from your bass, with just a hint of fuzz. When dialed to the center, this creates a nice, distorted fuzzy sound, while still keeping the low end. But turned all the way to the right, you loose a fairly good amount of your low end, but gain more mid/high frequencies. This is where the Shift knob came in handy for me, as I could dull down those mid/high frequencies and get a nice, warmer sound, somewhat similar to a ’60s Muff fuzz. To the left of the Fuzz dial is the Level knob, which (predictably) adjusts the output level. Just below and slightly to the left of the Level knob is a very bright white LED indicator light, which illuminates when the Hoof effect is engaged. Below the LED is the footswitch button.

Moving to the center of the pedal, we have the Octave effect. This is only an on/off effect, meaning that there are no controls to adjust the level or any parameters dealing with the octave. It only does an octave up, and it does exactly what it says. I do really enjoy using this effect when both fuzzes are engaged, as it adds some clarity to the chaos of two fuzz pedals at full power. When engaged by itself – indicated by the same bright LED – the Octave balances out the low and high end fairly well, but there are times I wish I could bring up the octave level a little more. This does add a hint of fuzz and seems to diminish the low end a bit, but it is an octave effect, so that seems logical to me.

EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper

To the right of the Octave, we have the Reaper effect. This fuzz is a very easy-to-use, 3-knob pedal. You have your Tone knob on the top left, which works in the exact opposite way as the Hoof. This is kind of confusing, since on the Hoof, when you turn it all the way to the left, it adds more low end, but when the Reaper is turned all the way to the left, this creates a more trebly sound. Confusing at first, but it only took me a couple of minutes to get used to it. Directly to the right of the Tone dial is the Fuzz knob, which works exactly as the Hoof Fuzz does. Turned all the way to the left equals less fuzz, and turned all the way to the right is all the fuzz. I did notice that when turning the knob from all the way to the left to the right, it seems to gradually increase until a little bit after the ¾ mark, then it gets more rapidly intense, and it almost seems to add a little touch of bass. Just past the ¾ mark is about where I kept it for the majority of time while testing it out. Below and directly placed in the center of both the Tone and Fuzz knobs is the Level adjustment, which is the same as the Hoof Level, adjusting the output. Located beneath the Level knob and to the right a tad is the LED indicator light, and beneath that is the footswitch.

Finally, located on the center of the back panel is the standard 9-volt DC power supply with a 2.1 mm negative center, which has a draw of 6mA. The ¼” In is located to the right of the power supply, with a triangle pointing down (indicating that it is the input), while the ¼” Out is located to the left of the power supply (indicated by the triangle pointing up).

When comparing the sound of these two fuzzes, for some reason, I kept on thinking of the difference between a bear growl and a wolf growl. The Hoof would be the bear growl – a tad bit lower and more muffled-sounding – while the Reaper would be comparable to the wolf growl, which is still a lower spectrum, but has a higher bite. With both fuzzes fully cranked, it does tend to get a little crazy, but what I found was when you throw the Octave in there, it helps to clean things up a bit and make the actual notes more distinguishable. The really neat part about this pedal is you can have a combination of the effects turned on or off and tweaked to your liking. There is definitely no end to the sounds of fuzz this pedal can create, or in fact YOU can create. With this pedal, you can have your own unique sound.

Pitch Bay

Measuring 4 5/8” x 2 1/2” x 2 ¼”, this “normal-sized” pedal packs a very big creative punch. The Pitch Bay features the ability to adjust the pitch up to 12 semitones – or one whole octave above and/or below the original pitch. Looking down at the Pitch Bay pedal and starting from the top left is the Pitch Up knob, which pitches the note up to the 12 semitones. To the right of that is the Pitch Down knob, and this one pitches the note down to 12 semitones. The last knob on the top right is the Gain control. Directly below the Gain knob sits the Root knob, which controls the level of the root note that is being played, turning left for less and right for more. To the left is the Down knob, and this controls the level of the pitched-down notes. And right next to it on the left is the Up knob, which controls the level of the pitched-up notes. A little further below the Up knob sits the LED indicator light, which is the same as the Hoof Reaper lights. Directly to the right of that is the footswitch.

On the back panel, you have your ¼” In to the far right, indicated by the same type of triangle pointed down as in the Hoof Reaper. To the left of that is the 9-volt DC 2.1mm negative-center power supply, which has a current draw of 100mA. Further left we find the ¼” Out, indicated by an upwards-pointing triangle. The Pitch Bay was really fun to mess around with. As I mentioned before, this pedal pitches your sound not only up, but also down. It gives you complete control over not only the pitch but the levels, so you could have all high notes, all low notes, or everything all at once. It’s completely up to you. Most octave pedals don’t give you anywhere near this amount of adjustability, and the ability to dial in the root note is kind of awesome.

When messing around with the Pitch Up dial, there is a bit of a “synth digital sound” emanating, but it wasn’t as dramatic as some octave pedals are. I had even more fun pitching everything down, especially with my 5-string bass. Having everything pitched down, I didn’t notice any muddiness, as the notes were very smooth and they were still kind of distinguishable. Obviously, when playing on the B string, things did get a little weird, but I was still able to make out what was going on. All in all, this pedal is a complete blast to play with and can be used by many different instruments. I would definitely add this to my pedal board!

Pitch Bay Pedals


In a nutshell, these pedals are very light, but extremely solid and well-built. You can tell there has been a lot of thought, time, and hard work put into building these pedals. When I asked Jamie what goes into these pedals, he explained, “All of our pedals are hand-made. All of the pedals are populated, assembled and tested by hand in our shop in Akron Ohio. We employ around 25 builders to do this work. We use all-metal film resistors for lower noise floor and tighter tolerances, capacitors that we have specially made for us, and fairly common transistors and opamps from Mouser. We will also use a lot of vintage germanium transistors, diodes and various other NOS parts when the circuit calls for it. We spend a lot of time sourcing the right parts for the job and keep them readily available. I won’t use anything that we can’t get tens of thousands of. Everything has to be readily available from one source or another. Over the last ten years, I have created a pretty large database of NOS parts suppliers that we can pull from. Maintaining a good back stock of parts is pretty much a full-time job around here.” They truly go above-and-beyond to make these pedals the greatest they can be.

Manufacture:EarthQuaker Devices
Model:Hoof Reaper
Made In:Akron, Ohio
Inputs:¼” input, 9v DC center negative
Outputs:¼” parallel, ¼” out, XLR direct out
Controls:Tone, Shift, Level, Fuzz, Octave
Other Features:White LED for power on
Dimensions:5 1/2” 4 ½” 2 1/2”
Weight:15.6 OZ.
Warranty:Limited lifetime
Manufacture:EarthQuaker Devices
Model:Pitch Bay
Made In:Akron, Ohio
Inputs:¼” Input, 9v DC center negative
Outputs:¼” output
Controls:Pitch Up, Pitch Down, Gain, Up Level, Down Level, Root Level
Other Features:White LED for power on
Dimensions:4 5/8” x 2 1/2” x 2 ¼”
Weight:9.4 OZ.
Warranty:Limited lifetime