Review: Creation Audio Labs Funkulator & Grizzly Bass Pedals

Creation Audio Labs makes several products geared toward the high-end studio market, with a focus on power supplies, buffering, and impedance matching.
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Creation Audio Labs makes several products geared toward the high-end studio market, with a focus on power supplies, buffering, and impedance matching. The company’s work in these areas forms the foundation of its effect-pedal lineup, and with two new bass-specific boxes on the market—the Grizzly Bass and Funkulator—low-enders can now enjoy the benefits of studio-quality engineering in their pedalboards.

DIG U NOW

With its one knob and switch, the Funkulator is pure simplicity, but what goes on inside the sturdy metal case is far from basic. Many players find that their preferred fingerstyle tone doesn’t work when switching to funk/slap technique—the midrange frequencies that provide helpful finger articulation turn into a snarling gnash when all you want to do is get down. The Funkulator’s knob controls a mid-scoop centered at 800Hz that decreases gain as you roll it clockwise. As the mids decrease, the lows and highs get boosted for a consistent overall volume, and the width of the cut narrows. The Funkulator uses a custom-wound inductor rather than an integrated circuit, for a simpler and less colored signal path. The output is buffered by Creation Audio’s Redeemer circuit, which produces a low-impedance line-level signal that can drive long cable runs, suppress noise, and allow the pedal to be plugged directly into a mixing console without a DI. The plain purple box and green knob are offset by an ultra-groovy light-show behind the cutout logo.

DADDA GRIZZLY

The Grizzly Bass pedal shares the same buffer and advanced power-supply infrastructure as the Funkulator, and it employs analog waveshaping technology borrowed from Creation Audio’s Holy Fire pedal. While it falls into the overdrive/distortion category, it can also be useful as a general tone-shaping device, a clean boost, or like its funky friend, a signal buffer. In addition to gain, overdrive, and distortion, the Griz also features the Funkulator mid-scoop and a high-frequency rolloff control. The mid-cut is wired reverse from the Funkulator pedal: fully clockwise is flat, and dialing counterclockwise brings in more of the cut.

Creation Audio engineer Alex Welti describes the inspiration behind the analog wave shaping: “One day I realized there was math behind the behavior of tubes, and that back in the old days, computers were analog. By studying the math behind tubes and analog computers, I came up with the wave-shaping computer—the signal stays analog the whole way through. Nothing digital.” He further explains, “The real advantage of the wave-shaping circuit, besides tube emulation, is that it’s studio-quality clean—even at extreme settings, it does not add a lot of noise.”

FUNK U NOW

Running the pedals through their paces in my bass cave, I used a Genz Benz Shuttle 9.2 to power a Greenboy Audio Fearless 1x12, with a variety of basses. The Funkulator is essentially an adjustable one-trick pony, but if you need that trick, it’s very handy. While I find most “slap switches” and amp mid-cut presets poorly centered, ham-fisted, or both, the Funkulator manages to deliver something useful. But of course, with the frequency set at 800Hz, it works best when that is the frequency range you want to cut. I tried the Funkulator on my EMG-equipped Lull MV5 (which already has a great slap tone), and wound up with muddy low end, shrill highs, and no impact. But switching over to my G&L L2500 in series mode, the Funkulator worked magic on the hyper-aggressive midrange, and produced as close to a sizzly slap tone as that bass could ever muster. So, consider your source material for best results. While it might detract from the simple aesthetic of the device, a sweepable frequency control would be a great inclusion. In addition to the slap-centric concept behind the Funkulator, dialing in a small amount of the cut can round off your fingerstyle tone, and it can boost thump and attack for pick playing.

BEARLY LETHAL

“Grizzly bear” may evoke the image of a raging beast tearing apart a campsite (or camper), but for the most part, our ursine friends live a pretty mellow life. The Grizzly Bass pedal does have a nasty side, but its greatest strength is the ability to simply lie there and get fat. As both pedals default to buffered bypass mode, set in flat position the Griz has no audible effect on the signal. But simply rolling overdrive up to 8:00 gave me just the right amount of fat to want to park it there for the winter. Combined with a judicious amount of mid- and treble-rolloff, it thickened the texture and rounded off the edges, for a deliciously tube-like fingerstyle tone. Increasing the overdrive opened up the dynamic response and gave the effect a little more attitude—in extremis, it has more grind than you need, but not as much as you might expect. The distortion control brings out an edgier side of the drive palette, and it also proves useful in tamer settings. As you roll past 3:00, the heavy stuff starts to happen, but it is accompanied by built-in compression that will require a gain bump to retain overall volume when maxed. A common problem with heavily saturated bass tones is the loss of attack definition, and unfortunately, the Grizzly’s heavy-handed compression does not help this issue. But when faced with the choice of dealing with a Grizzly on the rampage, or hibernating in corpulent splendor— which would you choose?

The Funkulator is a cool pedal that can provide a quick EQ change between finger and slap styles, but it also works as a general-purpose mid-scoop. With its high-quality power supply and buffering, its very presence in your effects setup makes things a little nicer downstream. The Grizzly Bass also uses the Funkulator circuit, but in conjunction with the different drive characters and treble cut, creates a tube-like environment that can be tailored for subtle, or not-so-subtle, tones.

SPECIFICATIONS

CREATION AUDIO LABS

Funkulator
Street
$150
Pros Applies mid-cut for slap or fingerstyle
Cons Preset frequency may not suit every bass
Bottom Line The Funkulator can give you an instant slap-friendly EQ change.

Grizzly Bass
Street
$195
Pros Tube simulation can fatten your sound, or turn it into a raging beast
Cons Extreme distortion settings introduce heavy compression
Bottom Line The Grizzly Bass adds great texture and dynamics to your bass tone.

SPECS

Funkulator
Output
¼"
Power 9 volts @ 250mA (not included)
Dimensions 3" x 4.25” x 1.5"
Made in USA

Grizzly Bass
Output
¼"
Controls GAIN, OVERDRIVE, DISTORTION, MID-SCOOP, HIGH-CUT
Power 9 volts @ 250mA (not included)
Dimensions 3" x 4.25" x 1.5"

Made in USA
Contactcreationaudiolabs.com

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