- by Kevin Deal
Among the many effects you can use to spice up the sound of your guitar, the fuzz pedal is one of those with that belong with the distortion and overdrive. This kind of effects creates a distortion in your music. This effect is perfect for rock music in particular.
The fuzz pedal has lots of different brands and types under it. Today, we will be telling you most of the things you need to know about the fuzz pedal and how to make the most out of it. We will also give you tips on what to look out for when buying the best fuzz pedal out there.
What is a Fuzz Pedal?
The fuzz pedal is just a simple circuit effect pedal which has so much gain. This is why the fuzz effect is also described as an exaggerated distort effect. This fuzz effect is done by clipping and distorting your very guitar signal to create that perfect for a rock sound.
Do note, however, that just like any other guitar pedals, the fuzz pedal works best with a certain order. There are also specific pedals which are meant for either your bass guitar, electric guitar or others. But we got you covered. We will also be reviewing several fuzz pedal brands to help you get started in choosing your very own pedal.
What are the different types/brands of Fuzz Pedal?
There’s a thin line defining the types or kinds of fuzz pedals from actual brands which represent a particular kind of fuzz. What we will be listing here are some of the usual kinds of fuzz effects you might encounter and if possible, the brand they belong to.
- Big Muff (a brand made famous by Hendrix and others)
The Big Muff usually uses four transistor stages to create a “sustained grind” effect. This effect is mostly used by electric guitarists. However, bassists also enjoy using this pedal since it produces low frequency sound perfect for a bass guitar.
Its transistor stages start with creating a clean boost to add gain to your guitar signal. The following two stages will clip the guitar signal to create distortion or that fuzz effect.
Finally, it will go through the tone recovery stage. This is wherein it fixes any volume losses the pedal may incur. This is because the Big Muff’s tone stack is passive.
- Octave Fuzz
The Octave Fuzz effect creates an overtone on your guitar signal. This hint is usually an octave higher than the current note you are playing. This is also notably similar to the octave down effect, which is an entirely different pedal.
- Tone Bender
The Tone Bender is a brand name of several different fuzz boxes owned by Macari’s Ltd. This particular pedal has a three-transistor stage and is made with germanium. However, for a beginner, the Tone Bender might be a bit of a hassle. This is because it needs a lot of tweaking and optimizing before you can achieve the perfect fuzz.
- Fuzz face
The Fuzz Face, on the other hand, is a stomp box specifically designed for electric guitars. It produces a distorted sound which we refer to as the fuzz. However, its transistors are made with germanium. This sensitivity to temperature changes the sound when the pedal gets heated up.
What to Look for When Buying a Fuzz Pedal?
Just like any pedal, whether you’re a beginner or a musician, there are lots of things you should look out for when buying a pedal. The brand and the price won’t always guarantee you of the quality product will deliver.
You also have your needs and musical preferences which are the most important factor to consider when choosing the best effect pedal for you. Do you need the fuzz? Distortion? Or overdrive? These effects might sound very similar, but it is important that you know what you want.
Today, we will be listing down several factors you might want to look into before buying your very own fuzz pedal.
Quality and Design
Since this pedal aims to be stomped on for long hours during gigs, it must be very sturdy. It is important that the materials used would live up to this purpose. Germanium, however, might be a good material but it heats up and causes unwanted changes to the sound of the effect.
The overall design of the fuzz pedal itself should also be good. From its buttons, knobs to the foot pedal itself. Everything on the pedal must be completely functional. Some pedal knobs which can generate extreme amounts of distortion tend to suck the sound out of your guitar. With this, you’ll end up hearing nothing at all.
Finally, nothing beats the quality of a true bypass pedal. This cuts out any guitar signal from your pedal so when you switch it off, the tone or gain doesn’t get affected.
If you’re going to be playing all night, it’s better to stick with fuzz pedals that can be powered by AC power supplies. Don’t rely solely on batteries because they won’t guarantee you of lasting forever.
Naturally, a pedal should deliver a good clean boost to your gain to create the distortion or fuzz effect. Some pedals deliver an excessive boost to your gain but end up creating hissing or buzzing noises due to feedback.
A right pedal will provide a clean boost to your gain and increase the sustain without dirtying your sound so much.
Reviews Of Our Best Fuzz Pedal
1. Donner Guitar Stylish Fuzz Effects Pedal
The Donner Guitar Stylish Fuzz has an authentic and transparent fuzz effect. This is because of its true bypass feature that gives it a fundamental edge to other fuzz pedals.
Moreover, the pedal has a tone similar to that of a violin. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for sounds along that category.
The Donner Guitar Stylish Fuzz doesn’t disappoint regarding appearance and durability too. Its body is made of aluminum alloy. A classic material that makes pedals last a lifetime. The turquoise coating also gives it a sleek finish. Furthermore, the three knobs come at a simple yet stunning design.
- Easy to use
- Has LED indicator light to show its working state
- The pedal knobs work smoothly. It’s used for the volume, sustain, and tone functions
- Its price range is well which gives you a lot of budget flexibility
- Very versatile to use
- It can go to a subtle tone to a thicker and shakier one
- Not very noisy compared to other fuzz pedals
- Sleek and heavy duty frame
- Sound can go from being less noisy to extremely “tiny.” May not be suitable to your taste depending on how you want your fuzz effect
- The usable range is limited when it comes to tone and saturation
2. Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Guitar Effects Pedal
The Big Muff Pi is a classic among the legendary guitarists who welcomed effect pedals like family. It’s a New York City original with Santana and Hendrix among the first to use it.
To take it even further, the Big Muff Pi has been famously known to have a creamy and rich sustain that resembles a violin tone. This is proven by the feedback from all-time great bands such as Pink Floyd and The White Stripes.
The credibility of the Big Muff Pi comes from classic and simple functions that were meticulously engineered to be top-notch. It’s singing sustain has a strong attitude that rock n’ roll artists like. Furthermore, it even comes with a distortion effect that has crushing power.
- True Bypass
- A specialist pedal for generating perfect tones tailored for 60’s garage, blues, and punk, and rock n’ roll music
- It has a lot of clarity within the notes, comes with a big low-end and a huge sustain
- Relies heavily on a weak single 9V battery
- Casing isn’t the best
3. EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz Effects Pedal
Outlast on the list is the EarthQuaker Hybrid Effects Pedal. This fuzz pedal is a very versatile one because of its tonal range. Foremost, it can create dirty and organic overdrive effects to louder fuzz effects. Although it can be a loud pedal, it still maintains a nice harmonic and smooth tune.
The clarity of the EarthQuaker is also very distinctive. As a result, it has sufficient control over the signal which lets you hear it clearly when you’re playing. To event take its tonal range to a different level, it has a neat function which is “Shift.”
The Shift control lets you change the frequency of the tone control. Consequently, this reduces any unwanted muddy sounds in your bass effect. Furthermore, it’s great technique to manipulate the treble with great control.
- Artistic design gives it a visually stunning appeal
- The shift control gives you a lot of options in your approach with fuzz effect
- The chassis is strong and durable. At the same time, it’s also lightweight
- Has excellent control for its transistor bias
- Footswitch can malfunction over time
- Not recommended if you’re planning on using a fuzz pedal for blues and rock
4. Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Distortion
Jimi Hendrix is notably the pioneer of the fuzz effect. Hence, the fuzz pedal wouldn’t be here without good old Jimi. With that said, Dunlop has made its tribute to Jimi Hendrix a huge success. Just looking at the exterior of this product and overall design can excite you.
The Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face is a reproduction of Jimi Hendrix’ 1969-1970 Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. Dunlop’s revival of the 70s is both accurate and meticulous. Thus, this pedal alone will give you that classic nostalgia vibe just by its design.
However, it’s not only the external parts that were designed to be top-notch. The original specs of the previous model are carefully reproduced too. Moreover, its core is the BC108 silicon transistor which makes this pedal tone-rich.
Furthermore, this product consists of a brown circuit board that is hand-wired. There’s no solder mask, and the circuit design carefully matches with the original.
- Great design
- Gives a groovy vibe to the product that lets you reminisce the 1970s era of Jimi Hendrix
- Circular chassis and cloned knobs makes it a vintage-looking product
- Revives the original model well
- Cleans up well thanks to the volume knob. Works best when the amp is cranked and if used with an overdrive pedal
- There’s a small amount of oscillation
- Battery may at times be insufficient in supply
5. ZVex Effects Vexter Fuzz Factory Guitar Effect Pedal
The ZVex Vexter Fuzz comes with a delightful and cartoon-ish casing. This gives this Fuzz pedal a cute and creative feature that makes it already attractive. However, the cool casing isn’t the only thing great about this.
The Vexter Fuzz also features five knobs, which is quite a lot compared to the others listed here. The pedals are designed to have 2 NOS ‘60s germanium transistors. This delivers a tone straight out of the 1960s that will surely give you nostalgia from the music then.
The five knobs allow you to create your fuzz effect too. The circuit isn’t after any classic fuzz’ like the Dunlop Jimi Hendrix. However, it still delivers authentic music that makes it more original.
- Comes with a hand-polished aluminum chassis for maximum durability
- Energy saver
- Has a lot of white noise and squeals that make it rock n’ roll ready
- Unique packaging
- Adjustable knobs are quite hard to turn
- Can sometimes create a noise that resembles an out of tune saxophone
Having a fuzz pedal is essential if you want to follow in the footsteps of artists and musicians that used it consistently. When looking at the pedal, always check its versatility and functionality.
With that said, the Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Pedal beats its competitors. Although it only beats it by a slight margin. After all, the five best pedals we listed here all have their respective strengths and weaknesses. It’s only a matter of perspective.
However, the authentic 1970’s revival of the Dunlop makes this pedal one of the best out there. Not only that, but its design makes it unique. Lastly, the internal parts and overall technology of this fuzz pedal coupled with supreme performance makes it atop of our list.