WHAT IS FUZZ?
Fuzz is basically extreme distortion.
Its first use is widely attributed to guitarist Grady Martin in 1961 on Marty Robbins’ hit song Don’t Worry. And like all great things in rock’n’roll, it was an accident: a fault in a mixing console that propelled engineer Glenn Snoddy to recreate the extreme, square-wave distortion ‘mistake’ in a stand-alone device using three germanium transistors.
The design was sold to Gibson who marketed it as the Maestro FZ-1, finding eventual fame – and a whole new revolution in guitar tones – on Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones in 1965.
That seminal design spawned the Fuzz Faces, Tone Benders and Muffs that we love to this day, with germanium transistors remaining at the heart of the most sought-after-models. Germanium transistors have always been highly inconsistent and incredibly temperature sensitive, however, so silicon transistors became an early alternative.
The sound differences are much debated, suffice to say a certain Mr Hendrix used fuzz pedals with both germanium and silicon transistors in the late 1960s as the latter became available.
We’ve put together a selection of videos below to give you a bit more fuzz-formation about these awesome pedals. Go forth and fuzzify!
Confused about where to start with guitar fuzz pedals? We talk through the four cornerstones of fuzz to help your search...
Awesome Octave Fuzz For Guitar
It had to happen eventually. Dan and I are both big fans of the octave fuzz sound, but it is a greatly varied thing and can be quite the challenge to add confidently to your rig.
With the help of a superb crop of modern pedals we howl and screech our way through the tones that might inspire you to give it a go.
HOW TO BUILD A FUZZ FACE PEDAL
Does your Fuzz go weird when it's hot?
We delve into an issue that committed users of germanium transistor fuzz pedals will know all about. The ambient temperature goes up – for example if you’re playing outdoors on a sunny day – and your prized fuzz pedal starts doing very weird things.
Cue folklore of studios keeping their favourite fuzzes in the fridge!
Modern Tone Bender-Style Fuzz Pedals
So you want a Tone Bender inspired fuzz pedal? Here are a bunch that you really should hear. The Sola Sound / Colorsound Tone Bender sits right up there alongside the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face among the most influential fuzz pedals of all time.
There are a whole bunch of modern variants from the original maker – but what about the plethora of TB-inspired pedals from other brands?