Fuzz is as valued these days as it was decades ago when Keith Richards introduced the Fuzz-Tone. Fuzz was among the first effects to be made in pedal form and even today there are brands frequently releasing fuzz units. From impressive, speaker-ripping gadgets to iconic pedal clones, fuzz faithful are having the time of their lives. However, the options are many, which makes it a challenge for some to choose the best fuzz pedal for you.
- What Makes a Good Fuzz Pedal?
- Do I Need A Fuzz Pedal?
- What Does Fuzz Pedal Do?
- What Are Fuzz Pedals Used For?
- Our Fuzz Effect Pedals Recommendations
- Best All Around Fuzz Pedal – Wampler Velvet Fuzz V2
- Best Octave Fuzz Pedal – Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz
- Best Cheap And Affordable Fuzz Pedal – Behringer Super Fuzz SF300
- Best Fuzz Pedals For Hendrix Tone – Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face
- Best Fuzz Face Style Pedals – Jim Dunlop Mini Germanium Fuzz Face
- Best Boutique Fuzz Pedal – EarthQuaker Devices Bellows Fuzz Driver
- Best Fuzz Pedals For Stratocaster – Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff Reissue
- Best 60s Fuzz Pedal – ZVEX Effects Fuzz Factory Vexter Series Fuzz
- Best Analog Fuzz Pedal – Way Huge Swollen Pickle
- Best Jimmy Page Fuzz Pedal – Supro Fuzz Guitar Effects Pedal
- The Early Days Of Fuzz
- The Fuzz Pedals Of Today
- More Than Just For Rock Music
- Best Fuzz Pedal Conclusion
Later on, we will take an in depth look into some of the devices we have recommended as the best fuzz pedal currently available.
What Makes a Good Fuzz Pedal?
Fuzz pedals range from modest old-fashioned reissues to boutique boxes that are chic and equipped with quite an array of tones and knobs. Making the right choice of a stompbox that will work best for you could be the difference between becoming lost in a mix and slicing through with bold, creamy goodness. Ensure that the fuzz pedal you ultimately select can weather whatever storm it is put through. In addition, you should make sure that you look for remarkable features such as an enclosure that is pedalboard friendly and one that has a true bypass.
Do I Need A Fuzz Pedal?
Fuzz, along with distortion and overdrive, is among the most commonly used electric guitar effects, by far; it is one of the most diverse as well. This pedal basically produces a more boisterous type of compressed distortion. The sound is achieved by heavily clipping and saturating the signal. Fuzz takes on the task of altering the waveform and transforming it into a square wave. If this is not the type of sound you are going for then you definitely do not need one of these top fuzz pedal options.
What Does Fuzz Pedal Do?
A fuzz pedal basically takes the sound produced from the instrument and clips it tremendously hard. This is called square-wave clipping and it essentially compresses the distortion to make the sound almost unrecognizable. Fuzz pedals saturates the tone heavily and it becomes covered in a “woolly” feel — this is the simplest way to describe what the fuzz pedal does. This kind of pedal provides a massive amount of sustain by processing the signal heavily and providing a more synthetic tone that is totally its own. There are guitarists who believe the tone makes the amp sound broken.
What Are Fuzz Pedals Used For?
From Jimi Hendrix to Jack White, Jimmy Page to the Black Keys, the fuzz pedal is a defining feature of rock music. Some see the distorted sound as only for garage or acid rock- something not quite accessible to the average listener. But it’s history and current usage actually are fairly widespread.
What does it sound like? Think of the Rolling Stones “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” or Beastie Boys “Sabotage.” It’s an effect that makes the sound a bit edgier instead of a clear chord or note. It’s been said the effect is like a massive bee stuck in a box. It’s not exactly the same thing as distortion or overdrive. It’s similar, but instead of sounding angry, its squared off sound waves just sound… like rock and roll. What are fuzz pedals used for?
Simply put, the pedals are used to make a more textured and interesting sound. In some ways, it mimics the human voice when particularly emotive or passionate. It’s not a consistent and pitch-perfect sound, just like an angry or excited singer. It turns out, that passionate dissonance is alluring, if hard to describe.
As many great discoveries are, the fuzz sound was a complete accident. In 1960 a sound engineer, Glenn Snoddy, was recording “Don’t Worry” with Marty Robbins. The sound from the bass player (Grady Martin) had a strange fuzzy sound due to a malfunctioning tube mixer. Everyone seemed to like the take with the fuzzy sound, which later became a hit in 1961, and so they didn’t use another take. The song is actually a standard country tune, apart from the strange, wonderful fuzz sound from the bass solo.
So, the quintessential rock and roll sound actually got its start from a country song.
Our Fuzz Effect Pedals Recommendations
Best All Around Fuzz Pedal – Wampler Velvet Fuzz V2
In 2013, Wampler launched Velvet Fuzz to a divided community. However, as time went by, individuals started to identify the quality offered by the pedal. It is not as “in-your-face” when compared to some of the more prevalent fuzz pedals available; however, its layered nature is something that many people have come to appreciate.
You probably will not be blown away when it is plugged in raw and you will not get the feeling that you are working with the best. But what this pedal does effectively is to work seamlessly with other effects along the signal chain.
Reminiscent of the 1980s, its enclosure is sturdy and covered in an impressive graphic design. Its inside has quite the unique circuit which is hand wired and finished using some of the finest available components. It is also equipped with a genuine bypass that is something that is not regularly seen anymore.
The pedal features three knobs and a switch. The volume knob, the fuzz knob and the knob that controls the brightness. The trebles are regulated by the brightness, which opens them up or cuts them down. Its Big/Tight switch is another fascinating feature. When placed in Big mode, a darker vintage fuzz is produced and the Tight mode provides an effect closer to distortion. Overall, its color, tone and range make it quite adequate for individuals who have a preference for really layering their effects.
This is definitely our top pick for best all around fuzz pedal on the market today.
Best Octave Fuzz Pedal – Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz
There is no denying that fuzz effects and octave go hand in hand and thankfully, you can get both in this fuzz/octave pedal from Electro-Harmonix. The Electro Harmonix Octavix, our best octave fuzz pedal choice, provides the instrument with an iconic sound from the 1960s, while presenting modernized enrichments that effectively update the classic conception. The well-designed and compact nano housing has a psychedelic graphic that results in a super cool construction that seamlessly combines durability and good looks. This fuzz pedal also has Boost, Volume and Octave knobs which are easy to operate. Boost is used to control the amount of fuzz, Volume is used to regulate the output level and Octave is used to adjust the octave volume.
There is a mini-toggle that allows the player to choose between 9 and 24 volt power rails and it figures out the voltage for power supply for the whole circuit. With the 9 volts, these fuzz pedals acts similarly to the classic, saggy fuzz box. With the 24 volts, the Octavix produces a richer octave tone and a tighter sound. Maximum signal path integrity is ensured by true bypass. This can be achieved by simply switching the mini toggle.
In dim performance environments, there is an LED indicator that provides easy visibility. This pedal also offers true bypass to make sure there is optimum signal path integrity. A psychedelic design contributes to the vintage vibe of the pedal.
Best Cheap And Affordable Fuzz Pedal – Behringer Super Fuzz SF300
This fuzz pedal is the finest budget-friendly fuzz pedal around. It is actually the only pedal at this cost that provides a solid and even mid-level distortion – making it our choice for best cheap and affordable fuzz pedal. Behringer is renowned for building reasonably priced pedals while mainly cutting down on construction materials. They basically deliver top-quality, user-friendly pedals at an affordable cost. Typically, using fuzz pedals can be complex but this one is different.
For the price, you will receive a functional pedal that can be used for a range of styles and genres. It will not take the world by storm; however, it is definitely the best for the cost. The sound is intended to recreate a range of heavy fuzz tones from the 1960s and 1970s early metal and rock music. This is an indication that you will have the ability to give your sound a vintage feel.
The package includes an input jack, an output jack, an on/off button and an LED status indicator. As mentioned, this unit can be powered by a PSU-SB DC power supply or a 9-volt battery. The three-way mode switch it a feature that stands out on the unit. This option lets you select among the three available fuzz presets:
- Classic fuzz is provided by Fuzz 1
- A grunge style is provided by Fuzz 2
- The general output of the guitar is amplified by Gain Boost
Every mode provides a distinct tonal foundation that can be further shaped with the other knobs. We love these fuzz boxes!
Best Fuzz Pedals For Hendrix Tone – Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face
Looking for the best fuzz pedals for Hendrix tone? This pedal falls in a category among the most legendary pedals of all time. With inspiration from the base of a microphone stand, its enclosure has not changed much since it was introduced back in 1966. However, it has only been since 2013 that one was designed to actually fit on the pedalboard.
The year 2013 stood out as the year when the nasty, gnarly fuzz got cute. This was achieved through the launch of 3 Fuzz Face Minis; namely the FFM3 Jimi Hendrix fuzz, the FFM2 Germanium fuzz and the FFM1 Silicon fuzz.
The commonalities among these three minis are modernized features like vibrant blue status LEDs, AC power jacks, true bypass switching and easy-access battery doors. Although the enclosure is small, they are quite sturdy and durable.
When it comes to circuitry, the FFM3 Jimi Hendrix fuzz pedal features the identical circuit found in the full-sized JHF1. This is an indication that is contains matched BC108 silicon transistors that are meant to cover a wide variety of Jimi fuzz tones. Additionally, its construction uses the approach of a modern, compact-printed circuit board.
There is a harsh kick in the mid-range and this is the sonic trait that is most obvious on this fuzz pedal. This is designed to provide superior note clarity compared to the competition. Additionally, it makes the FFM3 a great option for providing boost to an overdriven amp and for cutting through a mix. There is also a neck pickup that can uncover some juicy octave overtones.
Best Fuzz Face Style Pedals – Jim Dunlop Mini Germanium Fuzz Face
This pedal features the same iconic tone but in a size that is much more compact. The mid-1960s Fuzz Faces fuzz pedals, our top pick for best Fuzz Face style pedals, had germanium transistors that were slightly mismatched and this fuzz pedal allows you to achieve a fuzz tone that is warm and vintage. In addition, the Jim Dunlop Mini fuzz includes a bright status LED and true bypass switching. If you are in the market for a vintage germanium fuzz tone, this distortion pedal is the ideal option for you.
During the introduction of the earliest Fuzz Faces, their circuitry were renowned for their germanium transistors which significantly contributed to a warm, smooth vintage tone that was made popular by guitar legends such as David Gilmour and Jimi Hendrix. As time went by, the later versions of this fuzz pedal used for silicon transistors; however, a harsh sound was produced. The Jim Dunlop Mini Germanium Fuzz Face allows you to take the classic germanium fuzz tone into captivity, delivering vintage circuitry with modernized modifications.
Germanium pedals do not automatically sound better when compared to silicon; however, it typically has a different sound. Normally, silicon transistors have higher gain and deliver tighter and brighter tones. Germanium transistors frequently sound spongier and warmer and they outclass at smoothly transitioning between fuzz and clean timbres based on the input level. A germanium Fuzz Face that is properly voiced allows you to drive from the volume knob of your guitar. Diming the pedal should produce thick, high-cholesterol distortion.
Having it rolled back should uncover should uncover a clean tone practically indistinguishable from the sound with the bypassed pedal. If you prefer supreme dynamic sensitivity and high-cholesterol fuzz, a good Fuzz Face will deliver. You would be hard pressed to discover one, at any price, that has a better sound. If you have been ignoring Dunlop Fuzz Faces due to past versions that missed the mark, you can reconsider now.
Best Boutique Fuzz Pedal – EarthQuaker Devices Bellows Fuzz Driver
This Bellows Fuzz Driver, our choice for best boutique fuzz pedal, is basically a two-knob gem, which is a sort of throwback to non-master volume amps of past decades. When dimed, these would release a powerful overdriven fury identical to that of the Bellows. Its unique design is not exactly based on a particular pedal design or amp. However, the pedal has the capacity to produce both gritty drive, dirty textures and big, meaty saturated tones full of fuzz.
It has a Level knob used to make adjustments to the output level by establishing the bias voltage of the transistor. Its Drive knob is used to control the input gain for different dirt levels. Additionally, this leads to tonal structuring because the sound is a little cleaner and more piercing when turned down. As it is cranked up, it sounds increasingly heavier and thicker. The Drive knob provides the potential for great fluctuation, depending on its setting; therefore, you can do some exploring since this pedal could be the answer to achieving your desired sound.
Even with the simplicity of the designs, EarthQuaker gadgets provide more of what players are looking for and this is proven by the range provided by the Bellows. It is also remarkable for bass and provides any tone it is put through, while it remains clear and present within the mix.
Best Fuzz Pedals For Stratocaster – Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff Reissue
Over the years, a number of household names have utilized the Big Muff – our pick for best fuzz pedals for Stratocasters; however, the band that is mostly associated with this pedal is arguably Smashing Pumpkins. Also called the IC or V4 Big Muff, its original circuitry has been authentically revamped and a number of practical improvements have been made. Included among these are a compact and die-cast chassis and true bypass switching. On the classic Siamese Dream of 1993, the grunge party was gatecrashed with the ‘guitar army’ and many guitarists were left scratching their heads trying to determine how to create that sound.
‘Lots of overdubs’ is a part of that answer; however, when it was discovered that a Big Muff fuzz was used by Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins on the record, this pedal became highly regarded instantly. Unfortunately, the Big Muff used by Billy was actually a rare vintage op-amp edition.
The unavailability of parts caused a shift in the design of the Big Muff and the op-amp edition was rather rare; this was a totally distinct circuit from the quad-transistor OG Big Muff fuzz. Billy was lucky in picking up that particular version from a pawn shop. Rather than transistors, it depends on op-amps and uses 3 gain stages, as opposed to 4, to deliver its signature sound. Up until recently, the choices were a rare original, a boutique clone or creating your own fuzz sounds guitar tone. Thankfully, the Big Muff fuzz was recently reissued by EHX, so everyone can delight in its fuzzy glory.
Best 60s Fuzz Pedal – ZVEX Effects Fuzz Factory Vexter Series Fuzz
This 5-knob fuzz pedal, our choice for best 60s fuzz pedal, is equipped with two NOS 1960s germanium transistors and it is available in a hand-polished aluminum chassis that has 2-color text and is hand-silkscreened; each pedal is unique. The circuit is not specifically modeled after any classic fuzz; however, it delivers tones that come straight from the ’60s. The 5 knobs are used to control the parameters at various levels of operation, allowing players to personalize their fuzz effect.
The Fuzz Factory was designed by ZVEX to use up less energy than the competition; when in use, the current is below 3 mA. With its combination of germanium transistors, controls and guitar feedback loops allow players to mis-bias the internal circuit. This gives the pedal versatility that most pedals simply do not have. You can reduce the input voltage for the pedal to break up into oscillation. In addition, the output can be fed from a block back into itself. As such, when it was launched, many saw it as a breath of fresh air and it provided ZVEX with the foundations on which to erect an empire.
Where sounds are concerned, it is possible to tweak the pedal to achieve a sedate blues lead tone. However, it shines best when it is an earsplitting ice-pick of velcro-fuzz anarchy. Now when more pedal companies are seemingly coming onboard every day, there is something elegant, simple and fascinatingly radical about the ZVEX Effects Fuzz Factory.
Best Analog Fuzz Pedal – Way Huge Swollen Pickle
The Way Huge Swollen Pickle’s IC, our best analog fuzz pedal choice, is simply a transistor package and this makes it a variation of the regular Big Muff. It has quality components, controls for changing the voicing and scooping the mids, a super smooth footswitch and internal trimpots to do further tweaking. This pedal provides more tone tweaking options than pretty much any Big Muff-like pedal currently available.
It has a mixture of high-gain fuzz and heavy bandpass filters, giving it the capacity to deliver stinging drive tones. Its 3 primary controls of sustain, loudness and filter allow you to sculpt fuzz. With loudness, the pedal can be cranked up to impressive levels. Filter can be used to satisfy the craving for glitched-out drive and doomsday fuzz sound levels are delivered by Sustain. There is also a crunch mini knob, which can be used to adjust the compression intensity of the fuzz.
To dig ever deeper into the fuzz tone, the Swollen Pickle can be taken apart to reveal 2 internal mini controls, clip and voice. The Clip offers two options of clipping diode: smooth sustain and opened fuzz, while Voice can be used to control the mid-cut intensity of the outer mini scoop knob.
It sounds incredible when a synthesizer is run through it; therefore, synth players find this pedal particularly impressive. Its filter knob is tremendously useful for smoothing out frequencies that get excessively harsh. For individuals who prefer an extra bite to their sound, this is an amazing option.
We also included this pedal in our best fuzz pedals for stoner rock article.
Best Jimmy Page Fuzz Pedal – Supro Fuzz Guitar Effects Pedal
The Supro brand enjoyed near-mythical status in the past – and winner of best Jimmy Page fuzz pedal crown. The blue/silver amp could be seen in pictures from the 1960s and lucky people were the ones who would meet someone who had met someone who had once seen one of the pedals in an American junkshop, concealed underneath a covering of cobwebs. However, in recent years, Absara Audio which is the owner of Pigtronix, made the decision that this was worth reviving.
The rebirth of the Supro amps sounds just as substantial as they appear. Additionally, many guitar enthusiasts had a bit of a wag in their tails when an announcement at the NAMM show revealed an expansion into the stompbox market. Three pedals exist an each has its origin in amp-like sounds; there are no ring modulators stereo or flangers are present. The colors seamlessly complement the look of the amps.
They are assembled in the state of New York and brushed aluminum enclosures are used. They have impressive side-mounted battery compartments and these compact pedals are unusually tall — practically 3 inches when the knobs are included. Additionally, the knobs match the ones that are used on the amps. There are tiny white markers that are really not easy to see and in case you need more intrigue, every unit contains an expression pedal input. Similar to every Supro pedal, it includes a 9-volt battery; however, the DC socket will accept up to 18 volts; this further extends the headroom options.
The Early Days Of Fuzz
The early product that produced this sound, on purpose, was the Fuzz-Tone, and in 1962 was still hard to find. Guitarists were eager to reproduce the tone in whatever they way they could. Many tried to concoct their own designs, anything that would twist and distort the sound. The Kinks guitarist Dave Davies was known to abuse his amp until it produced the right effect.
Many of the early pedal options were inconsistent in their manufacturing, and Jimi Hendrix would buy huge amounts of them, carefully trying each one until he found the ones with just the right sound. The fuzz sound spread and became ever more popular from there. When The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page and others all got on board and started using the British fuzz pedal called the Tone Bender, it was settled. The fuzz pedal was here to stay, distortion and all. People just could not get enough of the unique sound.
The Fuzz Pedals Of Today
Today’s fuzz pedals are much more uniform, and there are a lot to choose from. They also feature many more options and very user friendly. They all have those early experiments (based on an accident) as their framework. Modern guitarists utilize the fuzz pedal just as much as the classic rock stars. Jack White, with his reputation for using well-worn guitars and amps, often uses an old “Little Big Muff” which has been around 50 years. White focuses on technique, talent, and using whatever gear you happen to have around. The result is that much of his music sounds natural and imperfect, more like a live recording studio back in the 1960s than the hyper-produced sound of modern times. His music is direct nod to some of the classic rock guitarists he grew up admiring.
The Black Keys also have an identity just right for a modern homage to the old fuzz pedals. They didn’t start out having a bass player because the large, loud, fuzzy guitars just didn’t need it. What does the fuzz pedal do for you? Well, for the Black Keys, it provided just the kick the two-man garage rock outfit needed to sound like a band with three times that many musicians.
More Than Just For Rock Music
The fuzz pedal does not always have to mean hard rock and roll, though. It shows up in softer, pop music, as well. Jesus and the Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey” using it with a sweet affect. There is even such a thing as “cello metal” which utilizes the fuzz pedal with cellos, which is perhaps not so strange, given that the original fuzz sound was from a bass player playing a country song.
The history of rock and roll includes many elements, certainly including a reliance on older rhythm and blues. But the revolutionary spark that gives it a special, crunchy, entertaining edge must be the fuzz pedal. It has enthralled musicians and listeners alike for more than fifty years, and though pop and hip-hop may have overtaken the top spots in music, there will always be a special place for rock and its fuzz pedal.
Read More – Best Fuzz Pedal For Humbuckers
Best Fuzz Pedal Conclusion
Even after decades of continuous use, these above best fuzz pedal options are still around. They are representative of a window into the past when signal chains were less complicated and tones were way less predictable. With these fuzz pedals, players are given the opportunity to strum up the same models that were used in the gigs of some of the most renowned guitar players in the world. However, there is also a vast variety of modern renditions that are just as good. It takes time to get used to fuzz. Additionally, some tone configuration finesse will be needed but ultimately, the outcome will be too satisfying to disregard.