The fuzz pedal is probably one of the first stompboxes ever designed. In the mid-1950s guitar players discovered that overdriving their amplifiers created a beautiful warm noisy and dirty sound. They were even poking holes in their speaker cones with a pencil to get overdrive from their amplifiers.
The Maestro Fuzztone FZ-1 from 1962 was one of the first Fuzz Pedals available. It became famous through the song Satisfaction by Keith Richards. The Arbiter Fuzz Face and the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi are other well-known fuzz pedals used by Jimi Hendrix. Through the years many new kinds of fuzz pedals appeared on the market, like the ZVEX Fuzz Factory and the Devi Ever fuzz range. Today the fuzz pedal is still very populair. It is used by well known artist like The Black Keys, Kings of Leon and Muse.
What does a fuzz pedal do?
A fuzz pedal takes the guitar signal and puts it through multiple amp stages. These stages apply a hard clipping to the guitar signal. This means that the round sine wave of the clean guitar signal is transformed into a thick distorted block wave signal. Fuzz pedals are a lot of fun: Once you step on the pedal, you will not be able to recognize the original sound of your guitar.
Basic controls of a fuzz pedal
The basic controls of a fuzz pedal are:
- Fuzz: The amount of distortion applied to the signal (this is often maxed out on both the Fuzz Face and Big Muff Pi)
- Volume: The output volume of the pedal
- Tone: A control to adjust the high and low frequencies of the effect to the setup of the guitarplayer (guitar & amp)
Some modern fuzz pedals have many more controls. For example, the fuzz factory has a control for ‘Gate’, ‘Comp’ and ‘Stab’. Some Devi Ever fuzz pedals have controls like ‘Pre-Gain’.