Roundup of the Best Fuzz Pedals
Although sometimes interchanged with overdrive and distortion, fuzz is distinct from the two. It offers more dynamics than distortion, and more grit than overdrive, and it is well deserving of a spot on your pedalboard. Here we feature the best modern and classic fuzz pedals available in 2016 so you can pick one that fits your style.
Fuzz pedals generally fall under two types, Germanium based and Silicon transistor based. Germanium based fuzz pedals are known for midrange-rich vintage-sounding fuzz tones, ideal for adding more crunch to your rhythm tones and violin like sustain to your lead lines.Silicon based fuzz pedals offer higher gain, with a relatively tamer, scooped and edgy flavor. These fuzz pedals are great for mixing with your existing overdrive or distortion pedal, and ideal for adding subtle grit that will not override your original tone too much. Whatever your preference maybe, you will find the best fuzz pedal for your needs right here:
The Best Fuzz Pedals
This table shows you all of the Fuzz Pedals that we recommend - scroll down below to read our extended reviews for each one.
|There wouldn't be a Fuzz pedal market today if not for the popularity of the Fuzz Face. Used by big name artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, Duane Allman, David Gilmore, George Harrison and more, the Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face has set the standard high right at the beginning.||See our detailed review below|
|Electro-Harmonix played a major role in shaping the sound of rock guitar, and the quality of their dirt pedals gave them the staying power to not just survive, but thrive. The EHX Octavix comes with the classic and effective combination of fuzz and octave effects, in an easy to use and compact pedal format.||See our detailed review below|
|If you’re looking for subtle fuzz, the Vox Trike Fuzz pedal is not for you. This octave+fuzz pedal goes from harsh to nasty, much like germanium fuzz pedals of old. Only this one is more reliable and pedalboard friendly.||See our detailed review below|
|The original Rotosound Fuzz Pedal was not even publicly released but because of its impressive tone, it made its way into the guitar rigs of iconic players like Jimmy Page. Now this same fuzz pedal is made available for us mortals with added modern enhancements.||See our detailed review below|
|Expanding on the Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz, Dunlop created a number of uniquely voiced versions of the Fuzz Face. Of this long list of pedals, the BC108 silicon transistor based Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face is the most sought after, thanks mostly to its reference to the iconic guitar player.||See our detailed review review below|
|Based on the now rare Jordan Electronics Bosstone, the Superfuzz deserves its super label, providing smooth fuzz tones that responds really well to the nuances of your playing and with controls that allow for impressive tone shaping.||See our detailed review below|
|The Wampler Velvet Fuzz is not your average in-your-face fuzz effect, rather it provides some of the smoothest fuzz tones that you'll ever hear, inspired by the warm fuzz tones as used by artists like Eric Johnson and David Gilmour.||Extended review below|
|The Boss FZ-5 is an easy to use multi-mode fuzz pedal that utilizes Boss’ latest effects modeling technology. It features a nice balance of intuitive interface, flexibility and sonic quality at a modest price point. And since it is crafted by Boss, you can be sure of reliable for a long life time.||See our detailed review below|
|Not for the faint hearted, the Way Huge Swollen Pickle MkII is one mean sounding fuzz pedal. With controls that are normally found on distortion units, this fuzz box is more than capable of churning out high-gain tones that will satisfy rock, punk and metal players.||See our extended review below|
|Suhr's reputation as a guitar pedal builder continues to grow, thanks to the quality of their stompboxes. The Rufus Reloaded Fuzz provides an excellent example of what the company can do, successfully balancing tone shaping capabilities, great tone and versatility, all implemented inside a compact pedal.||See our full review below|
Dunlop JD-F2 Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face
The legacy and influence of Fuzz Face in the market, and in music as a whole is simply undeniable. Artists that many look up to including my personal favorites Eric Johnson and Jimi Hendrix, built their unique tone with the help of the Fuzz Face. As such, it is only proper to give the top spot in this list for its current production line iteration, the Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face.
The Dunlop Dallas-Arbiter JD-F2 carries over the same circuit design as the original Fuzz Face released back in the '60s while adding modern enhancements. It retains the original Germanium PNP transistor design, straight forward controls, vintage look and classic fuzz tones. It is simply the closest you can get to old Fuzz Faces, without costing an arm and a leg. Aside from getting the sound right, the pedal also retains the look and vibe of the original. The only downside to this pedal is its bulky size, but it is more than justifiable if you prefer the tone and look of the original Fuzz Face.
If you are wondering where the Big Muff Pi is, we have included it in our Best Distortion Pedals list, simply because Electro-Harmonix labels it as a distortion unit. And so for this list, we went with the EHX Octavia, a versatile 2-in-1 pedal that excellently recreates classic fuzz tones while keeping controls simple.
Housed in a compact “nano” size metal chassis, this small pedal produces an impressively big sound, and carries over the same “warts-and-all” transparency that has become the staple of EHX pedals. The obvious application for this pedal is for reproducing Hendrix style fuzz tones, and it does so quite well even with its straightforward 3 knob setup. While there isn't that much to work with when it comes to EQ and tone shaping, the fuzz and octave sound works as intended and have even surpassed the expectations of many. Finally, a nifty voltage switch is provided for altering the feel and dynamics of the pedal.
If you’re considering an octave pedal and a fuzz pedal, and you want to save on space, this is your best bet. Even without the octave effect, the fuzz effect alone is up to par with other stand alone fuzz effects in terms of quality.
Vox Trike Fuzz
Just one glance at the fancy tube like exterior of the Vox Trike Fuzz and you’ll know that this is not your average fuzz box. Being part of the company’s Tone Garage line, it sports a tube like exterior design that matches the pedal’s vintage voicing - which is meant to match the quality of boutique pedals at a more reasonable price point.
Operation is pretty straightforward, it has four knobs that give you control over gain, volume, tone (for the octave +1 signal) and the octave effect mix. A switch lets you select between three octace settings: +1, -1 and -2, allowing for everything from Hendrix lead lines to Black Sabbath riffs. You can also engage all three octaves for a truly huge fuzz tone that can be used for highlighting certain parts of your songs. It would have been nice if more EQ and tone shaping is available, but this can be alleviated by a separate pedal. Get the Vox Trike Fuzz if you’re looking for high octane fuzz tones.
Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini
Because of the popularity of the Fuzz Face, Dunlop has milked the design to create different versions with unique tonalities. The Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini stands out from among this line, thanks mostly to its reference to the iconic guitarist, but also because of its modern and compact configuration.
This pedal is the closest that you can get to the '60s era Jimi Hendrix fuzz sound, developed by Dunlop by carefully examining vintage specimens. Thankfully, they didn't just stop at getting the sound right, they also addressed the bulky size of the original fuzz face and created a more compact version which bears the same circuit. And they were able to accomplish this without compromising components and the resulting tone, so you are getting genuine big Fuzz Face Hendrix tone within a more compact unit.
If you want to conjure Jimi Hendrix tone, or assimilate his sound without taking up too much pedalboard real estate, then get this pedal.
Voodoo Lab Superfuzz
The Voodoo Lab Superfuzz is a modern stompbox recreation of the now rare Jordan Electronics Bosstone from the late ‘60s, fuzzboxes that connect directly to the output jack of guitars. They were widely used by hippie players of psychedelic music and were even adapted by Nashville pedal-steel players.
The Superfuzz brings with it the same smooth and versatile sound, only this time it is packed inside a tank tough pedal for more players to enjoy. In addition to its impressive tone, the pedal’s four knob configuration allows for a surprising variety of fuzz tones, handling everything from overdrive-like subtle to all-out fuzz with flying colors. It would be nice if it was cheaper and more compact, but the tones that you can get from it easily justifies its cost and space requirement.
If you are looking for a reliable and versatile fuzz pedal, the Voodoo Lab Superfuzz Pedal is highly recommended.
Wampler Velvet Fuzz
While the fuzz effect is more often associated with ear piercing torn speaker sound, there are some artists who have achieved the exact opposite, a smooth and sweet tone that’s pleasing to the ears. The tones of these artists have inspired the Velvet Fuzz, rounding off the usually brash and rough tone of fuzz to make it more sonically appealing. The pedal’s positive reception and high review ratings attest to it being a great tool for achieving EJ’s popular violin tone.
Instead of merely repeating conventional Fuzz effect circuits, Brian Wampler and his team decided to create a circuit that captures both the sound of fuzz and its effect on a full stack amplifier. The result is a fuzz pedal with tube amp overdrive like clarity and response. And it doesn’t stop there because the pedal has a trio of knobs that let you adjust the volume, fuzz and brightness (tone). There’s even a voicing switch that lets you toggle between Big and Bright, “Big” having beefier tones while Bright is more responsive.
Unfortunately the Velvet’s price is a bit on the expensive end, still this is a worthy fuzz pedal that deserves a slot in many player’s pedalboards.
Boss FZ-5 Fuzz Pedal
The Boss FZ-5 is an interesting entry in this list, because while other pedals go for traditional analog circuit designs, this one features modern effect modeling to recreate multiple fuzz voices. And as usual, Boss was able to implement all of these at a reasonable price point without compromising reliability and sonic quality.
While it may look small simplistic, the FZ-5 is one of the more versatile pedals in this list, thanks to Boss’ COSM technology. The pedal has a “Mode” knob at the center, which lets you switch through various emulations of classic pedals, including Octavia pedals, and the Maestro FZ-1A Fuzz Face. There’s even a Boost knob if you want to thoroughly beef up your sound. The only downside is its lack of tone shaping controls, but the mode selection feature more than makes up for it.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly and versatile fuzz pedal, check out the Boss FZ-5
Way Huge Swollen Pickle MkII Fuzz Pedal
The Fuzz effect was used by iconic guitarists of the past to break free from conventional guitar tones of their day. Ironically, today’s guitarists are using fuzz to stay within familiar territory, defeating the original purpose of the effect. As such, the Swollen Pickle is a welcome addition to this list because of its ability to produce tones beyond what vintage boxes offer.
While Way Huge Electronics is not necessarily as big as other pedal manufacturers, they have been producing very interesting modern renditions of classic effects. The Swollen Picke MkII showcases their design philosophy, which goes beyond mere emulation and allow for more tone personalization. It’s loudness, filter, sustain, scoop and crunch knobs allow for a wide variety of tone, from classic to otherworldly, and it does so without putting too much of a premium on the price.
I’m not a fan of how the controls are laid out - all of which would have fit into a smaller pedal profile. Other than that, this is your best bet if you’re looking for high-gain friendly pedal.
Rotosound 1960s Fuzz Pedal Reissue
Because the original pedal was not made publicly available, only the elite few got to experience the subtle fuzz that this stompbox brings. Thanks to this reissue, we can now enjoy this uniquely flavored fuzz, which adds a vintage radio like "shhh" sound to your tone that is simply put really cool.
To retain the sound of the original, the current production Rotosound Fuzz Pedal is still based on Germanium, using a pair of vintage stock Darlington transistors that result in real classic tones. It features essential knobs for adjusting the Fuzz or gain level, tone tweaking via the treble knob and level setting via the volume knob. Unfortunately you can't go high-gain crazy, but with its unique and transparent fuzz tone, you might find yourself inspired to make music instead of merely playing with the controls.
Picky guitarists that are looking for new production vintage-sounding pedals will find the Rotosound 1960s Reissue Fuzz Pedal to be very appealing.
Suhr Rufus Reloaded Fuzz
While Suhr is known for their guitars and the virtuoso's that endorse them, other pedal manufacturers should watch out for Suhr's growing presence in the stompbox market. Being relatively new to pedal building did not stop them from producing impressive effects that include the Reloaded Fuzz, a versatile fuzz pedal that gives you everything you need and more.
To start off, this compact pedal comes with two distinct modes: Fat and Normal, which essentially lets you switch between Germanium and Silicon style tones. This allows for a wide variety of fuzz sounds to cover virtually any style of music. And note that you can switch between the two modes via the same single foot switch that you use to engage/disengage the pedal. You can even store the default mode that you want the pedal to start in via its built-in memory. In addition to its versatile and great sounding fuzz tones, Rufus Reloaded comes with a very dynamic octave-up effect that matches the fuzz section beautifully. Now you can reproduce the popular "Band of Gypsys" tone with just one pedal.
While the price tag can be a bit over the top for some players, the versatility and quality of this pedal more than makes up for the cost.
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