Bass Fuzz Bonanza: Weighing 7 Low-End Fuzz Options

When it comes to gain effects, the most commonly used are overdrive, distortion and fuzz. While most players know the technical difference between an overdrive and a distortion pedal, many have a harder time distinguishing between distortion and fuzz. Let’s try to clear that up.

Simply put:

  • Overdrive pedals simulate the sound of subtlety pushing a tube amp beyond its normal load capacity, essentially creating a soft clipped sound that can be varied in degrees. The more you overdrive it, the more it distorts.
  • Distortion pedals directly alter the sound waves between guitar and amp, creating a hard clipped, overdriven, compressed-sounding tone.
  • Fuzz pedals are the most intense of the three, however. Essentially, these pedals simulate playing through overdriven, compressed, crappy, broken gear.

Jimi Hendrix was one of the first to tap into this sound by using a Fuzz Face pedal, but guitarists like Jack White are keeping it current. Somewhere along the way, bass players started digging this sound too, and those looking for a gutsy, wooly, unapologetic, in-your-face tone have long adopted the use of fuzz pedals and the market for them has grown in response.

What follows below is a list of seven fuzz pedals sure to rock your world, in order from least to most expensive. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, but rather a great place to start your research if you have any interest in adding some of that sweet, fuzzy sound to your bass.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi

EHX Bass Big Muff Pi

Guitarists have celebrated the Big Muff fuzz pedal since the early ’70s and the bass version, which combines the Sovtek Big Muff Pi and the NYC-built Big Muff Pi, packs a punch at a bargain price.

While it doesn’t have a specific dry/wet option like some of its competitors, it does provide a dual output, which allows for running an unaffected signal through a separate amp and features a selector for dry/bass boost.

Volume, tone and sustain knobs keep things simple and help you get this pocketbook-friendly pedal up and running in no time. If you’re new to fuzz pedals, this is a great way to get started.

MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe

MXR M84 Deluxe

MXR has long enjoyed a solid reputation for making quality, vintage-sounding fuzz pedals for guitar players. With the Bass Fuzz Deluxe, they bring all that talent to their low-end line. The separate wet and dry controls simulate running your signal through two different amps: one with the fuzz effect and one without. This feature alone makes this pedal worthy of attention.

The tone knob smartly controls the fuzz effect alone, not the dry signal. As such, you can manipulate the blend of the effect and your natural bass tone to your own taste, and with the dry signal option, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your low end for some seriously gritty sounds. In short, this is a simple to use, player-friendly pedal that produces a great fuzz tone.

Aguilar Fuzzistor Bass Fuzz

Aguilar Fuzzistor

Best known for their high-quality bass amps and cabinets, Aguilar lately has been making a name for itself in the pedal market. They introduced the Fuzzistor in 2015, and this all-analog pedal will no doubt be a hit. The blend function allows players to dial in an edgy, wooly tone with plenty of bottom end, and this pedal’s use of a silicon transistor all but ensures a sonic trip back to the ‘70s.

The fuzz control determines how hard you’re going to squash that vintage silicon transistor, which determines the level of fuzziness, while the tone control allows for nuanced and subtle tone shaping thanks to its use of Tilt EQ technology — another vintage tech that allows for multiple frequencies to be simultaneously adjusted with one knob. The level control is a welcome addition, as it allows players to match their unaffected volume with that of the altered sound.

Source Audio Soundblox 2 OFD microModeler

Soundblox 2 OFD microModeler

Source Audio’s OFD bass pedal offers a 3-for-1 deal, in that provides all three common gain effects in one package: overdrive, fuzz and distortion. Just because fuzz is the middle child doesn’t mean it gets less attention, though.

As a modeler, this pedal offers more than just one kind of fuzz effect, as it seeks to accurately clone specific fuzz pedals while adding some sonic enhancements on the lower end of the spectrum. For example, it provides an effect modeled after the above-mentioned Fuzz Face and another on the famous Z-Vex Woolly Mammoth. The A & B user presets allow you to save your personal settings and then switch between the two as you desire.

JHS Effects 4 Wheeler Bass Fuzz

JHS 4 Wheeler

If you’re the kind of player who goes from playing in a ‘60s rock cover band one night to a modern electronic pop band the next, then you’ll want to check out this versatile, hand-built pedal from JHS. Besides the cool drawing of a monster truck, the top of the pedal features four knobs: volume, tone, fuzz and gate.

These controls offer the usual methods for dialing in a good sounding fuzz tone, but the gate control provides the key to vacillating between a vintage fuzz tone and one that sits better in modern electronic music. The more gate control you add, the more sputtering and sporadic the fuzz sounds, kind of like your battery is dying. The pedal also offers a High/Low switch that affects the amount of bottom end on the affected sound.

Darkglass Duality Dual Fuzz Engine Bass Fuzz Pedal

Darkglass Duality

This boutique pedal company’s venture into the bass-fuzz world has yielded good results. As it’s name implies — twice — this pedal offers two independent fuzz circuits that you can switch between via its duality control.

Turn the knob to the left and you engage a vintage “saw-tooth” fuzz tone — think old school-synth — while turning it toward the right engages a high-level gain for a more modern sound. The added Filter control allows for cutting or boosting the high harmonic tones. Like the JHS, this pedal can’t operate on a 9-volt battery, but rather requires a separate adapter.

Red Witch Zeus Bass Fuzz Suboctave

Red Witch Zeus Suboctave

If you’ve got room in your budget, and on your pedalboard, for something super high-end, then you might want to check out the Red Witch Fuzz pedal. Basically, they’ve combined a superb analog fuzz pedal with a sub-octave control. The resulting rumble it can produce proves worthy of the Greek god of thunder for whom it’s named. You can use each effect independently or blend them as you wish.

Aside from controls for blending wet/dry signals for both octave and fuzz effects, and another for fuzz level, the Zeus features a sputter control, which allows you to dial into a very neat and gated fuzz tone on one hand, or another that seems out of control. Additionally, the pedal includes high frequency and gain switches. Despite its size, the Zeus can run on a 9-volt battery. This pedal costs a lot, but its quality ensures your money will be well spent.

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