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From Willie Kizart’s rhythmic runs through a broken amp on “Rocket 88,” to Haim’s panned dueling guitar solos on “Up From the Dream,” fuzz has defined contemporary guitar for decades. Few effects come in so many flavors and inspire as much love as fuzz pedals. The Dunlop Fuzz Face, Maestro Fuzz-Tone, and Univox Super Fuzz are a few of the names associated with legendary riffs.

What is a fuzz pedal?

Like distortion and overdrive, fuzz pedals use a resistor or other analog component to clip the incoming signal. The Maestro Fuzz Tone is widely recognized as the first mass-produced bucket-brigade pedal.

Unlike OD and other drives, however, fuzz usually has no reverence for your tone. Scrambled, seering, velcro, sputtery, and destroyed are all adjectives that can describe fuzz tones.

Many fuzz pedals were originally designed to make guitars sound like other instruments, like horns or cellos. Some unique fuzz pedals may add additional effects, such as gate, octave up/down, or filters. The Zvex Fuzz Factory adds oscillation for even noisier possibilities.

What is the more versatile fuzz pedal?

Circuits based on the Tone Bender have been used in classic rock, punk, and prog. The Catalinbread Katzenkonig combines the simple germanium fuzz with a Rat-style distortion for sizzling strums and searing solos.

What is the heaviest fuzz pedal?

The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff in all its variations has long been a favorite of shoegaze, grunge, and stoner rock purveyors. The green Russian variant is popular among bassists and those looking to rattle cabinets with downtuned riffs.

Boutique fuzz pedal fans should peruse Wren and Cuff’s menu of muff-inspired stompboxes. Push your Muff into Gilmore-solo sustain stratospheres with a Tube Screamer or create walls of amplifier-worship worthy feedback by combining it with your favorite distortion.

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