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16 of the Best Fuzzy-Drive Pedals

AnalogWise PedalsBasic AudioCaroline Guitar CompanyChase Bliss AudioCrazy Tube CircuitsCusack MusicDemon PedalsEmpress EffectsFulltone EffectsFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionHudson ElectronicsMad Professor EffectsMythos PedalsPettyjohn ElectronicsSkreddy PedalsStomp Under FootThroBakTrue North Pedals+-
2019GPX16BestFuzzyDrive700-min.jpg

It turns out that I’m quite the fan of drive pedals which occupy the space where overdrive and fuzz overlap beautifully. I have gravitated towards such sounds almost subconsciously ever since I got back into guitar. And while there are various fuzz pedals - particularly of the Germanium variety that can be tuned down to those sorts of tones, I’m referring more here to pedals whose very core character straddles both overdrive and fuzz - sometimes on the more fuzzy-drive end as I call it, and sometimes on the more gainey fuzzstortion end.

 

You can tune many great Big Muff style pedals down to fuzzy-drive - including the excellent Demon Pedals Parvati Fuzz recently covered, but I’m excluding those from this round-up - and as I’ve just recently covered the venerable Rat style pedals - those are also excluded. The only specific genre type included here is the Colorsound Power Boost variety - where I have two of that variation - also a couple of sort of Tweed/Fuzz style pedals - while the rest here are more individualistic and distinct.

 

I so love this format that I already have 11 of these - out of the 16 listed, and I will probably acquire all of these remaining ones eventually with the likeliest next addition the hopefully very imminent ’Tweed-Fuzz’ style pedal coming from Sheldon Ens’ True North Pedals. All of these pedals are otherwise current - with the exception of the ThroBak Overdrive Boost - which I prefer in its discontinued previous V1 vertical compact format edition to the newer V2 horizontal dual-footswitch version.

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand as usual:


Analogwise Germanium Pocket Rocket Fuzz-Drive - c£60 (Reverb.com)

This pedal was recently mentioned in my Polish Builders roundup - I actually acquired it in November of last year, it brought to mind the Mythos Golden Fleece that I already had as it is also a Mini Yellow pedal - but although they have superficial similarities they have quite different key characteristics and tonality. The Pocket Rocket flows from boost to overdrive to fuzz while you rotate the gain dial clockwise - while the Golden Fleece has the same fuzz/drive blend which just gets gainier and louder as you move up the dial. This is a really cool and great value mini pedal.


Basic Audio Futureman - £159

I did a post back in August of last year about modern Colorsound Power Boost alternatives - and this was the one in the listing I ended up getting - and it catches that texture and tonality pretty faithfully in just a far more pedalboard friendly format. The Power Boost was one of the original 'overdrives' as such, its tone is slightly dark, but it has the definite fuzz edge to the texture. There's plenty of range here from pretty subtle to full-on, and the gain goes pretty high too.


Caroline Guitar Company Hawaiian Pizza Fuzz-Drive - £165

This is a tremendously versatile fuzzy-drive that can go from dumble-esque through twangy overdrive to sort of germanium fuzz sounding. Has a lovely singing quality to it and remarkably broad tone-shaping through just those 3 dials (Output, Bias, Input). I've been meaning to get this one for a while - no doubt it will be in the collection before long.


Chase Bliss Audio Brothers Analog Gainstage - £349

One of the permanent fixtures of my pedal-chain and much featured on this blog under several different categories - this all-round two-channel boost/drive/fuzz allows you to mix up 2 separate fuzz and drive voicings - which between them cover enormous ground - this is likely the ultimate fuzzy-drive in the compact enclosure format as befits its price.


Crazy Tube Circuits Starlight Liquid Fuzz-Distortion - £179

This pedal was on my wishlist for the longest time - and in fact I only acquired it fairly recently - when Crazy Tube Circuits were selling off some of their B-Stock pedal. This is a really great chewy fuzzy-drive and the kind of tone I really love is beautifully demo'd by R.J. Ronquillo in the above video - this is one of the great unsung pedals that more people really need to know about!


Cusack Music Screamer Fuzz Germanium Limited Edition Fuzz - $205

This was a sort of NAMM 2019 special where I think only 50 or 100 were made - and I was lucky enough to snag one from Prymaxe. At the time I wasn't that well versed with the Cusack Music universe and thought this was just a straight up fuzz - where it's obviously a mix of Tube Screamer and Fuzz - with separate dials to turn up the degree of gain/mix for each voicing. I'm sorry to report that this is yet another one of my favourites of this type - these featured pedals pretty much all have individual voices to me and I would not wish to part with any of them - this one can sound particularly stellar.


Demon Pedals Kondo Shifuku D-Style - €279 or €299 for limited edition

Compared to the chewiness of the Starlight above, this one is slightly more subtle - but there's still that lovely edge of fuzz embedded within the drive tone - when you get the settings right - all switches down, Drive around 10 o'c etc. It's my favourite of the Dumble ODS style pedals and has been a permanent fixture in my pedal-chain since it arrived.


Empress Effects Multidrive - £269

Even though I mostly use the Mulidrive for its exceptional Marshall-style flavours, it is like the Chase Bliss Audio Brothers above and somewhat unique in allowing you to mix up Fuzz, Overdrive and Distortion flavours together in any combination. I always pair my Overdrive and Distortion settings on the Multidrive with a healthy hint of fuzz - for more texture and articulation - more harmonics too. How much Fuzz you blend in is entirely up to you - and you can get some amazing combinations out of this highly versatile pedal.


Hudson Electronics Dual Broadcast - £165

I went through a phase last year when I played catch-up on Hudson Electronics - and acquired 4 of the best Michael Hudson productions over a period of just a few months - the Germanium Fuzz, White Heat Fuzz, Sidecar Germanium Clipping Overdrive and this Dual Footswitch Broadcast. These are produced in fairly small batches still and several cool special editions - which nevertheless means getting your order in early and waiting a couple or months or so to get your pedal. Michael Hudson no longer ships direct - so you need to find one of the many local dealers and place your order with them. This is a slightly tighter sounding fuzzy-drive hybrid than say the Starlight above, but it still has wonderful texture and tonality which gets well into fuzz territory when you dime it.


Mad Professor Amber Overdrive - c£139 or £179 for hardwired edition

This is a pedal which somehow passed me by for a while - and when I came to acquire it - it was seemingly out of stock everywhere local to me. You get the choice of factory-made or hand-wired versions - but I'm not sure you can discern the difference in output fidelity - both sound superb. Nearest one available to me was Denmark in the end! Another beautiful confection of drive and fuzz. For those who think they don't like fuzz - this could be your gateway drug as such!


Mythos Golden Fleece Fuzz-Drive - £139

This was recently listed as one of my One Knob Wonders - and R.J. Ronquillo properly goes to town on the demo above. I feel this is another one of the perfect gateway drugs to fuzz as such - just a wonderfully balanced mix of those two tonalities - and one of my essential mini pedals.


Pettyjohn Electronics Fuze Fuzz-Distortion / Fuzzstortion - £229

Pettyjohn was a brand I wasn't overly familiar with until fairly recently - it's not in that wide a distribution this side of the pond. I included the Gold Overdrive in my recent Marshall style pedals article, and came across the Fuze while conducting that research. This is billed more as a Fuzz-Distortion pedal and obviously ranges a little harder and more gainey than some of these others - it's still easily capable of that wonderful mid gain chewiness that I so love.


Skreddy Pedals Hybrid Fuzz Driver - £229

I have a lot of love for Skreddy pedals and I see the Hybrid Fuzz Driver as one of a pair really with its sibling the Lunar Module Mini Deluxe. Each is supposed to be providing the same sort of treatment - but optimised towards humbuckers and single coil pickups respectively. The Hybrid has a mix of Germanium and Silicon transistors, while the Lunar Module is all Silicon. I actually play mostly humbuckers and I really like both - possibly I have a slight preference for the Hybrid and its slightly more elegant articulation - but there are many of us who have and love both.


Stomp Under Foot Dirt Preacher - £179

This is one of a couple pedals here that have that sort of Tweed amp + fuzz flavour to them - the other being the forthcoming and as yet unnamed pedal from True North q.v. Both of these have this lovely warm fuzzy-drive character which is right in my target zone. I'm a big supporter of Sheldon Ens - so I will likely get his first, but I really like this one too!


ThroBak Overdrive Boost V1 - c£200+ (Reverb.com)

When I did my Modern Colorsound Power Boost alternatives piece - I actually featured the newer V2 version of this - which converts the pre-gain toggle into a second footswitch - otherwise the control topology is identical. I feel I just prefer the vertical format for this sort of pedal - of course I would take a dual-footswitch vertical version to the V1, but I also much prefer the V1 vertical to the horizontal V2. It of course features the classic characteristics of the earliest of overdrive type - where proper breakup comes in pretty high on the gain scale. The Master Volume on the side is also an essential addition over the original inspiration for this pedal. I've often said on this blog that size and form-factor are key considerations for me - and generally my preference is for modern vertical compact enclosures!


True North Pedals Black Tweed Fuzz (Prototype) - $TBC (c$159?)

The very early prototype video is the only one available on YouTube, although there are some more recent Facebook ones with the presumed final shape of the intended black-tweed wrapped enclosure - minus the print - and similar to my composite one at the top of this page. Sheldon is still doing some refinements so we don't have a launch date yet, but we're fairly familiar with some of the early tone demos - and this looks like it's going to be every bit as great as the Tweed Drive. I feel it's my most likely next acquisition here.


Addition! - Fulltone Más Malo Distortion/Fuzz - £149

I inadvertently overlooked this one - it's another one I've been meaning to get for a while - and GuitarGuitar gave me the excuse by reducing these temporarily to £126. The 4-knobs control - Volume | Distortion | Color (Tone) | Heat (Bias). And you get some lovely harmonic texture here courtesy of 3 New Old Stock BC184C Transistors- definitely another favourite of this type!


Final Thoughts

Even though there is a significant overlap on many of these I still feel they are each individualistic enough to warrant a spot in my collection. But I think you could also categorise them into probably three camps based on their gain range - and how open or closed / compressed the tone is. I will surely be the only one that would even consider all of these - but seeing on where I am up to it's well within the realms of probability that I will eventually have all.

 

I of course need a an example of the Overdrive Boost V1 to show up in decent condition on Reverb.com, and apart from the limited edition Screamer Fuzz and forthcoming True North Black Tweed Fuzz (TBC), all these others should be relatively readily available - while several are also small-batch-manufactured and may have a month or two waiting time.

 

If you're new to this genre I feel that the Mythos Golden Fleece is probably your best gateway into this style - although there are several others here you may still prefer - you may also want to have more control over the output than just the single dial - but it is about as user-friendly/easy-to-use as these get.

 

Of the ones I don't have yet - Sheldon's Black Tweed Fuzz is probably on the top of that list, then the Hawaiian Pizza, the Dirt Preacher and Pettyjohn Fuze. I've been scanning for an Overdrive Boost V1 for a number of months and not come across one yet - although I think at least one has been sold on Reverb.com this year. Even with all the special notifications and alerts you can still miss a few - as they come in any time of day and night - and you will very likely be up to other things.

 

So in short - this is one of my favourite types of guitar tone - which always warrants a spot or three in my chain. At one stage I have had the Chase Bliss Brothers, Screamer Fuzz, Kondo Shifuku and Multidrive all on active duty - while typically the Brothers and Kondo are the mainstays, and the Screamer Fuzz and Golden Fleece probably get the most rotation - although I really love all of these and there is not much between them in my affections - a lot of the times it's just luck as to what gets picked for each rotation. So this article also serves a purpose to remind me what I have available to me, and to ensure that each pedal gets a slot on the rotation at some stage.

 

UPDATE! - Since this feature was first published I've added the Stomp Under Foot Dirt Preacher and Fulltone Más Malo to the collection - with the True North Rocky Mountain Fuzz just around the corner. I will then get the remaining 3 - Caroline Guitar Co Hawaiian Pizza, Pettyjohn Fuze and ThroBak V1 Overdrive Boost to complete this selection - and move onto something else! I've probably overlooked a couple more - if so I will append to this post as I go!

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