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Best of French Guitar Pedals and Pedal Builders

770-CircuitsAnasoundsBoostBoost and OverdriveBuffalo FXCoda EffectsEffects Pedal MakersEnvelope Filter and Auto WahFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGated and Velcro FuzzGlou GlouJacques StompboxesKlone and Transparent OverdriveModulated FuzzModulationModulation WorkstationOctave FuzzOddball FuzzOscillating FuzzOverdrivePhaserRat Style FuzzSilicon FuzzSuper-Fuzz StyleThrilltoneTremoloTube OverdriveTubescreamer Style OverdriveTwo Notes Audio EngineeringUtilityZorg Effects+-
2018GPXFrenchPedalMakers700V2-min.jpg

I’m really enjoying researching French Pedal-Makers and discovering so many new brands, while figuring out also that a lot of French Pedal Brand lists are horribly out-of-date as many of those companies previously listed have ceased trading over the last 10 years or so. This follows on from the Best of British and Best of Canadian Pedal Builders and as I am really enjoying doing this sort of thing I will probably stretch the series out to 10 or so articles - as long as I can find enough interesting pedals in those core territories to make it worth it - I will likely end with the Best of Scandinavian Builders and see just how many Icelandic ones there are to go with their significantly more famous Danish, Finnish and Swedish cousins.

 

I realised very quickly that I actually have no French Pedals to my name, and in fact most of the French brands I came across were new to me. The two I know really well and come across the most often are the wood-panel fronted Anasounds, and black medium-enclosure classic reproductions from Buffalo FX. The latter mentioned is probably my favourite French builder as all 7 of his pedals are brilliant and I could quite happily own them all - even though I would prefer them in more compact enclosures. Anasounds has had a lot of publicity of late and is likely currently the most ’present’ of all the French pedal brands.

 

Two pedals on here I’ve featured fairly recently on this site - the Komparator Oscillating Fuzz from 770 Circuits, and the Montagne Tap Tremolo from Coda Effects. Glou Glou is totally a ’Knobs’ style leftfield pedal-maker and whose pedals really do next level modulation shizzle - yet they’re truly massive in size too - so have limited practical application somewhat. Most players will also be familiar with Two Notes - particularly for their PreAmp and Cab Simulation pedals - you still see plenty of pedalboards with the above pictured Torpedo C.A.B. on them.

 

The remaining 3 slots in the Top 9 all went to pedals whose demos really appealed to me - of those 3 - I’m kind of blown away by the Jacques Stompboxes fantastically lively full fuzzstortion Bat Fuzz - which just sounds incredible and is really super versatile. Thrilltone’s Drive Recovery does a similar thing for Overdrive, while Zorg’s Zoverdrive Deluxe is incredibly even more versatile still.

 

In practical terms of which of these I’m likely to acquire, I would say the Bat Fuzz is my number one target here (actually just ordered!), while I have several Buffalo FX pedals on my wishlist already - and would also quite like to acquire the gnarly Komparator Fuzz at some stage - there is of course plenty to get stuck into here.

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand - first my Top 9 favourites and then a second group of all the rest:


770-Circuits (770-Circuits.com)

I featured 770 Circuits' Komparator Fuzz in my Oscillating / Trem-Fuzz overview and it still appeals to me and sits on my Fuzz wishlist. There are but 4 pedals to the 770 range, and all of them are pretty decent:

  • Like = Empire FET Overdrive | Komparator Oscillating Fuzz | Ol'Dog Silicon Fuzz | Santa Cruz Crossover Overdrive

Anasounds (Anasounds.com)

I've seen a lot of Anasounds in the last couple of years - they seem to be the only French pedal brand that is being properly promoted - and there is decent range of demo videos out there from various players which really isn't the case for most of the French pedals featured here. I really like the organic touch of using engraved wooden face plates - a detail I also really like on my ltd ed. Bogner Burnley. The whole range is pretty decent with the stand-out pedal being the wonderfully dynamic / organic Cerberus Custom Overdrive which has two internal dip-switches for voicing and dual trimpots for further tone and gain shaping in addition to the 4 surface-mounted control dials - definitely another great Klone-ish replacement. I'm a fan of all the 'dirt' pedals in the range as follows:

  • Like = Bitoun Fuzz (Fuzz Face / Octafuzz) | Cerberus Custom Overdrive (Dynamic Overdrive) | Feed Me Fuzz (Silicon BC108 Fuzz Face) | Freq Up Boost/Overdrive | High Voltage (Plexi Distortion) | Savage Overdrive (actual Klone)

Buffalo FX (Buffalo-FX.com)

I've featured this Brand quite a bit on this site and as mentioned in the intro - would be very happy to own all - the V3 Germanium Fuzz is officially sold out, but there are still copies available in distribution / on Reverb.com. While front of the line for me are the Butler-eque TD-X Overdrive and Colorsound Power Boost clones. Earlier pedals were compact sized but with very deep enclosures, while current range is in slimmer mid-size vertical enclosure. Personally I would prefer them as slimmed-down compacts - I still keep my eyes peeled for older versions for when they hit Reverb.com - but all sound amazing whatever the enclosure:

  • Like = Carrera Overdrive | Evolution Overdrive | Germanium Fuzz V3 (discontinued) | M1 Fuzz | Patriot Fuzz | Power Booster | TD-X Overdrive

Coda Effects (Coda-Effects.com)

I covered Benoit Meijer's output fairly recently in my Compact Tremolo Pedals overview. He has just three pedals so far to his range - all excellent - the Sunn Model T amp clone - Black Hole PreAmp, Dolmen Big-Muff-style Fuzz, and the pictured Tap-Tempo Montagne Tremolo. I think I put my name down on the waiting list for the next batch of Black Hole PreAmp pedals - all these pedals are obviously made in small batches and tend to sell out pretty quickly.

  • Like = Black Hole PreAmp (Sunn Model T) | Dolmen Fuzz (Big Muff) | Montagne Tap Tremolo

Glou Glou (Glou-Glou.org)

Glou Glou do really interesting multi-modulation pedals usually built around parallel phasing and vibrato, sometimes with resonant filtering and sometimes with LFO oscillation. The Avant-Gard Dual Filter/Phase has been discontinued, but is replaced by the new and improved Rendezvous. While the Déja-Vu Parallel Oscillating Phaser has also been 'phased out' and replaced by the quite different Pralines Quad Parallel Fuzz-fed Resonant Filter - which is currently doing the promotional rounds! Note that all these pedals are pretty enormous and the size of a whole pedalboard pretty much on their own - which limits their application to big studio environments. I really could not fit one of those easily within the 'music corner' of my lounge!

  • Like = Pralines Quad Parallel Fuzz-fed Resonant Filter | Rendezvous Vibrato/Phaser/Filter/LFO (updated Avant-Gard)

Jacques Stompboxes (JacquesPedals.com)

This is one of the totally new to me French brands - which look like they've updated a number of their pedals in 2018 - while a couple are still in the older enclosure. Most of these (12) are compact, while 2 new ones - The Electric Sheep and the Bête Noire come in significantly larger enclosures. As stated in the intro, I was totally blown away by the recently updated lively Bat Fuzz fuzzstortion pedal which goes to the top of my acquisition list. There are several more excellent pedals here besides.

  • Like = Bête Noire Scan (Phased) Distortion | Batfuzz Metal Fuzzstortion | Fuse Blower Distortion | Mercer Box Concept Distortion | Overtube Vintage Pro Overdrive | Tube Blower Overdrive

Thrilltone (Thrilltone.fr)

A small but perfectly formed range of pedals - all of which I quite like - two compacts, one medium vertical and one large - mostly within the 'drive' arena bar the larger Tremolo pedal. My pick of the bunch is unusually the dual footswitch mid-size-enclosure Drive Recovery - which gives you a huge range of exceptional dynamic driven tones.

  • Like = Drive Recovery Dynamic Overdrive | Fire Booster Mid Gain Overdrive | Fuel to Fire High Gain Distortion

Two Notes Audio Engineering (Two-Notes.com)

I've seen a lot of Two Notes pedals of late - the Torped Cab Sim pedals in particular are very widely deployed by professional players and used by luminaries such as Henning Pauly and Rabea Massaad - although of late I see their dominance threatened by the newer Universal Audio OX Amp Top Box. The other area where Two Notes is well know is its rather large tube-driven PreAmp pedals - 'Le Clean', 'Le Crunch' and 'Le Lead'. These are all quality engineered pedals but are facing a lot of competition from different corners of the industry.

  • Like = Le Clean PreAmp Pedal | Le Crunch PreAmp Pedal | Le Lead PreAmp Pedal | Torpedo C.A.B. | Torpedo Reload | Torpedo Studio

Zorg Effects (ZorgEffects.com)

Another new French brand for me but one with a really cool range of 13 pedals - they all have slightly offset wood panel facias sufficiently different to the Anasounds approach - and these have really colourful knobs. My pick of the bunch is the 6-dial, 2-toggle and dual-footswitch multi-clipping Zorgerdrive Deluxe, but I could easily have selected the almost equally super-versatile Fuzz Face + Octavia - Glue Fuzz. I rate 7 pedals in the range as follows:

  • Like = Glue Fuzz | Jour De Fat Distortion | Metalfe(s)t High Gain Distortion | Oppressor Compressor | Zorgtaver Analog Octave | Zorgverdrive | Zorgverdrive DLX

1969 Effects (1969Effects.com)

Small 3-pedal classic fuzz pedal operation in vertical and landscape mid-size enclosures - Blonde Boost (Rangemaster), Bone Blender (Tone Bender MKII) and Scarlet Storm (Fuzz Face). Both Both Britain and Canada have tonnes of these, so I'm not sure why you would go for one of these versus more native reproductions - pricing is reasonable though.


Acouphonic (Acouphonic.fr)

Another 3-pedal vintage style specialist with La Fuzz hybrid Germanium/Silicon style Fuzz, Mercure Transistor Boost, and Sable Silicon Transistor Overdrive. These are in a mix of trapezoidal and vertical mid-size enclosures. Nothing particularly here that takes my fancy.


A.I.B Custom Effects (Aib-Custom-Effects.com)

A small builder with really bright and arresting graphics - with mix of compact and mid-size enclosures for just 3 pedals - Hexed Custom Fuzzstortion, Psylocibin Custom High Gain Fuzz and M.R.S. Custom 70's Big Muff style Fuzz. I already have numerous clever fuzzes (70+) and feel I already have better / more versatile versions and derivations of all the main types.


Atelier Kraken (AtelierKraken.com)

Atelier Kraken makes exceptional looking guitars as well as 8 pedals currently. The pedals mostly feature really cool monochromatic Lovecraftian monster graphics although most of these are in relatively large size enclosures - there's at least a couple of cool ones here worth considering.

  • Like = Dagon Guitar Distortion + Boost | Kraken Fuzz | Custom Double 'Lovecraftian Fuzz'

BenFox Stompbox (StompboxManiac.wifeo.com)

Another cool small pedal builder also with cool monochromatic graphics, but this time based on 70's style psychedelic geometries. Looks like there's around 7 pedals to the range - there are also some non-stompbox noise-makers. I feel there are a few here that are worthy checking out properly:

  • Like = Dual Tone Generator with Starve Mod | La Bitter-Sweet Dual Distortion | La Filthy Fuzz | Love Buzz Fender Twin Style 2 Dial Overdrive | Love Buzz 3 dial Overdrive (+Tone)

Ben Rod Electro (Benrod-Electro.fr)

Small 6-pedal range builder with an all-mid-size enclosure range - the one pedal here that catches my eye is the Steve Lukather endorsed Wave Box Vibe pedal - with lots of tone-shaping dials and alternative voicing toggle.

  • Like = Wave Box Vibe

Bo*Effects (Bo-Effects.com)

Actually a really cool 9 compact pedal strong range which was a real contender for a slot in the above Top 9, I like pretty much all of these, the 79 Green Overdrive is an award winner, but my pick of the bunch is rather the 73 Fuzz or Oxydrive. Really nicely crafted pedals.

  • Like = 66 Germanium Fuzz | 67 Germanium Fuzz | 73 Fuzz (Ram's Head) | 79 The Green Overdrive (TS808) | Big Jump Revise Boos (Rangemaster) | BJ (Big Jump) Germanium Boost (Rangemaster) | Big Trouble Distortion (Rat) | Little Tron Envelope Fitler | Oxydrive Transparent Overdrive

Crust Pedals (CrustPedals.com)

One-off colourful hand-painted custom pedals by Xavier and Claude for guitar and bass - these look like they're made entirely on commission and a number of these are quite striking. The Custom Models listing features a wide variety of Fuzz, Drive and Distortion pedals with not too many details given - I suppose you just need to contact the duo to see what sort of things they excel at.


Dewitte Wired (Dewitte-Wired.fr)

Principally a super high-end Amp builder, Dewitte have just one pedal currently which is the intriguing mid-sized 'Brut(e)' Super Crunch and Distortion PreAmp pedal.

  • Like = Brut(e) Crunch/Distortion

Doc Music Station (DocMusicStation.fr)

I was not at all familiar with this outfit, but they have 30 really nicely designed pedals across Overdrive, Distortion, Fuzz, Chorus and Compressor. Standouts for me are the Blackie 3 Dual-mode Distortion (Rat), Doc Stortion 2 Dual-mode Distortion, and Vintage Drive 3 Dual-mode Overdrive.

  • Like = Blackie 3 Dual-mode Distortion (Rat) | Doc Stortion 2 Dual-mode Distortion (OPA2604) | Vintage Drive 3 Dual-mode Overdrive (Tubescreamer)

DWT Custom (DWTCustom.com)

Tiny 2-pedal boutique with really high-quality looking medium-size enclosure Overdrive and Fuzz each with dual clipping / voicing toggle switches. They also offer various customisation - these definitely look really cool.

  • Like = Clipping Lab Overdrive | Silicon Pi Fuzz

Eagletone (Eagletone.com)

Range of 14 assorted pedals in a mix of mini, compact and medium enclosures - the graphics are sort of all over the place and look a little Joyo-ish on occasion. Nothing particularly stands out for me, although the Molotov Metal Distortion looks like it may be worth a further looking - all these pedals could do with a facelift - with uniformly themed graphics.

  • Like = Molotov Metal Distortion

FilFX (FilFX.eu)

Custom pedal-maker who seems to specialise in Phasers, Flangers and Tremolos but does also elegant medium-enclosure overdrives and fuzzes too. Range includes pop-art cool 'I Am Your Father' Phaser Pedal, Delirium Tremens Tremolo and Octofuzzy Octave Fuzz.

  • Like = Delirium Tremens Tremolo | 'I Am Your Father' Phaser | Octafuzzy Octave Fuzz

Heptode (Heptode.com)

A pretty well-known French Amp-maker, with just a handful of pedals to its name - Deep Crunch PreAmp (Soldano SLO-100 style), Heavy Tone High Gain PreAmp (Soldano SLO-100 style), Virtuoso Phase Shifter.

  • Like = Deep Crunch PreAmp | Heavy Tone High Gain PreAmp

Insane FX (Insane-FX.net)

Interesting range of 8 mostly vintage -inspired quality pedals, Tone Bender, Big Muff and Rat style Fuzzes, Analogue-style Synth, Phaser and Reverb. A real mix of enclosure styles and sizes with the poking-out tube-driven Tube Driver the most striking one on offer. None of these pedals particularly speak to me, but I don't doubt their quality - I just tend to prefer more modern alternatives!


IT-11 Audio (IT11audio.com)

Interesting mix of 60's style graphics-decorated pedals from this Amp-maker. A mix of enclosure sizes - with the dual-footswitch Weird Fuzz looking the most intriguing here.

  • Like = Weird Fuzz

JMB Experience (JMB-Experience.com)

Cool range of just 4 mid-size enclosure pedals - 2 Fuzzes - Nitrogen 21 Color Fuzz Factory -style and Classic 70's Big Muff -style - also Riff Shooter Gold Overdrive + Boost and aptly named crunchier 'Money for Nothing' Drive + Boost. All these look interesting to me - with the 'Money for Nothing' the pick of the bunch.

  • Like = Classic 70's Fuzz | Nitrogen 21 Color Fuzz | 'Money for Nothing' Drive + Boost | Riff Shooter Gold Overdrive + Boost

Kami Pédales (MicrosKami.com)

Mainly a guitar parts / pickup supplier as far as I can see with just a single medium-enclosure pedal offering - the Kami Lead Drive Overdrive/Distortion.


Labo K Effects (Labo-K-Effects.com)

A range of 5 Medium Enclosure guitar pedals and a much larger Voice Machine Vocal Effects pedal. You have the highly versatile Fuzz Ultra, Heli Fuzz Trem-Fuzz, Miss Dirty Octave-Down Drive, Spinyverb Trem-Verb and Warm Lady Overdrive/Distortion. Not a bad looking bunch of pedals, but they offer no particular appeal to me for whatever reason.


Little Factory (LittleFact.com)

Just two compact pedals here - the Hind Transistor Overdrive and single dial Ether Boost. Nothing really to excite me yet, although there are more advertised to be forthcoming.


LNA FX (siteweb.LNAFX.com)

Range of 3 signature distortion pedals - 1 large Patrick Rondat Signature Distortion MKII, 1 X-large Richard Daude Signature Shredpool Distortion (+Compressor & Delay), and 1 X-large Triple Ultimate Distortion Pedal. The latter two have 3 footswitches each, and the Shredpool has 11 dials! These all seem rather large and specialised for me - but no doubt provide those players with everything they need for their core tone.


Locustom Effects (Locustom.fr)

Pretty cool mostly medium-sized etched steel enclosures range of 6 pedals - Groupie Drive+Boost, The Parasite MK0 / MK1 Wet/Dry Waveform Modulators, Overbass / Overbass Jr Bass Drives and mini Buffalo Buffer. Nothing particularly for me here either.


Maize Effects (Maize-Instruments.com)

Vintage-inspired Amplifier and Pickup maker with just 5 colour-coded Medium-enclosure pedals on offer - 'Fuzz', 'Delay', 'Distortion', 'Overdrive' and 'Reverb' as well as a single compact Shine-Ei clone pedal. Cool looking if you're into the slightly over-sized vintage look, but nothing here for me.


Mazette (Mazzette.com)

Range of 3 beautifully weathered mid-size enclosure pedals - José Phuzz, Robert Drive Overdrive and Testikular Distortion. The finish on these is really cool - ranging from patinated to rust - but these vintage-style slightly over-sized pedals are not really to my preference.


MSM Workshop (MSMWorkshop.fr)

This is mostly a Mod-Shop doing modifications of various Boss, EHX, DOD, Dunlop, Ibanez, MXR etc pedals. They also have a small range of what looks like 7 clone-style pedals. Nothing really stands out here for me to arouse any interest. They could learn a thing or two from JHS's mods - which stamp a uniformity and specific look and feel on all their modifications.


N.O.S (nos.kingeshop.com)

Another boutique amp-maker with a smattering of stompbox pedals - 1 large enclosure NOS'Box Custom Distortion, and 3 medium enclosures - NOS'Boost, NOS'Drive and NOS'Fuzz. Nothing here particularly for me either.


Plug & Play Amplification (PlugAndPlay-Amp.com)

Yet another boutique amp maker with a compact selection of pedals - quite a mixed range of floor and amp-top attenuators, some routing and switching boxes and some mid-size dual tube-driven boost and overdrive pedals for guitar and bass. They also have a custom department which makes / tweaks core pedals on commission.


Poon's Guitar Effects (Poons-Guitar-Effects.com)

A pretty broad range of 25 or so compact and medium enclosure pedals across Boost, Chorus, Compression, Delay, Distortion, Fuzz, Octave, Overdrive, Reverb and Tremolo categories. These pedals really need an overhaul so that they maintain some degree of uniformity of look / house-style - they really are all over the place at the moment which causes confusion and makes the overall proposition a lot less appealing.


Roadrunner (Roadrunner-Guitars.com)

Mainly a guitar and bass builder with just a handful of somewhat oddly shaped medium-size pedals - Electrochoc Fuzz, Supersonic Fuzz and Dr Freeze Tremolo - nothing for me!


TouellSkouarn (TouellSkouarn.fr)

This is a well-known Eurorack Effects Specialist with just a single large-format pedal to their name - the oddly named Strakal Brulu {Taol Evezh} PNP Fuzz + Overdrive + Feedback. Too much real-estate for me with an insufficient balance of dials and switches - with a larger enclosure size I would typically expect more dials and footswitches!


VL Effects (VLEffects.com)

A range of 8 boutique effects pedals with numerous options - much like Analog.Man. These are mostly Boosts, Fuzzes and Overdrives, but also with Delay, Modulation and Wah pedals. Overly complex menu navigation onsite combines with tiny text! This is another maker that could do with more uniformity across its different pedals - which are mostly mid-size to larger enclosures. Nothing in this assortment particularly appeals to me.


Final Thoughts

France turns out to be a bit of a mixed bag of guitar effects - similar to parts of the UK in particular - there are still quite a number of more old-fashioned sort of amp-based pedal makers - doing those more vintage style clones.

 

Then you properly have the avant-gard with Glou Glou - currently doing the rounds with its new Pralines Quad Parallel Fuzz-fed Resontant Filter - which can create all manner of swirly and analogue synth style tones - albeit in a significantly over-sized enclosure..

 

And in between there are more modern-looking operations like Anasounds, Buffalo FX and Zorg - who are trying to push things forward a touch. But generally not as much innovation here beyond Glou Glou - compared with Britain and Canada.

 

I'm not sure any of these brands has established a sizeable foot-hold in the global marketplace apart from Two Notes - compared with the previous countries. Yet the fairly ordinary looking can yield surprises - and the most pleasant surprise here for me was the quality of the Jacques Stomboxes, and the Bat Fuzz in particular.

 

I have placed an order with them - a couple of days ago now, but no form of confirmation or communication yet - so will be interesting to follow-up how that one goes. To compete on the International stage your customer care has to be solid - something I find all the British and Canadian companies I deal with excel at - even the one-man-band ones.

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