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12 of the Best Unique or Unusual Fuzz Pedals

BossChase Bliss AudioDr ScientistFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGated and Velcro FuzzGermanium FuzzJDM PedalsMcSpunckle EffectsModulated FuzzMonsterpieceOctave FuzzOddball FuzzOld Blood Noise EndeavorsOpAmp FuzzOscillating FuzzRainger FXSide EffectsSilicon FuzzSpaceman EffectsSubdecay EffectsSuper-Fuzz StyleZvex+-
2018AfBlg12UnusualFuzzPedals700

So this is the final of my recent series of Fuzz pedal overviews / wishlists. It contains all those Fuzz pedals I really like that don’t properly fit into any of the previous categories. If there is a trend here it is that some of these are dicontinued, while others contain a mix of both Germanium and Silicon transistors.

 

I already own 4 of those listed - The Brothers, BitQuest, Side Effects Woolly Mammoth and Zvex Vertical Fuzz Factory. All the others are on my wishlist and I have desires to get all eventually, possibly the least likely here is the Gnomeratron VTF - owing to its size and enormous complexity - so I may or may not get that. Also the Spaceman Gemini III is currently going for silly money - at over 3 times it’s original price - so I will wait for that to calm down or see if Zak Martin gets around to putting out something similar eventually.

 

I really want a Germanium + Silicon pedal where I can mix the output of both transistors - both the Monsterpiece PNP and Gemini III do this to different degrees, while the JDM Union Fuzz lets you switch between the two.

 

Several pedals here are of that gated really fizzy or velcro-like ripper fuzz - The Haunt, Wolly Mammoth and Fuzz Factory - I really enjoy those tones these days - having largely been inspired by St Vincent for that sort of sound. I also really like the Harmonic Antagonizer and Freakenstein Dwarf Bleep which offer something quite different.

 

I could have listed more pedals here - I’ve actually already covered the Death by Audio Evil Filter (in Octave) - which kind of disqualifies itself because of its size, as do the Function f(x) Cluster Fuzz and Walrus Janus Trem-Fuzz.

 

Inspired by That Pedal Show and various artists’ use of these tones, it looks like 2018 may well be my year of Fuzz!

 

Pedals listed alphabetically by brand.


Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz - discontinued - c£200 for mint (Reverb.com)

Boss's version of the slightly rough and gnarly Univox Superfuzz has a 3-way voicing dial - standard fuzz, high gain fuzz and gain boost. It features a stacked gain with separate Bass and Treble controls and the usual Level and Gain dials. This pedal seems currently much in demand but the odd ones turn up on Reverb and Ebay every now and again. I spotted 3 on Reverb before Christmas - but those have all been snapped up. This is a really great sounding fuzz and a little out of the ordinary - I will definitely get one if I can find one in decent nick and at a reasonable price point - Boss could always re-release this too please! There's also the Basic Audio Super Fuzz which does a similar thing for around £200 - and adds an octave option too - and for a little less you have the almost as good Maxon Fuzz Elements Ether!


Chase Bliss Audio Brothers - £349

This is actually a twin channel pedal where each has 3 voices - a Drive, Fuzz and a Boost with different tonal characteristics - but you can mix them up either way in series or parallel not dissimilar to the Strymon Sunset which I also have - while that has no fuzz voicings. I use The Brothers really as my regular Fuzz pedal, typically alongside the Foxpedal Defector and Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler - and sometimes BitQuest too. I frequently swap-out and change around pedals in the other pedal-chain slots, but the Brothers stays constant for now. I'm hoping that Joel Korte eventually does a dual Germanium and Silicon pedal in The Brothers mould - that would be perfect for me, and mean I would not need to keep chasing the Spaceman Gemini III.


Dr Scientist BitQuest - £229

This is a superb pedal - amazingly versatile and full-featured as well as great sounding. I initially acquired it for its various 8 effects and with a mind to use it mainly as a bitcrusher, but it was originally devised as a Fuzz pedal, and using the Fuzz option in combination with the various effects gives you some great sounds. This pedal usually lives in the number 7 slot, but shares that very much currently with my synth pedals - so they get swapped around quite a bit depending on what I need.


JDM Union Fuzz - $139 (joedocmusic.com)

I found this pedal when looking for Gemini III alternatives - for which I was rather late to the party. This seems like a reasonable offering at a reasonable price. Although I typically prefer a touch more tone-sculpting, and it would have been nice to be able to blend the two transistor voicings together like the Gemini III, and in fact the Monsterpiece PNP does to a degree. Depends what the availability on the others is as to when or if I get this one.


McSpunckle Gnomeratron VTF - discontinued - c£150-£250 (Reverb.com)

I first mentioned this in my Weird and Wonderful pedal article, and have touched on it a couple of times since. Seems that Mr McSpunckle is on a break for a while as he has taken down his Etsy page, and there is not much movement of late on his Facebook page either. Reading between the lines - these pedals were tricky to put together and there were enormous delays in lead-times - some customers seem to have had a variety of issues, yet the vast majority seem to have been largely satisfied. This is a tremendous pedal in all its iterations really - and gives you near enough every type of flavour of fuzz. It has oh so many dials and toggles though that serious patience is required for progress - and we all know how wildly erratic fuzzes can be at times. I still love the idea that this pedal exists - like I said in the intro - it's a little large and over-complex for my liking, but if one comes up for reasonable money I may just do something about it.


Monsterpiece PNP DLX Fuzz - $185 (monsterpiecefuzz.com)

Before I started this phase of research I was not overly familiar with all the Fuzz pedal specialists - like Monsterpiece, MJM, Wren & Cuff, SolidGoldFX etc. Now that I am, I really like the output of all those companies - and in particular from Monsterpiece - although you have to order direct from them, while the occasional example does turn up on Reverb every now and again. As per the video - this pedal has a huge range of tones via 5 dials and a Tone-defeat toggle. I really like the sound of this one, although with my current thinking would still probably prefer a Gemini III ahead of this. If I can't practically get hold of a Gemini, then this is my next best choice.


Old Blood Noise Endeavours Haunt - £179

OBNE do some really interesting pedals, and this is the one that I'm most captivated by - plenty of tone-shaping dials and toggles for a variety of tones - particularly those edgy velcro and gated fuzz sounds. This has been on my wishlist for a while - it keeps getting pipped by others, but it will happen for this one eventually.


Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Dwarf Bleep - £119

This is another pedal that has been on my wishlist for a while - alongside a number of other exceptional mini fuzz pedals. I fully intend to get this weird gated, bleepy fuzz at some stage, it's just a matter of time and priorities now - really smart pedal though - with loads of functions AND that clever Igor pressure-sensitive foot-pad / expression pedal. (Note that the video above play fine even though it looks odd!).


Side Effects Woolly Mammoth 7 Clone - £145 (Reverb.com)

I came across this pedal by chance, having been drawn in by Side Effect's very impressive Il Mostro drive pedal. I like Zvex pedals, but don't like their landscape / horizontal format, or even the larger medium-sized enclosures - so a compact homage to the Woolly Mammoth was a perfect fit. It covers the same tone-haping controls, but does not purport to be an exact clone, while it gets you quite near enough - and gives you an added oscillation feature - win-win for me. Pedal acquired from Reverb.com direct from this Greek pedal-maker. Highly recommended and a nice companion to my Zvex Vertical Fuzz Factory.


Spaceman Effects Gemini III Dual Fuzz Generator - discontinued - c£500-£900 (Org. $319) (Reverb.com)

The much lauded and celebrated twin Germanium + Silicon fuzz mixer pedal is currently changing hands at silly prices. The last one sold on Reverb cost over £900 and there was one listed before Christmas for closer to £1,000 - but that one seems to have been withdrawn now. However great this pedal is, I really don't think it warrants 1000 credits of your hard-earned monies. As I said in the intro I will wait and see if the prices stabilise somewhat - and more are put up for offer - none on Reverb currently. Would be even better if Zak Martin were to make an updated version of this - would need to be suitably different so as not to upset his main collectors. I think Joel Korte could do a cracking version within his Brothers chassis too - so I'm also waiting to see if someone else has a crack at doing something similar. If nothing happens for a while I will most likely order in a Monsterpiece PNP DLX which is an excellent pedal along similar lines.


Subdecay Harmonic Antagonizer - £159

This type of effect is usually known as a fuzz-oscillator or oscillo-fuzz even - which adds an LFO into the mix to give you warbly stuttery fuzz. The DBA Evil Filter is kind of an extreme version of this, there are several other including the Last Gasp Super Oscillo Fuzz - but this particular one seems to tickle my fancy. Don't know when I will get it - possibly in a fortuitous sale some months hence - lots of priorities ahead of this one though - however good it is.


Zvex Vertical Fuzz Factory - £180

I've always liked the sound of Zvex fuzzes, but hated their form-factor - the sideways elongated / landscape style - which can work well for certain dual-footswitch pedal types, but really I prefer mine vertical and properly compact. So I was delighted when Zvex decided to release the Fuzz Factory in vertical format shortly before Christmas - and indeed snapped one up in the new year. I would have preferred a Fat Fuzz Factory in this format really - for the extra voicings, but that will surely come I suppose. I also have the Mastotron on my wishlist (hoping for vertical for that too) - as well as the great mini Fuzzolo pedal - which has been on my wishlist for the longest time, and whose price keeps fluctuating. There seem to be plenty in stock - just waiting for it to hit sub £100 again!


Final Thoughts

It's funny how I've come around to fuzz pedals - from being really not interested, to almost a degree of obsession. I kind of just want to experience every flavour really. I'm not interested in wholly accurately recreating the sound of the original classic pedals, in fact I don't really like much about vintage pedals (except their core tone) - as they tend to have weird power requirement and come in truly odd shapes and over-sized enclosures. Most tend to have fairly high noise floors too - along with a healthy does of random idiosyncrasies. So I prefer my pedals in slightly more modern enclosures.

 

In this golden age of pedals - most everything is available really, albeit sometimes at too a high a price. Nevermind though as there is always a clone, inspired-by, evolution etc. another pedal just around the corner. There are so many active pedal-makers around the world now that you simply cannot keep up. You cannot listen to or try every pedal - particularly as you ears can tune out every now and again - so you're not really sure what you're hearing and which sounds better or worse any more.

 

I thoroughly enjoy my ongoing Tone Quest - and this recent fuzz phase has been a real eye-opener for me. Unfortunately it has too added to my already ginormous wishlist. Inevitably many of these will drop out - as even I have a limited tolerance eventually. As it still is for now though - I'm still a kid in a candy shop.

 

Top of my list of acquisitions here is the Boss Hyper Fuzz and the two minis (including the Fuzzolo mentioned briefly above). I also really want a dual Germanium + Silicon pedal, and in the absence of a Gemini III - I will likely go for the also superb PNP DLX - pending whatever else happens at NAMM and in the forthcoming months and years...

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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