I originally intended to do a 20 strong feature, but decided that since I had already covered 5 medium pedals in my recent ’Rat’ overview I could get away with 16 here. Since some of the enclosure sizes here are quite large, it doesn’t really make sense to cram in too many - so the 16 limit just about does the job. Whenever I do one of these features I always feel that I may have overlooked some essential/s - if you could please let me know in the comments if I’ve missed something of worth.
There was a slight burst of new fuzz pedals last year - including the Royal Jelly, Reese Lighting, OBNE Alpha Haunt, Seymour Duncan Fooz, ThorpyFX Veteran V2, and Wampler Fuzztration. We also feature one brand new pedal here from NAMM 2019 - the updated and improved Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Chop Fuzz.
I have just two of this number in my collection - and I feel I likely pulled the trigger too soon, as I much prefer the colourway / look of the later model releases of the Beetronics Royal Jelly and OBNE Alpha Haunt - I wish those companies spent a little more time on the aesthetics of their original pedals. I’m also slightly allergic to cheap components - which is why I’m not a fan of the large hollow brittle plastic dials of the Royal Jelly - I feel they could have used better quality materials there as otherwise the quality of the pedal is all top-notch.
In terms of which of these are high on my wishlist and likely to get added to the collection - I really want a Bogner Bubinga Oxford to completely my so far Burnley and Wessex set; I really like the look of the Dwarfcraft Reese Lightning, and now discontinued LWA Iron Fist 2, while I’ve had both the Stone Deaf Fig Fumb and ThorpyFX Veteran on my wishlist for a while.
I’d also quite like a Toneczar Vault - but they’re on the pricier side - while the Wampler Fuzztration and Zander American Geek are very reasonably priced for what they deliver - both of those are under consideration. As most know by now I typically have a strong preference for compact enclosure pedals, then medium vertical editions, and finally medium landscape editions. I have the Alpha Haunt and Royal Jelly here - but those are really a touch larger than I would like - and for the size of pedal - the Royal Jelly could do with separate tone controls per channel, and the Alpha Haunt could do with another footswitch or two.
Pedals are listed alphabetically by Brand:
This is really decent go at a full Fuzz workstation style pedal - with 3-band EQ, Germanium or Silicon Transistor switch and octave options. These Amptweaker Pro pedals feature no less than 3 FX Loops, and both mini lit-up volume and gain boost dials. You have 8 dials overall with 5 switches and twin footswitches of course. You should be able to get most types of fuzz song out of this bar oscillation / Trem-fuzz. There's a lot to like here - but you can achieve equal or more with a couple of smartly selected compact fuzzes. I feel that if you're going with one of these workstation style pedals you really want to have all the bells and whistles - this one is right up there.
I kind of new as soon as I saw it that I would want one - the ability to select between two different Ovedrive/Fuzz mixes - switch between then and boost id you need to - so in essence 4 tones as such via footswitches. This is surely a great pedal - beautifully made, but not without a few niggles. I have 3 minor issues with the pedal - I would really like separate tone controls for each channel - as you know the character of the voicing will change significantly between two levels of saturation, Secondly as stated in the intro - I don't like the quality of the larger knobs - they are made of hollow brittle plastic and don't have the same super high quality feel as is evident in the rest of the pedal. Finally, I'm just very slightly peeved that I bought one of the early models as the later released Black and Red editions have much more appeal. Other than that this is a really clever pedals for both lovers of fuzz and overdrive - you choose how you wish to mix up the voicings.
I love the Rupert Neve Transformer series of pedals by Bogner and already have the special Bubinga edition Burnley Distortion and Wessex Overdrive as I feel the wooden facia represents so well the rich, warm and organic nature of the tones that emanate from these pedals. I'm not sure I need the Harlow blooming boost as I have several options for that already, but I would really like to add the Oxford fuzz - with its rich Neve harmonics alongside Lo/Hi gain modes and 3 different intensities for each - this is a wonderful thick sounding fuzz with a huge range of gain from tasteful low gain overdrive to fully overblown fuzzstortion.
You will find this gated/oscillating fuzz featured on many a celebrated pedalboard - including most notably on U2's The Edge - where its tones power a number of U2's well-known songs - like 'Vertigo'. There's a huge variety of sounds here from it's 5 dials and 2-way switch. This pedal has been on my wishlist for a while, but so far it keeps being gazumped by other priorities - obviously a very cool fuzz.
Dwarfcraft's latest fuzz combines a number of its catalogue's historic classic fuzz elements - including Toneblast, Timewarp and Feedback. The last mentioned is the most obvious - while Toneblast is simply tone control bypass, and Timewarp bypasses the clipping stage - which generates more noise/aggression along with some octave up artefacts. You have dials for Volume, Tone, Gain, Dry Mix and Feedback Tune (Frequency Focus) - as well as separate momentary Feedback footswitch.
A cool 8-bit square-wave style fuzz with several clipping options. A medium-enclosure fuzz with 5 tone-shaping dials plus Filter/High-Cut switch. Key dials here are Volume, Tone, Fuzz and 8-bit (Square-wave bias sort of) with a 5-way clipping rotor - None, LED, MOSFET + Silicon, Silicon alone, and Schottky Silicon diodes - which provide differing degrees of distortion and compression.
I believe this pedal has been discontinued - as it's no longer to be found on the LWA website. It is nevertheless a really impressive 2-gain stage Ram's Head Muff clone with additional clipping and feedback footswitch - and still fairly widely available. For the first gain-stage you get to select between Silicon and LED clipping, and for the second clipping stage your options are Silicon and Germanium. You have 6 control dials - Volume, Tone, Fuzz, Mids, Feedback and Depth.
This is OBNE's classic Haunt Fuzz with significantly expanded tone-shaping controls. You get Fuzz Range and LPF toggle options, and then dials for Master Volume, Fuzz Volume, Enhance, Fuzz, Gate, Bias and LPF - alongside 3-band EQ sliders. This is a tonally super-versatile gated / velcro fuzz with just about all the tone-controls you need. For the larger enclosure size though I would really have preferred a second footswitch for feedback or similar - I always have a pet peeve about over-sized enclosures not fully taking advantage of their increased real-estate.
I have the predecessor to this pedal - the DRFF-3BK - which is also an oscillating fuzz with modulation overtones. This successor adds a further Square wave oscillator with its own 'Chop Rate' dial - for even crazier tones. The also included Igor pressure pad expression control allows you to modulate the overtones and oscillations. The blade switch and analogue metre give this pedal a very unique look and feel to go with its extraordinary tones. I will no doubt need to dd this one to the collection before long.
The Fooz is Seymour Duncan's impressive take on Tremolo plus Oscillation plus Envelope-filtered fuzz. You have 4 sections to the pedal - the LFO main settings - Depth, Speed, Wave and Shape; then Envelope Sensitivity, next are the Fuzz/Tremolo options with Level and Gain; and finally the Filter settings with different band filters, Envelope or LFO control, and dials for Frequency and Resonance. In short - a lot of features crammed into a single pedal, which is understandably pricey. The two footswitches are Bypass and Tap Tempo - while I feel that this pedal could have benefitted from a third footswitch for easy switching/alternating of a couple of the key effects here.
This slightly over-sized medium enclosure is Stone Deaf's take on a multi-muff fuzz, which it does largely via parametric or paracentric mids as it calls it - via 6 dials - Cut/Boost, Balance, Frequency, Gate, Bandwidth and Fuzz. You have two footswitches - Noise Gate and On/Off. This has been on my wishlist for a while as it really is an amazing sounded muff-style fuzz. The key reason why I haven't acquired it yet is that it is significantly larger than the Stone Deaf Tremotron which I have - and which is still somewhat over-sized. I am hoping that Luke Hilton and his team will some day shrink the Fig Fumb down to a more manageable size.
There is no doubt that this is an amazing Silicon Fuzz Face plus Boost style fuzz - as is always the case with Adrian Thorpe's output. I was initially put off by the larger enclosure size of his V1 pedals, but since Adrian has trimmed down his pedals to compact dimensions for the V2 series - all his pedals are now fair game, and I've been steadily adding them to the collection. I have the Fallout Cloud, Gunshot and Warthog V2s so far - and intend to get the Peacekeeper next and this Veteran soon after!
This is one of the more unique fuzzes I'm chasing - they are pricey and in rare circulation but do turn up occasionally on Reverb.com where one is available right now. Essentially a sort of very high gain Big Muff style fuzz with some smart tone-shaping options. Treble, Voice (EQ Shift), Bass, Gain, (Harmonic-) Content and Volume. You have 2 further toggle switches - a 3-way Mode toggle for XF - Extreme Octave Fuzz, F1 - Fuzz only no Octave and F2 - Fuzz plus 2nd harmonic distortion. The Vault is a rich and densely complex fuzz with lots of texture to accompany its high level of distortion - this is your classic almost metal-style fuzz pedal really.
Walrus's Janus is probably one of the most unusual fuzzes there ever was, and has a very significant footprint. This Tremolo-Fuzz is in the main controlled by dual twin-axis joysticks for the Tremolo and Fuzz parameters, with additional switches for Mode and Bass Boost, alongside Tremolo Level dial, and Fuzz Level and Blend dials. The control interface here is fun to play with, but can be slightly trick when trying to replicate favourite settings. It certain sounds the business, but whether the core quirk here is enough to overcome the larger form factor and other slight downsides - is really down to your own preferences. You don't see many of these on journeymen pedalboards - which probably means this is more suitable for studio environments.
This was one of the big Fuzz releases last year, and is significantly different to Wampler's smoother 'Velvet' fuzz take. When I first saw it I feared it may be too larger, but it does sit within a medium-size enclosure - just my slightly less preferred horizontal orientation - not sure why it could not be in the usual Deluxe vertical enclosure size - that said there is a really smart symmetry and topology to the pedal's controls - with separate footswitch to apply Octave mode, alongside toggle switches for Pre/Post Octave order placement and Tight or Open Tone. We then have full 3-band EQ with the core Volume and Gain dials also. This is a really smart take on the all-round Fuzz, and it's definitely one for the collection - even though I would have preferred this in the more typical Pinnacle Deluxe -style vertical box.
I've been wanting to include Alex Millar's pedals for a while, and I've spent some significant time researching them of late. I believe he could do with much better demo videos out there as many of pedals are excellent, but don't necessary have the best tools to portray them in the most optimal manner. Not everything is totally equal though, and I've singled out two of his pedals as standouts within his significant fuzz pedal offering. I've gone with the Multi-Muff approach of the American Geek in the end over the 8-dial Fuzz Factory style SiClone Silicon Chaos Initiator. Both these pedals sound excellent and have lots of tonal possibilities. In the end I decided to go with the American Geek, as I feel it will likely have higher appeal as the Fuzz Factory has always been tricky to dial in with 5 dials, so with 8 obviously that challenge still remains - while for the American Geek we have 4-band EQ here labelled Filter 1-4, which I assume is roughly Lows, Lower-Mids, Upper-Mids and High Frequencies - you then have your customary Volume and Gain controls with a separate 'Max Gain' footswitch which allows you to ramp up for solos etc. Many of Alex's pedals have his classic 6-way clipping control - which consists of various clipping diodes - Germanium, Silicon, RED LEDs, MOSFET, Transistor (Si?) and None. The American Geek is likely the first Zander pedal I will add to the collection with the SiClone second in line.
Generally as mentioned - I'm not such a big fan of bigger pedals really apart from at the tail-end of my chains for Modulation / Multi-Effect, Delay and Reverb Stereo Workstations. As it stands I have just the single 'large dirt pedal' slot where I rotate a number of quality pedals - but depending how I set the rest up I can accommodate certain medium-enclosure pedals more easily.
So the question is which of the above would I be looking to add to the collection - and the answer is I already have two of the larger ones, and don't feel I'm in the market for the other big 3 here. While the Fig Fumb, Oxford and Veteran have been longer-term targets - and the Dr Freakenstein Chop Fuzz and Wampler Fuzztration more recent.
For a number of these it's a waiting game - waiting for the right opportunity to present itself, while right now The Veteran and the Fuzztration are most likely in the imminent acquisition frame. As always I will keep my eyes pealed on Reverb.com search feeds and alerts while I also have a growing network of pedal-builders whom I work with and support in one way or another - so the priorities can change fast.
Fuzz is so much and acquired and preferential type of thing - there are lots of professed fuzz-haters out their who are largely just ignorant of the full range and scope of what fuzz can cover. Whenever I acquire something I want it to be the smart choice or for it to be delivery something sufficiently significantly different and unique. I'm still waiting for an all-in one Fuzz workstation here that truly covers most of the grand here and allows you to blend up various sets of different transistors, OpAmp chips and auxiliary fuzz effects like Feedback, Filter, Octave, Oscillation and Trem. You probably don't need more than one or two of the big box solutions - which is already where I'm att. Oh - and I would not mind wrapping a version of the Iron Fist V2 some day either...