The catalyst to this post is of course the brand new 3-Germanium Transistor Queen Bee Fuzz - which Mike has recently launched via his Custom Shop. I was really just waiting for its price to materialise before sharing this ’best of’ roundup.
Despite Mike’s idiosyncrasies and several dubious outbursts as such I’ve regardless always admired his circuit-designs and his overall highly consistent quality of work. In fact I own 8 of his pedals to date - while only 3 in the above best of listing (bottom right corner!).
For me the archetypal and most signature of Mike’s flagship pedals is the OCD - which I own in 3 varieties - a plain white OCD V1.7, an OCD V2.01 in Custom Shop Candy Apple Red, and of course the OCD Ge in that very fetching metallic hue of blue.
Other classics I’ve picked up along the way include the discontinued Catalyst and Secret Freq sort of fuzzy-drives and very soon to be updated Plimsoul Overdrive/Distortion, alongside the Mas Malo and Wahfull Fixed/Cocked Wah. Mike is famous for a lot of things - including those huge and relatively impractical but impressive sounding Tube Tape and Solid State Tape Echo units. I generally find Mike’s Fuzz and Overdrive units the most appealing - alongside the Mini DejáVibe MKII and Wahfull.
I’ve arranged the pedals in the most obvious groupings for me - listing first his classic 4 fuzzes in general historic order. I obviously already have a tonne of Tone Bender, Fuzz Face and Octave Fuzz pedals in the collection - while I still intend to add these at some stage.
My most imminent targets though are the brand new and superbly impressive Queen Bee fuzz - and the latest edition of Mini DejáVibe. So 6 still to get! - Which will bring the collection to a very well rounded and respectable 14.
You can immediately tell when you get a Fulltone pedal in your hands - there’s a certain heft to those boxes - the slight resistance in the potentiometers and the general really high standard of finish - at actually relatively reasonable prices - outside of those rather complex mechanical tape delays.
As Mick Taylor of That Pedal Show fame has said many times - you really can’t go wrong with a Fulltone pedal - they wholly consistently sound and work great - and are always a valid choice in any related genre head-to-head.
And while Mike has often sat at the centre of some controversy - he’s still mostly on the right side of give him a chance!
I'm a huge fan of Tone Benders and have more than 30 such in my collection to date - right across the 9 particular types - MKI, JHS Zonk, Supa Fuzz, MK I.V, Vox Tone Bender, Pro MKII, Buzzaround, MKIII and MKIV. The MKII sits pretty much midway between the spikier distortion of the MKI and the creamy delights of the MKIII/IV variants. The MKII is for sure the most common and popular Tone Bender variant and the one for which I have the most candidates. I still though really like the 3-knob Soul-Bender with Volume, Dirt and Tone controls. And though it's not an immediate priority for me - it will undoubtedly be added to the collection at some stage in the future. A really solid and suitably textured fuzz-distortion.
Your typical Germanium Fuzz Face has only 2 knobs - while I won't buy one without some sort of Bias control - which really is essential for most Germanium transistor fuzzes - such is their temperature sensitivity. In this case you get the 3rd Input Bias control as a mini-knob - and you also get an additional mini Contour knob which allows you to dial in further mids, harmonics and sustain. This is certainly one of the most usable and versatile Germanium Fuzz Faces out there and a worthy addition to any fuzz collection. I already have several 4-knob Germanium Fuzz Faces and would look forward to adding this one sometime soon. I have a soft spot for Germanium Fuzzes and this really is one of the best.
To match the Germanium Fuzz Face - we obviously have a classic dual BC108C Silicon Transistor variety too with a spikier and slightly more aggressive counterpoint to the warmth of the Germanium. I pretty much equally like the Germanium and Silicon varieties and it's the Silicon Fuzz Faces I already have the most of - well over 25 units already. This offers a fairly novel additional Mids control which adds quite a bit of further versatility to the pedal - this is for sure another variety that will be acquired eventually - and there are plenty around currently at a pretty decent price - not sure exactly where it sits in my current priority / pecking order though!
And so to the 4th of the classic fuzzes - obviously a take on Hendrix's favourite Octavia octave fuzz. This has 3 very simple controls - Volume, Boost and a 2-way Octa/Fuzz switch so you can have the octave effect on or off. I've come very close to getting this on a number of occasions but was weirdly put off by the reverse polarity power-supply then - which I'm actually very used to nowadays. I already have some truly fantastic octave style fuzzes - but would be more than happy to add this one too. I generally like my octave fuzzes a little fatter and thicker - and this is somewhat classically thin in profile - but it's still very much one of the better sounding ones.
I actually own this variety in the Custom Shop Candy Apple Red edition, while my white OCD is the earlier V1.7 variety. This has long been one of my favourite crunchy overdrives - to the extent that I own thee varieties of this as mentioned. The latest version has some buffer/bypass options and the circuit is slightly more modern and punchier sounding. Controls are Volume, Drive and Tone with a 2-way HP/LP or HighPeak / LowPeak option switch which translates to Higher/Lower gain really. I mostly use the pedal with said switch in the up position. I believe this is Fulltone's all-time best-seller, and rightly so - it sounds really fantastic and has been much imitated and copied! It's most definitely one of my favourite flavours of overdrive / crunch - and was one of my very first own long-term overdrive pedals.
While this Custom Germanium edition has a somewhat different core sound - with a very evident warmer slightly fuzzier and spongier flavour- I still see it as being very much part of the same family. Some OCD advocates really don't like this one at all as it's quite notably different in feel - while I can still hear some of the fundamentals within the core of its tone. It has somewhat more sustain and 'bleed' as such than the original classic variety, while it is every bit as good in its own way. It's sort of teal-ish metallic enclosure looks amazing too. And it has exactly the same controls as the core model.
This has long been one of the very favourite Uni-Vibe style pedals - and I've of course included it on this site before. Most of the high-grade Uni-Vibe pedals are rather on the large side - including those great Sabbadius and Shin-Ei varieties. And Fulltone gets its formula here pretty much spot on - within a medium size enclosure. I already have the compact tap-tempo JHS Unicorn - but have always planned to get this handy DejáVibe too. It has 5 elegant controls - 2 regular knobs- Volume and Intensity - one larger sized foot-adjustable Speed knob, and 2 x 2-way mode selectors - Modern/Vintage and Vibrato/Chorus. This is a perfect marriage of quality tones and convenient form factor and should be high on the considerations list for everyone considering a Uni-Vibe style pedal. I will for sure acquire one such eventually.
And so to the very latest Custom Shop Release - a unique superb clean-up style triple Germanium fuzz - featuring 3 NOS flying saucer style transistors - meaning presumably high output Russian varieties - like we're used to seeing and hearing in the Spaceman Sputnik series. This is a gloriously fat and full-sounding fuzz with exceptional cleanup ability via your guitar volume knob. It sports 4 controls - 3 knobs - Level, Buzz and Treble, and a cool 3-way Bass toggle switch - Min/Half/Max. The first initial batch sold out pretty quickly and there are more due at Sweetwater any day soon. I really like the sound of this and may just look to acquire one in November - first movers also get rewarded by a reduction on the price down to $237 which is very reasonable for such a pedal. I really like the Queen Bee decal / badge on the pedal - for sure another quality Mike Fuller production.
I've featured this quite a bit recently on the site and have been mostly deploying it for Mark Ronson / Ronno style tones - in conjunction with a variety of fuzzes, but of course mostly MKI variants. This is fairly similar in format to the Mini DejáVibe albeit very slightly wider I think - and it sports the same big foot-adjustable knob as the DejáVibe - here for Frequency manipulation though! Other controls consist of a 3-way Mode selector for Wacked/Jimi/Shaft sounds - there's also a mini Pickup Sensitivity Compensator knob, and a regular sized Volume knob. This is one of my key tools for Wah-type sounds and alternates with the Dr Scientist Dusk as well as proper Wah-style pedals - depending on just how lazy I'm feeling!
As I said before - you really can't go wrong with Fulltone Pedals - each and every one is of exceptional quality and available at a very reasonable price. The only outliers really are the big-box mechanical tape-echo machines at $1,600 and $1,800 respectively - but those are very much intended for studio use.
Even the back catalog is replete with some fantastic pedals - several of which I have acquired over the years. Obviously for some, Mike Fuller is not currently the flavour of the month because of his most recent BLM-related outburst. While I feel that was in part taken out of context - and while I don't condone such actions - I feel it's important in these challenging times to forgive and move on.
I already know what my next targets are here - and as always I will try to secure those at the very best prices I can - I may even reach out to Mike Fuller direct - we'll see. So the Queen Bee is definitely the next one up for acquisition - and thereafter I will try and be as opportunistic as I can in the pursuit of these other targets!
Do you yourselves have any favourites here?