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9 of the Best EarthQuaker Devices Compact Fuzz Pedals

Big Muff Style FuzzEarthQuaker DevicesEffects Pedal MakersFuzzFuzz Face Style FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGated and Velcro FuzzGermanium FuzzSilicon FuzzSuper-Fuzz StyleTone Bender Style Fuzz+-
2020GPX9EQDCompactFuzz700.jpg

A couple of provisos right from the start here - this is obviously not a definitive selection per se - it’s grounded to my own preferences - and secondly, as I’ve noted several times before - I’ve come rather late to EarthQuaker Devices and don’t have as many of those pedals in the collection as I probably should. I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions about the idiosyncrasies of how we are exposed to different gear. What each player is into is the result of quite episodic and sporadic events - a sort of happenstance really - where there are obviously myriad routes to the same results. I have featured EQD quite heavily on his site, but have hitherto gone with a preferred alternative for one reason or another in most of those pertinent categories.

 

Over time I have ended up with a number of EQD pedals on my wishlist - but by and large those have been preempted by higher / preferential priorities. It’s also about keeping your eye on the ball - and your focus is often diverted to another area and you may just overlook or mis-read a new pedal launch as has alas happened for me on a few occasions.

 

In fact such happened as a precursor to my very first EQD acquisition - the Black Ash Endangered Fuzz - which at the time seemed like a remodelled Tone Reaper - both being Tone Bender MKIII varieties/variants. At the time I wasn’t sure whether I should be chasing down the earlier Tone Reaper or going for a Black Ash. By the time I decided that I actually really liked the Black Ash and much preferred that to the Tone Reaper - said 1,500 limited unit run had already sold out. It then took me three attempts to secure a Mint Black Ash at the right price. The first time I went for one on Reverb - my payment was taken, but then I was told it was already sold and I was refunded; the second time on Reverb was some sort of odd scam I believe where I’m not sure there ever was a pedal, but I did get refunded eventually; and then finally I found one UK-based on Ebay - at just the right price and as the saying goes - 3rd time lucky!

 

I have a number of MKIII style Tone Benders, including the PigDog JuJu, as this happens to be a variety I really like - I’m not 100% sure it was worth all the trouble even though it is a great example of the type; and I’m not clear as to why it was a limited edition as the 2N3903 Transistors seem to be in fairly plentiful display (possibly a different rarefied component was in short supply?). The Black Ash though was both my first EQD pedal and first EDQ Fuzz. I have a Life Pedal V2 on order from Andertons - much delayed in delivery, which apparently won’t be with me until mid February at the earliest - so the EQD tally current stands at 2, but will no doubt rapidly escalate.

 

I mentioned I had numerous EQD pedals as long-termers on my pedal acquisition/wishlist and those include the Erupter, Hoof and Park Fuzz Sound - also there have been occasions that the Terminal Fuzz has popped up on Reverb.com but I have dithered with indecision and the opportunity has been lost. I was in two minds about the Hoof vs Cloven Hoof for a long while - until fairly recently coming down in overwhelming favour of the original.

 

The Fuzz Master General has also turned up on occasion, but I’ve been much less familiar with the Dirt Transmitter, Dream Crusher and Tusk Fuzz until now. The last mentioned which only just misses out on a place in this listing (a sort of Ram’s Head Muff I believe). The 9th pedal included here, but listed first (alphabetical) is the fairly recently discontinued Bellow Fuzz/Drive/Fuzzstortion which has that fantastic Fuzzy-Drive kind of sound that I so like. Note that a number of pedals here are discontinued as noted in the extended details below:


Bellows Fuzz Driver / Fuzzy-Drive/Fuzzstortion - discontinued - c£120-£180 on Reverb.com

I am a huge fan of the Fuzzy-Drive / Fuzzstortion sound which just packs the signal with more chewy texture and harmonics. It's a category I collect and this certainly fits well in with that selection. From what I understand the circuit utilises a PF5102 JFET for the core drive sound component and pairs that with an MPSA13 Silicon Transistor for the uniquely textured combined output. You only get two controls here Level and Drive - with the latter imparting significant differences in gain structure and tonal character / texture as you rotate the dial. This is a truly great sounding fuzzy-drive pedal which alas failed to find a sufficiently large audience to support it - it's likely one of the first here to be added to my collection.


Black Ash Endangered Fuzz (Tone Bender MKIII) - discontinued - £205 when new, currently c£220-£300 on Reverb.com

I've mentioned some of the rationale in the introduction above - this is a really great sounding MKII style Tone Bender with a lovely rich saturated sound - actually generated from 2N3903 Transistors. I was initially in two minds as to whether I would prefer this or EQD's earlier attempt at the circuit - the Tone Reaper which uses quite different Transistors - MPSA18 and AC176 - so some Germanium flavour. Yet after much deliberation I significantly prefer the newer edition - it has a more balanced better rounded character and really runs my PigDog JuJu fairly close. Not sure why it was limited to 1.500 units - it's second hand price was initially ridiculous, but is coming back down to more reasonable levels now. There are still idiots trying to flog these on Ebay for £500 equivalent, while there are numerous examples on Reverb.com for a much more reasonable £220-£300. I was really quite fortunate in snagging a pristine version for £220 which seems to be about the best of the going prices currently.


Dirt Transmitter Fuzz (Extended Range Silicon Fuzz Face) - discontinued - c£150 on Reverb.com

This is a sort of enhanced Silicon Fuzz Face with additional dials for Bias and Tone Control. It features some fairly unusual 2N1711 Transistors which produce a really balanced sort of fuzz. Silicon Fuzz Faces are largely BC107, BC108, BC109 and BC183 - so it's always cool to see different Transistors being used in a similar circuit to such great effect. The combination of Bias and Tone gives you a wonderful variety of tones - including some surprisingly smooth and warm tones - it's still very capable of doing those more raspy Silicon textures too. Just a hugely versatile Silicon Fuzz which has fallen somewhat under the radar of late - another one really worth having in the collection!


Dream Crusher Germanium Fuzz (Germanium Fuzz Face) - discontinued - c£110-£130 on Reverb.com

This is essentially a really decent Germanium Fuzz Face Style Circuit - utilising some great CV7355 Transistors. Circuit-wise and control-topology wise it is largely exactly a Fuzz Face variety - and this is a fantastic example of that type. I managed to secure one with a 3rd Bias Knob added (modded I presume) - which is always a big help on Germanium pedals and gives you more range too along with better control. I believe these were originally released in a number of colourways with black knobs - like the white one picture, while the V2 editions seem to be pretty much exclusively red on white with white knobs - as is my own in-transit 3-knob example.


Erupter Ultimate Fuzz Tone - £139

This is a pretty unique modern one-knob fuzz which most likely shares some of its circuit with a Fuzz Face style core of 2N497 Transistors - but sort of juices that up with a separate PF5102 JFET - which gives it that great body and sort of compressed Fuzzstortion character. I've used the limited Chicago Music Exchange Purple edition for illustrative purposes - although only 20 of those were made and they don't come up on Reverb.com very often at all. There is also a minimalist ProGuitarShop version of this pedal - but I will most likely get it in standard Orange like everyone else. Of all the EQD pedals I believe this and the Rainbow Machine have been on my wishlist for the longest time. I always focus on the rarer hard-to-get stuff first, while pedals in general circulation are somehow never as urgent! Great fuzz in any case - and of course really simple to use.


Fuzz Master General (Super Fuzz) - discontinued - c£150 on Reverb.com

Named and derived from the Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-2 - which itself was a derivative of the Shin-Ei FY-6 Super Fuzz - a sort of super saturated buzzsaw sounding harmonic octave fuzz. The original Ace Tone used very unusual C369 Transistors which are unlikely to be in place on the EQD version - more likely is 2N3903/4 or 2N5088 variety Transistors which do the job nicely - while I've been unable to find reference to EQD's choice of Transistors here. The pedal has 3 core Knobs - Tone, Fuzz and Level - with added versatility via 3-way Voice Clipping toggle - Germanium Clipping/Silicon Clipping/Open or No Clipping. The Super Fuzz has always been somewhat unruly and untameable while EQD have achieved a pretty balanced outcome here - I feel Super Fuzzes will always be something of a more acquired taste, while this is a great example of the type with added versatility.


Hoof Hybrid Fuzz (Germanium + Silicon Green Russian style Big Muff) - £185

And so the pedal that EarthQuaker's success is founded on - this is Jamie Stillman's 'origin-Fuzz' as such - which beautifully combines Germanium 2N1308 with Silicon 2N3904 Transistors - to produce one of the smoothest and best balanced Green Russian Muff style pedals of all time. Part of me thought I wanted the higher gain all-Silicon Cloven Hoof version for a while - but that's really quite a different sounding fuzz. The original Hoof has just this amazing depth and balance to it across the frequency range - and with the clever 4th Shift (Mids) knob to fully tailor the experience. By contrast the Cloven Hoof sounds rather thin and brittle - sure it has more gain on tap and likely works better in the band mix, but in a head-to-head comparison it really can't hold a candle to its predecessor. I feel anyone who likes that smooth fat Green Russian Sound should automatically have one of these - I still haven't yet - even though every time I hear this fuzz I'm really impressed with how it sounds - I would have thought it likely to happen this year - particularly if the price is right.


Park Fuzz Sound (Germanium MKIII style Tone Bender) - £195

Another long-termer on my wishlist is this essentially Germanium MKIII style Tone Bender with AC125 Transistors. For licensing reasons this is known as the Colby Fuzz Sound in Europe, Park in the USA - which is the more proper moniker. I've been down to get this one so many times now - which is a slightly different take on the MKIII vs the newer Black Ash Silicon version. The Germanium has a more open-pored and grittier texture to it somehow. The fact that RJ Ronquillo has this on his latest pedalboard has kind of underlined that it was really about time I added one of these to the collection - obviously there are numerous priorities to juggle and I have a number of MKIII Tone Benders already - it will definitely happen some day, just not sure exactly when. I will be trying to nail down a Park version though - I just don't feel the Colby version is right for some weird intangible reason - but that's often the way!


Terminal Destructive Fuzz Device (Companion Fuzz) - discontinued - c£120-£150 on Reverb.com

This is based on Jamie's own Jax Fuzz - which is actually just a name-changed Shin-Ei FY-2 Companion Fuzz really. The core of the tone generation is Silicon 2N5039 Transistors which generate that lovely sort of scratchy fizzy fuzz sound. You have 4 controls - Voice, Treble, Level and Fuzz - where 'Voice' is a really handy sort of Mids shift control - affecting Upper and Lower Mid frequencies. This is another recently discontinued EQD Fuzz which puts in fairly regular appearances on Reverb.com, while there is only one listed right as of this moment. Of all of these fuzzes - the Fuzz Master General and Terminal are likeliest the most acquired taste here - they are often somewhat unruly - yet Jamie has been able to cleverly harness them here via some choice calibration and additional smart controls.


Final Thoughts

Note that the above video is included just for fun as it features the pretty rare EQD Tusk fuzz - about which not much is known - I've always presumed it to be a sort of Ram's Head Muff - but I may be mistaken!

 

As often happens within this process - I acquired a 3-Knob Dream Crusher during the research cycle. If I see something fairly unusual and well-priced I typically snatch it up as it is very unlikely to appear for some considerable time again if ever. It will be interesting to see whether it manages to arrive before my continuously delayed Life Pedal V2.

 

It also turns out that the majority of the pedals in this listing are discontinued (6 of 9) - while quite a number are still in pretty decent circulation - like the Bellows. It is quite understandable though that the Erupter, Hoof and Park are still such a big part of the core range. I will probably still try to pick up the outliers here first - including the more rarely appearing Dirt Transmitter and Fuzz Master General - and Terminal even - before I hoover up the rest.

 

I very much like and want all of these - but it's of course a matter of priorities - and I have a number of other obligations and commitments I need to meet this year. Part of this exercise is the continued expansion and filling-in of my my reference library - there are all kinds of other criteria in place for head-to-head considerations versus competing brands that don't concern me on this occasion - I have a variety of article on that too. These these are all pretty stellar ambassadors for their genres and all will be right up there amongst the favourites for that genre.

 

In terms of if you could only have one - then probably it's a head-to-head between the Erupter and Hoof - both are really clever fuzz pedals, sound phenomenal and are highly unlikely to leave anyone disappointed. After that it very much depends on personal preferences. It's quite easy to justify/rationalise owning all of these as there really isn't any direct overlap. It comes closest with the the Black Ash and Park Sound - in that they are both Tone Bender MKIII variants, but tonally and texturally they are actually quite significantly different.

 

I am well aware that the Hoof is many players' favourite fuzz - which one of these is your favourite? - or second favourite if the answer to the first question is the most popular choice!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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