NOTE - Updated version can be found: [here]
I used to have quite a thing for mini pedals - and have amassed a number by Mooer, OneControl, Xotic, Wampler, Ibanez etc. I often use these as a first foray into an effects area - to determine what kind of thing I like and equally importantly - what I might not like. By and large, mini pedals are restricted in functionality / feature set by their diminutive enclosure size, and they tend to be digital / DSP types as you cannot fit a whole load of analogue circuitry into such a small form factor.
As many of you will know, digital pedals typically need their own isolated power supplies, and can be most temperamental if you try to power them via daisy-chain - as I have discovered on numerous occasions. Yet, and despite their small size, often ’mini pedals’ is where it’s at. I currently have 6 in my 33-strong pedal chain - TCE PolyTune 2 Mini, Xotic EP Booster, Wampler Mini Ego, Wampler Tumnus, Mooer Blues Mood and Xotic SL Drive - and I would not want to swap out any of them. Mini pedals are of course essential when you are restricted for space on your pedalboard/s - but they can equally be your preferred choice against all criteria.
In fact for a while, the twin voiced EWS Little Fuzzy Drive was my Fuzz pedal of choice. I only swapped it latterly for the increased versatility of the 6-voiced JHS Muffaletta. I also had the BYOC Li’l Mouse ProCo Rat Clone in the chain for a while, but swapped eventually for the more versatile Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler. My current pedal format preference is for regular sized enclosure with twin footswitches - meaning I obviously love Chase Bliss Audio!
While many mini pedals can be compromised in overall oomph, sound quality and versatility - there seems to me a happy accommodation in particular for fuzz pedals, as there are numerous mini fuzz pedals that truly compete. Some of the following are no longer on active release, but can be found intermittently on Reverb / Ebay etc. They are all worth having though. I had meant to acquire more of these along the way - in particular all of the bottom row featured - OneControl Baltic Blue Fuzz, Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Dwarf Bleep and the ZVex Fuzzolo - all not just great sounding, but amazingly versatile too. I also really like the Malekko Omicron Fuzz, which should be / could be your go-to octave fuzz!
Pedals listed alphabetically:
A really great sounding fuzz with plenty of range with just two dials - Volume and Contour - you can go from relatively smooth to really nasty and everything in between.
Currently my go-to mini fuzz, and still fabulous when weighed up against any alternative - it has 3 dials - Gain | Volume | Tone, as well as a voicing toggle to go from more classic vintage tones to fatter more modern fuzz-drive tones. Incredibly versatile for its size and sounds great at all times. Also has amazing sensitivity with Guitar volume - where you can comfortably dime the pedal gain and use your guitar volume to regulate amount of saturation. Highly recommended!
Ibanez have done rather well recently in re-releasing many of their classic pedals in mini format - with all the original tone carried through. Here you have 3 dials - Tone | Level | Sustain - giving you plenty of versatility within classic old-school sounding fuzz tones. This is most definitely vintage fuzz tone - does not go particularly heavy, and does not really touch on 'fuzz drive' tones, but sounds sweet throughout. Possibly a little too mild-mannered for my wild tastes.
Just two dials here - Volume | Fuzz - for a slightly gnarly sounding fuzz - more indie-sounding, and quite different to the smooth tones of the Ibanez for instance. You can get more sputter with this pedal, but tonally this is slightly thin and buzzy fuzzy!
An excellent mini clone of the rather large vintage Tone Bender Fuzz - has the prerequisite two dials, here labelled Volume and Gain, rather than the original's Level and Attack. But plenty close enough if you are after that particular vintage fuzz tone, and roughly 20% of the original's size.
Another seemingly ordinary twin dial mini fuzz - with Volume and Drive, yet based on the classic Univox Germanium Super-Fuzz - octave up fuzz pedal. This diminutive fuzz has added versatility via internal 3-mode voicing dip-switch which gives you a huge variety of tones, from deep and fat to bright and edgy. Amazingly versatile pedal - could do with an external toggle for easier access to the 3 modes - but all-round a tremendous pedal and somewhat mystifying that it is no longer on sale.
Another hugely versatile pedal whose output belies its diminutive size - with just 3 dials here - Tone | Volume | Sustain, you can tease out the sounds of 3 of the classic EHX Muff Pedals - π (Pi) | Δ (Triangle) | Ram's Head. Brett Kingman shows how it's done in the above video. This is one of the 4 mini fuzz pedals on my definitive wish list.
UK-based David Rainger specializes in rather unique and original pedals, after all, what really is the point of churning out slight variations on what everyone else does. Most of the Rainger pedals come with his own design of expression pedal - a pressure disc of sorts (Igor). The Freakenstein Dwarf Bleep adds pitch shifting to the fuzz's many gnarly flavours. This is a noisy glitchy gated fuzz, and as far away from vintage smooth fuzz as you could want. Totally unique, and very different to anything else on offer. Incredible versatility in such a small enclosure - literally fun for days!
ZVex is one of THE 'Fuzz' pedal companies out there with several offerings to its name including the amazing flagship - Fuzz Factory 7. The Fuzzalo is somewhat at the other end of the scale - based on the Woolly Mammoth yet with just two dials - Volume and Pulse Width (PW) - which takes you from smoothish square wave to gnarly gated asymmetric wave shape. An internal dip-switch allows you to align pedal towards single coil or humbucker pickups. Sounds great wherever you set the dials.
All 9 pedals featured here are great and fully compete with full-sized offerings, but there are 5 here that are truly standout - the EWS Little Fuzzy Drive that I already have, the Malekko Omicron, OneControl Baltic Blue, Rainger FX Freakenstein Dwarf Bleep and Zvex Fuzzolo. I will definitely make it a mission to add those missing ones over the coming years - some of these need constant scanning of Reverb.com in particular, as they are quickly snapped up. Looks like I've just snagged the one current Malekko out there in the wild - so that's a relief!