Fuzz Pedal Shootout the First

Well, the BJFE Candy Apple Fuzz didn’t come in yet, and I just couldn’t wait any longer. It’s only been a few weeks, but seriously……I’ve got 8 fuzz pedals just lying around…no guitarist is that strong. Could this lack of patience possibly be a weakness of mine?……I’m going to say no.

What I’ll do is just take my favorites of these, sell the rest, and then do another shootout when the BJFE comes in. Oh, ya, and I’ve got a Lovepedal COT50 Gold coming in, too. It would be a complete impossibility to have too many shootouts.

InBruges.jpg picture by rypdal95
(“Can’t you guys just talk it over?”
“Don’t be stupid……this is the shootout.”

hehe Gotta love the Irish shootout. Irish makes everything better. It’s like delay.)

So I got the 8 pedals (6 actually, but one is 3 pedals in one). (Whoa! ‘Porcelain’ by Moby just came on itunes. If you haven’t heard this song, please go do so. Life-changing.) Sorry for the side track, but when good songs come on, yikes! What are you going to do? Ignore them? Hmmm…maybe a lack of patience isn’t my problem……maybe it’s an just an incredibly short attention span. Anyway, what was I……oh, ya, the fuzz pedals. Here’s the layout. And for those of you new to fuzz, most fuzz pedals use one of two types of transistors–germanium or silicon. The germanium transistors tend to be warmer and less predictable…even the weather can affect them when they’re inside a pedal. They’ve got that ’60′s Jimi sound. The silicon transistors, in general, are usually a little harsher, tighter, and in-your-face. They sound a bit more ’70′s…Keith-ish. Both are great, and have their own place in certain songs.

And again, since most worship guitarists don’t ever use fuzz, I’ll explain just briefly. Fuzz is a very organic-type pedal that reacts to everything…your guitar, amp, cables, what pedal are before it, etc. This can create some sweet sonic soundscapes when used correctly. It can also get synth-like sounds, harmonic feedback, and give some full, huge, lush chords and solo notes. Mmmm…fuzz. It’s great in worship music for swells, for stackable chordal anti-solos, and for hiding chords in the background. Also, it’s great for the neo-folk/raw ’60′s stuff that’s back in style right now. So, on to the shootout:

The Players

–Monsterpiece Three-Headed Fuzz (NPN silicon, AD2000 silicon, PNP germanium & silicon)
–Lovepedal Karl (germanium, I believe)
–No name, homebuilt (not by me) Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face clone (germanium)
–Axis Research Fuzz Faze
–Hartman Vintage Germanium Fuzz (germanium, of course)
–Skreddy Top Fuel (I believe silicon, but it’s not a true fuzz pedal so maybe neither)

The Clean Tone (to get an idea how these pedals react to this type of rig)

–Gerard Melancon Strat (ash)
–Lindy Fralin Blues pickups (mostly neck pickup in the videos)
–Lava ELC cable
–All 8 pedals (again, some definite tone suck with all these pedals and no bypass box or buffer, but they’re all getting the same treatment)
–Lava ELC cable
–Mike Holland EL84-based amp
–65 Amps Cab with Celestion Alnico Blue and G12H-30
–Little stock mic on a digital still picture camera that happens to have a 4 minute video setting. hehe :)

My Personal Biases

–I’m having an absolute love affair with fuzz lately. So I’m most likely just going to keep them all.
–The Monsterpiece looks like it’s from ‘That Thing You Do’, which can never be a bad thing.
–I played the Skreddy in my latest overdrive shootout, and I’m still swimming it’s tonal euphoria a bit. But just a bit.
–And the no name clone and the Axis Research run off of only batteries, and that’s just annoying. Always having to change the batteries out, wondering what it would sound like with a brand new battery in, even if the battery is only a few days old, etc. So this two would have to just kill the others to win a spot on my board.

Alright, here are the shootouts. There’s 3 of them so that I could realy put everything in there. And if you make it to the end of part 3, there’s an amusing surprise solo in there during which I break two very important guitar laws:

1) Play tastefully.
2) Never attempt to face melt if you are in fact incapable of face melting.

Ya……I definitely forgot those rules with 8 fuzz pedals staring at me. Very unfortunate for the listeners.

Part 1:

Part 2:

 

Part 3:

The Findings

–Monsterpiece Three-Headed Fuzz (NPN silicon, AD2000 silicon, PNP germanium & silicon)
Really stoked about this pedal. I’ve never played Monsterpiece before, and I was really surprised by the tone and the headroom in the pedal. The silicon side was nice and even warm, along with its characteristic focused-ness (entirely possible that this word is made up). The AD2000, though too harsh and angry for my style, definitely did what it was supposed to do very well. And the PNP was just great. Very warm and harmonic.

–Lovepedal Karl (germanium, I believe)
A little disappointed with this one. But with fuzz, a lot of times the pedals just don’t react well to certain rigs. But I couldn’t get any definition without it going trebly, and I couldn’t get any warmth without the notes being indistinguishable.

–No name, homebuilt (not by me) Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face clone (germanium)
Man, this stupid pedal……I bought it from some guy on e-bay years ago, and it just will not leave my board. It sounds so good! The harmonics are vitrually unmatched, and it’s able to get huge and dirty while still letting the notes stack on top of it nicely. Very real, organic sound. Maybe the most transparent of the whole group.

–Axis Research Fuzz Faze
Really liked the sound of this pedal. It has five gain settings, which makes it very versatile for getting the right tone for that night. Very warm and full.

–Hartman Vintage Germanium Fuzz (germanium, of course)
Wow. Maybe my new favorite pedal. Rich and absolutely full. The dirtiness just seems harmonic and stacked, rather than dirty. Which I love. And the sustain and synth like sounds that this thing does are amazing. And it does react to your actual tone, which is very good. And overall, without all the sound talk mumbo jumbo, it just flat out sounds great!

–Skreddy Top Fuel (I believe silicon, but it’s not a true fuzz pedal so maybe neither)
Still really loving this pedal. It is so very nice to have a high gain pedal that sounds like the dirty/synthiness of a fuzz, but without the craziness and unpredictableness.

The Keepers

–No Name Fuzz Face clone
I do believe the Hartman beat it overall, but there’s a still a certain sound in this pedal that I have never heard elsewhere. I’ll keep it when I need a really, really organic, earthy sound.

–Hartman Vintage Germanium Fuzz
My new favorite fuzz pedal. Sounds amazing…what else can I say?

–Skreddy Top Fuel
My high gain/compressed/fuzz/not a fuzz pedal. Very, very amplike pedal.

The Not So Keepers

–Monsterpiece Three-Headed Fuzz
Loved this pedal, and was totally going to keep it for when I get called on for those particular sounds. But money is tight right now, and I will probably end up using the germanium Hartman 9 times out of 10 anyway. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Lovepedal Karl
It’s possible that I just need to dial this one in more. But with the sound I’m getting from the other fuzz pedals, I probably won’t take the time with this one. So, off it goes.

Axis Research Fuzz Faze
Great pedal……the Hatman just does what this one does slightly better in my humble opinion.

So there you have it. Hopefully this can help a bit……and I’m looking for something mildly amusing to tie this all up with tonight, but I am quite sleepy now. Weekends are long. But good……better with fuzz.

Splendid.
Karl.

20 thoughts on “Fuzz Pedal Shootout the First

  1. Karl,

    You continually impress me with the knowledge that you have on Electronics. Every time I see you write twidget talk, I find myself wondering what else you may know.

    Ah, NPN and PNP, Germanium and Silicon. When we gonna bust out the scat’s and start figuring out how to bias these things? :-)

  2. Curse you and your Hartman fuzz! I was happy when that GAS pain faded but now its back :) Congrats on the Top Fuel, awesome pedal. Goes very well with the Mayo if you can find one at a reasonable price. Can’t wait for the BJF review. Everything is better with fuzz….

  3. Chris–haha I don’t know much, just how they sound. If they don’t already have a bias knob in them, I’m lost! ;)

    Jason–lol ‘Everything is better with fuzz.’ –Fantastic. And bro, the Hartman is is changing my life right now. I’m loving it. And hopefully the BJF comes in soon…it’s been awhile. Did you buy yours used or directly from Bjorn?

  4. Hehe Jason, looks like we’re the only ones into fuzz. Perhaps a post is in order on the beauty of fuzz in worship.

    And Chris, I know you’re into fuzz. The heavier the better. Throw up you’re rock fist!! ;)

  5. hey karl, i am not a big fun of fuzz pedal but i can see some value in having it handy. although, to me, it seems like a novelty since i don’t really play the genre where fuzz would be very useful. and as you have mentioned, its not that popular in praise/worship settings.

    but rest-assured that i did watched your shoot-out and enjoyed it! not enough to make me want to get one though … for now :)

  6. haha Ya, I hear you. Although, if this blog isn’t making you want to buy more pedals, than it’s not doing its job. ;) haha Just kidding. I think your sweet Tele probably cured you of needing any new gear for awhile, right?

    • it took about 2 years but i’ve done it! i now have a Lunar Module in the board. i must say, i was wrong in not trying out a fuzz right away ’cause I think OD will be a thing of the past for me … for now :lol:

      this is coming from someone who blog’ed about not buying gear for the year then scoring an LM the day after. doh!

      • Ya!!! Best comment ever!! Stoked you got a fuzz, bro. Were you the one who picked up that really cheap LM on Gear Page? By the time I saw it, it was already sold!

  7. I know you do a lot of pedals at once in your shootouts, but I’d like to see you play around with the knobs to show the different sounds you can get.

  8. Great point. I do have some one and two pedal demos that I’m working on so that I can spend more time with each one. And I really appreciate the input! Look for a Zendrive 1 & 2 demo later this week, as well as BJFe Candy Apple Fuzz demo soon as well. And I might do the Hartman on its own, too. :)

  9. Karl,

    So this Hartman pedal. How does it behave with other pedals? Does it have to be placed in a specific place to not get all crazy. One of the first pedals that I got back in the early stone age (1977) was a “Big Muff” fuzz pedal. That thing would really throw a fit if it got placed behind a buffered pedal (Like an old wah.).

    Got a list of songs for worship that I’m going to need to learn over the next couple of months and I think that a fuzz pedal is in my immediate future. Stacked overdrives just ain’t gonna get it.

    Mark

  10. Hey Mark,

    Ya, it really, really wants to be first in your chain. Nothing before it. And it’s very specific as to what boosts can go after it, too. They have to be extremely transparent in order to boost it properly. I’ve found most fuzzes to be like this. But it sounds so good on its own, that it works for me; and I don’t use any buffers currently.
    I hear ya on the fuzz thing, man. Stacked overdrives work for a lot of things, but there’s just something about that right fuzz sound at certain times. Wow, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. That’s really sad.

  11. Karl,

    Allright man, I’ve got a couple of weeks off from serving on the team so I’m getting ready to drop some change on a fuzz pedal. I’m looking at either the Hartman or the Keeley Fuzz Head. Question:

    Where do you have your fuzz pedals in the signal chain?

    I don’t need specifics. Just a starting point. I realize that the different pedals that I use will effect the units differently but the last time I messed with a fuzz (A Big Muff PI that I got at a garage sale. Came absolutely free with an old Magnatone amp. Man I wish I would have been bright enough to hold on to that amp.), Gerald Ford was president. It amazes me, that since I’ve been involved in praise and worship, I use more gain and distortion than I ever used when I was playing secular music. The older I get, the wilder Jesus pushes me musically. Cool!

    Mark

  12. Mark, great stuff! :) I love that God is pushing you, hehe, and that it’s into fuzz :) As a general rule, most fuzzes like to go absolutely first in your chain. Before wahs, compressors, buffers, and tuners. Especially germanium fuzzes. There are some exceptions, but overall, that’s where they like to be.

    So I think the Hartman is a killer idea! Personally, I’m in love with that pedal…or at least lust.

  13. Youtube only allows videos up to 10 minutes…so, all 3 of them would’ve been around 13-14, so I just didn’t bother and uploaded all 3 individually. hehe But now I’ve got a bigger video card in my camera, so I can record the full ten minutes, and I get more singular videos now. :) Cheers!

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