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10 Stompboxes That Changed the World

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10 Stompboxes That Changed the World


An example of a first-run FZ-1A Fuzz-Tone. Photos courtesy of Simon Murphy

1. Keith Richards' Gibson Maestro FZ-1A Fuzz-Tone

“I’ve only ever used foot pedals twice,” Keith Richards wrote in Life, his 2010 autobiography. As it turned out, one of those occasions happened to be the recording of the Rolling Stones’ signature hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”—one of the earliest, if not the first, uses of fuzz in modern rock. Richards’ guitar line was supposed to be a scratch track for a horn section, “so I could give a shape to what the horns were supposed to do. But the fuzz tone had never been heard before anywhere, and that’s the sound that caught everybody’s imagination.”

Nashville studio engineer Glen Snoddy had stumbled onto the original fuzz sound in 1960, when an overloaded transformer shorted-out in one of the Langevin tube modules he was using to record an electric 6-string “tic-tac” bass. He designed a transistorized version of the effect and sold it to Gibson in 1962. “At first I was mortified,” Richards says, describing how he felt when he happened to hear “Satisfaction” blaring over a radio station in Minnesota. “We didn’t even know Andrew [Loog Oldham, the Stones’ manager] had put the [expletive] thing out! [But it was] the record of the summer of ’65, so I’m not arguing.”

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