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MXR Hybrid Fuzz Review

MXR Hybrid Fuzz Review

MXR aims for the Goldilocks zone—striving for a just-right blend between silicon and germanium transistors.

Impressive blends of the most appealing characteristics of germanium and silicon transistors. Guitar volume responsiveness remains largely intact.

Players seeking more extremes might look elsewhere.


MXR Hybrid Fuzz


Fans of vintage fuzz pedals will probably debate the merits of germanium versus silicon transistors and circuits until the last zinc-carbon battery on the planet finally fades and dies. So, rather than pick one or the other, MXR’s new Hybrid Fuzz uses both types of transistors with the intent to blend the best of both worlds.

As you might suspect, MXR/Dunlop’s design vehicle for this experiment is the classic 2-knob Fuzz Face, an elegant device that went from germanium to silicon transistors in the late ’60s, and is archetypal in both guises. Why marry the two transistor types in one pedal? Well, the germanium transistors used in commercial fuzz pedals from the mid ’60s, made from this element, are beloved for a certain warmth, compression-like softness in the attack, and responsiveness to varied volume input. The downside—and this is very subjective—is that they can sound quite ragged when pushed hard. The silicon transistors that began to be used more commonly in the late ’60s and ’70s are known for their increased gain, greater aggression, cutting power, and a smoother, if buzzy, output.

There’s another upside to silicon transistors. They are far more consistent from unit to unit. Germanium transistors from the same manufactured batch could vary in values widely. As a consequence, vintage fuzz pedals of the same make can often sound quite different. Contemporary manufacturers using germanium transistors tend to select and match them carefully for their fuzz pedals to achieve more consistent results. MXR goes through the same process for the Hybrid Fuzz.

Dynamic Duo

The Hybrid Fuzz was designed for MXR by Jeorge Tripps, the legendary pedal progenitor behind the Way Huge brand, which is now also part of the Jim Dunlop stable. Of the Hybrid design, Tripps tells us: “A typical Fuzz Face has either two silicon or two germanium transistors. The Hybrid uses one of each type that are gain spec’d for their specific position in the circuit. This is what gives the Hybrid Fuzz its aggressive gain along with warmth and smoothness.”

The Hybrid Fuzz could have branded this as a Hybrid Fuzz Face, and used that pedal’s iconic enclosure. Instead, it’s housed in a practical, standard compact MXR box, measuring 4 ¼" x 2 ¼" x 1 ¼", that’s adorned in suitably psychedelic graphics, including menacing eagles, giant mushrooms, and all-seeing eyes. The stylish, clear control knobs are easy to read. The simple 2-knob complement of fuzz and volume echoes that of the original Fuzz Faces. Elsewhere, it makes concessions to modernity with true-bypass switching, an LED indicator, and a center-negative input for an external 9V power supply. A 9-volt battery can also be used if you’re feeling nostalgic.


With humbuckers and single-coils, my first impression of the MXR is one of a classically voiced and very playable fuzz tone. I heard no extremes that I could immediately chalk up to the silicon or germanium side, but, instead, a very appealing and immediately likable fuzz sound most guitarists could easily work with. The best in-a-nutshell description is this: It’s thick and creamy, relatively smooth, yet bright and edgy enough to cut through most mixes. I’m guessing that’s exactly what MXR was hoping to achieve with this hybrid design.

Listening more closely as I moved through a range of settings, the effects of the germanium-silicon marriage become more apparent. For example, there are times when I play a good germanium fuzz and yearn for just a little more aggression and bite. The Hybrid Fuzz bridges that gap. Conversely, an otherwise great-sounding silicon fuzz sometimes leaves me longing for more warmth and forgiveness in the attack, and the Hybrid Fuzz did that, too. In fact, I yearn for few changes in the Hybrid Fuzz’s core gain and voicing.

“With humbuckers and single-coils, my first impression of the MXR is one of a classically voiced and very playable fuzz tone.”

I did find a few gaps in the available fuzz voices that could leave other players longing. For example, there are some ripped-Velcro extreme-fuzz textures the Hybrid Fuzz doesn’t deliver. Nor does it deliver the kind of low-gain-but-in-your-face “kerrang!” some germanium units can deliver at less aggressive levels. In the absence of those voices, some guitarists might conclude the Hybrid Fuzz is just a tad generic. But, in general, I think the potential broad appeal in these sounds still translates to a lot of possibilities.

Like many fuzz pedals, the two controls are very interactive and you’ll likely need to tweak one after twisting the other to retain a similar output level. But the Hybrid Fuzz also interacts very well with the guitar’s volume control, offering the dynamics and ease of adjustability that many seek and find in germanium Fuzz Faces, and find lacking in a silicon version.

The Verdict

The Hybrid Fuzz offers a very appealing new flavor of fuzz and an easily likable meeting point between germanium and silicon. Some players might seek the greater extremes of one or the other. But I imagine plenty more, in Goldilocks style, will find its gain, voice, and feel “just right.”