Hilbish T-Fuzz Review
A fuzz-forward take on late-'60s octave-fuzz flavor opens up unique—and menacing—tone territories.
Octave fuzz with a little more fuzz presence. Responsive to guitar volume attenuation. Killer handcrafted vibe. Nice build quality.
Some players might find the tone palette limited for the price.
It's always impressive to hear buttery smooth, full-spectrum fuzz—the kind that sustains and sings eternally, that captures and magnifies every overtone, and makes '90s-era David Gilmour fans rapturous. But a true distortion maniac cannot live by fuzz foie gras alone. Sometimes you need a little more scuzz in your fuzz, and a filthier fuzz than the Hilbish T-Fuzz would indeed be hard to find.
Much of what makes the T-Fuzz sound so dirty is its ample but not overbearing octave content. There's a clear sonic relation to classic late-'60s octave fuzzes like the Octavia, Ampeg Scrambler, and Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. But the Hilbish tucks the octave content just a bit further back in the fuzz/octave blend than any of those pedals, making it a touch more practical for power riffing and lending most settings a little extra sustain—especially when you dial your amplifier up to saturated extremes.
Red mode can turn any bonehead garage-psych lick into a thrill ride.
The T-Fuzz is not trashy to the point of absurd. Its "red" mode, which is activated via the low-profile push button, lends force and focus to power chords and coaxes cool, buzzy biker-fuzz textures that can turn any bonehead garage-psych lick into a thrill ride. The green mode is even more focused and piercing in the mid- and high-mid range but turns splattier in the low and high-frequency ranges. Neither mode is going to flatter a barred minor 7th chord played around the middle of the neck, but they can make the simplest lead positively menacing, and both modes can produce complex, less-aggressive textures with a little guitar volume attenuation. At $180, the T-Fuzz can feel a bit specialized for the money. But it's a beautifully made little monster, and for many players, its distinct scream—and the unique tone spaces you can carve out with it—could make it worth every penny.
Test Gear: Fender Telecaster, black-panel Fender Tremolux, Universal Audio OX with Vox 2x12-, Marshall 4x12-, and Fender tweed Deluxe-style speaker/cabinet simulations