fuzz face

A Sehat Effectors Blown Face, atop a Marshall head and amidst other brand-name variations of the classic Fuzz Face.

While our columnist started out averse to the classic distortion pedal, they soon dove deep into its circuits to invent their own take.

It’s undeniable—the Fuzz Face is the most popular fuzz pedal in music history. Although it wasn’t the first fuzz ever created, nearly every stompbox manufacturer has attempted to replicate its circuitry. Furthermore, almost every guitarist has, at some point, incorporated it on their pedalboard. The question arises: Why? Is it due to its distinctive enclosure shape? Or, the eternal cliché question: Is it simply because Jimi Hendrix used it?

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A flexible fuzz conjures a unique voice with a vintage accent, with a helping of delectable overdrive sounds on top.

Inhabits a unique tone space on the Brit-fuzz spectrum. Rich low- and mid-gain overdrive, boost, and distortion sounds. Top quality. Thoughtful design.

Highest gain fuzz sounds can be toppy.

$285

Great Eastern FX Co. Focus Fuzz
greateasternfx.com

5
5
4.5
4.5

Fuzz boxes don’t get much prettier than the Focus Fuzz from Great Eastern FX Co. And if you’re into mid-to-late-’60s fuzz, you may well find they don’t come much cooler sounding either. Great Eastern founder David Greeves describes the sound of the Focus Fuzz as something between a Tone Bender, a Fuzz Face, and a Dallas Rangemaster. Citing those touchstones is not unusual when reaching for a way to describe a new vintage-style fuzz. But in the case of the Focus Fuzz, Greeves isn’t making offhanded claims. The Focus Fuzz truly seems to thread a line between the open, bassier qualities of a germanium Fuzz Face and the fierce, metallic, buzzy compression of a Tone Bender. At lower gain settings, it approximates the performance of a Rangemaster in many respects. It’s responsive to playing guitar volume and tone dynamics. And it’s even tempered at both ends of the gain spectrum, too. Moderate gain settings dish bushels of killer overdrive sounds and jangly near-clean tones. If you can’t find a cool dirt sound here, you might consider frog farming instead.

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A fly rig that gets freaking huge.

Convincing Marshall tones in a very tiny package. Rich high gain, and detailed low-gain sounds. Cool fuzz.

Channels lack independent EQ.

$279

Tech 21 Character Plus Fuzzy Brit
tech21nyc.com

4
4.5
4.5
4.5

As adjectives go, “cute” and “raging” are usually an odd fit. But apart from, perhaps, a rabid pug with vampire fangs, few things are as deserving of both descriptors as Tech 21’s Fuzzy Brit. This light, solidly built, and miniscule menace machine is an all-analog, 2-channel approximation of Marshall amps from the Bluesbreaker to ’60s plexi and ’70s JMP models—all paired with a cool take on a Fuzz Face. And it’s a satisfying substitute when you can’t lug a massive Marshall head and 4x12 along to the show.

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