The very first fuzzes, like the Maestro Fuzz Tone and the Arbiter Fuzz Face, were rather rude-sounding, but there was something even more gnarly, unpredictable, and brutal sounding lurking inside these simple circuits. Starving the voltage to the transistors could create velcro-like gated textures, and feeding the output back into the fuzz circuit created a feedback loop that could be manipulated with a guitar’s volume knob.
Simple modifications such as these are examples of why Fuzz is the perfect effect for pedal designers to experiment with. The lists in this article compiles some of the coolest, creative, and most bad-ass sounding fuzz circuits you can buy today. Some sound like synths, some have modulation, some have expression pedal input, but they all have the potential to inspire and create never-before-heard sounds.
Updated on January 17, 2022
Crazy, Weird, Unusual Fuzz Pedals with a Large Footprint
Large cases have somewhat fallen out of fashion in the pedal realm, but true stompbox connoisseurs know that a more spacious case allows circuit designers more creative options. The fuzzes in this list might take a lot of real estate on your board, but they also offer – on average – a host of creative features that you’d be hard-pressed to find in smaller devices.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors Alpha Haunt
Versatility is the forte of this eye-catching fuzz. With a 3-band EQ and controls for fuzz, compression, gating, parallel clean blend, and 3 voicing switches, the Alpha Haunt can be just about any kind of fuzz you want it to be.
Walrus Audio Janus
This dual Fuzz / Tremolo utilizes joysticks with x and y axes to control multiple parameters at once. The trem joystick controls rate and depth while the fuzz side controls tone and gain. These simple but dynamic controls allow for fluid modulation of textures, ideal for synths and soundscapes as well as guitar and bass.
Spaceman Effects Gemini IV
This meticulously crafted dual fuzz generator combines two distinct fuzz circuits in parallel, one germanium and one silicon. Each side has a filter knob and in the middle a mix control allows the user to dial in their optimal blend of fuzz. A phase toggle adds a whole other palate of tonal options. With version IV now sold out, you may be able to find for previous ones.
Red Witch Fuzz God IV
This insanely versatile fuzz from the veterans at Red Witch can do it all. 3 footswitches control 3 levels of fuzz, the middle one engaging an upper octave and the rightmost one activating the synth-like “wrath” oscillation. An internal 8-way dip switch provides a total of 264 tone and gain combinations.
Stone Deaf Fx Kliptonite
A dual fuzz/overdrive, the Kliptonite implements a unique “Mirror Mix” control that shifts the blend between the overdrive and the fuzz sides. Hitting the left footswitch will flip the ratios between your fuzz and overdrive blend, i.e., 75% fuzz and 25% overdrive becomes 25% fuzz and 75% overdrive. The bandwidth knob in the center changes the voicing from gated and thin to fat and full-range.
Adventure Audio Dream Reaper
This oscillating fuzz feedback machine sounds as good as it looks. In addition to functioning like a very versatile fuzz, the Dream mode will feed the signal back onto itself, turning it into a self-oscillator.
ZVEX Fuzz Probe
Combining their famous Fuzz Factory and Wah Probe pedals, the Fuzz Probe uses a theremin-like sensor that allows the user to control the “Stab” control with their foot. Imagine a Fuzz mashed up with a wah filter that can be manipulated without touching anything!
Fuzzrocious Playing Mantis
Combining independent overdrive and oscillator circuits in one box, the Mantis is an original design bound to inspire. The overdrive side can toggle between a boost, OD, and distortion, while the oscillator side can be controlled via expression pedal for some pitch shifting square wave fuzz.
Dwarfcraft Devices Reese Lightning
Using their supercharged Muff, the Eau Claire Thunder, as a blueprint, Dwarfcraft’s Reese lightning adds a clean blend and a “timewarp” toggle for some sputtery octave-up action. A feedback footswitch allows for access to squealing madness on demand. The form factor is also improved, with top-mounted jacks and a more compact size than the Eau Claire Thunder.
Rainger FX Dr. Freakenstein Chop Fuzz
From the inspiring mind of David Rainger comes a fuzz-tremolo-phaser all in one beautiful box! It comes with the Igor pressure pad expression controller for manipulating the fuzz overtone in real-time. It also includes boutique details like a “magic-eye” light that responds to the tremolo speed and an insanely cool Frankenstein-style knife switch for powering the pedal on.
Reuss Repeater Fuzz
Inspired by the psychedelic explorations of Spacemen 3, the Repeater Fuzz accurately recreates the three built-in effects that came in a few short-lived but influential Vox guitars from the 1960s. Included in one box are a fuzz, a treble/bass booster, and the famously choppy “repeat percussions” tremolo circuit. Additionally, a send and return loop is included between the boost and the tremolo effects.
JPTR FX Super Weirdo
German boutique builders JPTR consistently churn out unique circuits, case in point the Super Weirdo: a fuzz with built-in delay time modulation. The time delay, which can be controlled via expression pedal, allows the user to create huge doubled guitar tones – reminiscent of a guitar amp miked from a distance. The momentary glitch footswitch allows for bursts of intense glitchy repeats.
Thermion Stone Age
An ambitious attempt at creating a fuzz that can do it (almost) all, thanks to its four voicings, Hi and Low EQ knobs, and octave and clean channels with dedicated knobs and footswitches. The fuzz flavors are Single Transistor, Maestro, Face and Thermion. The EQ section has High and Low Cut knobs applying a high Q shelving filter, and can be bypassed via a switch.
Mastro Valvola OFF1
A flexible filter+fuzz pedal that can do both octave-up and down. The filter can be activated separately through the right footswitch. The low octave section features two knobs adding one and two octaves down, while the single high octave can be turned on manually via the Up toggle switch. The filter circuit can be controlled by Cutoff and Resonance knobs, while the Dry knob lets you reintegrate the clean signal.
Dirty Haggard Audio Degrade
An original fuzz circuit that behaves differently depending on where the Mix knob is set: at 40-100% it’s a distortion-leaning *gated* fuzz. With the ‘Mix’ at minimum settings, it acts as a ‘harmonic enhancer”. Between 5-15%, it becomes a parallel clean/overdrive, while at 16%-40% it sounds like a distortion with a touch of clean tone mixed in. The ‘Clean Filter’ control adjusts the clean signal’s treble/upper midrange.
Wrought Iron H-1
A fuzz based on four low-gain, Russian-made Germanium transistors with an unstable oscillation circuit activated by the footswitch on the right, which sends the circuit into self-oscillation. Extremely noisy results can be tamed by using the Thrust and Oscillation knobs, for more harmonically rich drive and fuzz tones.
Acorn Amps TMA-1
A four-stage transistor circuit that, quite uniquely, lets you select the clipping options for two of those stages (the second and third), for a total of 9 combinations. When added to the sculpting options granted by the Tone knob, thes often radically different sounding voices make the Acorn TMA-1 a very flexible and multi-faceted fuzz pedal.
Crazy, Weird, Unusual Fuzz Pedals in a Compact or Mini Box
“Less is more” goes the saying, but with the miniaturization of technology, that’s not really the case anymore. The most forward-thinking manufacturers have learned to stuff compact and even mini cases with a ton of controls and features. The devices in the following list will ad a noisy creative weapon with enough controls to keep you happy for a while, without taking too much space on your board.
Chase Bliss / ZVEX Bliss Factory
ZVEX’s most famous creation gets the Chase Bliss treatment. All the controls of the classic Fuzz Factory are here, plus a new resonant low pass filter knob, and two three-way toggles for fattening up the tone and setting auxiliary knob functions. In classic Chase Bliss fashion, any parameter can be saved to a preset, and controlled by midi or expression pedal using the dip switches on the back. It isn’t cheap but this is maybe the most versatile fuzz pedal on the market.
Beetronics are known for their beautiful pedal design as well as their mastery of decadent fuzzy goodness. This synth-fuzz harmonizer lets you blend in 9 possible harmonies in 2 different octaves. Perfect for angular King Crimson-style harmonies or more modern Jack White-style square wave attack.
Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler V2
The controls on this pedal are optimized for live use – the parallel fuzz blend can be mixed in via expression pedal and a second footswitch will take you into blown-out speaker territory if you need it. A three-band EQ and voltage starve control add lots of tweakability to the mix.
Fairfield Circuitry Unpleasant Surprise
As much as they try and convince us that this pedal sounds unpleasant, Fairfield Circuitry are too good at what they do to make a bad sounding fuzz. Despite its bite and synth-like quality, this pedal still sounds natural and articulate. At higher gain settings it will completely shred your signal into something that still manages to sound interesting and dynamic.
Death By Audio Absolute Destruction
With just one knob and two sliders, it is easy to coax some of the most distorted, unruly, disintegrating tones imaginable from this compact pedal. DBA are known for sonic annihilation, and this pedal might be the craziest one in their lineup.
Rainger Fx Bleep Fuzz
Claiming to be the weirdest pedal in Rainger’s lineup (and that’s saying something), the Bleep Fuzz takes the sonic characteristics of the big brother Freakenstein fuzz and adds more gated, glitchy unpredictability. The included Igor expression controller allows the user to manipulate the pitch of the oscillator overtone on the fly.
Lastgasp Art Laboratories 88 Super Oscillo Fuzz
This wild oscillating fuzz is intended to sound like a jet engine. With 6 distortion voicing switches and expression pedal control, this is a one-stop shop for unlimited brutal oscillator tones.
MTL Assembly Your and You’re
This squealing, synth-like, two-knob fuzz pedal is a lot simpler than the Count to 5, the lo-fi delay/sampler that put Mtl Assembly on the map, but it is just as fun. The oscillating tone control can be manipulated via an expression pedal, which allows for live experimentation with resonance and feedback.
JDM Union Fuzz
This hybrid fuzz allows true transistor switching between Germanium and Silicon. Three voicing options also give the user vintage fuzz face and treble booster-style textures in addition to a more modern high gain voice. Combined with Pre-gain and Texture knobs, you can get almost any fuzz texture you can imagine out of this little box.
Rabbit Hole FX Merkin’ Fuzz
A very tweakable fuzz with a clean and an “unclean” (fuzz) channel with separate volume knobs. The fuzz features Volume out Gain knobs and two toggle switches: Cut Low and Wave, which introduces an octave-up for Octavia-style tones. Blending some of the clean signal back in delivers more attack and definition.
Animal Factory Baron Samedi
The controls on this pirate-themed pedal are labeled “life”, “death”, “burial,” and “rum”, contributing to the mystique and exploratory nature of this weird fuzz. Using the Jordan Bosstone circuit as a starting point, the Baron Samedi can sound like a warm fuzzy blanket or a gated synth machine with unique portamento-like trails.
Whimsey Machines The Great Fantabulizing Whatsitdo
A quirky “Recursive Octave Fuzz.” The Wonderment knob sets the intensity of the effect. The other unnamed rotary switch is a Distortion Mode knob (modes are called “Fundamentals” by the builder). Each fundamental delivers slight tone variations on the classic octave fuzz classic.