It’s a great time to be a vintage fuzz fan, as the legendary Maestro Fuzz-Tone makes its long-awaited comeback – albeit in a funky modern enclosure. Gibson has released a full range of new Maestro stompboxes, including the Ranger Overdrive, Invader Distortion, Discoverer Delay, and Comet Chorus. Still, the pedal we are most excited about is, of course, the FZ-M Fuzz-Tone.
Often credited as the first-ever fuzz pedal, this awe-inspiring black box was responsible for the aggressive, spikey tone of the swinging '60s, and most notably was the device used to achieve the iconic tone of the Rolling Stones classic (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Now while the new version of the FZ-1 isn’t an exact replica of the original, it does boast a period-accurate all-analog design which will most definitely allow you to achieve the fuzz tones of yesteryear. That said, alongside the FZ-1-inspired circuit, the FZ-M also features a thicker, modern fuzz tone, available at the flick of a switch.
Now, it’s fair to say that with all the buzz around the new Maestro range, it has reignited our love of old-school fuzz tones. So naturally, our thoughts turn to the other vintage-inspired pedals on the market and how they differ from the sound of the Fuzz-Tone. Below you’ll find five top-quality stompboxes at various price points – that will give you a different flavor of this spikey effect while staying firmly in the realm of '60s and '70s fuzz.
Catalinbread Fuzzrite Moseley Fuzz | $149/£139
The Oregon-based pedal masters have faithfully recreated the beloved Fuzzrite with some help from the original creators. Working closely with the Moseley family, Catalinbread used NOS original units to ensure this pedal is an exact replica of the original.
The Fuzzrite is a surprisingly versatile fuzz pedal despite only having two controls. However, the real star of the show is the incredibly expressive Depth control, which will allow you to achieve anything from low gain spitting fuzz sounds all the way to soaring high gain sounds.
Keeley Fuzz Bender | $149/£130
The Keeley Fuzz Bender is a modern take on a vintage fuzz pedal, adding an active EQ section not typically found on this style of pedal. At the heart of this five knob hybrid fuzz is a vintage Japanese germanium transistor, which creates a massive, warm tone any fuzz fan will fall in love with.
The clever Bias Control allows you to shape the attack and decay of your notes, resulting in anything from full-fat fuzz to broken speaker sounds and everything in between.
JHS Pedals Supreme Fuzz | $179/£182
We could’ve easily chosen any of the pedals in the Legends of Fuzz series by JHS. Still, we opted for their Univox Super-Fuzz replica - the Supreme Fuzz. This wedge-shaped stompbox is a loving tribute to the octave fuzz of the late '60s – even though this particular model is based on a variant from 1972.
JHS describes this pedal as “an Octavia Fuzz that woke up on the wrong side of the bed”. This pedal isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s bold, loud, and has more gain than you’d ever need. But, come on, what more do you want in a fuzz pedal?
Boss FZ-5 | $105/£119
Some players may be surprised to see a Boss pedal among a list of vintage-inspired fuzzes. Still, the humble FZ-5 does a great job of capturing the essence of this '60s style effect. With three modes available - Maestro FZ-1A, Fuzz Face, and Octavia – this small pedal gives you access to a trio of classic tones, all at a very reasonable price!
The Fuzz Face mode, in particular, is excellent and really nails that retro vibe. So if you are not 100% sure what fuzz style is right for you, this Boss pedal is a great option – you’ll get to try three iconic sounds, all without breaking the bank. It’s a win-win.
Electro-Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz | $69/£49
We had to include the Electro-Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz on this list. Not only does this tiny pedal get you in the right ballpark for recreating the soaring fuzz tones of the '60s, but it’s also insanely affordable.
Its simple two-knob control layout pays homage to the pedals of the past. At the same time, the inclusion of true bypass switching adds a much-needed modern feature we’ve all come to expect from pedals today.