Fuzz pedals are some of the simplest pieces of technology a guitarist can own. They're also one of the earliest forms of distortion that ever existed, having been modeled in the '60s to mimic the sound of a faulty tube amp. In that respect, fuzz is a particular sub-genre of distortion that is both more extreme and harsh than most modern distortion pedals. For example, Jimi Hendrix often used a Dunlop Fuzz Face to create the heavy saturation he used on his Stratocasters.
At the same time, that sound has come to be known as a somewhat vintage form of distortion.
In wave form, the process happening in a fuzz pedal circuit is called "hard clipping", which creates a square-shaped sound wave, similar to the lower-most plot in this graph:
This creates the faulty-sounding distorted tone that has a grittiness to it you don't get with other distortions and overdrives. The technology and science are both similar, but fuzz is just a lot less refined and dirtier than other forms of gain.
It's simple in that clipping is the same thing happening when you turn up the source volume of an MP3 player too loud and the speakers start to distort.
That's clipping, in its simplest form.
Dual fuzz pedals put that in a stompbox, optimize it for guitar and allow you to control it with either two distinct circuits or multiple selectable levels of gain.
What is a dual fuzz pedal?
Hoof Reaper by EarthQuaker Devices is a dual fuzz pedal with two separate circuits and an analog octave path. (View Larger Image)
A dual fuzz pedal typically means you have two physical fuzz circuits within the same stompbox, which allows you to tweak and EQ each effect differently. In most cases, this is simply to allow you to dial in two different levels or volumes of the same fuzz effect. Often times this means you'll have two engage switches, one for engaging the pedal and another for "upping" the level of the gain or for engaging the second circuit.
You can also have a dual fuzz pedal that runs on a single circuit, or perhaps a digital processor, and still affords you the ability to craft two different fuzz tones.
The most optimal scenario is that you get two independent and analog fuzz circuits.
This means you can use either one autonomously or both simultaneously.
Some features we'll look for include analog components, true bypass and control over the clipping of the effect (clipping is what governs the intensity or level of saturation).
- Analog circuits
- Two independent fuzz circuits
- True bypass
- Additional clipping control
Otherwise, to qualify as a dual fuzz pedal, we've got to have a way to switch between two different levels of fuzz. All of the aforementioned features will serve as bonus material and general quality indicators.
How did we make our dual fuzz pedal list?
Websites, that we would not recommend to you, write lists like this one all the time. And they are extremely subjective. They're also largely unhelpful in terms of providing actual knowledge about the guitar pedals in question.
With that in mind, we need to point out something about this piece of content, and others like it that we've written: This is based on the knowledge and opinions of real musicians. We are not marketers or internet gurus trying to make a buck off Amazon. Now, we do use affiliate programs to support this site, but we are not simply throwing pedals up without knowing why we're suggesting them.
This is based on the knowledge and opinions of real musicians who have used this gear.
And while the opinion of any human being on a topic like this is going to be somewhat contextual and subjective, we can give you concrete reasons why we recommend these fuzz pedals over others.
Primarily, our recommendations are based on the following factors:
- Actual use and experience with the pedal in question
- Secondhand knowledge from other musicians we know who have used or owned the pedal
- A proper value assessment
Guitar World contributor, educator, writer and guitarist since 1996.
Worship leader, PCA deacon and guitarist.
Session musician, guitar, keyboard & bass
What is a proper value assessment?
We determine value by first knowing the features of effects and guitar pedals that matter most. For example, when it comes to delay pedals, we know that (in many cases) having a tap tempo included in your delay is better than not.
How do we know this? Because we've actually used delay pedals, some of which did and did not have a tap tempo.
This means that we can make a proper value assessment based on actual features without just saying, "this delay pedal will sound great" or one of our personal favorites:
"Among the most prolific pedals made popular by its solid performance."
Use this Google result if you want to see what site we're referring to.
That kind of "endorsement" is dumb and unhelpful.
Additionally, as we can identify and confirm more of those features that add quality, we can then look for pedals that give you those features at the lowest price points.
We can then contextually define the best guitar pedals by those that provide the most value, based on the following:
If you boil it down, our template is quite simple.
Just look for the features that matter in your situation and see which brands and pedals deliver those features at the lowest price.
- As quality goes up, value increases
- As price going down, value increases
- As quality goes down, value decreases
- As price goes up, value decreases
What this list is and What it is Not
We should point out that this list is not a ranking or a full review of each fuzz pedal. Per our publishing policy, we do not publish physical product reviews, in favor of making contextual recommendations.
The term "review" is a bit deceptive, since most people who review guitar gear don't have anything bad to say about it. That's not a review as much as it is an endorsement. In most cases, we simply avoiding talking about products that we can't or wouldn't recommend to Guitar Chalk readers.
Thus, it's misleading and disingenuous to use the term "review."
As a consequence, we want to be clear that this list is not a review nor are the numbers used an indication of ranking the products in any particular order. Instead, these are contextual recommendations, based on our experience that may or may not apply to your situation.
Let's start with an offering from Stone Deaf.
Stone Deaf Kliponite Dual Parametric Overdrive and Velcro Fuzz
The Kliptonie is a fuzz and overdrive combo with an expression pedal option that allows you to control the frequency of the tone, making for some interesting wah-like sounds. There's also a mix control that allows you to change the balance between fuzz and overdrive.
The "klipped" switch allows you to flip that balance, effectively giving you the ability to bounce back and forth between two different fuzz and overdrive tones.
On the aggression scale, the Kliptonite is pretty high, similar to what you might hear off a Black Stone Cherry or Dorothy album.
On the scale of vintage to modern, it leans heavily to the modern side of the spectrum, with a smooth low-end and some distinctly aggressive EQs. It's much easier to fit into that mold than the slow, bluesy overdrive styles. The tone is far more satisfying on the "fat" end of the balance dial than at higher EQ settings, which makes it a better rhythm than lead compliment, even with the expression pedal capabilities.
The overdrive aspect of the pedal does give it a distinct warmth and makes it sound more tube-driven than it would otherwise. No word on what kind of circuits it uses, but for the price you're probably looking at a more heavily digitized system.
Still, it sounds fantastic, so we're not complaining.
- Expression pedal option
- Mix (balance between overdrive and fuzz)
- Fuzz level
- Frequency (sweeps control wah effect)
- Balance (increase or decrease the master volume)
- Cut/Boost (overdrive level)
Price and Value
The Kliptonite gets more out of the fuzz effect than you would think possible, as it's one of the more unique-sounding stompboxes we've seen. Adjusting the "fuzzy drive" knob is particularly intriguing, giving you a wide range of both saturated and velcro-style fuzz tones.
It's also one of the more affordable fuzz pedals on this list, so if you don't mind some ambiguity about what's inside the box (and since it sounds amazing, we don't) this is easily one of your best choices.
AmpTweaker TightFuzz Pro Dual Fuzz Pedal
In typical AmpTweaker fashion, we're given a lot of distinctly boutique pedal features, which include Germanium or Silicone transistor modes (selectable via an exterior switch), true bypass and a top-tier noise gate.
The duality of the pedal comes from a boost option, which allows you to pile additional gain on top of the original fuzz effect. Both the main volume and the additional "Boost" button have their own output controls.
Here's a quick look at the front panel, just to give you an idea of how much you can do with this pedal.
Additional customization features abound with the following switches:
- Octave & FTSW
- Tone: 60s or 70s
- Edge & Smooth
Other features include an internal noise gate adjustment, internal "more fuzz" switch, three effects loops and a power system that adjusts tone to battery/power source voltage (9V or 18V).
Here's a diagram of how you might setup all three effects loops with two amps:
As we've come to expect from AmpTweaker pedals, the TightFuzz is feature-rich and perfect for those who use and record with a lot of fuzz effects, or who just want a pedal that will allow them to do a lot of exploring with the sound.
- Noise Gate
- 60s or 70s Tone Switch
- Germanium or Silicone Transistor Switch
- Edge or Smooth Switch
- Interval "more fuzz" Switch
Price and Value
Obviously the most attractive aspect of this pedal is its ability to give you a wide variety of different sounds and tweaking options. Other value markers include the noise gate and the three effects loops, both of which are features we don't typically see in other fuzz boxes, let alone a dual fuzz pedal.
It's an expensive pedal, but AmpTweaker is known for making the extra investment well worth it. The TightFuzz Pro is no exception.
Function f(x) Cannon Dual Fuzz Pedal
The Cannon by Function f(x) is separated into two distinct fuzz circuits. One is labeled "Fuzz" (which is the main one) while the other is labeled "Drive."
These two controls are completely independent of one another as the pedal's interface provides volume and fuzz control for each. On the drive side, the fuzz knob is labeled "Attack."
Note that this means the two circuits can be run on their own or stacked together.
In other words, the "Drive" side is not just a boost for the original fuzz effect. Instead, they're truly two different fuzz pedals in one, made to mimic the following fuzz styles:
- Tycobrahe Octavia
- AstroTone Fuzz / Sam Ash Fuzzbox
The pedal is true bypass, while also providing three different bypass modes, indicated by the following colors:
- Fuzz Volume
- Fuzz Level
- Drive Attack
- Drive Volume
- Bypass Mode Switch
Price and Value
While it's not inundated with bells and whistles on the front panel, the Cannon can produce a lot of different sounds which is a testament to its designers and the versatility provided by dual fuzz circuits.
It's also not as expensive as some other dual fuzz pedals, which makes it easy to recommend this as a reliable fuzz and general distortion solution.
EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Octave Dual Fuzz
EarthQuaker Devices combines their popular Hoof and Tone Reaper pedals into one dual fuzz stompbox, which includes an octave control that rounds out one of the more stacked fuzz pedals on this list.
A huge part of EartherQuaker pedals' appeal is the fact that all their boxes are made by hand in the United States, Akron Ohio, to be specific.
It's important to remember that, while this contributes to appeal, it also contributes to cost. The Hoof Reaper is priced high, similar to the TightFuzz Pro, so the boutique appeal should matter to you if you're going to pay this much. We can't mention Amazon pricing here, but you can check for yourself and compare cost.
The tone style is vintage with an analog octave up switch and the Germanium/Silicone transistor fuzz style. However, with all the control provided to both the Hoof and Tone Reaper sides of the pedal, there's little stylistic restriction. It can be as subtle or aggressive (vintage or modern) as you want. You can utilize any of the following combinations between the three switches:
- Hoof Alone
- Reaper Alone
- Octave Alone
- Reaper + Octave
- Hoof + Octave
- Hoof + Reaper
- Hoof + Reaper + Octave
There's no mention of true bypass, which might be more difficult to implement considering the three switches. Then again, those who aren't true bypass purists probably won't notice a significant difference to their tone.
- Hoof Tone
- Hoof Level
- Hoof Fuzz
- Reaper Tone
- Reaper Level
- Reaper Fuzz
Price and Value
At the pricing tier of the Hoof Reaper, it's hard to not be a little disappointed by the lack of true bypass. It also feels a little feature-bare when compared to AmpTweaker's TightFuzz Pro. Yet, the simpler control scheme might appeal to some and the Hoof Reaper is still one of the most complete dual fuzz pedals available.
Blackout Effectors Twosome Dual Fuzz Pedal
The Blackout Effectors Twosome is a dual fuzz pedal that combines the boutique company's Muskey Fuzz and Fix'd Fuzz in the same stompbox, with two distinct and isolated circuits each with their own control scheme. These controls are faithful to the original pedals, giving you a massive amount of tinkering capability that can easily swing between really aggressive and ambiguous fuzz tones (the "splat" sound) or the smoother compressed distortion levels.
There are also a number of tones that can be engaged via the Fix'd switches, which you can see at the top of the stompbox.
Here's a closer look:
Switches from the Fix'd fuzz side. (View Larger Image)
These allow you to turn on different parts of the circuit for a kind of "preset" fuzz tone, which collectively give you a wide range of intensity levels and configuration options. It'll take you quite a while to get through all of them.
For example, you could use a configuration like Fix'd Fuzz:2 + Boost, which you can hear in the ProGuitarShop demo video below and the following screen grab:
When you combine the versatility offered by the switches and the multiple gain, boost and tone-shaping knobs, there's a staggering amount of variety to be explored. The gain range of each pedal can also be dialed way back, giving you a more subtle and distortion-style saturation. These tones sound like more of a bluesy overdrive than a fuzz, which is a unique capability most fuzz pedals don't afford.
By a fairly wide margin, this is the most diverse dual fuzz pedal on this list. Unfortunately, it's priced accordingly, which is the only major drawback.
- Four total circuit switches: Boost, Fuzz:1, Fuzz:2, Tone
- Fix'd side controls: Boost, Tone, Volume, Fuzz 1, Fuzz 2
- Musket side controls: Pre, Mids, Focus, Fuzz, Tone Volume
Price and Value
There's a lot of value here for session guitarists, since you can use the Twosome for so many different fuzz and distortion sounds. The price tag is a major factor, but for those who would use a wide variety of gain levels and styles, it might be worth the investment.
Placing Fuzz Pedals in an Effects Chain and Best Practices
One of the most common questions surrounding the use of effects is whether or not there is a best, or most optimal, way in which to order those pedals. In a typical signal chain, the input originates at your guitar and is outputted through an amplifier. The guitar pedals sit in the middle of that line, processing the signal from the guitar before sending it into the amplifier and out through a speaker.
For fuzz pedals, dual or otherwise, we'd recommend placing them after the following effects:
However many of these pedals you use, they should all precede any distortion, overdrive or fuzz pedal in your chain.
In the following graphic, the red overdrive pedal can be assumed to represent any kind of distortion, fuzz or high gain stompbox.
Placing a Fuzz or Distortion Pedal in your Effects Chain
Keep in mind, these are conventions to be tested and not rules that must be followed in all scenarios. You'll need to take into account the type of fuzz pedal you own, how you want to use it and the other effects you'll have in your chain.
Should I use an amp or pedal fuzz source?
Amp or pedal-based fuzz?
To answer this question contextually, it depends on the amp that you already own. Certain amplifiers are designed with strong onboard distortion or overdrive, usually in the form of a "high gain" or "dirty" channel. Most of the Marshall amplifiers have this and are ideally suited to handle distortion without the aid of a pedal.
However, it's also important to note that - in most cases - distortion is not the same thing as fuzz. Fuzz circuits are different and, while in the same category of distortion, are not strictly distortion pedals. In other words all fuzz is distortion but not all distortion is fuzz.
All fuzz is distortion but not all distortion is fuzz.
This means that most amps do not provided an onboard fuzz effect or channel.
For example, the Fender Deluxe amplifier has a "dirty" channel, but it's a distinctly vintage-style distortion that probably won't meet the saturation standards of those wanting a fuzz-style gain. If an amp gives you soft bluesy gain while you want fuzz saturation, its onboard distortion isn't going to be a good option for you.
Put all this together and you have three different options, depending on your amp:
- Amplifier running a clean channel + fuzz pedal
- Amplifier running a clean channel + dirty channel as the fuzz source
- Amplifier running a clean channel + dirty channel + fuzz pedal as the distortion source
In terms of finding a workable fuzz solution, the third scenario is your best option. This will give you both the fuzz tone and the onboard "traditional" distortion from your amplifier.
Q: Which fuzz pedal did Jim Hendrix use?
A: Jimi Hendrix used one of the old Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face pedals, which you can see pictured here with the rest of his gear from 1969.
Q: What's the difference between fuzz and distortion?
A: The most distinctive feature of a fuzz effect is the squared off sine wave we mentioned earlier. This creates a gain that's more harsh and rigid than a typical distortion or overdrive.
Q: What popular rock bands typically use the fuzz effect?
A: While fuzz has its roots in classic rock, particularly of the '60s Hendrix era, modern examples include Muse, Black Stone Cherry, Dorothy, The Black Keys and Queens of the Stone Age, just to name a few.
Q: What if there's hiss and noise with my fuzz pedal?
A: This isn't unusual and can be remedied depending on your gear. The simplest solution is to add a noise gate. We would also suspect that if you're using some kind of a daisy chain power supply that replacing it with an isolated power supply would go a long way in solving any noise issues coming from your fuzz pedal.
Q: What's the difference between the "gain" and "volume" knob on my fuzz pedal?
A: Distortion pedals function like a small amplifier in that they use gain (which is volume) that's capped, in order to create the distorted effect. Thus "gain" knobs on a pedal increase the volume that is capped which means more saturation. "Volume" knobs on a distortion pedal decrease or increase the overall output from that pedal, just like the master volume for a power amp.
Q: Is it "okay" to use batteries for these pedals, or should I buy a power supply?
A: Nine volt batteries will power your pedals fine. The downside is that they're expensive and guitar pedals tend to drain power from them really quickly, even when not engaged. If you just have a few pedals, and you don't play live, 9V batteries are fine. But, as your board grows, particularly if you're performing, a power supply becomes much more important.
Q: What kind of cables should I use in between each pedal?
A: We recommend using low profile right angle patch cables (regardless of brand - those ones are made by Hosa) for saving space between stompboxes.
Concluding and Additional Questions
Have questions about these dual fuzz pedals we didn't address? Feel free to drop them in the comments section below. Usually Bobby will answer there, which is preferred over email so that others who read the article in the future will have access to that information as well.
We also love hearing pedal suggestions and recommendations for these types of posts.
Just keep in mind our value assessment and method for including products. It shouldn't just be something you like personally, but should have some objective support as to why it belongs on a best guitar pedals list, like this one.
Additional Pedal and Pedalboard Resources
- Differences between Overdrive, Distortion and Fuzz
- Jimi Hendrix Amp Settings
- Strymon Effects Pedal Order Article
- Pedalboard Power Supply Rating and Recommendation Guide
- The Pedalboard Planner Written Guide
- The Interactive Pedalboard Planner Web App
- The Minimalist Pedalboard Build
- Best Pedalboard and Power Supply Roundup
- Best Pedaltrain, Boss and Gator Pedalboards
Flickr Commons Image courtesy of Aaron H. Warren