Due to the affordability of even the best fuzz pedals, these small wonders have been around for well over half a century, and their popularity just keeps growing. From Keith Richards’ riff on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” all the way to the modern fuzz tones of Matt Bellamy of Muse, this effect is a primary tool in many guitarists’ arsenals.
However, as we know, guitar players’ tastes and needs can vary drastically. As a result, there are a plethora of fuzz pedals out there, and they fit virtually any genre, style, and all levels of noise tolerance. There is a fuzz unit for everyone, from those that prefer traditional tones, to the more experimental ones.
Manufacturers know this, and they flood the market with constant new releases, remakes of classic pedals, new ideas mixed with older concepts, and anything in between. In other words, if you are looking for a fuzz pedal, chances are there is one that fits you quite well.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’re going to go over seven of the best choices in the market today. Whether you are looking for a traditional Hendrix-type sound, or you want to get evicted because of your dark and impossibly loud fuzz experimentation, we have good choices here for you. Even if you want to keep your options open, and go for a versatile pedal that does it all, this guide has it.
Keep on reading to find your fuzz match.
Features: Handwired circuit board, BC108 silicon transistor, All metal construction
Benefits: Authentic Dallas Arbiter reproduction, Easy to set up, Rock solid build quality
|Click For Best Price|
Features: Compact housing, Independent volume tone and sustain, Tone bypass switch
Benefits: Iconic fuzz tone, Sturdy and reliable, Versatile controls
|Click For Best Price|
Features: 3 Sound modes, Bass cut/boost control, Status LED
Benefits: Reliable performance, Multiple power options Full range of vintage fuzz tones
|Click For Best Price|
- Best Fuzz Pedals: Our Top 3
- Best Fuzz Pedals: Individual Reviews
- How to choose the best fuzz pedal for you
- Final thoughts on the Best Fuzz Pedals
Best Fuzz Pedals: Our Top 3
The Electro Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff Pi is our top pick for this list. It builds on the legendary EHX lineage of Muff pedals, widely used throughout history, and offers a great blends of features and price.
Our best budget choice is the Behringer SF300 Super Fuzz, as it offers Fuzz on a traditional stompbox form factor, with plenty of controls, and at a remarkably low price.
If you want to go straight to the source of one of the most renowned fuzz sounds, our Editors choice is the Dunlop JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Pedal.
Best Fuzz Pedals: Individual Reviews
A fuzz pedal that embodies the sound of an era, but also remains timeless, and with a great cost-benefit ratio.
This fuzz pedal is the result of an association with Smashing Pumpkins' frontman Billy Corgan and Electro-Harmonix. Based on the original Op-Amp Big Muff Pi by EHX and with a similar sound and response, this pedal offers fantastic fuzz, durability, and price.
The Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff Pi was based on the generation-defining fuzz sound of Siamese Dream, Smashing Pumpkins’ landmark album. This pedal builds on the tradition of Big Muff Fuzz which has been beloved by guitarists for decades. Besides taking you back to the 90’s grunge, EHX also wanted a pedal with a current sound that can be used today.
Once we took it out of the box, we could immediately see that this pedal is as sturdy and durable as they come. Just by looking at it, we could also see that it is simple and to the point.
This compact-sized fuzz pedal features three easy to use knobs: Volume, Tone and Sustain (which is really a gain knob), as commonly found on other Big Muffs. However, this one also has a switch for bypassing the Tone knob.
We plugged in and started playing riff after riff while trying different knob position configurations. A common denominator for our tests was a consistent bite and more controlled sustain, regardless of where set the tone knob.
For chunking chords and playing riffs, our sound had a crudeness that we really enjoyed, especially because the sound was well-balanced and quite powerful. And for single lines, the Op-Amp Big Muff Pi gave us a nice dose of sustain and growl.
Not only is this pedal an homage to the past with a modern sound, but it’s also one of the best fuzz pedals on the market today, and it comes in at a very attainable price.
Verdict: The Electro Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff Pi gives you era-defining sound with a modern edge. This pedal is capable of great fuzz tones right out of the box, and add to that great built quality and low cost and you have a great fuzz pedal for your pedalboard.
Fuzz tones at a surprisingly low price.
This fuzz pedal is capable of giving you three different fuzz sound modes at a very affordable price point. If you are on a tight budget and need a functional fuzz pedal to get the job done, this is one of your best options.
The Behringer SF300 Super Fuzz is one of the most affordable fuzz pedals on the market. For the cost of a burger and a couple of beers, you can have a functional fuzz pedal at your feet, with enough controls to shape your tone.
We started by plugging in the SF300 and going starting to its first mode: Fuzz 1. Here we got that classic fuzz sound reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. We tried a few classic riffs and liked what we heard. Truth be told, the sound of this pedal was fairly good for such a cheap pedal. Add to that the fact that you have control over your sound via the pedal’s four knobs.
Moving on to mode two, we dialed in Fuzz 2 for a more contemporary, grungy type of fuzz. It immediately took us in another direction. We played some Nirvana and Soundgarden intros and got a close enough grunge tone. The sound on this mode features scooped mids, great for playing rhythm.
For the third model, we went to Level Booster. Here we were able to take the amp to about breakup at lower levels. However, when turning up we got some serious crunch for some aggressive riff playing.
Low price considered, the Behringer SF300 Super Fuzz was fun to play and provided three useful fuzz modes to fulfill the needs of the gigging guitarist.
Verdict: This pedal is capable of some good fuzz tones for a remarkably low price. Although its chassis is made of durable plastic, it does feel sturdy and offers reliable fuzz sound for those on a very limited budget.
A pedal that recreates the fuzz tones that the ultimate guitar legend used to revolutionize the instrument forever.
This pedal is a homage to the ultimate Fuzz pioneer: Jimi Hendrix. With a circuitry carefully matched to Hendrix's original Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face units, this pedal offers a historic fuzz tone on rugged housing.
The Dunlop JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face was designed with the purpose of delivering the legendary tone of Jimi’s original Fuzz Face (the Dallas Arbiter). This is the very sound that Hendrix used on albums like Electric Ladyland.
We were so excited to try this pedal, plugging it in as soon as we had our hands on it. Dialing in some fuzz was quite simple, as this pedal only features a volume and fuzz knobs, with a footswitch at the bottom. It does not get any simpler than this!
We started out with the fuzz knob dialed at around 11 am, for a nice sustained tone. Here we played some riffs like Voodoo Chile, Purple Haze, and Foxy Lady, channeling Hendrix’s fuzz as best as we could.
However, we were looking forward to turning the fuzz knob all the way up and that’s exactly what we did. Here we got some serious growl with a vintage flavor. We improvised some riffs and soloed over a blues, getting a consistent Hendrix tone and bite from this pedal.
The Dunlop JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face is designed around a BC108 silicon transistor with a hand-wired circuit board with no solder mask. Its circuitry was well matched to original specifications and features a period-accurate durable circular chassis.
This pedal is ideal for the Hendrix fan that wants that authentic Fuzz Face sound, although it does so much more than just Hendrix impersonations. Despite being rooted in the vintage fuzz kingdom, this pedal can work great in modern styles, while paying respects to a glorious past.
Verdict: The Dunlop JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face brings back that Hendrix fuzz tone that helped shape the history of the electric guitar. It works only with a 9 V battery and provides that characteristic and legendary fuzz sound present in so much of Jimi’s body of work. It’s a solidly built unit that can easily take a few knocks and still keep on going.
A pedal for all your fuzz needs, from vintage to modern, the FZ-1W does it all.
This pedal lets you have the best of both worlds. Here you can dial in fuzz tones that are current and reflect the present. At the same time, this pedal also allows you to go back in time and dial some classic fuzz tones. In other words, you get a Boss Waza Craft quality with a full scope of fuzz sounds.
The Boss FZ-1W Waza Craft Fuzz is a versatile pedal that covers a wide array of fuzz tones. Boss released the Waza Craft series back in 2014 and it has proven quite popular among guitarists. This series keeps on growing with newer models that are built in Japan with high attention to detail. Waza Craft pedals are considered premium models with high-quality components while at the same time offering the original sound and vibe of the originals.
Handling this pedal was a welcomed sight, as it features that classic Boss stompbox design. All of the three knobs (Level, Tone, and Fuzz) feel sturdy, much like the pedal itself. There is also a small switch that lets you choose between Modern and Vintage modes.
We plugged in and went straight for the Modern mode. Here we got a nice fuzz tone that was bright and articulate, with a substantial dose of gain. Truth be told, we spend quite a bit of time jamming in this mode, as the growl and tone hit that sweet spot of fuzz power and control.
Moving on to the Vintage setting, we got straight-up classic fuzz tones reminiscent of the sound of the 60s. Think Keith Richards on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” type of fuzz sound. Naturally, it was also nice to play through some classic tones with this less in-your-face fuzz tone.
Verdict: The Boss FZ-1W Waza Craft Fuzz can handle all of your fuzz needs with ease. This pedal is built like a tank and although it’s a more expensive pedal, it‘s one that will stand the test of time; something that has made the Waza Craft series so popular. In short, it was a a versatile and great-sounding fuzz pedal that we’d gladly include in our own rigs.
An out-of-the-box fuzz pedal that can quickly take you from modern to experimental.
This pedal is simple to use, compact and durable. In true EarthQuaker Devices fashion, you can go into uncharted territory with this fuzz pedal. If you are looking for something off the beaten path but that can also give you modern fuzz, this pedal is a good choice.
The EarthQuaker Devices Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainar pedal is based on the tonal textures from guitarist Wata of the Japanese experimental rock trio Boris. It’s based on the Elk BM Sustainar pedal from the ’70s, a favorite of Wata.
EarthQuaker Devices makes some of the most unique-sounding pedals, so we were quite excited to plug in the Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainar. We started with all the knobs (volume, Sustain and Tone) at about 11 and played through a few riffs.
The sound had a healthy dose of rich saturation with a gritty edge, ideal for heavy riffing and great sustain on single lines. Turning the tone control a bit more counter clockwise, the sound we got had a massive bottom end, but it was still clear and dynamic.
We then started to explore by turning the sustain knob clockwise while keeping the Volume and Tone the same. Here we got a dark and gloomy sound, ideal for developing some heavy riff ideas as well as going into uncharted sonic territory.
Our biggest gripe with this pedal was the graphic design on the top. It masked the labels for each of the knobs, which made it quite difficult to see which control we were adjusting at a glance. This might pose challenges on stage or in poorly lit conditions especially.
During all of our playing the sound was excellent, with great sustain and bite at every lick or riff. Even complex chords maintained incredible note separation for clarity in any situation.
Verdict: This pedal is specially designed for those that are passionate about discovering new sounds and textures. Although simple, the Hizumitas Fuzz Sustainar made it easy to experiment and come up with our own unique fuzz tones. It’s a very well made pedal, with metal housing and a metal chassis ensuring that it will survive even the roughest handling.
Gnarly and compressed fuzz on a pedal that packs a punch.
This fuzz pedal provides the best of two worlds: loads of dirty fuzz and unforgiving darkness, as well as a more restrained sound with a proper amount of headroom. Based on the principle of variable voltage and with the addition of a bit of tweaking to a vintage circuit design, this pedal is a complete fuzz solution for the modern guitarist.
The MXR Super Badass Variac Fuzz comes with the company’s characteristic vibe, simple design, and superb sound. With a four-knob design that includes a Variac voltage control, this pedal is as sturdy and well built as it can be.
We plugged in and started playing some metal-inspired lines and one thing became very clear: this pedal is loud.
We started our tests with the Variac knob dialed counterclockwise to check out the low gain modes beginning with 5 V. Even here the low-voltage distortion stayed loud, emphatic, and wide. We played some riffs and really enjoyed how the pedal responded. The fuzz is definitely edgy with the analog flavor that so many guitarists prefer.
We then kept moving the Variak knob clockwise, until reaching 15 V. The tone had more definition and sounded clearer with higher voltages, as it had more headroom. It was quite fun to play riffs and a few double stops, and notice the greater note separation and overall clarity, even with aggressive fuzz dialed in via the Gain knob.
This pedal has a fantastic dynamic response, and that stayed true at all voltages we played through. Naturally, you want your pedal to be as responsive as possible, as this makes your playing a lot more expressive.
Another great feature of this pedal is that the Tone control does not boost the low end. Similar to Fender’s Greasebucket circuitry, MXR designed this pedal to add or remove higher frequencies when turning the Tone knob. This also aids with clarity, and it was quite fun to hear precisely what we were playing at all times.
Verdict: The MXR Super Badass is one of the most versatile fuzz pedals in the market today, especially at this price range. It is capable of giving you a clean sound with a bit of edge as well as a straight-up grungy gnarl, and anything in-between in an easy-to-use and durable pedal.
A versatile fuzz pedal with active 2-band EQ for maximum control.
This pedal features a larger form factor than your typical stompbox to fit its five retro-style knobs. In typical Keeley fashion, this unit offers superior control over your sound but retains a simplicity to its design.
The Keeley Fuzz Bender 3 Transistor Hybrid Fuzz was designed by one of the most reputable names in guitar pedals: Mr. Robert Keeley. This pedal was designed with five knobs. Level and Fuzz are bigger and located at the top, and right below we have Bass, Bias, and Trebble for controlling your 2-band EQ.
We started our tests with the bias knob dialed counterclockwise while keeping the other four knobs at noon. We played riff after riff with an aggressive in-your-face fuzz tone with great definition. Right off the bat, we could tell that this pedal was not only versatile but great-sounding.
We then turned the bias knob clockwise for more of a voltage-starved tone that matched quite well with our bridge pickup. The more we rotated the Bias knob clockwise, the more gnarly and aggressive our sound got. Although past 3 o clock, it did start sounding a little muddy.
We kept playing through some power chords and single lines while adjusting the Fuzz knob at different levels. From moderate Fuzz to spice up a riff, all the way to nasty levels of gnarl, our sound remained focused and balanced.
Although the Bias and Fuzz knobs certainly have a massive influence on the sound of this pedal, it is the 2-band EQ that sets the Fuzz Bender apart. This is because most fuzz pedals do not have three separate knobs dedicated to shaping your tone via EQ. This is especially true at this price point and with this level of quality.
The Keeley Fuzz Bender 3 Transistor Hybrid Fuzz offers you +/- 20 dB at 100 Hz and 10 kHz. Adding +20 dB at 100 Hz (Bass knob), we got a massive sound that filled up the room.
On the other hand, by turning the 10 kHz (Trebble knob), we gradually approached an octave effect. Here, our sound exhibited some squeals that are great for when you want to get really close to the edge.
Verdict: This Keely pedal is a versatile fuzz unit that is based around the combination of an EQ circuit as well as powerful gain staging. You can go from traditional and modern fuzz sounds to full-on experimental with the turn of a single knob. Simply said, a fantastic pedal at a good price.
How to choose the best fuzz pedal for you
It is no secret that fuzz pedals provide a sound that can be considered more aggressive than distortion. Instead of saturating your tone with gain, as a typical distortion pedal, fuzz units use excessive clipping.
These tools transform the sound of the guitar by adding square-wave clipping, which is basically extreme clipping.
This has appealed to guitarists for decades, as fuzz basically provides a completely new sound that is gnarly and can be used in a variety of situations. Simply said, a fuzz sound is not subtle, even when set at conservative levels.
It is also important to note that although fuzz is used predominantly among guitar players, it is also a relatively common effect for other instruments. For instance, St. Vincent is known for her use of fuzz on keyboards, vocals, and naturally, guitar.
A common point of interest for a guitarist is whether a Fuzz pedal operates with germanium or silicon transistors. Just like with many things guitar-related, this topic is often intensely debated. As you’d expect, germanium vs silicon transistors is totally subjective and comes down to your personal choice. Below, we give you the basics of these two options.
The first fuzz pedals relied on germanium transistors, which is why they are popular with guitarists that favor vintage gear and have that sense of nostalgia for what once was.
Germanium-based fuzz offers a warmer and rounder sound with a strong mid-range. They are known to be more responsive to your dynamics and playing technique.
Their tone is reminiscent of the ’60s and even ’70s but has managed to remain somewhat popular to this day.
As with most vintage gear, there are a few negative aspects of working with germanium transistors. For instance, they tend to react to temperature changes and therefore have their sound changed. This translates to the pedal behaving differently under the sun of an outside sunny gig at noon, to playing an outside gig in the winter.
Additionally, germanium-based fuzz pedals tend to store electrical charges. This can turn into a lack of consistency in the sound, as they can vary on a day-to-day basis.
Silicon transistors came to be a practical alternative to germanium. Fuzz units that feature a silicon transistor typically offer more consistency of tone and overall reliability.
On top of that, they are easier to produce and less expensive. As far as tone, silicon-based fuzz units feature a brighter sound with a more pronounced top-end. This feature can be of great help when you are trying to cut through a busy mix, especially in live situations.
The germanium vs silicon debate is not going away any time soon. Think of it as a vintage Strat vs modern S-style guitar. In truth, there are no right or wrong answers. It all depends on what you like, what your preference is, and what you are looking for as a player.
Final thoughts on the Best Fuzz Pedals
Fuzz pedals come in all shapes and sizes and offer different options for different people. A Rolling Stones’ type fuzz may not be appropriate for an experimental gig today, and vice versa, hence the need for options.
That said, some pedals do offer versatility and are capable of handling both situations.
Developing your own criteria is paramount here, so take the time to play through some fuzz pedals, and discover what works for you.
To recap our thoughts, if you’re looking for a fuzz pedal that offers quality, versatility, and durability, consider the Electro Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff Pi, our top pick. On the other hand, if you are short on cash but want a functional fuzz pedal, our best budget option is the Behringer SF300 Super Fuzz. Finally, if you want some of that Jimi Hendrix tone and mojo, our editor’s choice is the Dunlop JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face.