While there is certainly no shortage of great fuzz pedals out there, a few of which have come to define some of the great sounds of fuzz, there are still many newer fuzz pedals that strive to improve on the classic designs and carve out new sounds entirely. The Empress Fuzz seems to be one of those pedals that offers subtle improvements in design over many of its predecessors while delivering an improved response for a classic, yet modern fuzz pedal.
This pedal caught my attention as it comes from the Canadian pedal gurus over at Empress Effects, makers of such esteemed guitar pedals as the Empress Vintage Modified Superdelay and Empress Heavy. The boutique pedal peddlers from up north have a great talent for packing pedals with plenty of useful functionality while keeping them user-friendly and pretty straightforward to use. The Empress Fuzz looks like it might be another solid release, and I’m guessing there’s more than meets the eye in its simplistic design. Is the Empress Fuzz the best guitar fuzz pedal out there? We’ll help you find the answer in our Empress Effects Fuzz review. But first let’s run down the features of this pedal before we dive in.
All-analog signal path.
Classic fuzz tones with lots of gain and smooth, rich sustain.
Gain control knob for adjusting fuzz distortion level.
Output control knob for setting overall volume level.
Treble control knob for attenuating high frequencies starting around 3 kHz, offering 10 dB of boost and cut.
Bass control knob for attenuating low frequencies starting around 150 Hz, offering 10 dB of boost and cut.
True Bypass footswitch for letting your signal pass unaffected when the pedal is disengaged.
Powered by 9VDC power adapter, 30mA or greater.
Sound & Performance:
I always love plugging into a great fuzz pedal. I put the Empress Fuzz in my chain between am American Stratocaster and a flat, clean amp setting. With the knobs set at noon to start, I activated the pedal.
With the knobs at 12 o’clock, the Empress Fuzz produces a full-sounding distortion tone that’s tight and punchy with plenty of dynamic response to your playing. Try picking lightly or rolling back the volume knob to hear how expressive this pedal is. At moderate Gain settings the distortion isn’t too fuzzy, lending a great distortion sound to your tone that rewards articulate playing and full-on rock chord rhythms.
Cutting back the Gain makes the Empress Fuzz behave more like an overdrive, producing a pleasantly surprising amount of warmth and slightly gritty boost for biting lead tones. It’s already apparent that this pedal packs in a lot of versatility. You can tame the Empress Fuzz with the dynamics of your playing and dig in to really let loose some biting tones.
I had to go ahead and crank the gain towards 9 o’clock to see what this pedal could do. Chords and riffs sound absolutely massive, and the pedal starts to really sing with even more bite and sustain all the while maintaining its responsiveness and not becoming overly muddy or saturated.
And the Empress Fuzz maintains its impeccable playability all the way to the highest Gain settings. With the Gain knob maxed out, the Empress Fuzz will treat you to a singing fuzz with loads of sustain.
I started to realize then which pedal the Empress Fuzz reminds me off. It has a decidedly “RAT-ty” style tone that offers a bit more variation thanks to the Empress Fuzz’s tone controls.
The Bass and Treble controls offer the means to finely tune the Empress Fuzz to your needs moreso than your typical single tone knob controlled fuzz pedal. Rolling up the Bass knob delivers massive low-end, while pushing the Treble will produce searing lead tones. I actually really like how the Empress Fuzz sounds when you roll back the Bass and Treble quite a bit and push up the Output for a thick mid-boost. Try this for some lead tones that’ll really jump out in a crowded mix.
Don’t be fooled the simple styling of this pedal. The no-nonsense design hides a serious fuzz within that should definitely be approached with caution. Let’s see the final result.
The Empress Effects Fuzz offers an incredibly wide range of tones and uses in its humble enclosure. This pedal will deliver overdriven grit, mid-gain rock distortion, and searing fuzz lead tones with ease. It’s an exceptional pedal for anyone looking for a great fuzz with minimal fuss. On your quest for the best guitar fuzz pedal, give the Empress Effects Fuzz an audition as it just might be everything you’re looking for in a great fuzz.
That concludes our Empress Effects Fuzz review. Thanks for reading.
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