The late 60′s was arguably the golden age of the fuzz. After the success of the Gibson Maestro Fuzz Tone and Sola Sound Tone Bender, fuzz pedals became all the rave. Vox, Marshall, and Rotosound all released variations of fuzz pedals, and of course, the Arbiter Fuzz Face needs no introduction. Even music stores started getting in on the action by releasing their own exclusive fuzz pedals. One of the noteworthy pedals of the day is the Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx.
The Fuzzz Boxx is essentially a variation of popular fuzz circuits with modifications made by Sam Ash’s in-house “repairman”. Sam Ash Music Stores released the Fuzzz Boxx to one-up their competitor, Manny’s Music (whom they eventually purchased in 1999), with a pedal that Manny’s couldn’t sell. But thanks to the Fuzzz Boxx’s rugged, stage-ready design and groovy looks and sounds, Sam Ash had a hit on their hands.
With many classic pedal collectors paying upwards around $500 for an original Fuzzz Boxx, Sam Ash finally heeded the call and released a replica of “old red” to the EXACT specs of the original pedal. To do this Sam Ash sought the expertise of the folks at Jim Dunlop who shared their passion for getting the pedal just right. Everything from the internal components to the casing down to the knobs (which had to be recreated to achieve the original look) were painstakingly obsessed over to get this pedal right.
Reviewing this pedal requires a few things to be kept in mind. The Fuzzz Boxx has been made to the exact specifications of the original which carries benefits as well as a few points of concern for the modern player. The pedal has no power LED or AC adapter powering options. It must be powered with a standard 9-volt battery. And the input and output jacks are reversed from modern pedals. Of course, this dedication to recreating the Fuzzz Boxx perfectly to the classic specs also means that the pedal should provide more vintage fuzz tone than just about anything else around. Is this the best vintage reissue fuzz pedal. You’ll find out in our Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx review.
Recreated to the exact specs of the original Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx.
Attack control knob dials in the amount of fuzz distortion.
Tone control knob shapes the EQ of the fuzz sound.
Volume control adds up to 42dB of volume boost.
True Bypass switching allows signal to pass unaffected when disengaged.
Powered by 9-volt battery.
Visit Sam Ash for more info about the Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx.
Sound & Performance:
I plugged the Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxxx into a flat, clean amp and grabbed my trusty Strat. With the knobs dialed in at noon I activated the pedal.
The Fuzzz Boxx delivers an instant jolt to the midrange for a sound that pops out of the mix. While not too dirty at a 12 o’clock Attack setting, there’s still plenty of grit to add some bite to your tone. The Fuzzz Boxx has a sound that is undeniably “classic” and certainly captures the vibe of vintage fuzz pedals of the late 60′s.
While keeping the Attack low lets you add some great midrange boost to your clean tones, the Fuzzz Boxx gets a bit more interesting when you start cranking the knob past noon. At Attack settings around 3 o’clock the Fuzzz Boxx opens up a bit for more cutting lead tones that still retain definition and clarity. The pedal also responds differently depending on what combination of pickups you use, so definitely try experimenting with various settings. There are some interesting tones to be found in this pedal that were lost until Sam Ash and Dunlop created this reissue.
Maxing out the Attack brings in more saturation for a full-on vintage fuzz sound that recalls the glory days of psychedelic fuzz. My favorite aspect of this pedal is how the Tone control shapes the sound at high Attack levels. With a maxed out Attack setting, the Tone knob creates a really prominent filter-like sweep at clockwise settings past noon, letting the Fuzzz Boxx produce some really interesting tones that are quite unlike most traditional fuzz pedals. While this pedal may seem like a novelty at first glance, the Fuzzz Boxx produces some surprisingly cool tones that are definitely worth exploring.
It’s really important to understand where Sam Ash and Dunlop were coming from when creating this pedal to fully understand it. There are a few design features that may seem like faults. (No LED? No AC Power option? Reversed In/Out jacks?) But that’s part of the charm of this pedal. It’s a throwback to pedals of yesteryear and is a true labor of love on behalf of Sam Ash and Dunlop.
The first time around Sam Ash made the Fuzzz Boxx simply to have a product to sell that would give them an edge over the competition. Who would have thought that the Fuzzz Boxx would have a great sound of its own and become a sought-after collector’s item? Sam Ash and Dunlop could have easily made the conventional tweaks modern guitarists expect, but then it wouldn’t be the original Fuzzz Boxx. While I can see a few DIY stompbox tinkerers drilling a couple holes for an LED light and power jack and reversing the In/Out Jacks, this pedal is primiarily for those who will appreciate the Fuzzz Boxx’s old-school charm. It’ll certainly be a cool treat for fuzz collectors or a gift for dad who probably remembers playing “old red” back in the day. And the Fuzzz boxx’s classic tones may even win over some contemporary guitarists as well.
Let’s see the final result.
The Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx is a superb recreation of the classic fuzz stompbox of the late 60′s. Sam Ash and Dunlop really put in the time to make this pedal as authentic as possible to the classic Fuzzz Boxx specs. If you have a taste for classic fuzz and appreciate the old-school design sensibilities of the original fuzz pedals of the 60′s, the Fuzzz Boxx will be a great addition to your collection. It even pulls off some cool filtered fuzz tones that are unique to this pedal. If it’s the fuzz you always wanted or the one you used to have, you can have it now just like you remember it. The Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx is one of the best vintage reissue fuzz pedals around and carries on the legacy of the original.
That concludes our Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx review. Thanks for reading.