Welcome to the Best Guitar Effects roundup of the Top 25 Best Fuzz Pedals of 2016!
The theme of this article is to chronicle the very best fuzz distortion pedals available today. This article doesn’t cater to the brand name printed on the pedal. It’s only here if it’s good, and these are the fuzz pedals that stand out as a cut above the rest in an over-saturated market (pun not intended).
As with our delay pedal, compressor pedal, and synth pedal “Best of” articles, in this list you’ll find a few familiar pedals from bigger name companies, some underground entries from companies you may have never heard of, and some wild and obscure stompboxes that push the creative boundaries of what’s possible in a fuzz pedal.
These fuzz pedals all have one thing in common: they meet our highest standards for sound quality, design, and playability. These fuzz pedals are, IOHO, the best of the best.
This isn’t a typical fuzz pedal shootout. The pedals aren’t listed in any particular order (although I’ve made room for some of my personal favorites towards the top). All of these pedals are great in their own unique ways. Of course, a good fuzz is a very subjective thing and taste varies greatly. What one guitarist thinks is a great fuzz pedal, someone else may think is terrible.
One thing is certain – if you’re looking for your next fuzz pedal, there is definitely something on this list that is right for you. Whether it’s traditional classic fuzz, modern variations, or something offering otherworldly fuzz insanity, you’ll find it all here in our Top 25 Best Fuzz Pedals of 2016.
Important Note: This list is an ongoing work in progress. If your favorite fuzz pedal isn’t listed here, let us know in the comments. We’re going to update this list periodically whenever we come across a fuzz pedal that deserves inclusion, so check back to see which new fuzz pedals make our definitive list.
We also thought it would be a good idea to put all the pedals on one page instead of making you refresh the page over and over. We hope this makes viewing this list more enjoyable. Just scroll away to your fuzzy little heart’s content. Thanks for supporting what we do at Best Guitar Effects.
Now without further ado, here are the top 25 best fuzz pedals of 2016.
The original Fuzz Factory is now over 20 years old and is still going strong. It’s one of the all-time best fuzz pedals. The Fat Fuzz Factory improved on the design with a 3-way toggle switch for even more low-end heavy fuzz tones. The ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 is the pinnacle of the iconic boutique designer’s fuzz explorations. The FF7 offers even more fuzz variety thanks to its 9-position “Fat” knob that lets you take the fuzz into extreme sub oscillating territory or up into really thin and brighter textures when turned clockwise from noon. All the other controls from the Fuzz Factory are present as well. There’s also a new Tone knob with an accompanying foot-switch to let you roll off the high-end if you want to tame the brightness a bit. The window on the pedal also reveals the 2 ultra rare 1956 Amperex black glass germanium transistors responsible for this pedal’s epic fuzz tones. Once those transistors are gone so too will be the Fuzz Factory 7, so get this coveted ZVex classic while there’s still some left out there.
When Dwarfcraft Devices acquired the Devi Ever FX brand a few years ago, the “Silver Rose” was a pedal concept that came along with those assets. Without the schematic for the original pedal to build from, Dwarftcraft set out to design an entirely new pedal inspired by the original Silver Rose. Thus the Dwarfcraft Devices Silver Rose V2 was born, arguably the best pedal to come from that merger.
The Silver Rose V2 starts with a variation of Dwarfcraft’s Eu Clair Thunder fuzz, a Big Muff inspired fuzz of doom, destruction, and other sonic terror. Then they added a Super Fuzz inspired fuzz of chaos, mayhem, and explosive fuzzy death. These 2 fuzzes can be used separately or together. One foot-switch activates this monstrosity. Oh, and there’s an EQ section with Treble & Bass controls. The Super side also has an extreme Mids scooping switch. The EC Fuzz side lets you make the fuzz more intense with the Warp switch and cut the Tone knob out for a full-range fuzz sound. Bassists will appreciate the Clean knob for blending in your dry signal, and there’s a Clean Out for splitting the signal to 2 amps. One thing to note: due to the intensity of this pedal’s fuzz, it has a high noise floor. The Silver Rose V2 is best for situations where you want to pummel your audience with loud and extreme fuzz. You’ve been warned.
While we’re on the subject of extreme fuzz pedals with an insanely wide range of available tones, I must mention the Death By Audio Apocalypse. This pedal offers everything from mild overdrives to absolutely crushing fuzz tones with some octave fuzz thrown in to boot. The 5-way position switch and Sweepable Frequency Equalizer let you dial in a fuzz sound for nearly any occasion. Try using it in conjunction with another distortion or fuzz pedal for some twisted EQ sculpting possibilities and stacked fuzz overload. As long as Death By Audio keeps this pedal in production, it’ll most likely always be one of the best fuzz pedals around.
And here’s another long time favorite that I seem to like even more over time. The SolidGold FX Formula 76 draws inspiration from classic 70’s fuzz pedals including the Univox Super Fuzz and Ibanez Standard Fuzz, adding additional tone-shaping flexibility for the ultimate vintage/modern octave-up fuzz pedal. Controls for Compression and Tone let you tweak the ultimate “Super Fuzz” style sounds while the Tone foot-switch offers a radical top and bottom focused EQ shift for massive fuzz mayhem. This pedal is a nasty, hot-rodded “Super Fuzz” for modern guitarists who want to unleash a savage onslaught of fuzz.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors The Haunt
This pedal blew my mind when I first tried it. I just happened to get my hands on the Old Blood Noise Endeavors The Haunt at just the right time to fall in love with it. Within 5 minutes of playing I decided to record a demo video of just exploring the pedal. That’s never happened before, and it’s a testament to how instantly inspiring this pedal can be. The Haunt is a silicon transistor based fuzz. It offers 2 clipping variations for changing the response and feel of the pedal. It also has a Gate control to get those sputtery chopped tones. This is a damn cool fuzz pedal, and more guitarists need to try it. Seriously, buy one, or go play a friend’s. The whole vibe of this brand is another reminder of why we’re in the golden age of guitar pedals right now. The OBNE Haunt fuzz rocks.
Rainger FX Dr. Freakenstein’s Dwarf Bitch
You want a crazy fuzz pedal? You’ve got it! We originally featured the awesome Rainger FX Dr Freakenstein Fuzz DrFF-3 (and Igor) on our best fuzz pedals list a couple years ago. Since then the London based builder shrunk down the lurching fuzz pedal into a couple minuscule variations: the Dr. Freakenstein’s Dwarf & Dr. Freakenstein’s Dwarf Bitch. The Bitch is the one of get if you can spare the extra quid as it does everything the regular Dwarf does, but it also has a little trimmer on the bottom that lets you make “bleepy & bloopy” synth/trem sounds. The included Igor pressure sensitive foot-pad lets you control the frequency oscillation in realtime. The Igor input jack even works with CV control. (I tried it. It’s nuts.) It’s also neat that Rainger FX made a custom mini enclosure with top-mounted backs, so there’s no excuse not to squeeze a little extra Bitchin’ fuzz on your pedalboard.
EarthQuaker Devices Spires
The EarthQuaker Devices Spires is one of the many rad new pedals that the Ohio based builder unveiled at Winter NAMM 2016. It’s a 2-in-1 fuzz pedal that reproduces the sounds of a rare pedal called the Rosac Nu Fuzz. It also incorporates a silicon version of EQD’s discontinued Dream Crusher fuzz pedal. The Red fuzz (Dream Crusher) is a bit smoother and more refined and has a Fuzz knob to adjust overall distortion level. The Green fuzz (Rosac Nu Fuzz) is aggressive, slightly splattery, and surprisingly focused in its delivery. The 2 fuzzes pair very well, making this an incredibly versatile pedal and one of the best fuzz pedals in the EarthQuaker Devices lineup.
Dr. Scientist BitQuest
Okay, the Dr. Scientist BitQuest is way more than a fuzz pedal. It’s a multi-effects pedal with Clean & Fuzz modes. I imagine most guitarists will get this people for the Clean mode as this lets you stack the digital effects with any distortion or fuzz pedal you want, and the Gain knob becomes an extra parameter control for each effect in Clean mode. But let’s talk about the BitQuest’s Fuzz mode as it’s quite special.
Fuzz mode turns the BitQuest into a fuzz pedal with Gain, Tone, Vol, & Mix controls. At lower Fuzz settings, you get lighter overdrive & distortion tones. Crank the Fuzz, and it becomes a raging fuzz monster. A digital gate keeps it from get too unruly. The dial on the top left lets you choose from 8 different digital effects to process the fuzz. My favorites are the Filter (with High & Low Pass controls), Notch Filter, Bit Crusher, Ring Mod, and Flange. The Flange will let you freeze the LFO in its sweep for cool comb filtering effects. There are also Pitch Shifter, Delay, & Reverb modes to play with. Basically, the BitQuest gives you a wide range of interesting fuzz textures unlike any pedal you’ve ever heard. I never expected this pedal to make the list, but the Fuzz mode has a massive amount of cool sounds to be explored by those willing to take on this quest.
Keeley Electronics Psi Fuzz
The EHX Big Muff is one of the most copied and cloned pedals out there and has inspired countless variations and interpretations. Of all the Muff-inspired pedals I’ve played the Keeley Electronics Psi Fuzz is my personal favorite 3-knob Muff inspired pedal. It’s an op-amp style Muff, but don’t mistake it for just another late 70’s Muff clone. Robert & Co. went in and messed around with just about every aspect of the classic circuit. This thing has a low noise IC, a germanium diode, and 2 LEDs in the 3rd gain stage (with one LED popping through the surface of the pedal that illuminates while you play). The Psi Fuzz has a tight, full, and focused sound, and Voice (Tone) knob lets you contour the texture to your liking. It’s great for rhythm and leads, about as close to a best-of-all-worlds Muff as you could possibly get in a single 3-knob design. Sometimes having a bunch of knobs and features is fun. Sometimes you just want a fuzz pedal that nails that exact sound you’re looking for.
Dwarfcraft Devices Necromancer
I’ve already told you how awesome the Silver Rose V2 is. The Dwarfcraft Devices Necromancer takes the Super side of the SRV2 and expands it in its own pedal. You get the same Volume, Bias, & Gain knobs along with the Mids switch. The Necromancer even brings along the Silver Rose V2’s switchable EQ section while adding an extra Mids band that is voiced right at the point where the Mids switch scoop takes place. This lets you apply a more subtle or extreme scoop depending on what you’re going for. You can even boost the mid-range, too. This pedal is a beast. Also, it has a lower noise level than the Silver Rose V2 since you’re not dealing with 2 fuzz circuits in tandem. That makes the Necromancer especially appealing if you’re looking for some Super Fuzz flavor to add to your pedalboard.
Red Witch Zeus Bass Fuzz Suboctave
Some bass fuzz pedals work exceptionally well with guitar. Here’s a good one. The Red Witch Zeus Bass Fuzz Suboctave takes the silicon based Fuzz God II to new lower extremes. The Zeus can invoke classic overdriven fuzz tones with a sound that’s thick and growly. Boost the gain with the Lightening Bolt toggle to rain down on your audience with storms of fuzz fury and smite those who would dare question your omnipotence. Flip the Ear toggle to brighten the sound more like a guitar fuzz and make the unworthy tremble in fear. The extra foot-switch activates an analog monophonic suboctave which gives the Zeus more pedalboard utility and earthshaking low-end rumble. Rule from Mount Olympus with the aid of the Zeus and issue forth fuzz mayhem upon your holy kingdom.
Keeley Electronics Monterey Rotary Fuzz Vibe
The Keeley Electronics Monterey Rotary Fuzz Vibe offers a whole collection of effects that’ll take you from Hendrix to new sonic frontiers. It starts with a classic fuzz based around vintage Fairchild Semiconductor transistors which are less prone to the temperature related problems associated with germanium transistors. The Mod section lets you add rotary, vibe, or wah effects to your fuzz sound. (The Mod effects can also be used independently.) The Wah setting is of particular interest in that it can do parked/cocked wah sounds, auto-wah, a unique tremolo wah effect, and traditional wah style sounds when you plug in an expression pedal. When the Mod section is engaged you can also turn the Octave knob to the left or right of noon to bring in a digital -1 or +1 octave tone. This pedal is a seriously fun playground of tone for Hendrix fans or any fuzz lover seeking some extra sounds to go along with their fuzz.
EWS Little Fuzzy Drive
The EWS Little Fuzzy Drive is a fuzz from the Japan-based sister company of acclaimed guitar pedal builder Xotic Effects. This is another vintage sounding fuzz pedal that has modern advancements for guitarists of today. A Tone knob adjusts the treble frequencies and overall sound. A toggle switch selects between Fuzzy Drive & Fat Fuzzy modes. The former is a tighter sound fuzz sound with the latter being looser and a bit higher in gain. The pedal is sensitive to dynamics, so it cleans up with lighter picking or when reducing the guitar’s volume knob. It’s a great compact fuzz pedal when some old school retro fuzz is called for.
It was the original Pharaoh Fuzz pedal that inspired me to create a best fuzz pedal list, and the Black Arts Toneworks Pharaoh Supreme is the heir to the Pharaoh’s throne. The original Pharaoh Fuzz is still a beastly fuzz pedal, well-known for it’s 3 selectable clipping variations (Asymmetrical Germanium, Silicon, & no clipping) and thick, mid-heavy tones. The Pharaoh Supreme takes the Pharaoh concept to the next level with 3 additional clipping modes (Symmetrical Germanium, JFET, & LED), and a variable Pre control for attenuating your tone at the input stage. Of the 6 available clipping modes, the new JFET & LED options happen to be my personal favorites, making the Pharaoh Supreme my indispensable fuzz overlord. While you can use the Pharaoh Supreme on its own for some massive fuzz sounds, it stacks well in front of a dirty amp or your favorite overdrive/distortion pedal. It’s a great doomy fuzz for sludging out heavily saturated guitar riffage.
The original Fuzz Factory was released 2 decades ago, and its reputation and popularity have been growing ever since. Matt Bellamy from Muse even had one built into his guitar! And while the original Fuzz Factory has remained in production and become a modern classic, Zachary Vex decided to outdo himself and release the ZVex Fat Fuzz Factory. The Fat Fuzz Factory offers all of the original functionality and tones of the original Fuzz Factory with the addition of the 3-way toggle switch that lets you choose between 2 sub-oscillation modes for even “fatter” fuzz sounds. It’s awesome. Really awesome. If you already have an original Fuzz Factory, an upgrade is well-worth considering as this pedal has even more massive fuzz potential. Once you hear the difference, you’ll be sold.
The Big Muff Pi has been a classic fuzz/distortion pedal for over 40 years. It’s been made in countless variations over the years and has produced many spin-off pedals bearing the “Muff” name and hordes of imitators and clones. The Electro Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Pi is one of the best out there. It features the awesome sounds of the original NYC Big Muff Pi but with several unique features. It has a Gate function for killing the background noise. An Attack knob lets you sharpen the initial pick attack, making up for the dulled pick sound Muff style fuzzes are often plagued by. A Bass Boost switch beefs up the low-end. The coolest feature is the foot-switchable Mids section with gives you a dedicated Mids Level knob, Freq control, and High/Low Q switch. You can even plug in an expression pedal or use CV control to control the mids like a crazy frequency sweeping wah effect. Lots of fun. The only thing missing is the Tone bypass switch from the Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker, but this is still my personal favorite EHX Big Muff fuzz pedal. It might become yours, too.
The EarthQuaker Devices Fuzz Master General is a reinterpretation of the old Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-2, an octave fuzz that’s similar to a Super Fuzz. The FMG has a wide range of fuzz tones from cleanish and mild to full-blown fuzzy chaos. The Voice switch selects between silicon, germanium, and no clipping. The Tone knob darkens and scoops the sound when turned clockwise, while brightening and opening up the sound when turned counter-clockwise. This pedal has killer octave up tones and can do cool ring mod like effects when hitting 2 notes together in upper registers on the neck. A very rad fuzz pedal that offers more proof as to why EarthQuaker Devices has become one of the biggest names in fuzz in recent years.
ScreaminFX 1954 Fuzz
The ScreaminFX 1954 Fuzz is a vintage flavored silicon fuzz. It evokes the sound of late 60’s fuzzes but has a sound and feel unique to this pedal. It sounds surprisingly stable and smooth and rewards more articulate and expressive playing. It has excellent cleanup when you cut your guitar’s volume knob; with the Fuzz knob maxed it’ll back off into a great overdriven fuzz sound. The Tone knob lets you tame any treble bite you might hear with brighter pickups. It also has a wah friendly buffer switch that helps it play well with other pedals in your signal chain. And you gotta dig the clear plate (that’s also RF grounded) which lets you see all the internally LED lit components on the cleanly arranged PCB inside.
The El Rey Effects Mystic Ouija Fuzz is an affordably priced fuzz pedal that covers a wide range of overdrive, distortion, and fuzz tones. At higher gain levels this pedal produces great hybrid fuzz/distortion sounds that give the Mystic Ouija Fuzz its own unique voice. A 3-way clipping adjustment switch gives you choices of asymmetrical diode clipping, symmetrical diode clipping, and asymmetrical LED clipping. Furthermore, the wide-sweeping tone control offers a simple and effective way to tweak the voicing of the pedal to your liking. Feeling superstitious? Consult the oracle of fuzzy overdrive with the Mystic Ouija Fuzz by El Rey Effects.
The SolidGold FX If 6 Was 9 BC183CC is a fine example of vintage fuzz tone meets modern design pulled off exceptionally well. With its Hendrix-inspired name, you should already have an idea of what you’re getting with this pedal. New old stock BC183 Silicon transistors and vintage spec carbon comp resistors set the foundation while an external Bias control and Tone switch let you sculpt the tone and response of this pedal to your liking. The If 6 Was 9 covers the full range of vintage Silicon fuzz sounds and even cleans up when you roll back your guitar’s volume knob, making it a remarkably versatile and dynamic fuzz pedal. SolidGoldFX will only have the If 6 Was 9 around for a limited time as those NOS BC183 transistors are quite scarce, so get it while you can.
I absolutely love the Walrus Audio Janus. It’s a marvel of concept, creativity, and successful execution of a radical design concept. It offers exceptionally good fuzz tones with an equally great tremolo thrown in for good measure while using 2 joysticks to control parameters of each effect. While fuzz and tremolo may seem like an unlikely pairing in a single pedal, they work surprisingly well in the Janus. This pedal is great for studio work or real-time, live sound mangling as you can control the joysticks with your foot while standing. Don’t worry, if you want to use the effects in a more traditional context, you can set the joysticks and leave them in position if you’d like. However you use it, you must admit that the Walrus Audio Janus is one hell of a creatively engineered fuzz pedal. It’s this kind of forward-thinking instrument design that inspires the most adventurous musicians to break new ground themselves.
The EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Reaper Octave Fuzz takes two of their best fuzz pedals, the Hoof and Tone Reaper, respectively, and combines them into one pedal with a great Octave Up function thrown in. It’s basically like a green Russian Muff meets a Tone Bender with Octavia thrown in. Crazy stuff. This is one of the most widely varied tone-sculpting fuzzes out there and is a staple on this list. Both the Tone Reaper and Hoof are exceptional fuzz pedals in their own right, and to have them both in one pedal produces an unbelievable amount of textural variety. This really is a fuzz pedal that does it all. EarthQuaker Devices have garnered a reputation in recent years for making some of the most cutting-edge and great sounding pedals around, and they’re one of the modern master builders of fuzz pedals. Once you play the Hoof Reaper, you’ll understand why.
The Dr. Scientist Frazz Dazzler is a high-end boutique fuzz pedal that is hand-made using components of uncompromising quality. Its quirky design includes some features that make this pedal another unique entry on the list, the most notable being its Mix function that may also be controlled via external expression pedal. Guitarists and bassists alike will appreciate how this allows the Frazz Dazzler to add some extra definition to your fuzz tones. The Sizzle knob and internal Bass trim pot will let you further define your sound, and a Gain switch will kick the fuzz up a notch with some splatty flair. This fuzzy little robot is the kind of guitar pedal (works with bass, too!) that could only come from Dr. Scientist and will wreck havoc on those you unleash it upon.
The Malekko Diabolik JMJ is the signature bass fuzz pedal of Justin Meldel-Johnsen. Malekko and Justin worked together, starting with Malekko’s B:Assmaster bass fuzz and tweaking it until the Diabolik JMJ was born. The simple control layout lets you achieve all-out, chord-decimating fuzz carnage as well as great “clean/dirty” fuzz tones thanks to the ability to blend your dry and wet signals. It sounds huge but isn’t overly bass heavy. Despite being a bass fuzz pedal, it works very well with guitar and also stacks well with other distortion/overdrive pedals for unique hybrid fuzz tones.
The ZVex Fuzzolo is a miniaturized fuzz pedal in the vein of ZVex’s own Mastotron and Wooly Mammoth pedals, only stripped down to the simplest control scheme possible. There’s a Volume knob and a unique Pulse Wave control that takes this pedal from smooth fuzz distortion to biting gated fuzz and anywhere in between. It’s surprisingly versatile and even has an internal jumper which can be switched for use with active or passive pickups. If you want an aggressive fuzz that does smooth and/or gated fuzz without taking up much space, try the Fuzzolo.
That concludes our Top 25 Best Fuzz Pedals of 2016. Thanks for reading.
If there’s a great fuzz pedal you think deserves mention, let us know in the comments!