The ZVex Fuzz Factory was already one of the best, if not the best, fuzz distortion pedal of the past 20 years. Not content with this established legacy, ZVex brought us the Fat Fuzz Factory in early 2013, same as the original Fuzz Factory but with 2 additional oscillation modes for even “fatter” fuzz sounds. The Fat Fuzz Factory took a great thing and made it better. And if that wasn’t enough, Zachary Vex found a stash of old 1956 Amperex black glass germanium transistors and thought it would be a cool idea to create yet another Fuzz Factory pedal to show them off. The result is the Fuzz Factory 7.
The Fuzz Factory 7 features 2 additional knobs when compared to the original Fuzz Factory and Fat Fuzz Factory, a 9-position Sub knob and a Tone control that’s activated by its own dedicated foot-switch. The Sub knob expands upon the Fat Fuzz Factory’s 3-position Sub flip-switch with even lower oscillation modes and well as a few ultra high positions that approach dog whistle territory. The Tone knob is a passive tone control that acts like a low-pass filter to reduce the high end content of the fuzz. Theoretically, there will also be some slight tonal variations between the Fuzz Factory 7 and the original/Fat Fuzz Factory pedals thanks to the unique transistors in this pedal. The other Fuzz Factory pedals are classics. Is the Fuzz Factory 7 the new best fuzz distortion pedal available? Read on fuzz lovers and find out in our ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 review.
2 ultra rare 1956 Amperex black glass germanium transistors.
9-position rotary sub “FAT” knob for dialing in oscillation and character response.
Foot-switchable Tone control and dedicated knob unique to the Fuzz Factory 7.
Has all 5 original Fuzz Factory controls: Volume, Gate, Comp (compression), Drive, & Stab (stability).
True bypass foot-switch for letting your signal pass unaffected when disengaged.
Powered by 9VDC power adapter or 9-volt battery (current draw typically less than 10mA but may be as high as 50mA on some settings).
Sound & Performance:
This pedal is a beast. After playing so many different fuzz pedals, I’ve come to realize certain things I like and dislike about them. The Fat Fuzz Factory already nailed most of the things I like: heaps of gain, clean up (on some settings!), a gate function, saturated fuzz and buzzy velcro fuzz tones, tightness for rhythm playing, and plenty of volume output and headroom (more than any guitarist will ever need). Check out our ZVex Fat Fuzz Factory review to get some history if you need to. So the Fuzz Factory 7 is essentially a variation on a very good theme, one of the most solid fuzz foundations ever created. There are 3 essential points to cover here, the sound and feel of the Fuzz Factory 7’s Amperex transistors versus the standard germanium transistors found in the original/Fat Fuzz Factory, the merits of the FF7’s Tone control and implementation, and the 9-position Sub oscillation knob.
First, let’s talk about the tones of the FF7 compared to the FFF. Mr. Vex himself was impressed with the characteristics of the rare batch of transistors he found. I am in agreement here. The Fuzz Factory 7 sounds awesome. The 12 o’clock Sub position on the Fuzz Factory 7 generally sounds closest to the stock Fuzz Factory (FFF Sub setting 1), so that’s where I did most of my comparing. To sum up my tone comparisons of the Fuzz Factory 7 vs Fat Fuzz Factory, I’d have to say that they’re quite similar although I hear a slightly more aggressive yet warm fuzz tone from the FF7. (Descriptions can’t compare to hearing for yourself. Watch our YouTube video!) Also, while the gain drops sharply on the Fat Fuzz Factory when turning the Drive down past around 3 o’clock, Fuzz Factory 7 has a smoother sweep of gain throughout its Drive knob’s range. Even on its lowest Drive setting, the FF7 still delivers plenty of saturation, a little more than the Fat Fuzz Factory even. Also, when cutting back my guitar’s volume knob slightly with the FF7 on extreme gain settings, the pedal actually opens up a little, revealing an even more “open” sound with less noticeable compression. While it’s hard to say one pedal sounds “better” than the other, there’s a little extra mojo in the FF7 that wins my favor. In most cases it seems that they sound quite similar on around the same settings with a slight movement of a given knob helping one to emulate the other a little better. But the Fuzz Factory 7 does have a couple bonuses that expand its tones into completely new territory: the 9-position Fat sub dial and Tone control. Just know that the FF7’s black glass transistors are golden, and whether or not you personally think they’re “better” than the standard NOS germanium transistors in the Fat Fuzz Factory, you’ll be happy to hear that this pedal still sounds generally like the Fuzz Factory you may already know and love. That’s a very good thing.
The 9-position Fat sub knob draws inspiration from the Fat Fuzz Factory’s 3-position Subs switch but takes it further in both directions. The extended low oscillation range also makes the FF7 fun to use with octave pedals or bass guitars. Even rhythmic chord progressions will benefit from an overall added fatness on the lower Sub settings. The FF7 also maintains a bit more tightness on lower sub settings compared to the FFF. If you dial in some vecro style fuzz tones the Sub becomes integral in shaping the overall timbre of your sound. On the higher Sub settings you can really thin out the low-end to make room or your other guitarist or bass player or to just achieve some wickedly cool, piercing fuzz tones. The original Fuzz Factory and Fat Fuzz Factory were already a couple of the most versatile fuzz pedals around. The Fuzz Factory 7 is perhaps the most overall flexible fuzz pedal I’ve ever plugged into.
The Tone control is a vital asset to the Fuzz Factory 7. It’s actually surprisingly transparent, too. I was concerned that since it was given its own dedicated foot-switch, perhaps it would color the sound in a way that might make guitarists want to bypass it when not needed. That’s not the case at all. If you leave it on at the fully clockwise position, you most likely will not hear any indication that it’s in your signal chain until you turn it counter-clockwise towards noon and lower. The knob has a utility mainly for cutting the treble frequencies if the high Sub positions are too painful for your ears (or those of your audience). But the knob adds a general utility to the FF7’s fuzz even at the central or lower Sub positions. I’ve never had issues with the Fat Fuzz Factory’s high end being too shrill or harsh, but the Fuzz Factory 7’s Tone knob is quite handy for rolling off the treble for a warmer fuzz sound. And if you ever did think the other Fuzz Factory pedals were too bright for your tastes, the Fuzz Factory 7’s Tone knob may be just what it needed to make the FF7 your next must have fuzz pedal. I am very happy that it’s here as will be any guitarist who appreciates the additional control over their upper frequencies.
If you’ve never played a Fuzz Factory pedal it’s important to understand that the Fuzz Factory 7 is a bit different from your typical distortion or fuzz pedal. Using this pedal isn’t a matter of simply cranking the Drive control and setting your output level. The controls of the FF7 are highly interactive and offer an infinite palette of sounds therein. The Comp (Compression) and Stab (Stability) controls affect the transistor bias and voltage of the pedal, affecting your sound in interesting and sometimes bizarre ways. The Gate control is handy in that it eliminates background noise in your signal, useful with higher Drive settings. It also reigns in the insanity if you stumble across some crazy oscillating tones unexpectedly (although this can sometimes be a good thing!). But these controls behave differently depending on the settings of other knobs. A little experimentation will go a long way towards coaxing traditional tones and unorthodox noises from this pedal. These wildly diverse sounds are part of the beauty of the Fuzz Factory 7 and help make it the kind of pedal that every guitarist can tweak to their individual liking.
There isn’t much not to like about this pedal. Sure, stumbling upon ear-ripping noise may be jarring when you’re not expecting it, but once you’ve made sense of how the controls interact, you’ll be able to control the chaos. Be sure to memorize or write down settings you like as there are plenty of sweet spots that can be lost once you change the settings. The Fuzz Factory is worth the effort as few guitar pedals offer such a wide range of interesting fuzz effects for guitar.
Let’s see the final result.
The ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 is one of the most flexible, unique, and inspiring fuzz pedals you’ll ever play. From smooth fuzz textures to buzzing velcro fuzz and even oscillating extreme fuzz insanity, the Fuzz Factory 7 provides an endless playground of tone for guitarists who appreciate the entire spectrum of colorful fuzz distortion. There are so many facets to this pedal that you will continuously find yourself discovering new sounds each time you pick up your guitar. The FF7 offers a very rewarding playing experience to those who like to experiment with new guitar sounds. Plug one in and see if you think it’s the best fuzz distortion pedal you’ve ever played. The Fuzz Factory 7 happens to be my new favorite fuzz pedal.
That concludes our ZVex Fuzz Factory 7 review. Thanks for reading.
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