Six of the best: boutique dirtboxes
Earthquaker Devices Hoof Fuzz
A common complaint when using Big Muff-style fuzz in a live band context is that it disappears in the mix. Not so here.
This boutique take on the classic green Russian Muff from Akron, Ohio offers one of the finest fuzz tones known to man or woman, incorporating an incredibly useful ‘Shift’ control that allows you to boost or scoop the mid frequencies for maximum impact.
BUY: Earthquaker Devices Hoof Fuzz currently available from:
UK: Thomann | DV247
Bigfoot Engineering King Fuzz
Another full-bodied fuzz, the King Fuzz is one of the most impressive dirtboxes ever to have come through the front door at MusicRadar.
With a tonality inspired by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, this British-built gem does everything from pawnshop amp-style overdrive to mid-rich and spitty Jimi-style pyrotechnics with just a twist of your guitar’s volume control. The perfect ‘always-on’ fuzzbox? You bet.
4 out of 5
Electro-Harmonix Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi
From the brand that played a major part in getting the fuzz ball rolling comes this stackable, twin-channel germanium transistor-powered overdrive/distortion.
Things get pretty gnarly indeed thanks to the Volts control on the distortion side, that simulates the spluttering tone of a dying battery. Versatile overdrive, chunky dirt and out-there fuzz, all in one highly-affordable box.
4.5 out of 5
Read our full Electro-Harmonix Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi review
BUY: Electro-Harmonix Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi currently available from:
UK: Andertons Music | Thomann | Gear4Music | DV247
US: Sweetwater | Full Compass
Z.Vex Vexter Series Fuzz Factory
The Fuzz Factory is a modern classic, and the Vexter Series brought it to the masses thanks to the cost savings associated with Z.Vex outsourcing some of its production to Taiwan and using silkscreened rather than hand-painted graphics.
Wild oscillations, gated splutters and aggressive fuzz are its bread and butter. Check out the Fat Fuzz Factory (£152) for additional bottom-end thrills.
Read our full Z.Vex Fuzz Factory review
BUY: Z.Vex Vexter Series Fuzz Factory currently available from:
UK: Thomann | Gear4Music | DV247
Mid-Fi Electronics Demo Tape Fuzz
Designed to sound like a guitar playing directly through a four-track tape recorder, the saturated tones on offer here range from thick and warm to scratchy and plain nasty.
Guitarists who battled with primitive, cassette- based multitracks in the 1980s may shudder, but there’s no denying that the Demo Tape Fuzz sounds utterly contemporary in 2014 thanks to the clipped, fuzzy tones of Aussie indie darlings Tame Impala.
Stone Deaf PDF-1 Parametric Distortion
With big-name users including Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age, this is another British boutique pedal with huge pedigree.
Powerful tone shaping is the order of the day; create extreme textures with your existing amp tone or place it after another dirtbox in your signal chain and use the PDF-1 to focus or re-voice its sound in a mix. A real pro tool with myriad applications.
4.5 out of 5