“We want an entire new generation of players to be able to experience the exact same pedal that Cliff used”: Morley salutes late Metallica bass icon Cliff Burton with the Tribute Power Wah Fuzz reissue

Morley Cliff Burton Fuzz Wah
(Image credit: Ross Marino/Icon and Image/Getty Images; Morley)

Morley has reissued the Cliff Burton Tribute Power Wah Fuzz pedal, a feral fuzz/wah twofer based on the original unit that the late Metallica bassist used to create some of the most monstrous bass tones ever committed to tape.

The Morley Power Wah Fuzz was a huge part of the Cliff Burton sound, of his very persona. When it was time to nuclear for a bass guitar solo – like on Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) or For Whom The Bell Tolls – this was what he stepped on. 

This new replica has a few modern upgrades. It has Morley’s Switchless Activation, meaning you just step on the treadle to activate the pedal. When you step off the pedal is bypassed. The Cliff Burton Power Wah Fuzz has been configured so that it starts at the lower end of its sweep. 

And there are have been some aesthetic tweaks, too, with Morley applying its glow-in-the-dark tape to the treadle and pedal’s front, and ageing the chrome finish on it to make it look as though it has survived the West Coast club circuit as Metallica were coming up.

Burton joined Metallica in 1982, replacing original bassist Ron McGovney, and was the not-so-secret sauce in their sound. There have been few players with a more distinctive sound in metal. Burton's crushing heavyweight style was all fingers, pummelling his Rickenbacker and Aria basses. He recorded three albums with Metallica before dying in a bus crash in Sweden on 27 September 1986, aged 24.

“We are honoured to now shepherd the legacy of Cliff Burton, quench the thirst of his loving fans, and to expose his genius to the next generation of players,” said Scott Fietsam, owner of Morley.

There’s no question this the Power Wah Fuzz dispenses a radical sound. It’s not for the fainthearted, but there are no shortage of players operating in the high-volume metal scene who couldn’t benefit from a wah circuit with 15dB of juice behind it, and a fuzz that sounds like things are coming apart.

Morley Cliff Burton Fuzz Wah

(Image credit: Morley)

Typical of a Morley build, the pedal eschews mechanics in favour of an optical design, which makes it tough. There are not potentiometers to wear out and replace here.

The Cliff Burton Estate echoed Morley’s sentiments and hoped this reissue will present these sounds to a new generation of Metallica fans. Pete Fenech, content manager, Morley, said Burton’s influence was “unreal to think about” and described him as a trailblazer for bass.

“He pushed the boundaries of his instrument not only with his style, but with his tone,” said Fenech. “I just think it’s so cool that Morley was a part of that.”

The Cliff Burton Tribute Power Wah Fuzz runs on 9V, which it can take from battery or a pedalboard power supply

It has a premium buffered circuit, comes with a one-year warranty and is exclusively available via Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend, priced $229, with a wider release coming from 1st April. It might have been designed for a bass legend, but it can also be used on electric guitar and electronic keyboards, too. 

For more details, see Morley.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.