Are you a fan of rock or metal music? If so, you're likely familiar with the distinctive sound of a fuzz guitar tone. Fuzz is a type of distortion that produces a thick, gritty, and compressed tone, perfect for heavy genres like rock and metal. If you're looking to get that fuzz guitar or bass sound, you might consider using a fuzz pedal. Fuzz pedals are a type of guitar effects pedal that produces a specific type of distortion called fuzz.
There are many different fuzz pedals, physical and in plugin form on the market, but today we'll mostly be referencing "The Fuzz" by Modern Metal Songwriter because for the price (free!), tonal flexibility, and being available in any DAW it makes it an easy starting point for most!
These tips can be applied to pretty much any Fuzz pedal though, so don't worry if you don't have it yet, or are using a physical fuzz pedal!
In this article, we'll explore what fuzz distortion is, how fuzz pedals work, and how you can use "The Fuzz" to get the best fuzz sound for modern rock and metal guitars. We'll also address some often asked issues concerning fuzz pedals, like where they should be placed in your signal chain, whether a fuzz pedal eliminates the need for a distortion pedal and more.
What is a Fuzz Pedal?
A fuzz pedal is a type of guitar effects pedal that produces a specific type of distortion called fuzz. Fuzz is a type of distortion that is characterized by its huge, gritty, and compressed tone. It is often associated with heavy genres like rock and metal. Fuzz pedals have been around since the 1960s, and they were popularized by artists like Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards. Fuzz pedals work by amplifying the guitar signal and then clipping the waveform, which creates the distinctive fuzz sound. This differs from overdrive and distortion pedals which create their own style of distortions respectively.
Overdrive pedals are designed to simulate the sound of a tube amp that is being pushed into overdrive. Distortion pedals, on the other hand, are designed to produce a more aggressive and compressed tone than overdrive pedals.
While fuzz pedals are often used in heavy genres like rock and metal, they can also be used in other genres like blues and psychedelic rock. So, if you're looking to get that type of tone, a fuzz pedal might be just what you need to add to your chain.
How Does "The Fuzz" Pedal Work?
"The Fuzz" is a digital guitar effects pedal plugin that is designed to produce the classic and instantly recognizable fuzz tone, with all of the modern life improvements you get in plugin form. It is one of the most true-to-sound emulations of Fuzz Distortion, and it was painstakingly modeled to get the sound you expect from an extremely aggressive fuzz.
The plugin has five parameters that you can adjust to fine-tune your fuzz sound:
- Distortion: This parameter controls the amount of fuzz distortion applied to your signal. Turning it up will increase the amount of distortion and give you a thicker, more compressed tone.
- Filter: This parameter controls the tone of your fuzz sound. Turning it up will produce a brighter, more treble-heavy tone, while turning it down will produce a darker, more bass-heavy tone.
- Level: This parameter controls the output level of the pedal. Turning it up will increase the output of the pedal.
- High Pass Filter: This parameter controls the high-pass filter of your fuzz sound. Turning it up will filter out some of the low-end frequencies and give you a brighter, more focused tone. This feature is especially great for faster guitar parts where too much low end at once will muddy up your sound.
- Mix: This parameter controls the blend between your dry and fuzz signals. Turning it up will give you more fuzz while turning it down will give you more of your dry guitar signal.
By adjusting these parameters, you can fine-tune your fuzz sound to suit your playing style and genre. "The Fuzz" is available as it's own plugin as well as built right into our guitar amp sim, "Clairvoyant | Amp Suite," so you can use it directly in your DAW, as well as accessing multiple mix-ready amplifiers, and cabinet IRs.
If you want to see "The Fuzz" pedal in action, be sure to check out this YouTube video by Malcom Owen-Flood, where he demonstrates how to use "The Fuzz" to get a modern rock tone.
Where Should You Place a Fuzz Pedal in Your Signal Chain?
The placement of your fuzz pedal in your signal chain can have a big impact on your overall tone. Generally, fuzz pedals sound best when placed at the beginning of your signal chain, before any other pedals or effects. This is because fuzz pedals are very sensitive to the impedance of your guitar's pickups. Placing other pedals or effects before your fuzz pedal can alter the impedance of your guitar's pickups, which can affect the tone and response of your fuzz pedal.
So, if you're using a fuzz pedal, it's generally best to place it at the beginning of your signal chain. This will ensure that you're getting the best possible tone and response from your fuzz pedal. Of course, the exact placement of your fuzz pedal will depend on your specific setup and the other pedals and effects you're using. So, it's always a good idea to experiment with different signal chain configurations to find the one that works best for your tone and playing style. You may end up liking how it sounds at the end of the chain - there are no "rules" when creating music!
Is Fuzz Distortion or Overdrive?
Fuzz is a type of distortion effect, but it's not the same as overdrive. Overdrive pedals are designed to simulate the sound of an overdriven tube amp, while fuzz pedals are designed to create a thick, compressed, and gritty fuzz tone. The main difference between overdrive and fuzz is the amount of gain and distortion they produce. Overdrive pedals typically produce a more subtle and natural-sounding distortion, while fuzz pedals produce a much more extreme and aggressive-sounding distortion. So, if you're looking for aggression, and fullness a fuzz pedal may be the way to go. But if you're looking for a more subtle and natural-sounding distortion, an overdrive pedal might be a better choice.
What Kind of Music Uses a Fuzz Pedal?
Over the years, fuzz pedals have been employed in a wide range of musical genres, but rock and metal music are possibly the ones with which they are most closely identified.
Many guitarists utilized fuzz pedals in the early years of rock music to produce the distorted and overdriven sounds that have come to be associated with the style. Fuzz pedals were widely employed by bands including The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix.
Today, rock and metal musicians still frequently utilize fuzz pedals, as well as musicians that play indie rock, psychedelic rock, and even some electronic music. A fuzz pedal is unquestionably worthwhile to check out if you enjoy loud, distorted guitar tones.
While they can be a bit tricky to dial in at first, once you find the right settings, a fuzz pedal can produce some of the most monstrous and awe-inspiring guitar tones you've ever heard, and even inspire new riff ideas once you hear the new sounds your guitar is capable of.
Are Fuzz Pedals Good for Metal?
Fuzz pedals can be great for metal music, but they're not always the best choice for every situation. While some metal guitarists prefer the tight, focused sound of a high-gain distortion pedal, others opt for the more raw and chaotic sound of a fuzz pedal. Fuzz pedals can add a lot of character and texture to your tone, but they can also be quite noisy and unpredictable. This is one reason we added in the second filter knob on our fuzz VST plugin, which helps clean up the lowend and make it usable in faster genres. Some fuzz pedals are cleaner, and more precise than others, so be sure to play around with different options and find what's for you.
Ultimately, the best choice for your guitar tone will depend on your personal preferences and playing style. Experiment with different pedals and settings to find the sound that works best for you. And remember, there are no rules when it comes to music – if it sounds good to you, then go for it!
Do You Need a Distortion Pedal if You Have a Fuzz Pedal?
If you already have a fuzz pedal, you might wonder if you also need a distortion pedal. The answer is, it depends on the sound you're going for. Fuzz pedals are designed to produce a lot of distortion, but while they can produce some distortion, it's not the same as the distortion produced by a dedicated distortion pedal. If you have different sections of music that call for both sounds, you may want to get both! This is why it was important to us to get a great fuzz pedal in our amp suite, because it captures the other side of distortion that high gain amps, and overdrive pedals do not, and vice versa.
If you're looking for a more subtle and natural-sounding distortion, or if you want to add some additional distortion to your fuzz tone, a distortion pedal might be a good addition to your setup.
Whether or not you need a distortion pedal will ultimately depend on your personal preference and the sound you're trying to achieve.
Why Are Fuzz Pedals So Noisy?
One of the downsides of using a fuzz pedal is that it can be quite noisy. This is because fuzz pedals amplify the signal from your guitar pickups and add a lot of gain, compression, and distortion to the signal. This can result in a lot of noise and hiss, especially if you're using high-gain settings.
There are a few things you can do to reduce the noise from your fuzz pedal.
- First, try using a noise gate pedal after your fuzz pedal. This can help to eliminate some of the noise and hiss from your signal and give cleaner "stops" and "starts" to your playing.
- You can also try using a lower gain setting on your fuzz pedal. While this might not give you as much distortion as you want, it can help to reduce the noise and hiss from your signal.
- Finally, you can try using a high-quality power supply for your pedals. Cheap power supplies can introduce noise and hum into your signal chain, which can make your fuzz pedal sound even noisier. So, investing in a high-quality power supply can help to reduce the noise from your fuzz pedal.
Of course, some amount of noise is inevitable when using a fuzz pedal, and it's part of the sound to some extent. So, if you're a fan of fuzz tones, it's important to learn to embrace the noise and use it as part of your overall sound.
Are Fuzz Pedals Analog or Digital?
Fuzz pedals can be either analog or digital, but most guitarists prefer analog fuzz pedals for their warm, organic tone.
Analog fuzz pedals use transistors to amplify and distort the guitar signal, which results in a raw, gritty tone that many guitarists love. Digital fuzz pedals, on the other hand, use digital signal processing to create their distortion and fuzz sounds. While digital pedals can be more versatile and offer more control over your sound, they can lack the warmth and character of analog pedals when they are not modeled correctly. When done properly though, you can still achieve an amazing fuzz tone in the computer, without the need of setting up any actual pedals, cables, etc. So, VST fuzz pedals are PERFECT for writing at home without the need for setting up all of your gear.
Getting the perfect fuzz tone for modern rock and metal music can be a challenge, but with the right tools and techniques, it's definitely achievable. Whether you're using a standalone fuzz pedal or a plugin like "The Fuzz", understanding the basic parameters of a fuzz pedal is essential. By adjusting the distortion, filter, level, high pass filter, and mix controls on your fuzz pedal, you can dial in a wide range of fuzz and distortion tones that are perfect for modern rock and metal music.
With some experimentation and tweaking, you can find the perfect balance between raw, gritty fuzz and tight, focused distortion. So if you're a rock or metal guitarist looking to add some fuzz to your tone, be sure to check out our fuzz pedal and the rest of our plugins at Modern Metal Songwriter.