Where to put a Fuzz Face

A lot has been written about where to put Fuzz Faces when being combined with other pedals, especially with Wahs. The fact is that Fuzz pedals are based on a very basic circuit, with a very low input impedance, and where the serial resistence of the 9v battery has a lot of influence. I have a Dunlop Fuzz Face that was living in ebay until I changed its alkaline battery for a very cheap carbon zinc one. The improvement in sound was awesome, and its price has increased  10 times (just in case you want to buy it). After I abandoned the idea of putting it in ebay, I had to decide where to put it in the pedals ecosystem.

Instead of explaining the principles behind the personality of this pedal, I will try to test it in different configurations and show the results as sound clips. These results are valid for *my* Fuzz Face, since each one has its own idiosyncrasy, but I expect them to be similar for any other pedal out there.

Gear:
Guitar: Fender Stratocaster American Standard – 2012. Maple neck. Pickup: neck.
Wah: BOSS Fw3
Fuzz: Dunlop Fuzz Face germanium with carbon zinc battery.
Univibe: TC Electronic Viscous Vibe, chorus position, true bypass set (it can be configured as buffered, but I left it as true bypass on purpose, in order to illustrate how impedances influence sound).
OD: Ibanez TS-9
Amplifier: POD 2.0 for recording, bypass position and “modern class a” emulation

Recorded with Ardour.

Before listening to the clips, please keep in mind that I am not a guitar virtuoso, so please concentrate on sound 🙂

  1. Guitar -> Fuzz -> Wah -> OD -> Univibe
    1. Fuzz On, rest off – 
    2. Fuzz On, Wah On – 
    3. Fuzz On, Overdrive On –
    4. Fuzz On, Univibe On – 
  2. Guitar -> Wah -> Fuzz -> OD -> Univibe
    1. Fuzz On, rest off – 
    2. Fuzz On, Wah On – 
    3. Fuzz On, Overdrive On – 
    4. Fuzz On, Univibe On – 
  3. Guitar -> Wah -> Fuzz -> Univibe -> OD
    1. Fuzz On – 

I have tested only some logical configurations. Usually guitarrists have doubts about how to combine Fuzz with Wah or Univibe, but few people would put a Wah after a Univibe or a Fuzz after a Univibe. Some guys put Fuzz after overdrive, I prefer the opposite, but this is just a personal preference.

So I have ommited many configurations, like:
– Guitar -> Univibe -> Wah -> OD -> Fuzz
– Wah -> Guitar -> OD -> Fuzz -> Univibe 🙂
– etc.

Some comments about the configurations, from my point of view: In general, I prefer configurations 2.X over configurations 1.X. With Fuzz Face right after guitar you can control the Fuzz effect with guitar volume. Below 8, there is virtually no fuzz, and beyond that, fuzz comes and begins to increase until 10. I’ll show it in some other post, testing different pickups. But for my taste, the sound is worse than fuzz after Wah (config. 2). After wah the sound is much more full of frequencies, louder, more uniform in time, with better bass presence and more sustain, and what is more important, more Hendrix-like. Univibe in configuration 2 is more metallic and brilliant and again, more Hendrix-some. The difference has to do with the buffer in the Wah pedal, with very low output impedance, instead of the guitar pickup impedance, in the KOhms range. It has a very noticeable influence in the Fuzz Face circuit, that has a low input impedance, far from an ideal effects circuit. For my ears, when putting the fuzz face between two buffers (FW3 and TS-9) the sound is clearer and reacher in frequencies and has better sustain.

I tested configuration 3 in order to show the difference when Fuzz Face has a True Bypass pedal (Viscous Vibe with factory configuration) instead of a buffer. The influence in the output is not as noticeable as in the input, but for me it is somewhat darker than the other way around.

Viscous Vibe pedal is a super-versatile pedal. I have tested it in Chorus Position because I like the sound it gives by default when combined with fuzz. When I combine it with an overdrive, the volume drops too much when it is on, this will be discussed in another post. Actually, I’ve heard that the original Shin-ei Univibe has the same “problem”, so they at TC Electronic did a good job.

Combining Fuzz and Overdrive in my tests is producing too much noise. When combining them, it is better to keep the effect pot at middle position in both. Overdrive can tame the Fuzz effect and shape the frequencies response in some measure, as well as volume.

My comments are of course debatable, and if your opinion is different or you have a different experience, please leave a comment below, it will be appreciated.

To know more about Fuzz Faces, please visit these links:

http://www.dingotone.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Discussion-about-fuzzface-batteries-V1.pdf
http://www.geofex.com/article_folders/fuzzface/fffram.htm
http://www.muzique.com/news/buffers-before-fuzz/

You can buy Viscous Vibe here:

 

 

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