Can someone Explain the Fuzz Factory Please?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Oncaster, May 8, 2015.

  1. Oncaster

    Oncaster Member

    Messages:
    550
    Joined:
    May 12, 2013
    Location:
    D.C.
    Hey All,

    I just picked up an early spam can Fuzz Factory clone made by Jim Roth of Built to Spill fame (The Jerms SpamFactory he calls it). So far it's proven to be a bit on the uncontrollable side. I'm more used to the Volume, Tone, and Drive kind of thing so wondering if someone could explain the knobs and how they interact with each other.

    I have a general understanding but can use a few suggestions on how to experiment and find a somewhat conventional but splatty sort of sound and to bring out more trebly without overly compressing the sound.

    I read a lot of stuff and am told Gate and Comp knobs are tied to transistor bias, but no idea what that means at all. Also wondering how to mod a non-LED pedal (which this is) to have an LED? It's so crazy there is no way you'd possibly know when this pedal ISN'T on, but damn it, I want a light!
     
  2. popvulture

    popvulture Member

    Messages:
    377
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    Austin
    Well, first of all, I'll say that the FF can indeed be pretty uncontrollable, and it's especially confusing if you're coming into the picture expecting more traditional controls. I know this from personal experience...

    I'm not sure if the controls on your clone are exactly the same, but if they are, then this should be very helpful:

    http://www.zvex.com/images/fff_V_inst_web.jpg

    I used the sample settings quite a bit when I got my FF, just so I could experiment a bit with the suggested ballpark areas and then tweak a bit to get a better idea of what each control does. The instructions explain those parameters pretty nicely as well.

    I hope the manual at least helps with a better introduction! It's not a fun pedal to check out blindly. It can be pretty great once you figure it out, though... for weirder, far-out territory, to me it's in a league of its own. That said, I still wish the damn thing had a tone knob.

    As for the LED, maybe someone else can help you with that. Small note: not having one radically increases battery life, and FWIW the FF is a pedal that you should certainly be able to tell when it's on :)
     
  3. Oncaster

    Oncaster Member

    Messages:
    550
    Joined:
    May 12, 2013
    Location:
    D.C.
    Thanks, yeah it's got 5 knobs, same sort of case and because Jim tries to make exact recreations of classic fuzz pedals, I'm sure the knobs do the same things. I'll try as you suggest with the presets and maybe it'll click with me how the knobs interact with one another.
     
  4. vanguard

    vanguard Member

    Messages:
    2,530
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    The FF is a love/hate pedal, for sure. Jim builds a mean factory! If you decide it isn't for you, PM me . . .

    Anyway, yes—comp and gate bias the transistors. With both of those down and the stab (voltage) all the way up, you basically have a modded fuzz face. That's a good place to start. Now turn the gain way down and you should have a clean up fuzz. as comp goes up, treble fades back and bass/compression come forward.

    Stab just controls the voltage the pedal sees. Like on any other fuzz face, the more underpowered you make it, the more glitchy, gated, nintendo-y it gets.

    Comp and gate both interact with voltage sag, eliminating oscillation as they are turned up.

    Finally, I would advise against the LED on such a special pedal.
     
  5. Oncaster

    Oncaster Member

    Messages:
    550
    Joined:
    May 12, 2013
    Location:
    D.C.
    I ordered a 9v battery adapter to plug it into my voodoo labs, would you advise against that? I know the ma draw on fuzzes in general are fairly low, but would love the convenience of not ever having to use batteries.
     
  6. tterry2

    tterry2 Member

    Messages:
    174
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    I agree on the love hate relationship with the Fuzz Factory.......unfortunately I absolutely hated it lol
     
  7. popvulture

    popvulture Member

    Messages:
    377
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    Austin
    The battery in your FF will last for years. Just unplug the input when you're not using it. Going the battery adapter route is just fine, but you could be using that power on a pedal that's a little hungrier. Plus, fuzzes generally sound better with batteries anyway.
     
  8. popvulture

    popvulture Member

    Messages:
    377
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    Austin
    (Shouldn't run into any problems plugging it into your PP though, if you wanna go that route)
     
  9. Funky Monkey

    Funky Monkey Member

    Messages:
    3,243
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2006
    Location:
    Springfield, IL
    Re: uncontrollable, placing it after a buffered signal makes it a completely different pedal than when there's nothing if front of it. I'm not assuming that's the case here, but if it is, put it first in line and it'll tame it a bit.

    If it is first, well, I always purposely used my Fuzz Factory pedal for noise. It's the most compact Theremin out there. :D
     
  10. cajone5

    cajone5 Some guy Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,699
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Definitely make sure there are no pedals, buffers or active pickups on the front end. It can also get wonky with some post buffers but that's rarer. Start with recommended settings from ZVex and go from there. It's a highly versatile fuzz but usually a little tough to dial in and in many cases the sweet spots are very small on the dials and the controls are all interactive making things even more complex.

    And if you just get sick of it, you can always PM me to take it off your hands. I couldn't afford to get one of these from Jerms a couple years ago when he was making them but have always wanted to have one on my board.
     
  11. 9520575

    9520575 Member

    Messages:
    4,089
    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I always found it easy to use. I also perfer it with a buffer in front of it. The volume knob is just volume. Drive is gain pretty easy. Stab is to simulate a dying battery, just leave it all the way clock wise to start with.

    Comp is compression and gate is gate. Turnings both of these fully counter clock wise is going to give you a normal fuzz face sound. The compression gets really squishy at about 1 o clock and higher. The more comp and gate the more "velcro" sounds you get.

    the way i like to dail it in: stab all the up, comp and gate all the way down. Play around with volume and drive. Dial in some comp then add gate if you need to get rid of noise. I only touch the stab if I'm feeling weird.
     
  12. PurpleJesus

    PurpleJesus Gold Supporting Member Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,634
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2014
    I really didn't like it either, but agree fully w those that saiid to leave it at full voltage. After that the gate is key. BUT no matter what you aren't going to get very traditional fuzz tones....which is kind of the point of the pedal. It's one I've tried to like twice now and sold both times. It's a cool idea and design. Just not for me.
     
  13. Lock

    Lock Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2015
    Location:
    Canada
    I was frustrated with the pedal for years--it always sounded too bright and I thought it was a novelty--but then something clicked and I love it.

    People have already gone over the knobs well. One thing to note is that Stab also filters out the highs as you turn it counter clockwise.

    My suggestion for learning how it works: ignore all the weird charts out there. They are too subjective and it is better to just fiddle and learn how things interact.

    Start with the volume at 9 (in clock directions), gate 7, comp 7, drive 7, stab 5.

    This the basic sound. Try the range of the drive knob and then the stab and comp knob to get a sense of them. If you do that with the other knobs at the 7 or 5 "minimum" position, you'll get a better sense of what they do.

    From there try messing with the drive and stab until you get oscillation, and then get rid of it with the gate. The gate and comp interact and both can be used to dial out the oscillation depending on the setting. Tweaking them with the stab down is also how you can get sputtery velcro noises.

    Anyway, if that was too long: set everything to 7 except stab at 5 and adjust one thing at a time and it should start to make sense.
     
  14. northstar6000

    northstar6000 Member

    Messages:
    939
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Location:
    Grimsby, Ontario, Canada
    I love the fuzz factory - I have the fat version which is unreal - some of the tones it produces are out of this world.

    It's really a pedal where you have to understand what the knobs do - and since they are atypical compared to most pedals, that can be super frustrating.

    I think the best advice (as given above) is to the turn the stab knob fully clockwise. This tames the beast within, and then you can experiment with how the other knobs work. Then when you understand how the gate and comp work, you can start messing around with the stab knob - and that is where the crazyness and real fun begins.
     
  15. Oncaster

    Oncaster Member

    Messages:
    550
    Joined:
    May 12, 2013
    Location:
    D.C.
    Thanks yeah I have about 15' of cord going through a single true-bypass pedal and going into it. There's a buffered pedal, a DD-7 at the very end.

    Thanks for all the suggestions btw. Thinking I'm going to start with stab maxed with Gate and Comp totally counter-clockwise and work from there.

    My very best!
     
  16. olejason

    olejason Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,310
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    Totally agree with starting with the basic sound and tweak from there. I'm surprised no one posted the ridiculous list of like 100 "settings" for it. I would just ignore that stuff. The pedal isn't that versatile but it can be confusing at times.
     
  17. screwyloot

    screwyloot Member

    Messages:
    244
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2014
    Location:
    Northern California
    it's a great pedal, there's nothing like it. i myself enjoy all the gated velcro sounds. there's a million pedals that can do the "normal" fuzz thing, but very few can do what the FF does.
     
  18. stephen sawall

    stephen sawall Member

    Messages:
    5,472
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle WA USA
    She's a freak..... Trying to control a crazy women is absurdity.
     
  19. Lock

    Lock Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2015
    Location:
    Canada
    An aside, but since this is the Fuzz Factory thread du jour and some people here might be intereseted.

    I recently had a Fuzz Factory, Mastotron, and Death by Audio Supersonic Fuzz Gun at the same time and I greatly preferred the Fuzz Factory.

    It has a greater range of tones and even when I'd spend an hour with the other two getting something nice, I'd swap back to the FF and immediately be impressed with the sound. The fuzz gun sounds too gated with the gate switch on and then too hard to control with it off. I missed the FF's ability to dial in both compression and gate. The Mastotron seemed cool for an angry lead with the suboctave on, but it wasn't unique or usable enough to keep around.

    I ended up selling those two and getting a Fuzz Face / Rangemaster 2-1 pedal from a local guy instead.

    I've got my eyes out for a Distortron, since I get the sense that it has some of the FF weirdness with a bit more of a Rat/cranked Marshall thing going, which would pair well with the FF.
     
  20. stephen sawall

    stephen sawall Member

    Messages:
    5,472
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle WA USA
    Distortron does not do weirdness. But is great after a fuzz or other distortions.... Or by its self.

    Just spent a hour playing on a FF..... Just a great pedal.
     

Share This Page