Fuzz help please!

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by MissoulaGriz, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. MissoulaGriz

    MissoulaGriz Member

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    Howdy,
    So I've become a Fuzz head convert of sorts. I got my first fuzz pedal after playing for 30+ years and I can't believe how much fun these things are. My question is this:
    The pedal I picked up was an older BBE Free Fuzz (it was super cheap on ebay and I just wanted to try it and it's in new condition).

    When I have my guitar volume all the way open and use a harder and quicker picking attack, I will find that I get a strange almost volume type of decrease on the low E string. It's kind of bizarre and it happens on all my guitars, both humbucks and singlecoils. Perhaps it's the distortion/string frequencies getting so convoluted that it creates this apparent dip in volume? I'm totally guessing here.

    However, when I roll back the volume knob about two clicks (this applies to all my guitars) I get all the benefits everyone talks about by running a fuzz with the volume backed off AND that weird volume dip in the low E string goes away.

    So, beyond the obvious of simply running my guitar volumes just a touch lower, is this a normal operation of fuzz type pedals or is it just the BBE pedal and a quality issue? Either way, I dig the pedal and have started down a very slippery path of fuzz fanaticism that will probably result in more money spent on "better" fuzz pedals in the near future.

    Overall I do really like the sound of the BBE Free Fuzz. I have other BBE's on my pedal board and I've always been happy with their build quality and sound.

    Any advice or tips is very appreciated.

    Edit: I'm playing through a Tweaker 15 with a closed back 1 X 12 cab
    Guitars: Gibson LP, American Standard Strat, G&L ASAT Custom Classic, 62 RI Jazzmaster.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  2. Jammer2393

    Jammer2393 Member

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    I cant speak for all fuzzes(although I think this is just part of fuzz), but MY fuzz gives different kinds of tones depending on where I am on the neck, and the low E string is incredibly bassy, which might give the illusion of volume drop.
     
  3. TeamJA

    TeamJA Member

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    Yes this usually happens with me, although you can counter it with EQ'ing the amp differently. When the volume on the guitar is dimed, you can strum/pick softer and the low E won't fart out as much.
     
  4. Lightningrt

    Lightningrt Member

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    Isn't this compression? I spent about 3 years trying about every fuzz there was but always found that this issue made using a fuzz live a bit too fiddly – kicking on a fuzz for a solo but turning down the volume on the guitar didn’t work for me.

    The MI Audio GI and Neo Fuzz have EQ and Bias controls which are good to combat this issue -they nearly worked for me – I just didn’t like having to tweak it at every gig to account for the different volume and EQ of the room.

    But yes Fuzz is fun!
     
  5. MissoulaGriz

    MissoulaGriz Member

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    Yeah, that's exactly what it sounds like...I just couldn't verbalize it. Thanks! It's like the note get crazy compressed. Sounds like it may be a basic fuzz type of issue. Thanks for putting it that way.
     
  6. SeicheNZ

    SeicheNZ Member

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    put another fuzz in front of it - compressed goodness, but only usable at home because the band'll drown you out.

    try turning down the fuzz abit.
     
  7. TeamJA

    TeamJA Member

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    Analogman and probably others, have a fuzz with an internal trimmer pot to account for that. It acts like the volume on your guitar, you can set it back a bit and it won't compress as much. Check out their website for directions. Also, looking at it as an "issue" isn't the best way to perceive it, that's what a fuzz does. Many artists have successfully used a fuzz.
     
  8. MissoulaGriz

    MissoulaGriz Member

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    I'm not seeing it too much as an issue for sure. It just seems to be present more on the low E string and when the guitar volume is rolled all the way up. I'm running the level on the pedal at 6 and the gain level on the pedal between 4 and 5.
    If I engage my TS9 which hits before the Fuzz it clears up the issue even with the guitar volume full up. It must just be some weirdness and another fun quirky thing that makes fuzz so fun.
    True, my band-mate also uses a Fuzz and it get's easily drowned out in live settings. I see myself using it only as a texture type of sound for quick solos, or small parts during a song. Not as something that would be consistent in my sound the whole night.
     
  9. brain21

    brain21 Member

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    I don't have that problem on my fuzzes, but they do have bias knobs on them. When cranked and I hit the low strings it gets big and ballsy if sometimes slightly muddy (bias knob helps to dial some of that out). The free fuzz is a silicon-based fuzz. You can go to your local GC or wherever and try out some other silicon fuzzes and see if they do the same thing or not. Dunlop makes some really kick-ass ones, like the Hendrix and the Bonamassa and the new Eric Johnson one sounds really nice too. I don't think any of those have bias knobs tho. The red rocket Mayer ones are nice too.

    If you try those fuzzes and they don't do what yours does, then it could be your fuzz.

    If you want to get a REALLY nice silicon fuzz on a budget, I highly recommend the Hartman Silicon fuzz. I have one and I also have a KR The Fuzz pedal as well. Those two are different in some aspects, but they do sound a LOT alike. While the KR can be found on ebay for around $250, you can get a Hartman brand new for ~$120. Plus his service is awesome too.

    If you wanna hear what the KR The Fuzz sounds like (and therefore pretty much what the Hartman would sound like), search the video demo section for the user samtheman (IIRC). He has 3 KR The Fuzz vs KR Gypsy Fuzz videos. He goes all over the neck, so you get a good idea. Now, mind you, he is running it through a killer amp and with a killer guitar too, so those help.

    EDIT: Heres a link: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=937398
     
  10. MissoulaGriz

    MissoulaGriz Member

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    Quick update...I messed around tonight with my pedal chain and here's what I found. Running the Free Fuzz AFTER the TS9 was causing that weird compression/volume loss thing when the guitar volume was all the way up. I swapped the Free Fuzz so it gets the guitar signal first (right after the tuner pedal) and it made a HUGE difference. It thickened up the sound a ton and took a lot of the "metallic" feel out of the pedal so that now it is much fatter and organic sounding. Also, with the volume cranked I don't get any weird issues on the low E string. Now when I roll the volume down the pedal cleans up really quickly and sounds fantastic, especially on the Jazzmaster.

    It's funny that the bypass circuitry of the TS9 would affect the Free Fuzz that much, even when the TS9 was off, but I guess the Fuzz pedal is that particular about the signal hitting it. Very interesting.

    So now I've got the TS9 AFTER the Free Fuzz and it's (the TS9) is set pretty much as my crunchy rhythm pedal. Unfortunately, if I'm running the Fuzz then engage the TS9 and run them together it pretty much sounds like crap. However, if I want to boost a solo while in Fuzz mode or the TS9 mode I just engage the BBE Boosta Grande to give me more juice.

    So far I'm pretty happy with the sound of the BBE Free Fuzz. There is definitely a learning curve when throwing a Fuzz into the pedalboard. I can also see how easily the fuzz will get lost in a live setting so I'm dialing back the gain quite a bit because even though it sounds a little "dry" when playing alone, I know that it will push through the band mix a lot better in the long run. It's still frigging fun to open that thing up and just wail with full fuzz when I'm playing by myself!
     
  11. SeicheNZ

    SeicheNZ Member

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    yep, if a pedal that's before the fuzz has a buffer inside (isn't true bypass) the fuzz will sound like crap. Same thing with a tuner like the TU-2.
     
  12. JohnSS

    JohnSS Member

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    I also am a fan of the BBE Free Fuzz, although I just picked up a used Cool Cat CF-1 (Peach Fuzz clone) as well. I was about to recommend your exact remedy when I started reading your string, only to find that you discovered it on your own. As you have not mentioned how you set your Tweaker, I am assuming you have it set fairly clean and use the TS-9 for crunch rhythms. Putting the Fuzz ahead of the OD in the chain preserves more of the dynamics and tone, since the signal is then hitting an overdriven amp, albeit from the TS-9. This is similar to the Hendrix sound of the Fuzz Face hitting the overdriven Marshall amp.

    For more of a SRV type of solo sound, I have found that cascading ODs with the OD with the better EQ later in the chain is an interesting alternative, and the fuzz can be used though one or the other OD (though probably not both or the compression effect will kick in) to give you 3 different solo sound combination options. For example, I have the Free Fuzz feeding a BBE Soul Vibe, then a DOD FX50 OD and a Hardwire SC-2 Distortion feeding a clean Peavey or Yamaha SS amp, or for big gigs, my Music Man 210-HD set fairly clean. I'll use the DOD or the SC-2 alternatively for different crunch rhythms and cascade them for some blues type solos. The Fuzz can feed the DOD for more grungy, Nels Cline type of solo sounds or the SC-2 for more classic rock fuzz solo tones.
     
  13. brain21

    brain21 Member

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    I wish someone would make a pedal that fixes that. So you could go guitar>buffered pedal>fuzz. It seems no one does, though there are schematics out there for a "pickup simulator" that returns the output from the buffered pedal to one is "loaded" like a pickup. I do know that some fuzzes (can't remember which ones) have the kind of feature built-in, which is nice.

    BTW, as far as the dry sound goes, a fuzz followed by a delay is really nice sounding :)
     
  14. Glitch Magnet

    Glitch Magnet Member

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    There are fuzzes out there that are buffered to allow for stacking. The BJFe Pink Purple Fuzz works marvelously after other pedals...unfortunately it's discontinued and expensive. I'm sure there are others.
     
  15. MissoulaGriz

    MissoulaGriz Member

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    It's been interesting for sure. I've learned more about pedal chains, fuzz, true bypass, buffered bypass etc. in the past 48 hours than I have in the last 30+ years of playing.
     
  16. AXXA

    AXXA Supporting Member

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    The Analogman Astrotone supposedly plays nice with buffers, and the MXR 108 has an optional buffer switch, though that is really designed to make it work with a wah.

    To the OP: Another quirk of fuzz faces is that they don't work well with wahs before them. You can put the fuzz before the wah for a 'filtered' sound, but fuzz after wah will kill the wah's sweep, and sometimes oscillate (squeal). Thats why some wah pedals come with 'fuzz-friendly buffers'. These buffers are not the same as the buffer found in a pedal such as the TS9 however. Do a little research on this subject if you may be using a wah with your fuzz.
     
  17. brain21

    brain21 Member

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    There are a few really good threads here on buffering etc. specifically related to fuzzes. Search for fuzz buffer and I'm sure you'll find a few. Very educational too.
     

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