How dirty can you go with Fuzz?


I ran into an issue at a gig last weekend. I was playing through an Orange Rocker with the gain set just over half way, so pretty dirty and driven (Glorious I might hasten to add!). I stepped on my Musket (gain set at about 2 o'clock), hoping to get a smooth, sustaining violin-type tone but instead, the notes just got really gated/choked/congested and MASSIVELY compressed - so much so that you could barely hear them.

My questions to the learned forumites here are:

1) When people talk about fuzz into an "overdriven" amp, are we talking "just on the edge of break-up" overdriven?
2) Would a fuzz-face type circuit be better for this than a Big Muff style circuit?


You can make a signal completely square wave and it will be entirely saturated. This is easier with a digital probably. There are other ways to distort a signal -- any form of modulation is still "distortion" in the literal meaning of the word.

This is an entirely different question from whether pedals and amps play nice together and whether you'll be audible in a band setting with the resulting signal.

Just Nick has a couple good videos about that last point.

Big Muffs are absolutely notorious for being nearly inaudible live without help, and if you had it set bassy, the low end was overdriving your amp further and you were just getting drowned. Turn down the gain, turn the tone way up, and EQ your amp to have some mids.


1) It really depends on the person and what they're going for. When I run fuzz into my 5150 it's at what many people on here would consider mid gain. But I want it to be compressed and nasty sounding.
2) Possibly... though the super smooth thing from a muff will be hard to beat. That said, a lot of guys who want the super smooth sound will run a muff into a twin or other mostly clean amp.

The other thing is that some fuzz pedals just don't play nice with some amps. Some pedals really need a certain level of volume to really shine as well... not sure how loud you were playing. Short answer, try a bunch of different stuff :p


Remember - if you dial your fuzz in to sound good with your clean channel, and then you switch to a dirty channel, your fuzz will sound like trash, most likely. You need to dial it in specifically for the gain channel. Take that FUZZ knob and turn it down. Thin the fuzz out a bit to let it cut through on the dirty channel.


Silver Supporting Member
My amp, a Maz 18, is set clean. I use a DLS MKIII to give me a slight breakup, so the dirt is set low at about 9 or 10 o'clock.
My fuzzes, either a Fulltone '69 or an AM Astrotone sound very good stacked with it. Having a bright dirty tone helps a lot with fuzzes too.

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