Is a fuzz the same as a distortion?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by theflyingturtle, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. theflyingturtle

    theflyingturtle Member

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    The weather has gotten to me and I'm getting kind of stir crazy so this weekend I'm taking some old pine boards and making a pedalboard. I've never had one so I'm making my first pedal chain. Usually I just pull a few out at a time depending on my mood. According to Keeley it is wah, compressor, distortion. So by distortion does that include fuzzes? If so should fuzzes or the ODs go first? Also I'll have two fuzzes when the KR arrives next week and three ODs when the Tim and Timmy arrive in a couple of months. Also, is there any rule as to how they should be sequenced (I.E. most gain to least)? Thanks.
     
  2. Dave

    Dave Member

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    A germanium fuzz will almost always have to be first, they usually won't sound right anywhere else. A silicon fuzz is usually more forgiving.

    As for the order of everything else I recommend you experiment.
     
  3. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    In that sense, you an put distortion and fuzz in the same category, but generally they are very different.


    When I think of fuzzes they are almost always transistor based... i.e. they use a transistor (usually germanium or silicon) in the clipping stage to distort. Fuzzes (usually) react really well to different guitars and nuances of playing including manipulating guitar controls. They tend to offer more gain than ODs, but comparable to distortion boxes. They can be used in front of clean or dirty amps. I usually put fuzzes first because they don't react well to signals that aren't coming from a guitar (i.e. an overdriven signal).


    Distortions usually use OPamps for clipping and they tend to slap their own ideal EQ and sounds all over your signal. They are to be plugged into clean amps most of the time. Usually they are higher headroom so they react better to goosing by other pedals.



    ODs are like distortions but they generally make an attempt to be transparent... usually they are supposed to be used in front of dirty amps or dirty pedals.
     
  4. theflyingturtle

    theflyingturtle Member

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    Hmmmm. Very helpful, thanks.
     
  5. Curly

    Curly Member

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    there is a technical difference

    it could probably best be demonstrated by pics of signal generators

    basically, the wave from a fuzz is more squared off at the top and bottom (I think -- I'm really not that technical)
     
  6. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    Fuzz is distortion in the extreme.

    Distortion is a lesser degree of waveform alteration and when max saturation is reached, fuzz is the result. There is a greater amount of harmonic distortion in fuzz and the wave is more towards square or squared out.

    Overdrive is the lesser form of distortion, Distortion term is used to describe increased overdrive with more clipping and falls between OD and Fuzz

    Fuzz is max clipping and saturation where the waveform loses all linearity, has the tops of the wave cycle chopped where as in OD and Dist have lesser degress of squaring and retain some linearity and because of this there is little if any wave chopping and this depends on the range of the gain control

    Some use transistors, op-amps, leds or diodes to achieve OD/Dist/Fuzz, in the case of a fuzz box, the gain is typically maxed and there is usually some eq treatment to control/induce clipping over a wider freq range.

    OD/Distortion and Fuzz are technicaly related but tonaly different with the most apparent difference being that with OD/Dist some headroom is available, backing off with your volume cleans up the tone

    with fuzz its typicaly on or off, much less dynamic range, will not clean up

    2 examples
    Tube Screamer is an OD/Dist pedal, OD for the most part
    EH Big Muff is Fuzz
     
  7. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    fuzz will not clean up?? that's crazy talk. That's not what jimi says...
     
  8. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    Fuzz is magically delicious like Lucky Charms. Distortion is more like Frosted Flakes. Overdrive is like Granola.
     
  9. Dave

    Dave Member

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    Well, he cited the Big Muff, I guess that's his frame of reference.

    As most of us know, there's lots of fuzz pedals will clean up nicely.
     
  10. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    fuzz will clean up but not as much as OD/Dist pedals so for the sake of making the point I made a generalization

    hendrix had a clean sound, when he switched it off!

    I used the Big Muff as an extreme example of whats out there, it wont clean up, trash city but I did say the degree of linearity retained with any of these pedals OD/Dist/Fuzz is dependent on the circuit gain control...


    yes there are fuzz pedals that will clean up but there are not as common as the dirtier variety
     
  11. Dale

    Dale Member

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    A fuzz can clean up fine, especially fuzz face style fuzzes. Big Muff style do not do so as well. There is a lot of ground here when one says fuzz, it could mean nearly anything today. I run 3-4 on my board, and they are nothing alike. Java Boost, Fuzz Head, Huckleberry and a Top Fuel. It depends ofn the guitar, amp and tome you want what works it seems.
     
  12. theflyingturtle

    theflyingturtle Member

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    I get it, sweet mother of god, For the first time in my life I get it!!! I can hear the difference between ODs, distortion, and fuzz but I never had the words to explain what the differences were! The clipping and wave shapes really gives me a concise picture of what I'm hearing. I was also never quite clear on the connectivity between the different types of distortion. I have a Diamond Fireburst Fuzz that has a mid-boost that sees to change from a fuzz to a distortion. It always puzzled me a bit. I'm not quite sure about the cereal example though...
     
  13. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    I was hoping that my cereal analogy would do the trick but as long as we all got there... that's what matters.
     
  14. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    Sure it can but defining "fine" is where the detail is

    Its dependent on that available range of gain in the pedal from the lowest setting to the highest. The more extreme amount of gain available, the less it cleans unless it uses some sort of bandpass filtering that works to clean up the tone when you roll the guitar volume pot back, a function of the filter used. Some pedals use a transistor for clip and the gain of that stage would affect clean up also. Input impedance also has a dramatic effect. A higher than normal input impedance increases the sensitivity meaning it goes into saturation sooner, less headroom, earlier saturation and the hotter your pickups the sooner you get there.

    The fuzz face cleans but imo its less of a fuzz, more distortion. When I think of Fuzz, I think of something more saturated over the total guitar range from low to high where its as dirty as its gonna get.

    What I love about the Face is the edge it lives on, the edge of Dist into Fuzz, it seems to be just enough to introduce the nasty while not making your tone small.

    The Tubescreamer uses a circuit to limit the OD below 700hz approx and naturally works to clean up the signal when you roll back the volume. There is more to this so thats the simple of it, but what type of clip circuit it uses is also a factor. My reference is using the extreme ranges when describing OD-Dist-Fuzz, some pedals called fuzz may be less fuzz more od/dist. A real fuzz is also the most difficult tone to work with and get it above other instruments because its so saturated where the fundamental tones are almost gone or buried under the harmonic distortion.

    The fundementals are round and cleaner tones, the less of them in your tone, the smaller it gets and when you have truly arrived in Fuzzville its like its 1967 and your in some hippy trippy psychodelic fuzzy haze.. a purple one possibly

    So flyingturtle the way to really think of this whole mess is from left to right like this with moving to the right meaning more saturation as you go up-

    clean - lo OD hi- lo Dist hi - lo Fuzz hi

    OD - Dist - Fuzz are just points of literal reference and its all in reality distortion achieved by varying the amount of overdrive, the words are just used descriptively

    Let me give you an example, I have a Roger Mayer Mongoose Fuzz, it does not clean up and is a Face on steroids. It has a 2meg input impedance and uses a transistor to clip and an op-amp follower.

    Its aggresive and growls and has a huge amount of fat laden gain but despite this stays between the high end of dist and the low end of fuzz even rolling the guitar vol down, the dist is still there.

    Its just one of many types out there and they are all different
     
  15. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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