On the Fence with the MJM London Fuzz

alivegy

Member
Messages
1,176
I finally took the plunge and have started the quest for a fuzz pedal for my board. I play a strat through a pretty clean 2203. I stated with a silicon sunface bc108, but it was just way too much. All of the note definition was gone and it just didn't play well with the marshall. After testing out a few pedals I found that I like the response of germanium fuzzes more than the silicon. I'm after more of a subtle hendrix type fuzz, rather than some of the later more modern, what I consider smashing pumpkins type fuzz.

So I got a London I Fuzz a few days ago. Man is it dark. It sounds great on its own, but turning it on almost seems like hitting the "get lost in the mix" button. I love the way that it thickens up the steel strings on my strat but half of my guitar becomes unusable. It has tons of gain on tap and is a fun pedal to tinker with, but I think as far as leaving it on my board there wouldn't be enough times that I could actually use it that it would be worth it. The sustain is nice, almost never ending in cases.

I'm thinking about sending it back and trying out the Hartman Germanium, anyone have thoughts on how they compare?
 

jboyjams

Member
Messages
2,301
The London was my least favorite out of all I tried - disappointed with it.

I love the Hartman Vintage Germanium - it's as good as any - fat and warm - great tone. It also has an extra knob called "Level" that helps a lot by adjusting the guitar input level - helps tame the fuzz.

fyi - my other Fuzz experience this year:
My favorite silicon is the Hendrix Fuzz Face - many pros use this one like Mato Nanji, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang. It cuts well and is warmer and more vintage sounding than other silicon I've tried. I'll always keep mine.
I also have a Gypsy Fuzz (silicon)- it's rare and most versatile as it functions no matter where the fuzz is set.
Except for the Gypsy, I need to dime all of my Fuzzes to make them shine.

Other Germanium:
I have a Cornell 1st Fuzz (NKT-275) - it's probably "the best" but expensive - Denis Cornell worked on the original Fuzz Face circuit at Arbiter I believe.
The Sunface (NKT-275) is similar to the Cornell (but I need to look into an issue with noise when rolling back guitar volume).
Diaz Square Face - very heavy fuzz - more gain - but surprisingly cleans up as good as any.

I put a deposit on the 69 Slight Return (215 limited editions) - so I hope I get the email.

I'm loving a Fuzz Face with my Plexi's - they all sound awesome at home but the challenge is making them cut and stand out at the gigs.
Most of the time I need to roll back my guitar volume at least a tiny bit to make it cut - sometimes I'll lower pretty much then add a clean boost after it. Other times I can just work the volume knob using just the Fuzz.
 

alivegy

Member
Messages
1,176
Well I just spent another 2 hours with the London. I found that a lot of the darkness was coming from the interaction between the london and my EP booster which is very last in my chain after a switchbone. The london is still a dark fuzz, but the epbooster was really accentuating those lower frequencies and making the pedal very boomy on the low end.

That said, I have coaxed some tones out of this thing that I'm pretty happy with. I rolled the sag control on my pedal power down 30% or so which helped. Another interesting thing that I found is that it the pedal responds in much the same way with my bass knob as it does my volume. I have a g&l legacy that comes with a bass roll off knob as well as the more typical treble control. If I drop the bass to 9 it tames some of that crazy low-end and if I keep lowering it the tone cleans up like lowering the volume.

Still undecided but that was a pretty fun 2 hours. Thanks for all of the info jboy. I will probably end up getting the hartman even if I keep the london and like you mentioned the level control really intrigues me. I might start with the hendrix fuzz when I start looking for a silicon fuzz. Fuzz is a slippery, slippery slope!
 

Lolaviola

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,861
I thought the London was a great super-high-gain ge sound. It's great if it's the only pedal you have on, but you're talking pedalboard... asking a fuzz, any fuzz to work on apedalboard is alot. That's why people like the gypsy fuzz.
 

jboyjams

Member
Messages
2,301
"Fuzz is a slippery, slippery slope!"

YES IT IS!!!
(all of the info I listed is from 2010 - I slipped in March...)

FWIW - the London isn't bad - the ProGuitarShop demo is great and I had great expectations but I already had experience with most of the others and I liked them much better (I don't want to bash the London).
 

VHS analog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,196
I have an early London germanium fuzz. It's quite loud but it isn't super-high gain. With single coils, I have to run it into a Lovepedal Eternity (clone) to get big sustain. Maybe I have a special low-gain London. Perhaps your Marshall 2203 is highly sensitive.
 

alivegy

Member
Messages
1,176
Thanks jboy. Fuzz is very particular to guitar, amp, place in pedal chain and the weather, so I appreciate hearing your experiences with it and how you thought it compared to others that you've tried.

americananalog, I keep my amp right on the verge of breaking up, which for a 2203 is quite a thing. I've found with the london that I like to keep the volume up and the fuzz down. The combination of the london and the ep booster is what gives the sustain. Really without that ep booster at the end of the chain it is a completely different pedal. The london also loves my king of the britains. Bass side of the KOTB and hit the boost with the fuzz on and you get this crazy wooden sustain that lasts years.

I'll probably play a few more hours with it over the weekend.
 




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