Hate it or love it, fuzz is a major player when it comes to guitar effects. This “distortion beyond distortion” effect can be heard on countless records and great fuzz pedals can be found on pedalboards around the world.
Speaking of great fuzz pedals, this article will discuss the top 12 best fuzz pedals money can buy. More specifically, we’ll go over the top 7 best fuzzes for guitar and the top 5 best fuzzes for bass guitar. That should keep everyone happy, right?
The top 7 best fuzz pedals for guitar are:
- Jim Dunlop Mini Germanium Fuzz Face
- Matthews Effects The Whaler
- Old Blood Noise Endeavors Haunt
- EarthQuaker Devices Erupter
- ZVex Fuzz Factory
- Death By Audio Fuzz War
- Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
The top 5 best fuzz pedals for bass guitar are:
- Hartke HF44
- MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe
- EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz V2
- Way Huge Pork & Pickle Bass Overdrive/Fuzz
- Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi
I should note that “best of” lists are highly subjective. The contents of this article are my opinion. It’s difficult to define the “best” fuzz pedals objectively.
That being said, these pedals are all top performers in their field and are worthy of our attention when it comes time to pick out a new fuzz pedal for our rig.
Let’s discuss each pedal on this list and the reasons why they are the best.
What Are Fuzz Pedals & How Do They Work?
Fuzz pedals really destroy the waveform of the guitar signal but are cherished nonetheless for the tone they produce.
Guitar fuzz is beyond hard-clipping distortion to the point where the guitar signal becomes square-like and difficult to control. Significant odd-order harmonics are produced and the compression is so much that any signal dynamics are severely affected by the fuzz.
Fuzz is an interesting effect. It’s fundamentally a compression pedal that acts to distort a signal so much that it becomes square-like. This hard compression is similar to limiting and the resulting output signal is similar to what a synth pedal could output.
Fuzz is often described as “distorted”, “fuzzy”, “wooly”, “creamy” and “violin-like”.
Because fuzz pedal have such a large effect on tone, they are operate optimally near the front of the signal chain.
Related article: How To Order Guitar/Bass Pedals (Ultimate Signal Flow Guide)
With that being said, let’s talk about some fuzz pedals!
For a more in-depth article on fuzz pedals, check out my article Guitar Pedals: Boost Vs. Overdrive Vs. Distortion Vs. Fuzz.
Jim Dunlop Mini Germanium Fuzz Face
First up is the famous circular Jim Dunlop FFM6 Mini Germanium Fuzz Face (link to check the price on Amazon).
The FFM6 Mini Germanium Fuzz Face gives us that warm vintage germanium transistor fuzz tone in a modernized durable circular housing.
The true bypass pedal is super straightforward with a volume knob and a fuzz knob. Adjust the amount of distortion you want and how loud the output should be and have yourself one of the best fuzz sounds out there!
Dunlop is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
Matthews Effects The Whaler
Second on the list is a pedal from a boutique manufacturer. It’s the excellent Matthews Effects The Whaler (link to check the price on Amazon).
The Whaler features a unique dynamic fuzz circuit, allowing it to produce both tube-like distortion and full-out fuzz. It’s built with high-end components and has an additional gain stage that greatly increases its range and depth of sound.
Let’s look at the controls of this true bypass dynamic fuzz pedal:
- Output knob: adjusts the output volume of the effect.
- Sustain knob: controls the amount of fuzz.
- Squish knob: controls the bias of the fuzz.
- Tone knob: increases highs and decreases lows or vice versa.
- Body knob: scoops the mids.
So we have an EQ and a fuzz circuit in The Whaler. Adjust the Sustain to get from a more dynamic distortion to a full-out fuzz ton. Use the Squish to control the overall characteristics of the sound from more gated to more open.
If you’re looking for a fuzz that’s a bit more controllable, be sure to try out the Matthews Effects The Whaler.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors Haunt
When it comes to guitar fuzz pedals, it’s tough to beat the sound of the Old Blood Noise Endeavors Haunt (link to check the price on Amazon).
OBNE’s Haunt is a versatile gated fuzz. Whether we’re after a restrained fuzziness or a full out granular synth-like saw sound, the Haunt has us covered.
This highly tweakable fuzz pedal offers the following controls:
- Volume knob: adjusts the overall output volume.
- Fuzz knob: adjusts the amount of fuzzy gain that is applied to the signal.
- Gate knob: sets the gate threshold.
- Tone knob: adjusts the EQ of the output.
- Mix knob: mixes the dry and fuzz signal together by varying amounts.
- Low toggle: attenuated the low-end of the signal.
- Range toggle: affects the range of the fuzz control.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors did a fantastic job with this fuzz pedal. It sounds great and is highly adjustable to suit any and all of our fuzz needs.
EarthQuaker Devices Erupter
The EarthQuaker Devices Erupter (link to check the price on Amazon) is the simplest pedal from EQD and sounds incredible.
The Erupter is the simplest pedal on the list with a single knob.
This knob controls the bias voltage of the fuzz pedal. The centre detent allows us to easily find the “perfect fuzz setting” with a big round tone, great sustain and a slight volume boost. Turn the knob clockwise to make the fuzz louder and more defined. Turn the knob counterclockwise to make the fuzz more gated with a lower output.
With a single control, we can dial in the fuzz sound we desire. The Erupter sounds incredible and is super easy to use, making it a top contender for the “best” fuzz pedal!
EarthQuaker Devices is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
ZVex Fuzz Factory
The ZVex Fuzz Factory (link to check the price on Amazon) is a top-notch fuzz pedal.
The circuit of the ZVex Fuzz Factory is based around 2 new old stock (NOS) 60s-era germanium transistors but it is far from a classic design.
This fuzz pedal has a total of 5 knobs that control various operating levels and biases. Dial them in carefully to avoid over-fuzzing everything and create yourself a unique fuzz.
The control knobs of this fantastic fuzz are:
- Volume knob: controls the output level.
- Gate knob: squelches noise after end of sustain and tunes feedback pitch.
- Comp knob: adds attack characteristic when turned to left, which gets softer to right, and suddenly pinches tone when all the way right. It also can tune in fat feedback fuzz.
- Drive: increases distortion when used as a “normal” fuzz and adjusts feedback pitch and tonal thickness.
- Stab: hardens or softens the fuzz and controls feedback pitch.
Spend some time dialing in your perfect fuzz tones and be sure to write them down as this pedal doesn’t have presets. What it does have, however, is a variety of fuzz sounds that get it a spot on this list.
ZVex Effects is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Boutique Guitar/Bass Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
Death By Audio Fuzz War
The Death by Audio Fuzz War (link to check the price on Amazon) is another superb fuzz pedal with a sound as big as its housing.
Death By Audio’s Fuzz War is simple and nasty fuzz pedal. Defined as a “high-tech fuzz mutilator” the Fuzz War is capable of insane fuzz effects.
In fact, even with only 3 knobs, the Fuzz War can be dialed in to produce a user-defined fuzz that will work with specific musical tastes. Spend some time with it and you’ll surely get a thick sustaining fuzz to call your own.
The 3 knobs mentioned earlier are:
- Volume: controls the overall output level.
- Fuzz: controls the gain of the fuzz circuit. At its lowest setting the pedal just acts as a tone shifter. As the fuzz knob is turned up it sweeps from a booster; to an overdrive; to a thick distortion, to a full on blown out war of fuzz.
- Tone: a specially designed multi-curve shaping filter which changes the timbre of the pedal from super deep bass sludge to screaming highs.
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
I couldn’t get away without mentioning the famous Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi (link to check the price on Amazon): a pedal synonymous with great guitar fuzz pedals.
The Big Muff Pi is one of the most legendary pedals in the world, let alone one of the most well-known and beloved fuzz pedals. It’s been around since 1969 and has seen many revisions over the years. We’ll discuss the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi later in this article.
This pedal is defined as a distortion/sustainer but it’s better known as a fuzz.
This pedal produces rich, creamy, violin-like sustain and incredible fuzzy distortion. It’s been on countless records and has its place on pedalboards around the world.
The controls are simple:
- Volume knob: sets the output level.
- Sustain knob: adjusts the amount of sustain and distortion.
- Tone knob: provides a range of sounds from high treble to deep bass.
Electro-Harmonix is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
The Hartke HF44 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a simple and compact bass fuzz with great character.
The Hartke HF44 is designed with all-analog circuitry and delivers a fat, punchy fuzz distortion. Its FET-based circuit emulates the high-voltage sound of a saturated tube in order to produce a superb fuzz sound for bass guitar.
Compared to other fuzz stompboxes, the compact and durable HF44 is pretty dynamic and controllable. The effect will follow your playing dynamics if set to do so. It can also get pretty wild if the fuzz is cranked.
Speaking of control, the Hartke HF44 has 4 control knobs:
- Level knob: controls the amount of the effected signal.
- Gain knob: adjusts the amount of distortion and sustain.
- Mid knob: adjusts the mid-frequency response of the effected signal.
- Tone knob: adjusts the high-frequency response of the effected signal. Turning the knob clockwise brightens the sound.
If a bass fuzz is what you’re after, the Hartke HF44 is one of the best and certainly worth considering!
MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe
The MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe (link to check the price on Amazon) gets us started in regard to the bass fuzz pedals on this list.
The MXR Bass Fuzz Deluxe is based on vintage fuzz principles modernized and modified for bass guitar.
This particular pedal is capable of outputting huge bass fuzz tones along with the dynamics and clarity of the input signal. Adjust the output levels of the dry/direct and wet/fuzz signals to get a great fuzz tone while maintaining the punchiness of the bass signal.
Use the Tone and Fuzz controls to shape the fuzz signal without affecting the direct signal whatsoever. Dial in a fuzz setting that works for your bass guitar and seamlessly transition in and out of the effect with true bypass.
MXR is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use.
EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz V2
The EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz V2 (link to check the price on Amazon) sounds absolutely astonishing on bass guitar.
The Hoof is EarthQuaker Devices’ flagship fuzz pedal. We’ve already discussed the company’ single-knob Erupter fuzz. Now let’s look at a model that’s a bit more involved.
This fuzz pedal is based around a germanium/silicon hybrid transistor. This gets the pedal its characteristic fuzz tone. The tone is smooth, natural, harmonically-rich sustain, and one of the best fuzzes to use on bass guitar and other instruments.
The Hoof Fuzz has 4 knobs:
- Shift: adjusts the mid content, clockwise for scooped mids, counterclockwise for boosted.
- Tone: boost the bass to the left and treble to the right.
- Level: use this control to make the Hoof louder or quieter.
- Fuzz: clockwise for heavy, counterclockwise for light.
This device is true bypass and uses electronic relay-based switching. Set the knobs to the positions that sound best to you and you’ll surely have yourself one of the best fuzzes in the world.
Way Huge Pork & Pickle Bass Overdrive/Fuzz
The Way Huge Pork & Pickle Bass Overdrive/Fuzz (link to check the price on Amazon) has a funny name but its sound doesn’t mess around.
The Way Huge Pork & Pickle is a true bypass overdrive/fuzz hybrid designed specifically for bass guitar. It houses the Way Huge Pork Loin Overdrive and Russian-Pickle Fuzz in a single compact package.
Actually, it may be more accurate to state the Way Huge Russian-Pickle (link to check the price on Amazon) is one of the best fuzz pedals in the world. Why not add in the additional overdrive circuit and call it a more versatile pedal?
The fuzz circuit produces smooth, creamy fuzz tones to suit ’90s-era grunge, swinging stoner grooves and plenty of other genres. Put it on your pedalboard to hear it for yourself!
Let’s have a look at the controls of the hybrid pedal:
- Clean Blend knob: mixes clean signal with overdrive or fuzz.
- Volume knob: sets output level.
- Od/Fuzz toggle switch: toggled between overdrive and fuzz circuits.
- Drive knob: sets overdrive or fuzz intensity.
- Clean Tone knob: adjusts the clean signal from mellow to bright.
- Tone knob: cuts highs of overdrive signal or shapes EQ of fuzz signal.
Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi
Like its guitar-focused counterpart, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi (link to check the price on Amazon) is among the best fuzz pedals in the world.
EHX’s Bass Big Muff Pi provides all the drive of the original without the loss of low-end frequencies. In fact, it’s even got a bass boost option! For those bassists who love the sound of the Big Muff, EHX has your back!
The pedal is designed similarly to the original with a few additional controls.
Notably, the pedal has two outputs: one for the affected signal and one for the dry/direct signal. This is reminiscent of bass preamp/DI pedals. Next, the Bass Big Muff Pi has a toggle switch that allows for 3 different modes:
- Bass Boost mode: bass frequency boost is added to the fuzz channel.
- Normal mode: pure tone of the classic Big Muff Pi.
- Dry mode: the original dry signal is mixed with fuzz (the volume control then controls the amount of fuzz without affecting the dry signal).
Other than that, the 3 knobs are the same as the original:
- Sustain knob: adjusts the amount of sustain and distortion.
- Tone knob: provides a range of sounds from high treble to deep bass designed specifically for the bass guitar.
- Volume knob: sets the output level of the distortion.
Just like the original, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi is a well-respected pedal that, without a doubt, gets its spot on this list!