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Choosing a Fuzz Face

FuzzFaceJH

Q: I really want to get a Fuzz Face for my guitar, so I can get those Jimi Hendrix and Eric Johnson fuzz tones. But I see two types on your website: the Dunlop Hendrix Fuzz Face and the MXR Classic 108 Fuzz, and I know that Dunlop also makes another Fuzz Face. What are the differences?

A: For being arguably one of the simplest guitar effects (the originals had just 11 electronic components), the Fuzz Face can be an elusive beast to nail down! Here is a rundown on the differences:

Dunlop Fuzz Face (which we can order for you) — uses a germanium transistor, as was used in the original Fuzz Faces, circa 1966. There is no status LED indicator, nor is there an AC adapter jack. Because this is an unbuffered fuzz, you may experience oscillation if you use it after a wah. Germanium transistors will also change tone based on their temperature and the type and strength of battery used. (Experts recommend a non-alkaline battery.) It will have a smooth, thick, low-gain — not overly fuzzy — sound.

Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face — this one is designed after Hendrix’s Band Of Gypsy’s era sound, circa 1969-1970. It uses silicon BC108C transistors, which have a brighter, somewhat harsher sound. Silicon does not change tone with temperature and is less finicky about batteries. There is no status LED or AC power jack. Eric Johnson is said to use a vintage BC108-based Fuzz Face as part of his dirty rhythm signal path.

MXR Classic 108 Fuzz — this one is very similar to the Hendrix Fuzz Face, but with modern improvements, such as a more pedalboard-friendly case shape, a status LED, an AC power jack, and a switchable buffer, which makes it more compatible with wahs and other pedals.

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