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NAMM Sneak Peek

Fuzz Face

There’s distortion and then there’s the Fuzz Face, the most iconic, most sought-after stompbox in the history of the modern electric guitar. Its full name is the Arbiter Fuzz Face (later Dallas-Arbiter), and it was released upon an unsuspecting world in 1966, just in time for Jimi Hendrix to pick one up. It has also been used by the likes of David Gilmour, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others. Why Fuzz Face? Because when you look at the circular, die-cast housing, the layout of the controls, footswitch, and Arbiter name plate all put together clearly resemble a face (although a rather funny-looking one). With only two transistors, three capacitors, and a handful of resistors, this is an amazingly simple circuit, yet the resultant sound is the Holy Grail of fuzz-based distortion. Urban legend tells of Jimi Hendrix going through a whole case of Fuzz Faces to find the best ones. That may actually be true, as early stompboxes were notorious for their inconsistant sound quality. If one or two components varied from the specifications, the tone was compromised. Today, Dunlop owns the rights to the Fuzz Face name and its circuitry.

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