The best fuzz pedals reviewed, from dreamily fuzzy to evilly scuzzy

Our fuzz-lover’s guide to the top-rated fuzz pedals, from Tone Bender tributes to the newest and freakiest creations.

Boss FZ-1W
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Nothing transforms a guitar’s tone quite like the best fuzz pedals. These buzzy boxes have circuits built for square-wave clipping, which can produce far-out sounds that go beyond your average distortion or overdrive pedal.

Some fuzzes look backwards, with electronics based on classic pedals like the Tone Driver and the Fuzz Face, summoning the spirit of luminaries like The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Others stomp their own mark on fuzz history, playing with features like tube-driven harmonics, voltage control and sag adjustment.

So, choosing the right fuzz pedal can be tricky. Where one bathes your playing in a sticky-sweet haze, another makes it plunge and soar, a la My Bloody Valentine. This buyer’s guide will introduce you to our team’s ten favourite fuzzes, to help you find your perfect little box of licks.

At a glance:

Our Pick: Boss FZ-1W

Boss FZ-1W

This innovative Boss analogue fuzz offers some new sounds to play around with, including a ‘vintage’ mode that sounds curiously like a fat, warm overdrive when used with a low gain setting.

The FZ-1W is heavy on the mids, especially when you push the fuzz. In that sense, it’s a little like a classic Fuzz Face – but with superior cut-through. You can push the pedal into wild, Hendrixian territory without losing musicality.

On the downside, the FZ-1W’s decay can get a little crackly when you’re playing sustained chords, and the vintage/modern mode selection knob is a little tricky to turn, without nudging the other controls. These minor quibbles aside, the FZ-1W is a superb new addition to the wavy world of fuzz.

Need more? Read our Boss FZ-1W review.

Best Tone Bender-inspired Fuzz: Warm Audio Warm Bender

Warm Audio Warm Bender

On some level, lots of fuzz pedals are inspired by the Tone Bender, the pioneering fuzz launched by Solasound in 1965, and later adapted by Vox. It’s one of the classics.

The Warm Bender from Warm Audio sounds closer to the originals than most, with two distinct circuits emulating two iconic Tone Bender pedals: the Mk 1.5 and the Mk 2.

We rate the Warm Bender highly for its vintage-style enclosure construction and creativity-inspiring choice of six operating modes.

Need more? Read our Warm Audio Warm Bender review.

Best octave fuzz: Walrus Audio Silt

Walrus Audio Silt

Huge, gnarly sounds are the order of the day with the Silt octave fuzz from Walrus Audio. Sporting two footswitches, the pedal can be used as a straight-up fuzz, or with an up-octave added to your guitar’s signal. If you’d like your lead guitar parts to cut through the noise like a tusk through ice, look no further.

The Silt has robust construction, premium-feeling components and a pleasing peekaboo window onto its vacuum tube. Our reviewer was pretty impressed with its thick, smooth, mid-heavy fuzz tone – and even more so when its harmonic mode added lush, tube-driven harmonics to power chords and melodies.

Need more? Read our Walrus Audio Silt review.

Most distinctive fuzz: Fender Shields Blender

Fender Shields Blender

This octave fuzz from Fender sounds every bit as otherworldly as the playing of its namesake, MBV’s Kevin Shields.

The Shields Blender builds on the sonic palette of the classic Fender Blender, with four footswitches and eight control knobs to keep you gazing shoewards. It takes some practice to master the pedal – from sag adjustment to tone blending – but a trip down this rabbit hole will reward you with massive, bright, full-frequency fuzz tone and some pretty exotic up-octave and down-octave sounds.

Need more? Read our Fender Shields Blender review.

Most versatile Fuzz: Walrus Audio Eons

Walrus Audio Eons

Do walruses have ears? If so, then this one has features coming out of ‘em, with adjustable gain, tone, volume and voltage knobs to tweak (or transform) the sound of its five fantastic modes.

The Eons is a compact pedal of immense capabilities, with modes ranging from a warm silicon fuzz to hard-clipping freakout territory. Where the average multi-mode fuzz pedal sounds recognisable from one mode to the next, this one adds true breadth to your board.

Best of all are the Eons’ adjustable settings. Frankly, we’re addicted to its sweepable voltage control, which you can use to explore a range of power levels from a sparkling 18V, all the way down to a glitchy, primitive 3V.

Need more? Read our Walrus Audio Eons review.

Best character fuzz: Beetronics Abelha

Beetronics Abelha

Beetronics’ Abelha (meaning ‘wasp’ in Portuguese) takes its inspiration from Brazil’s psychedelia-splattered Tropicália art movement. It features three voicings, the best of which, ‘Pollen’, has an out-there, gated, bassy and somewhat synth-like sound.

Things get truly mind-altering when you double-press the footswitch to activate ‘Tropical Mode’, which passes the pedal’s fuzzy sounds through a waspish high-end filter. Frankly, the ensuing buzzsaw abrasiveness has split opinion among our review team.

It’s a little avant garde for some tastes, but the characterful Abelha and its unique sonic capabilities are an essential experiment for the flamboyant fuzz-lover.

Need more? Read our Beetronics Abelha review.

Best affordable Fuzz: Walrus Audio Fundamental Fuzz

Walrus Audio Fundamental Fuzz

Electronically, fuzz pedals are simpler than most other effects – so you might reasonably hope to pick up this pedalboard essential on the cheap. Happily, you can.

The Walrus Fundamental Fuzz is very affordable, and very, very good. It’s a perfect introduction to the fun of fuzz, with three modes that respectively deliver retro warmth, classic rock oomph and gated freakery. We were particularly impressed with the latter, which sounds straight out of Jack White’s pixelated playbook.

To build a good-sounding chain of pedals relatively cheaply, try pairing this fuzz with other pedals from the Walrus Fundamental line, which includes a delay, an overdrive and a phaser.

Need more? Read our Walrus Audio Fundamental Fuzz review.

Best germanium fuzz: Silktone Fuzz

Silktone Fuzz

Replete with germanium transistors, the Silktone Fuzz is boutique pedal perfection for the tonal treasure-hunter.

Our reviewer spent happy hours exploring this goldmine of classic fuzz sounds, using the pedal’s digital display to keep track of its all-important bias setting. Ratcheting up the bias unleashes some wild and woolly textures, while sweeter, Fuzz Face-style sounds are to be found lower down the scale.

Enclosure oglers will be pleased to note that the finish on this pedal is every bit as premium as its circuitry, with a super-shiny set of controls and a retro-futuristic red digital display.

Need more? Read our Silktone Fuzz review.

Best compact fuzz: Beetronics Octahive v2

Beetronics Octahive v2

Small but mighty, the Beetronics Octahive v2 packs some incredibly smart features into an enclosure that’s as fancy and diminutive as Napoleon III. We were super-impressed with its footswitch, which you can use to switch modes, release bursts of fuzz and octave fuzz by holding your foot down, or simply bypass the effect.

Tonally, the fuzz is thick and super-sweet by nature – although its octave circuit can add some serious mid-range snarl. Pushing the pre-gain will beef up the Octahive’s attack, whichever mode you’re using.

Need more? Read our Beetronics Octahive v2 review.

Best vintage-style fuzz: Fredric Effects Nouveau Super Unpleasant Companion

Fredric Effects Nouveau Super Unpleasant Companion

The Fredric Effects Nouveau Super Unpleasant Companion puts the F-U into fuzz, with a jagged tone ripped straight out of the Japanese Shin-ei pedal lineage. There are two awesome, vintage circuits at play here: one modelled on the Shin-ei FY-2 Companion Fuzz, and the other based on the sounds of the later FY-6 Superfuzz.

This is fuzz at its harshest and most angular – especially with both switches in their ‘up’ position. Pretty much however you tweak its settings, the pedal is just as gloriously unpleasant as its name suggests.

The Nouveau Super Unpleasant Companion is a little softer on the eye than the ear, with a cool, distinctive closure design that slopes temptingly towards the toe.

Need more? Read our Fredric Effects Nouveau Super Unpleasant Companion review.

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