The work of one a certain Mr Gilmour had a bracing effect on British engineer Phil Robinson’s formative guitar years, inspiring a deep exploration of vintage effects and Hiwatt amps in the hope of approaching the tones of early Pink Floyd. This research revealed not only the joy of vintage ‘Face-style fuzzes but also the inevitable inconsistencies and noise that come when awakening the ancient ones to play with more modern buffered effects.
Now a man on a mission, Robinson recently launched his first pedal, the Silicon Phuzz – a demure twin-knob, single-berth pedal which aims to bring back the joy of early fuzz tones without the accompanying challenges. To this end, the Silicon Phuzz design features a fully smoothed power section ensuring no amplification of power supply noise, clever reverse-polarity protection rendering it impossible to kill by using the wrong power adaptor – something that has fried many a vintage-style fuzz pedal – and RF rejection circuitry ensuring that no radio frequencies are picked up through the amplifier. All of this happens without affecting the clean-up characteristics of the pedal.
Vitally, Robinson has also developed a unique unity gain output stage which completely isolates the Phuzz circuitry from any active electronics that follow it. This allows the true nature of the Phuzz to come through untrammelled, whatever you put after it. It also means a higher output than you might expect from this breed of fuzz, and the ability to use longer cable lengths with no detrimental effect on well, your effects.
A word to the wise – unless you are actively seeking a flatulent, gasping tone then a modern “everything at noon” starting point will not work here. Robinson himself recommends kicking off with the Phuzz on full while you dial in the volume knob to suit proceedings. Dutifully, we do exactly that with a Gretsch White Falcon running into an early Cornford Hurricane.
The resulting sound reminds us that there is so much more to fuzz than the latest play-school-painted muff clone. Immediately the guitar springs to life with a frankly sensational combination of overdrive with a sizzling top end of fuzz. Dialling back the volume knob just a touch takes us into that rare sweet spot of true low-gain fuzz chords – it’s a heady place that’s not usually experienced outside of vintage units and it is wonderful.
When adding more effects to our chain, there’s no change to the quality of sound, no brittle highs, hollow mids or muddy bass. Instead, the pedal retains its characteristic elegance even when lovingly smeared with delay, Uni-Vibe and wah, encouraging the player to find the erogenous notes and hold on tight. There’s a huge market for fuzz at the moment and, regardless of genre, the Silicon Phuzz deserves a place at the top of the lower-gain sector.
- PRICE £169
- DESCRIPTION Handwired silicon fuzz pedal, made in the UK
- CONTROLS Volume, Phuzz, on/off footswitch
- FEATURES 9V DC mains power only. Fully smoothed power section, reverse polarity protection, RF rejection circuitry
- DIMENSIONS 65 x 119 x 54 mm
- CONTACT philrobinsonfxpedals.co.uk