Fuzz Factory Review

manufacturer: Zvex date: 01/12/2012 category: Guitar Effects
Zvex: Fuzz Factory
This is a five-knob fuzz using two new old-stock sixties germanium transistors. The circuit is not modeled after any classic fuzz design, but should have been around when Leary was still lucid.
 Sound: 9.1
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 10
 Ease of Use: 8.1
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (8) pictures (22) 37 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.8
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: wannabe jesus, on april 18, 2006
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 217.77

Purchased from: soundsgreatmusic.com

Ease of Use: This is a fuzz unit that uses 2 geranium transistors, you can get a load of great sounds from it and some not so great sounds. The sheet of paper that comes with it tells you what each of the knobs does and tells you 5 settings which is quite handy because you can use these as a start point for getting 'your sound', but of course if you're not one to read the instructions you can dive right in. // 10

Sound: I'm using with a Tanglewood Strat copy and a Behringer GM108 and it can sound great but on some settings it can get very crackly but this is remedied by turning the volume knob on the guitar back just slightly. There are also settings (such as 'velco fuzz') which won't let you hold any notes before it crakles out (in the velcro style it's meant to) and especially when playing high notes you barely get a second before it's gone. I asked Zach about this and it can be helped by turning the 'comp' down a little bit and selecting the rhythm pickup (on my 5 way pickup selector I found that the middle/ neck setting was the best) but it's still pretty irritating, it could be the stock pickups on my guitar though! Once you've learned how to tame crackles and squeeks this pedal makes the greatest sounds! It can be set up to sound like a regular Fuzz Face or you can make extremely bizzare sounds with it. It can be really noisy and it's recommended that you don't put the volume knob past 10 o'clock. I play things like Hendrix and Guns N' Roses and this pedal can do them fantasticly. For hendrix you can set it up as a Fuzz Face or an octavia and for Guns N' Roses you can get some lovely overdriven sounds. // 9

Reliability & Durability: This thing's built like a tank! It's made out of aluminum and feels like it could take a beating! I would without a doubt be able to depend on it at a gig without backup! // 10

Overall Impression: I've been playing for one and a half years and as I said I play mostly rock and this pedal suits me and my playing down to the ground! If it were lost or stolen I'd buy it again! I absolutely love this pedal because of it's versatility and the only thing I don't like is the screeching and crackling some settings have but they can be tweaked. I didn't compare it to any other products, I was linked to the video from the forums here and wanted it! I was also very pleased about there being the vexter model (the one I got) which is exactly the same pedal but cheaper because it's not hand painted! // 10

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overall: 9.5
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: mon_the_fraser, on august 25, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 120

Purchased from: www.hotroxuk.com

Ease of Use: This Zvex Fuzz Factory may be small but it is an absolute beast. However it is a manageable beast. It is controlled using volume, gate, compression, drive and stability nobs. After about half an hour I was able to control it without making it oscillate all over the shop. // 8

Sound: I used an incredibly cheap and poorly built PRS copy built by Stagg with this guitar and i have to say it makes this piece of plastic with an MDF neck sound amazing. The variety of tones you can get from this tiny box are incredible. The tone I was going for was Matt Bellamy of Muse and it made my poorly crafted "guitar" sound like I was rocking out at Wembley Stadium. The velcro fuzz on it sounds great and if you turn the compression onto maximum you can make your guitar sound like a Gameboy. However the most fun to be had with the Fuzz Factory is making it oscillate like crazy and toying with this. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This is probably one of the most indestructable pedals I have ever seen. The casing is made from aluminum so it is definitely not going to be destroyed by stomping on it too hard. I would definitely use it for gigging and not take a backup A because I cant afford to replace it and B as it will withstand a severe beating. // 10

Overall Impression: I play mainly rock music but I will venture into the realm of the metal and also blues guitar. This pedal accomodates for all these styles. I have been playing for almost five years and although I don't own any expensive guitars I have played a few and it made my guitar which is cheaper than the pedal sound as good as some a Fender deluxe or even a cheaper Gibson LP or SG. I would definetly buy another one as it sounds incredible. The only thing I can fault about this pedal is that you cant just run over to it and stomp it down quickly if you are wearing no shoes as the actual stomper is quite stiff, and also the fact that if you are wearing shoes that if you have size feet bigger than an 11 then you may kick the nobs around. This is definitely a special pedal and although it is expensive it is worth every penny. // 10

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overall: 9.5
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: shea.STATIC, on december 17, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: thetubestore.com

Ease of Use: Before purchasing said product, I carried out a process of extensive research and inquiry. I observed that a majority or reviews and buyer testimony would indicate that a predominant aspect of the Zvex Fuzz Factory is the inherent "difficulty in finding 'your' tone." I would tend to refute this, however, as the five knobs (4 control fuzz, 1 volume) each represent a unique function; those Who have done previous research or prerused the manual would in all likelihood be able to put two and two together in no time and use the functions effectively. There is a period of trial and error to fine-tune your sound and eliminate unwanted feedback and squeal, but at most it would take 20 minutes. Furthermore, the ubiquitous nature of FF related forums and reviews can assist you in dialing in your tone, with a plethora of pre-made settings lists. For example, the Muse messageboard is a great one if you want the ever-sought after Matt Bellamy FF tone! // 8

Sound: As aforementioned, the chief user of the Fuzz Factory is Matt Bellamy, the virtuostic and energetic frontman and guitarist of Muse. Although it won't make you believe in global conspiracy, the FF will give you his exact tone with ease (barring amp settings). Also, if you're a Weezer fan or Hendrix or Arctic Monkeys or Smashing Pumpkins, you can get those tones as well. The sound quality of this pedal is peerless, and the manifest ability to fabricate any type of distortion gives it great utilitarian usage on your pedalboard. The FF is capable of clean tones with great attack, scooped mids, and pristine clarity and Pick response. With minor tweaking, that same clean sound can evolve into a full blown saturated oscillating nitrofuzz wall of sound. Also, it is possible to manipulate your pitch of feedback or pinch it completely. Furthermore, while the fuzz is immense, stop playing or mute and there is zero buzz, hiss, feedback, or evidence of fuzz with the pedal still on! I've never seen a stompbox with that capability. (Give me a break, I've never had good pedals.) You get what you pay for, as the FF has the sonic vocabulary of 10 fuzzboxes! // 10

Reliability & Durability: This pedal is indestructible! Solid stainless steel construction, the knobs are secure, no parts are loose or can be easily jostled about or broken. Kick it around a bit. No backup needed. I hear Mr. Vex is very responsive to emails and inquiries if you ever somehow break it. // 10

Overall Impression: Personally, I am involved primarily with the Indie-progressive scene, and dabble in classic/blues rock and the FF fits the bill perfectly for my styles of music. I previously utilized a Big Muff USA for my tone, and this far surpasses it in every regard. It is by far the highest quality pedal I have ever used, is fully interactive and highly adaptive. Works best with tube amps, but sounds better than your other pedals even on a 15 watt solid state/combo. This pedal is also tiny and takes up next to no space on the pedalboard. Runs on a 9volt, or if you get the Vexter you can use an adaptor like I do. I hear they can go on one battery for 3+ years! Essentially, this is the pinnacle pedal for the recording guitarist Who fancies a wide variation of fuzz tones and has a bit of extra money lying around. I highly recommend it! // 10

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overall: 9
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: unregistered, on october 30, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 179.99

Purchased from: Online Retailer

Ease of Use: It is by no means easy to get a good sound out of this little noisebox, but that is half the fun! It has 5 knobs to monkey with the sound, from left to right: Volume, Gate (Noise Gate), Compression, Drive and Stab (Stability.) The volume knob should really never be taken above 12 o'clock, and that is a bit of a stretch, honestly. The other four knobs can all be tweaked to create an absurd amount of different tones. The manual provided is pretty small and brief, providing a few presets for you to get started at figuring out this enigma of a pedal. As I said, this is not an easy pedal to dial-in, but that is part of the advertised charm of the pedal, so I'll rate it accordingly. // 8

Sound: I use it with an Epiphone Les Paul Standard with stock pickups, and an LTD MH-1000 Deluxe with Seymour Duncan JB/59 pickups. I feed it through a Vox Valvetronix AD15VT-XL modeling amp. This pedal is obviously very noisy, it's two old-stock germanium transistors allow for an internal oscillation that you can control using the Stab, Drive, and Comp knobs. This can create very interesting and spacey squeals along and controllable feedback. This pedal is VERY affected by the equipment you use it with. For example, it seems to be very squealy when I use my Epiphone Les Paul through it, sometimes the effect overpowers the actual sound of the guitar. But I find that the MH-1000 with it's hotter pickups keeps the Fuzz Factory at bay. Every knob you turn or Switch you flip on your guitar will greatly affect the way this pedal sounds, so make sure you fiddle around while you're looking for that perfect sound. This pedal is great for thick, harmonically rich fuzzes and distortions. You can dial in an almost perfect Smashing Pumpkins-esque fuzz (think Quiet or Zero), and with the proper amp settings you can get some very Muse-ish sounds. This thing is actually very versatile as an Overdrive pedal and distortion pedal, though with weaker pickups you may experience a bit of trouble with note falloff, as I do on my Les Paul. The MH-1000 experiences much less falloff due to it's hotter pickups. // 9

Reliability & Durability: When you first look at this pedal, your first thought is "tiny." But, when you Pick it up and feel the thick aluminum casing that thought quickly changes to "tank." For being roughly the size of a large box of matches (think industrial matches not cigarette matches) this thing is fairly heavy, due to the 1/8" inch thick solid aluminum casing. The knobs are thick plastic, and the footswitch is very sturdy. I am a big guy, and this thing can easily hold up against the pressure of my stomping. I've gigged this once or twice (I honestly don't use it much outside of practice and writing) and it had no problems. I would never back this up, primarily due to my trust in the construction, but also because this pedal wasn't cheap and I'd rather not buy another one for backup. The battery life is incredible. The creator says that as long as you disconnect the input/output cables when you're not using it, you can get years of battery life out of this. I've had it for about 5 months now, and it still has the stock 9-volt. The vexter series also has a 9VDC power input for those Who don't mind filling up another power outlet. // 10

Overall Impression: I play many ranges of Rock, Metal, Jazz and Blues, and this pedal fits all of them very well with the proper settings. I've been playing for about 5 years toal, but I've only been serious about it for the past 3 years or so. I had tried some other fuzz pedals before buying this one, such as the Big Muff, Big Muff Pi, and Fuzz Face. I found that when using this pedal, you can dial in tones nearly identical to those pedals, so I chose this one for the sake of versatility (and, admittedly, so that I could make high-pitched squealy noises like Matt Bellamy, Haha.) Although I do love this pedal as if it were my child, if it were stolen or lost, I probably wouldn't buy another because in all honestly I don't use a lot of effects, and this pedal is a bit too expensive for me to replace. The only thing I wish it had was some toggle that could completely silence the squeals, because some tones sound great but as soon as you stop playing, the squealing begins. But, you can easily just hit the footswitch and turn it off right after a song, so it's not a huge deal. A tip to all those who are going to try one out: Try it out on YOUR amp and guitar, as this pedal reportedly doesn't get along with certain types of amps and guitars, and it might poorly influence you. // 9

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overall: 9
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: John.joe, on december 15, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 120

Purchased from: http://www.hotroxuk.com/

Ease of Use: Much has been written about this being a difficult pedal to work with, but I'm going to disagree a little. Zvex have basically made a simple, old school, germanium transistor loaded fuzz pedal, and given the user control over every parameter. That means it's easy to make the pedal sound bad, particularly if mismatched with guitar or amplifier. I suspect that those Who've found it hard have really been misusing the pedal. In my experience it doesn't work well through an already driving amp, for example. It's not "my first fuzz pedal", but doesn't take a genuis to master. The user guide included is a good place to start. // 8

Sound: I use my FF between my mid 90s Strat Plus and a mostly clean Laney VC30-112. With a big, fat valve/tube amp sound this pedal is capable of a great deal - from squashed, screaming gnat nasal tones, to chewy, rich fuzz, and lo-fi squeals and feedback. Happily it also has some gain boost to it, ensuring (unlike some other popular fuzzes I've used) your signal doesn't disappear once you've stepped on the pedal*. It's capable of being noisy, but time taken with the controls soon puts that to an end, unless that's what you're after. My favourite setting gives a very rich, organic fuzz which isn't hissy or harsh, but fat and sustains endlessly. *If you're a user Who is experiencing disappearing guitar when engaging a fuzz pedal, try cleaning up your amp tone. You may not be able to use the fuzz through the dirty channel of your amp. Try a cleaner boost pedal for super-sizing your dirty sound, and the fuzz on the clean channel. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Gigged with it plenty of times. Sometimes sound engineers find the pedal annoying to work with, but I know my own gear and we get there in the end. People have commented positively on the sound I get. Never taken a back up with me, seems very dependable. Can't see the future of course, but on the criteria requested here, I can't fault it. // 10

Overall Impression: Sorry eveyone, I'm just going to have to say it - I hate Muse. I never bought this pedal to sound like Matt Bellamy, and I'm pleased to say that I don't. This isn't me being bitchy for the sake of it. My point is this pedal is capable of a lot more, or rather, there are many other factors that contribute to a guitarist's sound. Stephen Malkmus (Pavement) uses a Fuzz Factory and gets some wonderful, space-rock solo sounds (check out Real Emotional Trash), which is much more my territory. I would buy another should mine go missing. Germanium transistors sound so much warmer and thicker to my ears than silicon or digital emulations. There are other quality germanium fuzzes, but I've fallen for this one. // 9

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overall: 8.3
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: Weeping_Demon7, on january 04, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 179.99

Purchased from: eBay

Ease of Use: The Zvex Fuzz Factory is the quirkiest, most interesting pedal I've ever played. It has 5 highly sensitive knobs, each of which work together in creating your output sound. The knobs are: Volume, Gate, Compression, Drive, Stability. When I first plugged it in, it wasn't a very good tone, but after fiddling with it for about 5 minutes I was able to get a very nice crackle-fuzz. I also looked at the manual that came with it (which was actually a tongue-in-cheek piece of paper with settings and witty comments) and was able to coax some tones that I thought were usable. But the time that I was able to actually get some tones that I really liked was after a Google search for Fuzz Factory tones. I found a post on a forum somewhere with a link to a 2 page graph detailing 20 different tones you could get. I found 5 that I really liked, and I divided them up into categories, Muse-like, Indie-Like, and Classic-like. All in all, this pedal is extremely quirky. I wouldn't recommend it to those of you who just like to plug in and play. Now, you'll notice that I gave this pedal a 6. That doesn't mean I don't like it, I just think that you have to actually sit down with some paper and pencil and write down settings you like. It does take some work to coax usable tones out of the Fuzz Factory. // 6

Sound: I play a Marshall JCM-800 2210 with an Epiphone SG with Pearly Gates in the bridge and Alinco IIs in the neck. I also play my Ibanez Artcore with stock pickups for more Indie-songs. When playing with my Fuzz Factory I always use my clean channel. This pedal is very noisy with more settings than not. If you take the time to dial in the proper tone, it won't oscillate or feedback, unless of course you want it to, then you have about 4 different knobs that can control the pitch of the feedback or oscillation. So, yes, it's a noisy pedal, but it's almost designed to be. The fuzz on this is actually very versatile. It can cover anything from some Hendrix (somewhat) up to a very similar sounding Muse era-Origin of Symmetry and everything in between. On top of that, it can also control factors such as the oscillation and the feedback pitch/intensity. So it also makes a great wall-of-noise pedal. If you're going for a Muse/RHCP type fuzz, then yes, with lots of tweaking, you will be able to capture their sound assuming that you have a proper amp. My only complaint is that there isn't a "tone" knob, per se, but the "stab" knob, acts somewhat like a tone knob when other knobs are set in the proper position. // 9

Reliability & Durability: These pedals are hand painted and assembled in the United States, meeting the requisites for a "boutique" pedal. So they are indeed very durable and reliable. With that being said, you're paying a large sum of money, so it's a trade off. Seeing as how these things cost a lot of money, I don't have a backup, but that's more for financial limitations rather than trust. // 10

Overall Impression: When people ask me what music I play, I always have a hard time answering it. I suppose it could be best described as Muse meets Silversun Pickups and Radiohead with Slash as the solo guitarist. I've been playing for 10 years or so. And this is my only fuzz pedal, but not my only distortion pedal. I also have a Tubescreamer, a Tube King, and a Metal Muff. If this was stolen or lost, I'd be very pissed, but it's kindly expensive so there might be a time between me getting a new pedal. But I still really like this pedal. All in all, a good purchase for those of us who enjoy noise, tweaking, and odd sounds. I really like this pedal. If I could give it a rating it would actually be an 8.5, but meh. // 8

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overall: 9
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: mattman93, on january 12, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 180

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: The Zvex FF come with a single piece of paper for the manual. It contains a small description of the pedal what each knob does and a few presets. With the presets it pretty easy to get good sounds out of it. However when you decide to get crazy and venture out of the presets things get more complicated. Turning knobs while the pedal is on can result in ear piercing screeches. If you learn how the knobs interact with each other it's possible to get new sounds that are even better then the presets. Also the guitar's volume knob effects the decay time a lot. // 7

Sound: I'm playing a MiM Strat through a Valveking 112. I've been using the FF more then my on board distortion. It has a very unique sound to it. It's high gain modern sounding fuzz is where it shines(think Muse) but it also can do retro fuzz (fuzzface-ish) with enough tweaking. It can also make cool but less useful sounds, such as very heavily fuzzed 8-bit sounds. Super Mario Bros FTW. Also the FF adds tons of sustain (on some settings it can also take a lot away). Harmonics ring out like crazy too. The pedal can be very noisy at times, but again this is a tweaker pedal, so the problems can be fixed. I think alot of the noises come from AM radio frequencies because I can dial in some Spanish station pretty well. // 10

Reliability & Durability: The FF supposedly can be used for like three years with the same battery. If for some reason my power supply stopped working I would trust the battery. Build wise it's got a solid aluminum housing that is the same size as an MXR pedal on it's side. I trust it's not going to be breaking on me anytime soon. // 10

Overall Impression: I have been playing guitar for about three years, I play blues/classic, modern rock and some metal. This pedal is more suited for the latter two. This may not be one the most versatile fuzzes but what it does, it does extremely well. If it was stolen/lost I think I might get a handpainted one. I also considered a Big Muff, but I wanted something different, so I went with the Fuzz Factory. Overall I am very happy with it. // 9

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overall: 8.5
Fuzz Factory Reviewed by: ShaneCallaghan, on january 12, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 175

Purchased from: eBay

Ease of Use: It's pretty difficult to get a good sound outta this pedal, or more it's difficult to get the sound you want. There is loads of potential in this pedal, I love messing around with it, but you really really need to sit down and just fiddle with the knobs, which are very interactive with the other knobs by the way. You think you're just adjusting the sound a little bit but you're throwing the rest of them off. This is by no means a bad thing, it's a fun adventure. I love messing around with this thing though. The oscillation is fun and add a delay and Phaser and you have something that sounds out of this world. The manual is good, it's one page, simple as. // 10

Sound: If you put this in front of any pedals, you can manipulate the oscillation with your guitars volume knob and pickup switch. If you mess around with the settings you can get like an octave sound out of it, dial in more of the compression knob and you have a bit crushing 8-bit sounding funbox. This thing is noisy as hell, the hiss is mad if the settings are mild. When you stomp on this thing you know exactly when it's on, it muzzles the crap into your sound, takes it and makes it mental. Gets a 7 because it does alter your sound that much and depending on how many cables are around it, how much the sound changes. // 7

Reliability & Durability: This thing is built solid as a rock, looks like a tank and has taken a 4x12 flightcase fall on it, it still runs as good as it did out of the box. I don't need a backup with this thing. // 10

Overall Impression: I play a massive range of music, this fits in to a few, electronica and rock usually fits it perfectly. Been playing for like a decade, I own a lot of other pedals and this one still seems to stand out like a sore thumb, I can't get a sound like this out of another pedal. If it were stolen, I'd be friggin gutted, but I wouldn't know weather to buy another one or buy an MXR Fullbore Metal or something. Why wouldn't I buy it, well I am still trying to find my own sound, and having owned this it doesn't fit into all of the music I play which is what I would like. // 7

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