Germanium Fuzz Pedal

Your Pedal Board Needs This: Germanium Fuzz Pedal

Dunlop FFM2 Germanium Fuzz Face
EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Germanium/Silicon Hybrid Fuzz Effects Pedal

BEST 

ZVex Effects Vexter Fuzz Factory Guitar Effect Pedal

Product

Dunlop FFM2 Germanium Fuzz Face

EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Germanium/Silicon Hybrid Fuzz Effects Pedal

ZVex Effects Vexter Fuzz Factory Guitar Effect Pedal

Features

  • AC power jack and battery door
  • Based on the mid ’60s Fuzz Face with slightly mismatched germanium transistors
  • Status LED
  • Shift control knob to change the frequency response of the tone control to diminish any unnecessary muddiness on the bass
  • Germanium/silicon hybrid
  • 9V DC power supply with a negative center 2.1mm barrel
  • Lifetime warranty
  • All analog with true bypass

  • Uses two new old stock ’60s germanium transistors
  • Volume, gate, compression controls
  • Drive, stability controls
  • Hand silkscreened, hand polished aluminum chassis
  • 9V power supply

True bypass?

Germanium fuzz only?

Multiple parameter adjustment?

Peer Rating

4.5
4.4
4.1

So you want to sound like Jimi Hendrix? There’s no better way to get the warm, mellow and luscious tone then a vintage germanium fuzz pedal. Before the takeover of the more stable silicon transistors, germanium fuzz pedals were ruling the airwaves. When you listen to Jimi Hendrix playing through the infamous Fuzz Face, that’s a germanium circuit hard at work.

​Guitarists have been chasing that classic “Fuzz Face” sound for over forty years, and while various iterations of “Fuzz Face” style pedals have been released, many guitarist feel the modern incarnations fall short of the original, now vintage, sound of the germanium fuzz. Below, we provide you with a selection of the best germanium fuzz pedals to help you get that boutique fuzz.

A Few Considerations When Selecting Your Germanium Fuzz Pedal

Silicon vs. Germanium

The differences between a silicon transistor pedal and a germanium based fuzz pedal can heard in the tone quality of the fuzz. The germanium fuzz pedal was first mass produced in the 1960s. As transistor technology improved, the more stable and easily manufactured silicon transistor took over. The warm, creamy sound of a germanium fuzz is easily recognizable with its extremely dynamic and responsive character, whereas the silicon fuzz pedals work at a higher frequency, enhancing the treble end of a guitar’s signal.

The higher gain is one of the differentiating characteristics of a silicon pedal, creating a brighter, sharper, more edgy sound. Germanium transistors also tend to be less stable, resulting in changes of tone when playing at different temperatures and for longer periods of time. If you are looking for a warm, vintage tone, you are looking for a germanium fuzz pedal.

What To Look For In A Fuzz Pedal

Each guitarist will have a preference on their favourite tone quality of their fuzz pedal. Consider the power source (battery powered or external) as fuzz pedals tend to react differently to different types of batteries. A high quality power supply with isolated outputs and good filtering will avoid any unwanted noise. Generally, a germanium fuzz pedal will sound better with 9V batteries.

Consider whether the pedal you are considering has an option for a secondary power source and whether it has a bypass option to revert back to the natural signal of the guitar. The preset knobs on a pedal are essential for tweaking the fuzz to something you will find more appeasing. In the end, the final tone characteristics are the most important consideration when selecting a fuzz pedal.

How To Use A Fuzz Pedal

There are generally three different breeds of distortion: overdrive, distortion, and fuzz. A fuzz pedal will change the natural signal of your guitar to more of a square wave, creating complex overtones with a touch of harmonics. A germanium fuzz circuit will perhaps be the most demanding pedals you can have on a pedal board. Ensure you place them first in the chain and keep them at least two pedals away from any buffers. Ideally, you’ll want to power them with a 9V battery for the best signal and tone.

A fuzz pedal will sound harsh on smaller setups and needs to be play with a moderate to low volume. Learn to use the guitar volume control to control the signal feed from the guitar to the pedal to create the tone you are looking for. The instability of a germanium fuzz pedal will inevitably lead to interesting and unique tones that could be slightly different every time you play.

Our Top Picks for Boutique Germanium Fuzz Pedals

Dunlop FFM2 Germanium Fuzz Face


90 %
Rating
Dunlop FFM2 Germanium Fuzz Face
  • Mismatched germanium transitors
  • Simple UI
  • Status LED
  • Limited adjustments

FEATURES:

  • AC power jack and battery door
  • Based on the mid ’60s Fuzz Face with slightly mismatched germanium transistors
  • Status LED

This style of pedal was first introduced by Jimi Hendrix in the early days of the Experience and has continued to evolve over the years. The FFM2 will produce that famous Hendrix style ’66-’68 era pre-silicon Fuzz Face tone you are looking for. The unique tone is achieved using slightly mismatched germanium transistors.

The FFM2 has slightly less gain when compared to the blue FFM2, but is much more responsive to volume control. The tone has a slight but noticeable change as the transistors warm up during playing, eventually finding a pleasant, warm sweet spot. Another bonus is the small package, leaving plenty of room for your other pedals on your board. If you are looking for the classic warm fuzz sound, this pedal is for you.

  • Perfect for those looking for the famous germanium fuzz sound.

Bottom Line: The best option for those looking for that distinct Hendrix style. 

EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Germanium/Silicon Hybrid Fuzz Effects Pedal

93 %
Rating
EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Germanium/Silicon Hybrid Fuzz Effects Pedal
  • Multiple parameter adjustments 
  • True bypass
  • Lifetime warranty

FEATURES:

  • Shift control knob to change the frequency response of the tone control to diminish any unnecessary muddiness on the bass
  • Germanium/silicon hybrid
  • 9V DC power supply with a negative center 2.1mm barrel
  • Lifetime warranty
  • All analog with true bypass

The flag-ship device of EathQuaker Devices, the Hoof fuzz is based on the character of the classic green Russian muff. It’s capable of creating everything from dirty and organic overdrive to monstrous fuzz. The sustain is smooth, natural, and harmonically rich. The Hoof is known to boast some real clarity and distinctive tone control.

The Shift control changes the frequency response of the tone control on the treble side, giving you another tweak to find that perfect tone you are looking for. A great option if you are looking for a versatile fuzz pedal.

  • One of the most versatile and high-quality options. 

Bottom Line: A great option for those looking to experiment with the germanium fuzz sound while still having the silicon fuzz alternative. 

BOSS AUDIO MR60W


85 %
Rating
ZVex Effects Vexter Fuzz Factory Guitar Effect Pedal
  • New old stock '60s germanium transitors
  • Plenty of parameter controls 

FEATURES:

  • Uses two new old stock ’60s germanium transistors
  • Volume, gate, compression controls
  • Drive, stability controls
  • Hand silkscreened, hand polished aluminum chassis
  • 9V power supply

Although the circuit isn’t modelled after any specific classic fuzz, it still delivers a tone straight out of the 1960s. Out of the pedals we recommend, this pedal is the most versatile with five parameter knobs, letting you shape your own personalized fuzz effect. The fuzz circuit stays true to the boutique pedals by using two new old stock (NOS) germanium transistors.

This isn’t your typical fuzz pedal, although it does deliver a very driving, warm fuzz that retains great tone clarity and tonal separation. If you are looking for something different and unique, the number of factory parameter knobs will allow you to take the sound wherever you imagine leads you.

  • A great option for those looking for something different.

Bottom Line: Not your typical fuzz pedal. A great option for those looking for something creative and adaptable. 

About the author

Glen

My name is Glen. I've been in the audio world for over 15 years. I love reviewing audio equipment and solving audio related problems.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: