Even the most ardent lovers of the classic Fuzz
Face will admit its over-sized round housing makes it a pedalboard hog.
Dunlop’s new Fuzz Face Mini pedals ($99 street) offer those timeless
tones in smaller, more ’board-friendly housings, along with true-bypass
switching, a status LED, an AC power jack, and a battery door. (Some batteries
did not fit through the access, but could be installed by removing
the four bottom screws.)
I tested the pedals with a Fernandes S-type
and an Epiphone Les Paul through a 50-watt
Little Walter and a Fender Blues Junior. All three
pedals sounded best combined with a clean amp
setting, and at lower guitar volume settings each
responded beautifully to picking dynamics—even
with the pedals’ gain set to maximum.
are vulnerable to
extremes of temperature,
so it was unsurprising
off a hot UPS truck this model refused to reveal
its warm tones. Once it cooled down it was a
joy, fattening out even a Strat bridge pickup to a
throaty roar, and serving up the particular brand
of warm classic fuzz sound that only germanium
can deliver. Lowering the guitar volume instantly
cleaned up the sound completely.
Kudos: Huge tone, with big bottom. If you are
playing a Strat in a power trio this is the FF for you.
Concerns: Might not cut through a large ensemble
with a humbucker-equipped guitar. Germanium
is by nature unstable.
This Mini’s less-quirky,
matched BC108 silicon
a brighter, more
with a fast attack. Its
enhanced high end
delivered a bit more ’70s fizz, while still sounding
huge. The overall tone was the most evenly balanced
of the three models, making it perfect for
retaining articulation with P-90s and hot humbuckers.
With the guitar volume backed off the
clean range was smaller but the crunch range
larger than the Germanium’s.
Kudos: Balanced tone. Added highs stand out
in a mix.
Concerns: May be too aggressive for some.
Like Dunlop’s full-size
Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face,
the Mini uses the same
transistors as the Silicon
model, but is tweaked
for less gain and a slight midrange bump. The fizz
was gone, while the extra upper mids combined
with the reduced gain to make solos and chords
clear but still ginormous. Reducing guitar volume
cleaned things up almost as quickly as the Germanium
Highly articulate, offering desirable attributes
of both germanium and silicon.
Mids may be too much for some
guitars and amps.
So which one to buy? Don’t think of the concerns
as weaknesses, but rather as guideposts
for deciding which Mini is right for your sound.
Better yet, for the price of one expensive boutique
pedal, you can collect them all. Between them,
these three pedals cover a huge range of vintage
fuzz tones, each rendered in a faithful and musical
manner. —MRMXR Super
The Super Badass is a compact
pedal that nonetheless
delivers a great deal
of tone-shaping power—and at $99 street it is itself
a great deal. The pedal’s
sturdy metal casing, classy
silver-flake finish, and easy
to grip knobs make for an attractive and practical
package, and its true-bypass switching provides
unimpeded signal flow. The Super Badass may be
powered by either a 9-volt battery or an optional
The name of the game here is versatility. First,
the Distortion control covers an unusually broad
range, from just a smidgen of overdrive to various
degrees of amp-like grind to more conventional
distortion pedal tones. Similarly, the Output
control’s atypically wide range allows the pedal
to function as a clean boost (with the Distortion
control fully counterclockwise), to goose the
front-end of a tube amp for added oomph, or to
elevate even heavily saturated solos well above
In addition to the possibilities offered by the
interaction of the Output and Distortion controls,
the active Bass, Middle, and Treble controls enable
considerable tone-crafting capabilities. They not
only boost or cut frequencies across an extensive
spectrum, they are intelligently voiced, making it
difficult to dial in a bad sound even if you were to
try. The tight bottom-end boost was particularly
impressive, especially with dropped tunings, but
scooping the mids also yielded old-school metal
tones, and boosting them facilitated classic rock
punch and squawk. Interestingly, rolling back the
guitar’s volume worked best with the Distortion
control cranked up. Personally, I prefer a little more
single-note clarity within chords than the Super
Badass offers, but that likely won’t be an issue
for many players—especially if power chords are
their primary passion.
It is worth noting that the Super Badass sounded
appreciably different with different combinations
of guitars and amps. For me, this is a good
thing, as it demonstrates that the pedal modifies
the existing sound of your other gear rather
than commandeering it—but it also means that
ideally you’ll want to try it with your own rig to be
sure that it’s a good match. — BC
Kudos: Super-versatile. Sounds great with a variety
of guitars and amps.
Concerns: Minimal single-note definition within