Keeley Fuzz Head

December 3, 2007

From that mad-modder himself, Robert Keeley, the Fuzz Head ($250 retail/ $199 street) is an original handwired creation that offers a hip Si/Ge switch. This feature places silicon and germanium diodes in parallel in the Si mode for what Keeley describes as a “modern twist on a vintage sound,” while the Ge setting yields pure germanium fuzz. The pedal also allows you to swap capacitors for even more tweezing insanity.

Inside, the Keeley’s component-packed circuit board grips two trimpots. One adjusts the pedal’s overall tone, while the other lords over the amount of fuzz. These two controls are effective as all get out, but it’s best to adjust them to your liking and not futz with them again, because the only thing holding the board is a piece of double-sided tape. And the more I adjusted the trimpots, the looser the board became—kind of scary. (Keeley says the board will be upgraded with a standoff mount to better secure it in new production versions.)

Sonically, however, the Fuzz Head is an ass-kicker. Copious amounts of chewy fuzz spill forth in an utterly musical fashion and the pedal manages to ride the line between distortion and fuzz amazingly well. The internal tone control allowed me to go from sinewy “Satisfaction”-like buzz to a more wooly Hendrix howl, while the gain function was usable in every setting—allowing me to go from a barely distorted clean boost to a full-on fuzzy fracases. The Si/Ge switch is the real nut of the Fuzz Head. In Si mode, the tones are a bit more polite, with a slightly attenuated midrange and a lean, tight bottom end. In Ge mode, the sounds wallow in obese fuzz with a huge—but focused—bass response, and a vicious-yet-musical top-end slice. The Fuzz Head also sports a ton of amp-punishing output and it’s quiet too. I like it a lot—especially in the Ge setting.

Kudos  Über-tweakable. Killer-sounding fuzz/distortion.

Concerns  Be careful with the internal adjustments.

Contact  Keeley Electronics; (405) 341-2025; Robertkeeley.com 

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