Thursday, June 7, 2012
A Factory of Fuzz
When I first sett of to the journey for the soundscapes of Fuzz territory I didn't really know what I was about to find. I thought that I would build two or three circuits and then box them and go on with my life. As soon as I build the first one I realized that the journey has just begun. From the song list of the previous post you can collect maybe 20 or so fuzz variations which really sound different and probably hundreds of sounds if you go into the details. When I stumbled on the Z. Vex Fuzz Factory video I thought "Man, this is a cool little bastard". It was a Germanium fuzz face (YAFF - Yet Another Fuzz Face) with a buffer input stage and a negative voltage which is an unusual design for PNP trannys. More appealing were the pots located on areas of the schematics which gave the fuzz some really deep control over GATING, COMPRESSION, oscillation STABILITY and, of course, DRIVE.
As I had a few AC128 lying around which I tested for gain and leakage, I thought it could be a simple build and I may find my ultimate sound bank of fuzz versatility. As soon as I finished it I took it to a rehearsal. It was a dense jungle of wires and pots on the studio carpet and... it tore the place down.
It's a very fun piece of gear with some neat tricks. It will get you close to a straight over the top Fuzz Face, it reacts well to guitar roll-off and the interaction between the DRIVE and STAB can get you deep into heavy psych-land. The most cool sound I got from this circuit is what Z. Vex call the Velcro effect which is a heavily gated nasal tone that sounds a little like the Mike Ratledge organ fuzz sound on Soft Machine. Like a vintage analog synth or something.
My settings didn't sound exactly like the sounds described on the preset list with hte knobs at the specified locations but a little tweaking here and there and I got the sounds it's supposed to produce.
It's a really versatile unit but I couldn't make it my go-to box because each sound was good but not perfect, except for that sweet sticky Velcro sound and the weird oscillations which are always good when you just wanna go plain crazy. Not a complete winner but definitely worth a shot if you want to scorch some guitar asphalt. Again, I owe you some sound samples and if you comment, I will post them. If you want to build this one, use the verified schematic shown here.