I might have a new favorite fuzz—the Clusterfuzz from Function f(x). The Clusterfuzz is the first pedal from this new effects company, and luckily for the fuzz-loving public, it’s an original design. Sure, it’s capable of creating classic fuzz tones that we all know and love, but it’s equally capable of creating fresh and new flavors of sonic mayhem.
With four pots, one five-way clipping switch, and a Filter switch, it takes a little time to get to know the Clusterfuzz. As such, I’ll walk through each control one by one. First up is Volume which is pretty self-explanatory. But rest assured, the Clusterfuzz has plenty of output. Next up is the Filter switch which reduces the amount of highs being fed into the circuit. It behaves sort of like the tone control on your guitar, but in a fixed amount. The Tone and Fuzz controls are both of the classic variety—one cuts high frequencies as you turn counter-clockwise and Fuzz cranks up the gain of the first transistor.
The remaining two controls are for selecting clipping options and one labeled “8-bit.” The clipping controls selects from five options—diode lift (None), LED, MOSFET and silicon, silicon, and finally Schottky diodes. You lose volume with each sequential twist of the clipping knob, but that's to be expected since you are lopping off more and more of the sound wave.
8-bit is the outlier amongst the controls. It’s the most interactive and it runs from subtle to extreme depending on where the other controls are set. As described in the manual, the 8-bit control “lets the signal from the first transistor in the circuit drive the second transistor harder. Past a certain level on the 8-bit control, the second transistor can’t amplify the signal without massive distortion, resulting in the square-wave output…” It’s worth noting that the most extreme tendencies of the 8-bit control come out with the Tone control wide open. As you turn up the 8-bit control, you get that classic splatty, under biased, voltage starved fuzz tone.
Rather than talk more about how the Clusterfuzz works, I’ll talk about how it sounds and share a few of the great settings I discovered.
I’ll call this first one “Tone Bender.” It’s perfect for early Zeppelin tones. For this setting, the Clipping Control is set to None, Filter is on, Fuzz is cranked, and 8-bit is set to 1 o’clock. It’s a throaty, mid-focused fuzz tone with gobs of sustain. Moving the Filter Switch to the left brings on more of a Fuzz Face tone with better clean-up from the volume control of your guitar.
From here, you can turn the 8-bit up all of the way and get upper octave overtones and a raspier sound. Now switch to FET clipping and roll off your volume a tiny bit and you get a weird lower octave artifact. It sounds like a synth bass under your note. It tracks surprisingly well under power chords; it's most pronounced in the lower registers of the A and D strings.
These sounds are just the tip of the iceberg. The Clusterfuzz is a crazy versatile little pedal and it’s great to look at as well. Check it out!
What We Like: There are a ton of great tones to be had. It’s great to see a new company bringing an original design into the market.
Concerns: None. I just wish I had a way to instantly recall all of the various settings.