Pedals

Modtone The Fuzz

  • By Fletcher Stewart @tonereport
  • January 07, 2016
  • 0 Comments

Precious and Grace-like Muff and Face

Here, we have another no-frills sparkling blue buzz box from ModTone. It sports a familiar control set of Volume, Tone and indeed Fuzz, but under the hood is a fine-tuned custom circuit that to my ears, straddles the line between classic silicon Muff and Fuzz Face circuits. The overall tone is that of a lower-midrange growler with just enough sizzle on top to sparkle and rise to the surface of the mix. Unlike a typical Big Muff tone sweep—where one has to perform tiny tweaks to get the balance from lows to highs right—The Fuzz’s Tone control keeps just enough chime in the high end throughout the entire sweep of the dial to be usable at all times.

Within the first minute or so, the range of tones through a semi-clean amp platform burned into the ‘70s tone-zone of my guitar brain. I was hearing shades of ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres, T-Rex’s Tanx, and even some early Buzzcocks started to chainsaw through the speakers as the Tone knob rolled past midnight. This circuit has been well thought out and exhibits a much more refined raw edge than most vintage fuzz units—which may or may not be what one is after. The lows aren’t as flabby and the highs avoid the puppy-teeth-piercing, tinnitus-inducing screech. This is a very sociable fuzz that gets on well with single coils and humbuckers, whether it is plugged into a pristine, high-headroom amp structure or a Class A crumbling foundation. This is a fuzzy overdrive machine with the guitar’s fundamental frequencies intact.

Big Buzz, Big Fuzz and Sparkle Blue

With the Tone and Volume set fairly neutral and the Fuzz control set to just around 11 o’ clock, the volume control on the guitar acts a throaty gain attenuator—much like a good full-frequency low-gain overdrive might. The guitar purrs like a cabaret cougar in a sultry vocal fry at lower knob settings and starts gruffing up the lung butter as the guitar volume is wound up. Dialing the Fuzz control to the further extremes injects more pebbly cascading gain waves into the mix, but stops saturating just shy of total meltdown. This is great for amps that are already cooking without the addition of pedals. Introducing the full Fuzz whack to a Marshall-like classic rock platform yields a J. Mascis-type searing lead tone that is totally “Out There” if you get my drift. It can be a revelation to have a less-gainy fuzz box in the tone arsenal if one prefers the amp’s breakup as a tonal foundation.

What We Like

Low noise, low price and high build quality make The Fuzz a winner if one is after a versatile, usable fuzzy overdrive for not much cash. This chameleon of a circuit blends in with many different guitar and amp combinations and doesn’t completely color one’s full rig. In ways, it is as non-descript as it’s graphics and title, but this is exactly the strength of The Fuzz; it imparts just enough sizzle, gravel and heft to add intrigue when a simple boost or OD sounds boring. The Fuzz can also yield a fantastic core tone on it’s own in lower-gain settings as well—it is more amp-like than many more notable and twitchy fuzz boxes that often need a certain kind of amp to partner up with.

Concerns

At this price point, one would be crazy to scoff at such a great sounding and robust pedal. However, if one is after total coloration and haywire frequency abusing filth oscillations, look further. I know sound and reliability is the main criteria for a great pedal, but I do think a unique name and some kind of eyeball-grabbing graphics would help separate this fine buzz box from the legions of options out there right now. How about “The Soar Throat” with a depiction of a square wave caught in the esophagus of a little cartoon head? Anything, really…

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4 Comments

  1. Paul Cordero

    It’s here! Got this little blue box of fuzzy mayhem for Christmas courtesy of a GC gift card, and it just arrived today… I plugged it in, left the Fuzz knob all the way down to see how it sounded with zero fuzz… and I started playing… it took about 5 minutes before I realized that I hadn’t even touched the Fuzz knob yet!... It’s got a ton on tap. So with the Tone and Volume still set at noon, I put the Fuzz at 9 0’clock… and there it was. Sustain…..... and fuzz…. wow. I am stoked! Never had the cash for a Jim Dunlop fuzz or many of the other brands, so I do hope this Modtone lasts. For now, it’s put a ‘perm-a-grin’ on my face and I am truly pleased… and need to finish this review so I can get back to playin’ !

    Thanks goes to you guys for reviewing this pedal with Andy’s video, as it helped me make the right choice. For anyone who is on a budget and wants a quality ‘very low noise’ fuzz with more fuzz than even the Gods of Fuzz would ever need, then this is “the one”. Thank you!

  2. Paul Cordero

    Hello, ...long pause…..... well, I really feel lame. I believe my excitement of getting the what would be my 3rd fuzz pedal, (my first ever being the BBE Windowpane, followed by the Danelectro Cool Cat Fuzz V2), overshadowed the dependency I have for tone… and volume. I really opened the Modtone up today, at reasonably loud amp volume. The short version, it’s going back to GC for store credit. The long version, as I mentioned in my previous comment, it’s got a ton of fuzz. Too much actually… it just feels like it’s “unleashed” and too agressive… hard to get a warmth or “buttery” tone of it. Yes, I know it’s a fuzz box but, I’m just learning about it I suppose, if it even matters… I only know this; the Tone works great, but there seems to be an equal amount of fuzz with the ‘Fuzz knob’ all the way down (at zero), as there is when you turn it up. There is no middle ground. Fuzz for days. Maybe it’s me. But I don’t care for it as much as I thought I did when I first tried it. Big difference when testing sounds late at night, with low volume.

    Now, here’s where I might get yelled at.. I went back to using my original distortion / overdrive / fuzz pedal that I was using before buying the Modtone. the ReezaFRATzitz ver. 2. Which is not “traditionally fuzzy” enough for some folks to consider using it as a ‘fuzz’ pedal, but if you tweak it right, it sounds fuzzy enough to my ears… which is why I feel so lame. My comment went from the Modtone Fuzz to the Reezafratzitz ... I guess I wanted to buy something with the gift card. Pedals are expensive man! haha not a lot to choose from under 100 bucks, and used pedals get a different shipping charge so… ya know what I’m sayin! If you’re reading this, I hope it helps in finding the right fuzz pedal. It did me. I just didn’t like it on 11. Thanks.

  3. Paul Cordero

    I should’ve waited before posting anything. This is why I’m not on Facebook. For what it’s worth, and it should be worth something… ? I suck at this. At any rate, all is not as lost. I’m keeping the pedal. But Ok, the knobs are impossible to adjust with the pedal engaged because the LED light reflects on the silver (or is it chrome?) control knobs, making it truly difficult if not impossible (already typed that) to make any adjustments without turning the pedal off, so the light isn’t on. ok? So I’m changing the knobs from a different pedal to put them on the Modtone Fuzz. Cool. My first “mod job”. Luckily, the knobs pull right off like some of the BOSS pedals do.

    And the ReezaFRATzitz was a gift as well. I’d never have paid that much for a distortion pedal. Alright… I am happy with it after all. It sounds killer, just had to adjust the tone. And mod the knobs. lol..

    Thanks !

  4. Paul Cordero

    Just took off the “silver” knobs. They’re plastic. Crap. They look like chrome! And…...omg, the LED light is loose ???... I’m serious. It’s supposed to be tight. sigh…...Oh well, for 75 bucks, I guess that’s it.

    Over and out.