Friedman Amplification’s Fuzz Fiend is a serious pedal.
It produces smooth, round fuzz at low levels, but with the click of a switch, it will howl and snarl with an astonishingly thick fuzz, the likes of which few mortals have ever heard.
The Fuzz Fiend looks like it’s built for the connoisseur of tone. Its glossy maroon housing recalls the hood of a fine sports car or a component from a fancy hi-fi system.
Moreover, Friedman’s design exposes the pedal’s vacuum tube to the open air, but two small “guardrails” protect it from stray kicks. The pedal’s housing is slatted on the sides to cool the interior. The circuits likely need this cooling feature, because it runs at 220 volts. This tube, Friedman says, delivers a smoother, more aurally pleasing distortion replete with clipping and rich harmonics. And, my goodness, is he ever right.
Lower Fuzz settings delivered a rich, highly articulate distortion. Indeed, I was very impressed by the bell-like clarity even as I increased the fuzz somewhat. Similarly, the Fiend’s response to dynamic change also impressed me. The fuzz was tight and musical, and never so sloppy that chords descend into murk and chaos. The bass was full, but I wouldn’t call it punchy or aggressive.
The Fuzz Fiend even retained that articulation as the Fuzz levels are increased. Curiously, the fuzz seemed to change character as it becomes stronger. The smoother fuzz of the low levels gave way to a sound that was a bit more pixelated and digital at the edges, but which retained most of the smoothness from the lower settings.
I mentioned that the Fuzz Fiend is a serious pedal, and I’ll repeat that claim again—in addition to the primary bypass footswitch, the Fiend features a momentary second switch for maximum fuzz. The second switch’s name does not lie. When Rage is depressed, the Fiend delivers a hellaciously rich and thick distortion. I have no idea what the folks at Friedman did to make this pedal scream the way it did when that button was depressed, but it has to be heard to be believed.
Rage boosted the output volume considerably, and thickened the distortion to feedback-generating levels. Seriously, the pedal seemed to scream and feedback, especially when I didn’t even touch my guitar’s strings. The Rage distortion came across as almost pixelated and digital, and its high pitch will tear through any mix like a buzzsaw. A person could even tap out some Morse code what with the constant high pitched squeal.
My only complaint about the Rage switch—and this is a small complaint—is that the switch clicked rather loudly. Now, now, I can already envision eyes rolling and dismissive scoffs, but bear with me. I believe that the pedal could be improved with a noiseless or clickless switch because smooth, non-clicking action would be faster. When we guitarists need a boost, we need it five minutes ago, so any little delay ought to be avoided.
The Fiend also features a cool selection of Bass, Mid, and Treble EQ knobs. These knobs accomplish something I don’t think I’ve seen in any other pedal; they actually act as full-range volume knobs for their respective frequencies. Now, it’s true that any EQ knob is, essentially, a volume knob for a given range of frequencies. Yet none I’ve come across can dial down those frequencies to near zero output the way that the Fiend’s knobs can. When the knobs are set to their lowest settings, the pedal outputs no sound at all. This means that the user can dial in, from zero, as much or as little Bass, Mid, or Treble as is desired. The setup allows for a highly intuitive way to sculpt one’s tone—pretty cool!
Friedman’s Fuzz Fiend is an excellent pedal that really needs to be heard to be believed. Trust me, once Rage has been pressed, other pedals might lose their shine.
What We Like: Rich and smooth fuzz in low settings; thick and pixelated fuzz in high settings; the insanity of the Rage switch and an EQ that can eliminate frequencies altogether.
Concerns: I wish the Rage switch had a smoother action, without the click.