How Does a Fuzz Pedal Work?

fuzz pedalYou’ve heard of Fuzz pedals, and probably used one. But do you know how they work?

Fuzz

Fuzz is a type of distortion that was originally marketed in the early 1960s as a device that you can use to emulate the sound of Orchestra instruments such as the Trumpet, Cello, Bassoon, Saxophone, etc. It was a Saxophone sound that Keith Richards wanted for the beginning of “Satisfaction,” that prompted him to try out a Fuzz pedal. It was also during this time that the Kinks, Link Wray, and many other early Rock & Roll and Blues guitar players reportedly punched holes in their speakers to get a fuzzy sound. You can hear a torn speaker in “Rocket 88” (the first Rock & Roll song), by Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston. Other notable songs from that time that feature Fuzz are “You Really Got Me,” by The Kinks and “Rumble,” by Link Wray. The aggressive Fuzz tone of this song actually caused people to feel fearful, so the song was banned from the radio.

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What is the difference between overdrive and distortion?

best guitar distortionLearn the technical differences between overdrive and distortion, and the role that each plays in your guitar tone.

In discussing the differences between distortion and overdrive, what creates them, and how they’re used, we’ll begin with the relationship between a device’s maximum signal level and its threshold.

Every device in your guitar rig, or your home recording studio, has been designed to accept a maximum signal level. The maximum signal level that a device can accept is called that device’s threshold. If you introduce a signal to a device that exceeds the threshold, the parts of the signal that exceed it will get “clipped” (like tall grass), in various ways. Often, when a signal gets clipped, additional frequencies get created and added to the signal, as a sort of by-product of the clipping. These additional frequencies are known as overtones and harmonics.

Sometimes, the way a signal gets clipped sounds musical, natural, and warm, while at other times it sounds harsh, brittle, and as though there was something wrong with your equipment. Clipping the signal adds a “buzzy/crunchy” character to the tone, and that buzz is what we call distortion. Distortion is everywhere — on TV, in radio, etc. and it is rarely a good thing. Luckily, however, guitar players have found a way to make it work for them.

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Can I Split a Humbucker With a Three-Way Switch?

three-way switchIf I have a humbucker in the bridge position of my Telecaster, can one of the coils be turned off with the three-way switch?

A reader asked about turning off one coil of the bridge humbucker in his Telecaster via the three-way switch. What he proposed is:

1. Neck pickup
2. Neck + one humbucker coil
3. Both humbucker coils

While I guess the answer might be technically “yes,” I am going to say the answer is in reality: “no.”

The reason is that we do not use “both coils” in the humbucker. We actually run one coil into the next coil, and it might be better to look at a humbucker as a Single Figure 8 Coil instead of two separate Single Coils. We can “split” the humbucker by running a (switchable) wire to Ground right where the one coil meets the other coil. This actually “shorts out” the second coil; it doesn’t shut it off.  So, in order to split the pickup we need a path to Ground. The three-way switch in a Telecaster is a “Hot Wire” that selects which of the Hot pickup leads to send to the Volume pot. There is no ground connection available and adding one will short out the entire guitar. Without a ground we cannot split the pickup.

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Les Paul Three-Way Switch Wiring – Basic Guitar Electronics

les paul three-way switchNow let’s take a look at wiring up a three-way toggle switch in a Gibson Les Paul style guitar, and while we’re at it, we’ll talk about the rest of the wiring also.

We’re going to take a look at Les Paul three-way switch wiring, and because Gibson electronics are different than what we have been looking at so far, we’ll take a look at the rest of the circuit as well. We’ll look at the two humbuckers, the three-way switch, two Volume controls, two Tone controls, two capacitors, and the output jack.

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HBS Zoom G5 Guitar Multi-Effects & Amp Simulator

Zoom G5What do Dave Mustaine, Wayne Krantz and Eric Struthers all have in common? They are fans of the Zoom G5. Be careful… if you take a closer look at this multi-effects pedal, you might be too.

It’s amazing how multi-effect technology keeps on progressing. Zoom’s new G5 is yet another impressive unit that delivers an overwhelming amount of value and flexibility. I have to rave about one feature of the Zoom G5 first: the multi-dimensional expression pedal. In addition to moving the pedal up and down, you can twist it to the right or left. Do the math…. yes, significantly expanded levels of expression and real-time parameter changes. The end result is that you can assign up to four parameters to the expression pedal. Nuts.
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