For all of the clones and copies on the market of the venerable fuzz face circuit, a less often seen product is the Fuzz Face kit. Considering the sparse amount of parts account in a Fuzz Face compared to modern distortion devices this makes quite a bit of sense. If you have the bare essential components [enclosure, foot switch, input and output jacks and potentiometers] the real important parts can suitably be ordered. You just have to make sure they are the “right” parts.
But who knows what the right parts actually are? It looks like Pigeon FX do.
So what do you get? Here’s a list of what you receive when you order the “Pigeon FX Vintage Fuzz Face Kit PCB”:
The kit ncludes the following components:
1x Fuzz Face iss1 PCB
1x PHILIPS 22uF 63V Capacitor
1x Vishay BC 2,2uF 63V Capacitor
1x Tropical Fish Capacitor .01uf 250V 10% Capacitor
1x 330R Carbon Comp Resistors
1x 33k Carbon Comp Resistors
1x 100K Carbon Comp Resistors
1x 8K2 Carbon Comp Resistors
An important consideration of this kit: it include no Transistors. Good or bad, it gives you the option of using your own, though this might slightly take away from the convenience of having a easy to build kit (or add to the cache of having a kit to rebuild your Fuzz Face from the ground up.) Though you can re-use the transistors you may already have if you are using an existing pedal that is functioning it makes much more sense to get a set of boutique transistors to go with your boutique parts.
And boutique they are. To individually order these parts would not only be much more expensive to do but a pain to source out efficiently. A quick perusal of the dozens of “Classic” Fuzz Face schematics shows they got the part values right as well. But until you plug it in you won’t really know how right they are.
Ask many people about what makes a classic Fuzz Face and you will get just as many answers. Sure, you will be told Germanium circuits are known for great clean-up from the volume knob, but not Silicons. And you should get a variety of tones from your volume knob. But with so few parts each one has that much more importance in the total sum of parts. So even if you buy a vintage pedal that is considered a “good” one, would you really know? Trust your ears they say. It’s true for sure. But isn’t there a plausible benchmark for a decent Fuzz Face of the vintage variety readily available?
The instability of a great Fuzz Face can be both frustrating and endearing. If you ever find one that is stable and balanced it will tend to lack a bit of “Character” and not have that immediate attack the great pedals are known for. Not only that, but back in the day you apparently had to literally go through hundreds of these pedals to get a “right” one. This is where Pigeon FX REALLY got it right: You still get a pedal (or kit, anyway) that has the classic personality of a vintage Fuzz Face but without the daunting legwork to source out an actual good example. Try that on eBay! (Ironically enough, these kits show up occasionally from Pigeon FX on that very site.)
For the record this the unit tested was a “Red” Jim Dunlop Re-Issue that came with NTK-275s but was changed to BC 108 Silicon Transistors.
Like a good Fuzz Face it promptly makes your amp seem bigger, louder and much more aggressive as soon as you step on that footswitch. It just seems to make your amp think that it is breathing that much heavier, ready to pounce at your every whim. This can be said about just about any distortion device, really, but there is something about this circuit and it’s carefully chosen parts that accentuates certain frequencies giving the impression that you are playing a roaring stack at full tilt in an open-roofed Stadium. As usual it cleans up well though not as well as a Germanium-equipped device Furthermore, if you crank the Fuzz Knob and then back it off ever so slightly you get much of the gain you do with this knob at full tilt but get MUCH better cleanup, to the point where you will check to see if the pedal is actually activated. Of course, if you do switch it off you will find out just how much sparkle it added to your tone. It promptly livens up your tone and gives it some bounce.
Put up against some of the most Ubiquitous (and priciest) boutique Fuzz Face clones out there, “The Pigeon” sure can hold it’s own. It coincidentally shares much of same voicing as Germanium models but still has the biting characteristics of the Silicon models. Many manufactures tend to combine various transistors to battle the problem but not Pigeon FX. They seem to have come up with a simple and accessible solution to the potential problems of finding a vintage example worthy of consideration or the bland “Modern Takes” that are on the market. They truly make it easy to get a taste of a “good” one.
Hand Made – Hasting – England