NEW VIDEO: This week we're taking a look at the mighty SM Fuzz Pedal! Warning, things get filthy...
The SM Fuzz isn't like a standard off the shelf pedal, it requires a little more thought and attention. It won't sound good through a small transistor amp and a cheap guitar. It might take a little getting used to. Fine adjustments on the guitar can make a big difference to the output tone of the fuzz pedal. It can go from max saturation to an almost tube screamer like overdrive and gain boost, with just a few subtle adjustments on the guitar, without even having to touch the settings of the fuzz pedal itself.
The SM Fuzz sounds best when it see's the guitar first, meaning the pedal should be first in the chain. Sometimes if it's after a wah or pedal that is not true bypass it can effect the tone of the SM Fuzz pedal. Normally Scott sets the SM Fuzz with volume on full and the fuzz about 3/4. Of course it's up to you how to set the pedal, but that's what we recommend.
Powering The SM Fuzz
The SM Fuzz pedal is positive ground which means it must be used with an isolated power supply, so sharing a power source with another pedal will blow out the power source. It blows because the negative ground on normal pedals flows through the patch cable shield to the positive ground of the SM Fuzz, shorting out the power supply. Using a single power cable from the Voodoo Labs Pedalpower 2 would be safe though.
No Need To Unplug
The On/ Off knob feature, which comes as standard, is one we decided to add quite late on in the designing stage. It basically means if you have the pedal mounted on a pedal board, battery powered or don't have a power supply, rather than having to remove the input jack – to save on power – you can leave the pedal plugged in and just turn the volume control until it clicks off. This means you can leave the SM Fuzz plugged in, without draining the battery.
A Note From Engineer Neil Garner -
Some people have written to query the description 'vintage' for this fuzz pedal, pointing to our use of fibreglass circuit boards and surface-mounted resistors. This is a fair question, and one which I feel obliged to respond to.
Firstly as to definition, by 'vintage' we (that is, people generally) mean 'belonging to a bygone era, built using techniques that are no longer used'. We may mean that the article literally was produced at a some period in the past, for example a 1970 vintage wine or a 1930 vintage Bugatti motor car. Or we may use 'vintage' to describe a modern reproduction of something from the past, built using techniques that were then current. A good example is the Peppercorn A1 Class steam locomotive 60163, the 'Tornado', completed in 2008 and continuing a class of railway locos last built in 1937.
The SM Fuzz Pedal belongs to this second category. It is a new product as of 2011, but the essential part of the circuit – the bit that actually produces the fuzz – consists of a topology developed in the 1960s and employs Germanium transistors, which were the norm at the time. The pedal as a physical item is not intended to be indistinguishable in appearance from a 1960s built article, rather it is designed to sound like a piece of gear from that era, 'Vintage Fuzz Tone' is the wording.
There are several reasons why we do not attempt to duplicate 1960s techniques down to the last detail. A few are worth mentioning: (1) To comply with the RoHS directive, we use lead-free solder and (unless unavailable) use components which themselves are RoHS compliant. (2) The Fuzz In/Out indicator, consisting of a high-brightness 8mm blue LED, is considered a very worthwhile feature, even though LEDs did not exist in the 1960s. (3) Where possible, components are surface-mounted devices, mainly to save space. We do not use carbon composition resistors for the same reason, as well as for two others, they are subject to ageing (changing value over time, resulting in circuit drift), and, although they a more 'noisy' than modern metal film resistors, and hence more reminiscent of 1960s electronics, this is unnoticeable in the presence of high-volume 'fuzzed' (distorted) sound.