Fuzz defined the early years of Pink Floyd and David Gilmour’s tones. As it did for pretty much all guitarists in the early days. They came in all shapes and sizes and with different types of transistors, creating a wide palette of tones. A brand new pedal in the huge fuzz family is the Silicon Phuzz from UK based Phil Robinson. Here’s my review.
I must admit I have a rather ambivalent relationship with fuzz pedals. They can be moody, especially the germanium transistor models, and they require a certain amp to sound right. At least to my ears. I also feel that it’s one of those effects that although timeless, they certainly don’t fit everything.
But there’s something about fuzz. That raw and untamed sound. All the little nuances and harmonics. Every time I plug into one I recognise that unique character and the beauty of this simple design.
Apparently, Phil Robinson set out to design a fuzz pedal that would tackle some of the issues of using vintage style fuzz with modern, complex pedal boards, while still being able to capture all the lure and magic of those classic units.
The Silicon Phuzz is housed in an MXR sized box featuring a pair of BC108 transistors, with the familiar controls for volume and fuzz (phuzz), a bright led, true bypass switching and 9V centre negative powering.
Phil’s unique design, includes a unity gain output stage, that’s isolating the fuzz circuit from any active circuitry or buffers that follow it, as well as being able to drive long cable runs with no signal loss.
Like all vintage circuit boosters and fuzz pedals, the Silicon Phuzz should be placed first to be able to interact and respond to your pickups and the dynamics of your picking. However, a cluttered board with buffered Boss pedals and whatnot, won’t do anything to this pedal’s tone.
I pretty much have one setting for all my fuzz pedals – volume 75% and the fuzz all the way up. That’s how I started with the Silicon Phuzz as well and it instantly delivered.
The tone is huge. I’m using my Reeves Custom 50 Hiwatt clone with my trusted Fender Strat sporting a Seymour Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup. Pretty close to David Gilmour’s setup. The tone bursts out of the amp and even at that ear pinching volume, I can clearly hear the full character of the pedal.
This is not an overly gainy pedal. Personally I’d prefer a bit more to work with but less gain also allow the true character of the pedal shine through, without getting too wild sounding.
There’s noticeably more low end that what I’m used to from similar fuzz pedals, which makes this ideal for a wider range of amps and bedroom setups too.
Rolling back the output reveals more grit and harmonics but you’ll also lose some of the low end. Dialling back the fuzz takes the pedal into overdrive territory, which is ideal for humbuckers and rhythm work.
Rolling back the guitar volume, and especially on vintage style low output single coil pickups, cleans up the signal pretty well and adds a snappy attack to your picking. To me, this is what makes the fuzz pedal, both germanium and silicon, so versatile. You pretty much have a clean booster, overdrive and fuzz in one pedal simply by adjusting the guitar volume.
The Silicon Phuzz perfectly captures the tone of the early 70s and David Gilmour’s legendary Pompeii and Dark Side of the Moon tones in particular. This is not an overly wild fuzz but a faithful take on a classic, with much welcomed enhancements.
Read more about the Silicon Phuzz here.