I was chatting with a fellow bass player about my new line-up of effects pedals which my last gig enabled/required, and I commented that I had a "black rat fuzz" and when she looked at it she said, "oh, it's a rat clone! That's kinda more of a distortion."

Intrigued I investigated the subject of Fuzz, and apparently it all began with a happy accident in the recording of a Country Song called Don't Worry. Where the channel on the recording console had something gone bad in it.

Marty Robbins, Don't Worry

This very same broken console circuit was used in the followup hit, The Fuzz.

Grady Martin, The Fuzz

Therefore, every Fuzz box is a clone of that original effect. Are there any pedals or units which are directly copied from the actual breakage of that original circuit? What happened in the change from 1 Fuzz to many Fuzzes? Who made the first clone and how did they do it?

  • Funny. I always thought the ProCo Rat was firmly in the fuzz category. Nov 13, 2018 at 15:17
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    The most common fuzz pedal that I've seen people using is the Big Muff. I have a kind of copy of that called a Swollen Pickle that I use in my bass rig. It's a little overpowering for my setup and the bands I play in, so it's gone underused. Fuzz tends to be a very strong distortion and can remove a lot of the pitch clarity and attack characteristics. I got a cool pedal that allows me to create an effects loop within my pedal board and mix the wet/dry signals, so I've been able to utilize the pedal more now with that (that pedal is the X Blender, super cool). Nov 13, 2018 at 16:48
  • Yep, I've rigged up something similar with an aby box and a mixer. 1/2 distorted signal + 1/2 dry gives back all the missing punch and thump. I split after the overdrive so both get a little drive. Nov 13, 2018 at 17:07

2 Answers 2


https://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/tech-tips/how-electric-guitars-got-their-fuzz-on describes that incident as follows:

Another documented early fuzz bass sound also grew out of a malfunction. During a 1960 Nashville recording session with country-pop singer Marty Robbins, a transformer blew in the tube-driven Langevin recording console, giving bassist Grady Martin a thick layer of hair on his bassline for the forgettable ballad, “Don’t Worry.” Engineer Glenn Snoddy was intrigued by the accidental effect and set about trying to replicate it without disabling a circuit in his mixing desk. Snoddy tinkered with solid-state circuits exploiting the germanium transistor’s tendency to spew out strange, distorted tones.

In 1962 Snoddy sold his circuit design to Gibson who then began producing what is commonly thought to be the first commercially available effects pedal, the Maestro FZ1-A Fuzz Tone...

It sounds to me like the Maestro Fuzz Tone is the closest thing there is to something directly inspired by that particular console.


I'm familiar with the track you mention on Don't Worry, and it did precede the story I heard about the Fuzz pedal. The story I was told was that Vox developed the Fuzz pedal in an attempt to make a guitar sound like a Sax, and was shown to Keith Richard at the time of the recording sessions for " I can't get no Satisfaction". I heard that many loudspeakers were shredded in an attempt to duplicate that sound by budding guitar players back in the mid-sixties. I suppose both stories could be true, but I can't say for sure.

  • From my research, this is partly true. The Tone Bender was marketed as a way to make the guitar sound like a horn or a cello. Keith used it for a temp track, expecting a real sax player to be hired later. The Tone Bender itself was a clone of the Maestro Fuzz. Maybe the first clone pedal. Dec 24, 2019 at 7:17
  • I stand corrected. Dec 24, 2019 at 13:43

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