Monday, January 11, 2010

Fuzzy Face

My meetings over at ZVEX gained my interest in the building of guitar effects pedals. What I was hearing and seeing I was totally fascinated by. I had taken an analog electronics course in college too and wondered if it could be something to get into as just a hobby. I spent some time on-line reading about build-your-own kits and decided to go with the ESV Fuzz Face, a clone of the Arbiter Fuzz Face at They say it's good for beginners and it's a classic fuzz tone that Jimi Hedrix used. Sounds good to me.

The kit comes with all the electronic parts, hardware and metal casing. You download the instructions on their website. I went out and got my self a soldering iron and some tools. I spent some time reading about soldering electronics and made sure I understood the directions of the kit. Excited to have a project and to delve into something new, I got right into it.

It's a pretty simple design. I took my time and worked on it in stages. Meanwhile I thought about how to decorate the metal casing. Most people paint the box so I got some paper and a pencil and drew out some ideas. I knew it was going to cost me more to go out and get the paints and brushes I needed, so I thought I could glue on some fabric instead.

It's a Fuzz Face so I wanted it to by fuzzy like a muppet. I searched the fabric stores for something furry but no luck with matching what I had in my head. Then, while thrifting, my wife and I found an old fuzzy orange teddy bear. Perfect! After playing around with the happy bear and giving it a personality, I said goodbye, but that he'd be sacrificing for a worthy woolly cause and would be immortalized in fuzzdom. In with the scissors!

I glued it on, cut the wholes for the hardware and added some eyes to make it more like a fuzzy face. Then I soldered it all and connected the wires and gave it a test. Plugged my guitar into the box and was excited for the result of my hard work. Stomped on it. Nothing. Could be the battery, I knew it wasn't new. I thought to myself, well this is a good learning experience if it doesn't work, then I could learn why and have a better knowledge of this thing.

Before I got a new battery, I plugged the box into an AC adapter. The light went on, and off I sailed into a wicked guitar lick. SWEET it works!! Really nice. That familiar fat and fuzzy tone was there and I was so happy about it. Got a new battery in there too with the same good results. I'm calling it the Fuzzy Face. Check the video to hear what it sounds like.