Iconic stage adornment that defined the tone of a decade, the 1980s Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face.
Though not the first fuzz pedal, that accolade goes to to Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone of Satisfaction fame, the Fuzz Face tone has become a bench mark sound for players and builders since its introduction in 1966. A handful of components and a distinctive housing (according to legend, chosen by Ivor Arbiter as it was the same shape as a mic stand base) is all it needed to change the sonic landscape, especially when combined with a Marshall, Stratocaster and the fingers of a certain James Marshall Hendrix.
The design was altered a little during the 9 initial years of production, transistors changed from Germanium (Are you Experienced era Hendrix) to Silicon (Band of Gypsies) for stability and cost effectiveness, and the housing colours changed, but the essence of this primitive tool was never lost.
This is the now famous Crest Audio reincarnation, resurrected by Dave Fox in around 1987 having found one lying around the workshop at Crest who had by that point bought Dallas Arbiter. Dave has written a fantastic article about the pedal’s genesis on the Analog Man website which is worth reading from the background. The company produced around 2000 units between ‘87 and ‘90. The initial run was all in grey though red, blue, yellow and green examples were later produced.
Cosmetically the pedal is in excellent shape. The silk screen is still strong and the hammerite finish hasn’t chipped. The rubber is undamaged as are the top hat knobs.
Inside we still have the correct components. The pots are correct and work well. The correct DPDT switch is still present and is working.
As those of you who have dabbled with fuzz pedals will know, to get the full fuzz tone experience the amp needs to be valve and cooking (experimentation is encouraged). Single coils are a good place to start with the fuzz knob set up above the 12 o’clock mark with volume to taste. Here the pedal really delivers. Not all are made equal and there are plenty of stories of disappointment out there regarding underwhelming tone. Safe to say this one is not one of those. The pedal interacts well with the guitar controls (the 10k input impedance inherent in the design is the reason for that) and runs the gamut from thick and velcroy to soaring lead sound. There’s sustain for days with enough gain to get you into feedback heaven.
Maybe not an original but definitely one of the best reissues to have been released. Grab it before it gets away.