Bring me the DIRT!
I recently posted about needing to add some dirt (a.k.a. "Fuzz") to my signal chain, and of course I did a thing.
I bought one of the Catalinbread "Fuzzrite" germanium fuzz boxes. It was not too expensive. But it does something that my overdrive didn't, and that is brings a monster level of fuzz.
Now, you might be asking, 'dude, isn't an overdriven amp "fuzz"?'
Nope, not in the slightest. Well, sure, if you super overload the preamp, the clipping might go super nonlinear with some extra harmonics caused by resonances in the audio circuitry, but to go too crazy will likely court disaster (as in failure of components, and ruination of your amp).
What a fuzz box does is use a pair of amplifier circuits that feedback directly, giving very satisfying distortion at even fairly low volume levels.
And the Catalinbread/Moseley Fuzzrite does this with panache. My first firing up of it was to plug it in outside of my board, just guitar into the Fuzzrite, and then into the amp's clean channel. And whoa, is that a dirty sound. First thing I noticed is that at any level, I needed to roll off the guitar volume pot to about 1/2. The pedal just saturates at high output of the guitar, and you can hear the roll off of the signal. Playing with volume about half way gives some wild tonal variations.
Also, along with the volume pot, fiddling with the tone pot gives some additional tinges of color. I literally spent hours playing the main riff of Inna Gadda da Vida while tweaking. Reminded me of when me and my guitar teacher would get high and get totally lost in a jam.
Then on a lark, I put it in front of my tuner (a TC Electronics Polytune mini) and whoa, the strum scan is totally screwed. This little circuit in the Fuzzrite is tossing tons of wild harmonics, all up and down the spectrum. I really wish I had a decent oscilloscope to see what is coming off of it, but I am sure it is a wall of harmonics.
Next up, I put it between the analog chorus, and my foundation overdrive, and started riffing.
It brings an edge to my sound, turning it up to eleven (metaphorically), and augmenting my main tonal stylings.
One thing to mention. This pedal has a switch that allows you to have the original circuit (the original fuzzrite was a high range, almost reedy sound), or a modern where there is some heft in the low and mid range. Because I get that with my foundation overdrive pedal, I leave it in the Vintage mode, and just jam!
I like it. A lot.
There are tons of options to add dirt, and I am sure that other pedals will give different flavors, that may or may not meet your needs. I went with the CB pedal because I have a lot of their stuff already, and I have yet to be disappointed with my purchase.