Like him or lump him, Dave Grohl and his ragtag gang of BMX bandits in the Foo Fighters look from the outside like they are living every musician’s dream life. Grohl himself seems like he never grew out of being a teenager worshipping his favourite bands. His exuberance and vim combine to give him a puppy-with-a-bone kind of energy that most of us unfortunately lose as soon as we are forced into ‘real jobs’. The further along their career path they get, the more Foo Fighters explore the outer reaches of the guitar rock plateau, and to their credit they have managed to escape the clutches of MOR tedium even if it is by sheer force of moxie alone. The video for their single ‘Run’ is a sort of goofy metaphor for this idea as it sees them dressed up as elderly versions of themselves starting a prison riot as they play before a shocked nursing home crowd. It may be quintessentially adolescent, but it won them a Grammy so there’s no point arguing. One of the most talked about aspects of the song apart from the clip is the guitar tone driving the whole song like it stole it. The machine responsible for that velcro tight, chewy fuzz sound is the Stacks FX Fuzz Gazer.
I personally have a standoffish attitude to fuzz. Every time I go to plug one in, I can’t help but think that I don’t really want to limit myself to Hendrix and Homme riffs for an entire afternoon. However, every time I explore one on behalf of our beloved Mixdown, I find a new colour or flavour that I hadn’t expected, which leads me to think I’m being a pretentious twit. From the creamy simplicity of the Fuzz Face to the beefy wall built by Big Muffs, it is a facet of sound so distinct that I find I really have to abandon myself to it or leave it alone altogether.
The thing that really sets the Fuzz Gazer apart is just how unnervingly flexible it is. If you asked around you’d struggle to find a guitar player who would think of using a fuzz box to achieve a subtle amount of clip, but lo and behold the settings that I had accidentally dialed in when first I fired up Stacks FX’s pride and joy had just that. It almost sounded like the bastard child of a Rat and an OD808 in its pinched, pointed clarity and my ears were well and truly pricked. With that in mind, I wandered around the dials for a while and what I found was an absolute treasure trove of fuzz sounds, both standard and otherwise. That thick, tight Mudhoney woof was there: Trent Reznor sticking a screwdriver in a JCM800 style, busted transistor jank was there, Eric Clapton’s rolled off, heavenly warmth was there. It was all there. It is not a modeler by any means, but all the greatest sounds were to be found in the combination of five simple dials.
To celebrate the hand-in-hand success of both Foo Fighters’ most recent output and their little treasure, Stacks FX have gilded their lily so to speak and offer up this limited edition gold Fuzz Gazer. Whatever you thought you wanted out of a fuzz it’s got, making it a must-have for those who, like me, are hungry for more.
Thanks to our friends at Maniac Music Factory, we're giving away one of these limited edition pedals this month. Find more details here.
Hits and Misses
More variation than ever achieved by silicon-based fuzz in a hipster friendly box
Leans too heavily on the bias knob rather than body for tonality