Build - Pedal Project: Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone

There are few pieces of music gear that had a larger influence on the guitar and rock music world than the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone. Though it was predated by effects like the DeArmond tremolo, The FZ-1 is credited as the first widely-available fuzz unit and the first widely-available effect in a pedal format. It is most well-known for its use in the Rolling Stones’ legendary hit “Satisfaction”, as the FZ-1 is responsible for the distinct sound of the classic riff that repeats throughout. Early FZ-1 marketing materials described the effect as capable of producing the sound of brass instruments among others - “organ-like tones, mellow woodwinds and whispering reeds, booming brass and bell-clear horns, growling basses, plus many more.”

That may have been what Keith Richards had in mind when first using his, as Richards wanted to redo the riff in “Satisfaction” with a horn section, with the guitar riff in recordings meant as a placeholder for the final recording. Instead, the band voted to release the current version of “Satisfaction” as a single, which cemented that iconic FZ-1 riff into music history. After the release of “Satisfaction” in 1965, three years after the original release of the FZ-1, its popularity took off.

The success of the FZ-1 kickstarted the ‘60s fuzz trend, leading to a variety of musical instrument manufacturers creating their own units or licensing the work of an existing fuzz manufacturer. Certain legendary fuzzes that followed were based on the same circuit topology as that found in the FZ-1. Gary Hurst created the Tonebender Mk1 by modifying the FZ-1 to operate from a 9V supply, giving the circuit more headroom. The Tonebender line of pedals has its own wide-reaching influence, but they owe their inception to the FZ-1.

Unlike most pedals that followed, the FZ-1 operated off of two AA batteries for a 3V supply. A 2x AA holder is provided with this build. It can be mounted using epoxy (S-F570) or rivets (S-TRIVET).

Most germanium fuzz circuits can vary a lot depending on transistor specs. Three transistors are included in the BoM. We have chosen a transistor type which tends to fall into a similar range and tends to have similar leakage to 2N270s for proper bias, but as always with germanium transistors, the specs can be inconsistent. You may need a larger batch of transistors you can try out in the circuit.

This is a PNP germanium build which should be run on battery power only. For more information, see our PNP "Positive Ground" Pedal Considerations tech article.

Figure 1: Eyelet board layout of the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone

Figure 1: Eyelet board layout of the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone

Figure 2: Schematic of the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone

Figure 2: Schematic of the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone

See Figure 4 in our Guitar Pedal Footswitch and Jack Wiring article for the recommended footswitch and I/O wiring. Note that the drawing shows a 9V battery, but the wiring is the same with the AA batteries. The pictured build here includes a battery disconnect switch for disabling battery power. This switch is optional and not included in the BoM. If you would like to build this with a battery disconnect switch, the pictured rocker switch is P-H518.

If using a battery disconnect switch, see Figure 5 in our Guitar Pedal Footswitch and Jack Wiring article for the recommended footswitch and I/O wiring.

Parts List

1k51R-PR02-1D5KVishay BC PR02 resistor
2k21R-PR02-2D2KVishay BC PR02 resistor
10k3R-PR02-10KVishay BC PR02 resistor
22k2R-PR02-22KVishay BC PR02 resistor
56k1R-PR02-56KVishay BC PR02 resistor
470K1R-PR02-470KVishay BC PR02 resistor
1M1R-PR02-1MVishay BC PR02 resistor
3n31C-MKT-D0033-630Film cap
10n1C-MKT-D01-400Film cap
20u2C-BC-22-63Electrolytic cap
SFT3533P-QSFT353Germanium PNP Transistors
500k audio1R-VA500KAVolume pot
50k audio1R-VA50KAAttack pot
Other Items
Hammond 1590J1P-H1590JEnclosure
Carling DPDT1P-H550Footswitch
Switchcraft 112BX1W-SC-112BXInput jack
Switchcraft 111X1W-SC-111XOutput jack
Fairchild-style pointer knobs2P-K347-32-GRYControl Knobs
AA holder1S-H160-AA-2Metal frame battery mount
Greencell AAs1S-AA-GCELLBatteries
2x8 Board1P-HTBW-2X8Pseudo Eyelet Board

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