The Birth of Fuzz: How it All Began

Are you interested in how and where guitar fuzz began? Well, you are in the right place because today we are going to discuss where fuzz was born and the impact it has had since it was discovered.

I am so excited about this topic for two reasons.

#1: I absolutely love fuzz.

#2: I live in Nashville which happens to also be the same location where fuzz originated.

Let's dive into this further. 

The year was 1961 and the location was the Quonset Hut in Nashville, Tennessee. An A-list guitarist by the name of Grady Martin was invited to play with Marty Robbins, a famous country music artist at the time. His guitar of choice was a six string bass and the song they were going to record was "Don't Worry." However, when Grady plugged into a faulty channel in the studio's mixing console, the resulting tone was really fuzzy, a bit awkward, but also fit perfectly in the song.

Glenn Snoddy who was the engineer on the song knew there was magic in what he was hearing so he teamed up with Revis Hobbs, another electrical engineer in Nashville and they put together a non-tube driven circuit and brought it to Gibson.

And, as they say the rest is history.

Gibson loved what they created and the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone was born making it the first official "fuzz" guitar pedal.

It was a pretty simple fuzz pedal with an output, input with an integrated cable, knobs for volume and attack, and one simple footswitch.

Despite its simplicity, the Fuzz-Tone was promoted not as a distortion but as a versatile pedal for bassists and guitarists as it also helped reproduce tones which resembled horn sections.

Since we are on the top of horn sections, The Rolling Stones around this same time period were recording an early version of a song you have may heard of...which was I Can't Get No Satisfaction at Chicago's Chess Studios. Just a few days later, they went into Hollywood's RCA Studios where Keith Richards deployed the Maestro Fuzz-Tone pedal to add a bit more punch and sustain to his guitar tone.

The goal was simply to have it as a placeholder for the horn section but everyone absolutely loved it. Their manager Andrew Loog Oldham and engineer David Hassinger encouraged them to keep it and there you have it.

It took 4 years from 1961 from "one accident" to 1965 where you have another type of "accident" that fuzz truly found its foothold and it would change music forever.

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