035 | Dunlop FFM3: A Closer Look at this Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Pedal | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 35 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. We're exploring Renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. Up for today, we've got a fun one, an iconic pedal with a great history. Today, we're going to be talking about the Dunlop FFM3, Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face mini pedal. I love this pedal. So much fun, and can't wait to talk about it on the other.
Hey, everybody. Scott Schwertly and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you guys today. Hope you're having a great one. Today, we're going to be talking about a Fuzz pedal. I'm shocked at this point, we haven't talked about too many Fuzz pedals on this podcast. I love Fuzz. It's been too long since we've covered a Fuzz pedal. So I'm excited to be covering the pedal that we're going to be talking about today. And today we're going to be talking about the classic Fuzz Face mini pedal. Obviously, there's a rich history with just the original Fuzz Faces, but specifically, for this conversation today, we're going to be focusing on one of the many pedal options, specifically the FFM3 Jimi Hendrix version.
So this is the turquoise variety, and yeah, I love this pedal. I love Hendrix. I mean, who doesn't love Hendrix? So this one has been fun to have around and mess with over the past few days. And yeah, we're excited to share it with you guys in this episode.
I know Eric, you've spent some time with it as well here. Yeah, what have your initial thoughts been?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, I love it. So I actually have only played one or two Fuzz Faces before this, or types of Fuzz Faces, and I've really enjoyed it. It really kind of, like you said, nails a Hendrix tone and does it in a much smaller package than the original one. So it's really nice.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, it's indeed small. I mean, I know when I went and purchased it, I thought, "Okay, I knew this is going to be a small pedal that might be more pedal board friendly," but it was actually a little bit smaller than I anticipated. I mean, it's definitely, definitely really, really small. That's for sure.

Well, awesome. Well, for those that are new to the world of Fuzz Face or Fuzz Face pedals, there's actually a really rich history and you may want to grab a pen and a notepad because there's a lot of acronyms and just different descriptors here. So if it seems a little overwhelming, don't worry, we're going to try to simplify this to the best of our ability. But to really kind of appreciate the pedal that we're going to cover today, which again, is this FFM3 model. It's good just to know a little bit more about where it came from and the history behind it.

So the brand is Jim Dunlop. The model of pedal here, obviously, is the Fuzz Face. So this has a rich history all the way back to the sixties where you have the famous big red pedal, which is kind of like one of the very first Fuzz Faces, which was the JDF2. That was then followed by the JHF1 , which was the Jimi Hendrix version, sort of the turquoise. We're going to be talking about the mini version of that today.

Then you had the, in no particular order here, but then you also have the JBF3B, which is the Joe Bonamassa version, which was black. Then you have the EJF1, which is the Eric Johnson version, which is gold. Those all were received very well by the public, but they all had their flaws and they weren't perfect. So I know one of the things that really got a lot of complaints is, they didn't have LED lights. And so you couldn't tell when the pedal was on or off. And obviously with them being circular, they did take up a lot of space on a pedal board. So they're just kind of awkward to work with.

So they had actually released mini versions of those. So we have the Big Red, the mini version of that is the FFM2. Then you have the FFM1, which was blue, which was based more on a 1970s version. It kind of looks identical to the FFM2, but slightly different. You have the FFM3, which is what we're going to talk about today, which is the mini version of the Jimi Hendrix. And then you also have the FFM4, which is the mini version of the black Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face. So that's a mouthful. It's a lot.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Pretty much it feels like they just had somebody random ... They just walked up to somebody, what do we name this one? The first one.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, the JBZ4.

Eric Wilson:
The naming conventions make sense up until you get to the Joe Bonamassa wanting to just skip to three.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. It's a mess. Because I think that's the FFM4 based on the JBF3B. Yeah, it's nuts. All right. So to simplify this conversation, Fuzz Face has a rich history behind it. These are obviously popular pedals. They've made mini versions of those pedals. So for today's conversation, we're talking about a mini version of one of those, which is again, the FFM3, which is based off the JHF1, the original full-size. Again, this being the Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face.

All right, there you go. That's what we're going to be talking about today. All right. So who is actually using this pedal? I know we've done some research on this. Probably two biggest names, right, Eric would be Gary Clark, Jr. and Ron Ashton are probably the two biggest names that are using this Fuzz Face.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Those are the ones I found. Yeah. Gary Clark Jr., great player, great artist. I hadn't actually really heard of the other guy, but I just found him in the process of looking stuff up.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I was actually shocked. I mean, in full transparency, I didn't know much about Ron Ashton as well. Probably closer to more of my generation, actually way before that. But for guys that are out there that have a real appreciation for Iggy Pop, you probably know Ron Ashton from the band called the Stooges. And actually according to Rolling Stone, he's considered, I think, he was number 29 as far as one of the top guitarists in their top 100 list, top guitarists of all time. So I feel kind of embarrassed that I didn't know who he was. But he's had, or at least they've caught him having, the Fuzz Face on his board at some point in time. So again, just speaks volumes again. We're talking about Jimi Hendrix roots here. So it really is hard not to like this pedal and what it can do.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Well then if you open up the doors of who all uses a Fuzz Face, your list of artists gets longer. I mean, obviously in the ones we listed, you had Joe Bonamassa and Eric Johnson, countless others, who have used different variations of a Fuzz Face or a Fuzz Face circuit. So it really is just one very small iteration, such a long lineage of a great circuit.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, it's insane. It's like when you think of guitar pedals and you think about Fuzz, you immediately think about the Fuzz Face. I know when I first got into pedals, this is one of those ones, I'm like, "I need to own that. I need to own that." And I just kept delaying it and finally like, "Okay, I'm just going to get one just because I need to have one." So just, I love to collect pedals and definitely just needed something like this to add to the collection, for sure.
Well, just like any pedal, obviously, no pedal as we always talk about here on this podcast, no pedal's perfect. So this one does have some flaws, but nothing like that enormous. I would say probably the biggest one, I know Eric, you mentioned that earlier today is the size. It's probably too small to a fault or just the fact that it's circular is a little off putting, I guess.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. In my opinion, if you're going to take a pedal that's that big and re-imagine it, I'd probably just go ahead and put it in a square case. Just so it ... Because if you're going to make it pedal board friendly, then just make it pedal board friendly. But I do like ... I really enjoy that they added the LED. Really helpful. Also a battery door. Not having to unscrew the back every time you need to change the battery. Really helpful. So they made some really good improvements, but I guess probably in their minds, just wanting to keep it as close to the original as possible. So keeping that round form factor, and I think they really nailed it for doing that, but just in my opinion, I'd rather have a square.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, yeah. And then just as far as other tiny little complaints. Some people have complained too you that this pedal doesn't necessarily play nice with others. I think I saw some review out there where they're getting frustrated, where they actually had to put it in front of their wah, or they couldn't put it after their overdrive, or before their overdrive. I can't remember what their complaint was. But basically, I have seen complaints where it just doesn't play as nice with pedals as people would like it to. But again, when you get into this territory, it gets completely subjective.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I feel like though with a lot of Fuzz pedals, it's kind of like that. You have to put it first, at least from what I've read, what I've watched. I mean, I don't own a lot of Fuzz. This is actually the first. The closest thing I own to a Fuzz is the Kilt that can hit the vector fuzz kind of stuff. So I don't know a lot about placing Fuzz in your signal chain. But just from what I've read, what I've seen, typically you do have a little bit of a problem with a lot of them, just placing them in your chain and figuring out where it's going to play nice with the rest of what you got going on.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, same. I mean, I've got my pedal board in front of me. I've got all my Fuzz in the front. So again, I know people have their personal preferences, but things like that can obviously help troubleshoot items like that.

And then I think one other thing just to note about this pedal, I know when I was using it for the first time is, it's really simple. I mean, we'll talk about this in a minute, but it's got two knobs on it. The volume and fuzz. But I noticed that I had to really sort of crank those up to really hear any sort of impact on my sound. Did you notice the same thing?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I mean, I feel like the best way, I think ... I think I was watching a video, Josh Scott was talking about a Fuzz Face and he said basically, "The best way to run this things, to run the volume and the fuzz all the way up and do any control with your guitar." And I tried that, and it was great. But yeah, you've just got to go into it knowing that, just turn everything up and roll with it that way, and it's probably going to be your best bet for the tone you're looking for.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Yeah, I think actually when the pedal arrived, if I remember because I bought it brand new, I think they actually had just the pre settings. They had everything turned all the way up. So I think even Jim Dunlop kind of hints that that's how you're going to get maximum love out of this thing. Well, perfect.
Well, those are, again, just some things that we've just kind of noticed with it. But obviously, with a pedal like this, it's got the rich history and legacy. There're obviously way more likes than dislikes. As you mentioned, Eric, obviously they've got the LED light, they've added the whole battery compartment where you don't have to use a screwdriver to get those off. But I think at the end of the day, the thing just makes this pedal stand apart is, when you think of best guitars of all time, I mean, everybody can agree. There's really no argument about it. That Jimi Hendrix was the best, and everybody learns Hendrix at some point in their guitar journey, and this pedal just beautifully captures all of that magic.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I really only got super into Hendrix for like a week or so.

Scott Schwertly:
A week? Wait, we need to pause real quick. Only a week? That's crazy.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, well that was more like, I was in high school. I actually didn't play as much guitar. I was more of a drummer. So I listened to it for a solid week and then I'm like, "Eh, whatever." And then I moved on.

Scott Schwertly:
That's so crazy.

Eric Wilson:
So now as a guitar player, I probably need to go back and revisit it.

Scott Schwertly:
Oh yeah, indeed. You need to. But so for your week of playing it, at least was reminiscent of that, I assume.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Yeah, so I'll probably, after this episode, I'll probably go give some Hendrix a listen.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. You need to. I've got Hendrix as part of my, almost weekly rotation. I'm usually doing something Hendrix-ish on my guitar. I may not listen to him as much these days, but a song always seems to make its way into the rotation at some point in time during my practicing. But yeah. That's, I guess, two different generations, Eric.
All right. So let's go ahead and jump into what this pedal actually sounds like. As we mentioned earlier, it's super simple, two knobs. I don't really think we need to go into our normal explanation of what you can expect.

Eric Wilson:
If you can't figure that out ...

Scott Schwertly:
And you turn them all the way up.

Eric Wilson:
Google it.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. So basically take these two knobs, crank them all the way up, and there you go. And that is what we are going to do right now. We're going to go and connect this thing in. I assume, Eric, you're going to go with the Strat today.

Eric Wilson:
You would be right. I was actually, I was thinking, I feel like if I'm playing the Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face, I probably should go with the Strat. That's what I'm going to do.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Yeah. Not time for a Les Paul on this one.

Eric Wilson:
Definitely not.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. All right. So we're going to get the Strat connected. Are you going to pair it up with anything or just all Fuzz Face?

Eric Wilson:
I might use some spring verb, some slap back delay or something, but not a lot because it doesn't play very well. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I just picked up a Bossy One, so I may put that with it and see what happens. So we'll see.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Sounds good. In fact, while we're on that note, do you want to go ahead and cover that in the next episode?

Eric Wilson:
Of course.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. So we'll come back and talk about that one, but for now, we're going to get this Strat plugged in and give you guys a taste of this Fuzz Face. We'll see you on the other side.
(silence)

Eric Wilson:
That was the Jimi Hendrix, Fuzz Face mini. It's a great sounding pedal, nails all the Hendrix tones, and definitely helps to have a Strat.

Scott Schwertly:
for sure. I mean, it sounds so good. And by the way, we didn't mention this earlier, but if you're looking to get something like this, I believe I bought this brand new for 119. So not too bad. If you just love Hendrix, you want that fuzz sound? Yeah, you're going to capture it in this. And another thing we forgot to mention to you, I feel bad that we didn't cover this earlier, but there've been a lot of debates. I know Jimi, even himself went back between silicone transistors and germanium transistors. And this one really lets the silicone transistors, specifically the BC108. Silicone, silicone, silicone, whatever transistors stand out. And that's exactly what you get as you just heard in that demo.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah, definitely, every iteration of the Fuzz Face is good. They're just all a little bit different, but it's all just very small differences in all of them.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, for sure. It's just all very subtle. But if you're really into those specifics, then good time to explore it. You got all those different ones that we mentioned earlier to check out. Well, awesome. Well, that's what we wanted to cover today with this FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face mini pedal. Join us next time as we get into episode 36. Hard to believe, 36 episodes of Sonic Renegades. We're going to be talking about the Boss CE1 chorus pedal. And I know, Eric, you got this thing, sounds like you've got a great steal on it, which is amazing.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So I was literally sitting on the couch on Sunday and it would have been ... What's today? Would have been the seventh or something. Yeah. And so I was just sitting on the couch on Facebook marketplace. I was actually looking for a desk, and I came across this Boss chorus ensemble, which from what I've read, is one of the first chorus pedals ever invented. And messaged the guy right away. He had it listed for next to nothing for what these typically go for. And so I went and picked it up, and I've been messing around with it ever since. It sounds really good. It's really cool to have a pedal that's almost 40 years old.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. That's awesome. I am so excited, so pumped to cover that in the next episode. That's going to be a good one.

Well, good deal. Well, that is our episode for today, guys. Thank you so much for joining us, and join us next time as we talk about that Boss CE1 chorus pedal. It's going to be a fun one.

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