Musicians, it appears to be, have always aspired to change the sounds with their instruments. Throughout centuries, strings have already been included with guitars to get a fuller sound. The composition of those strings has evolved from animal gut to steel to plastic, each with their own unique sounds. Drummers have tried different shaped pots and kettles for the bodies of the instruments to obtain different timbres.
Although with the arrival of electronics, the options for tweaking the sound of one instrument exploded. And perhaps nobody has been doing more tweaking than electric guitarists.
Placed in his Bethel, Conn., workshop, pedal maker Mike Piera plugs in fuzz pedal and demonstrates exactly what a fuzz box is capable of doing by playing component of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.”
“Without the pedal, you just kinda get yourself a dead sound,” Piera says. “Pretty boring.”
The package helps make the guitar sound fuzzy by distorting its sound. This is something musicians happen to be intentionally trying to do considering that the earliest times of amplification. Many credit the first deliberately distorted electric guitar to Johnny Burnette’s Rock ‘n Roll Trio in 1956.
2 years later, Link Wray claimed he’d stabbed a hole inside the speaker of his amp when he challenged listeners to your “Rumble.”
Others said they got the sound by dislodging a tube with their amps. Then, in 1962, a Nashville engineer named Glen Snoddy invented the box that came to be called the Maestro Fuzz-Tone, marketed by Gibson.
An ad to the Fuzz-Tone proclaims: “It’s mellow. It’s raucous. It’s tender. It’s raw. It’s the Maestro Fuzz-Tone. You must hear this totally different sound effect to the guitar to believe it!”
The concept was simple: guitar pedal into one, tap it with your foot, and presto, your sound goes from squeaky clean to downright dirty. Guitarist and historian Tom Wheeler says Keith Richards was after something very specific as he took the Fuzz-Tone to the top from the charts with The Rolling Stones.
“If you’re Keith Richards and you’re doing ‘Satisfaction,’ you can play that line with a clean guitar, but it really just will not have that in-your-face, gnarly, dark quality that has a lot attitude on it,” he says.
“I began dabbling by having an electric guitar at age 11 or 12, and the initial thing I needed to do was have fun with fuzz,” Cline says.
Why? “To escape the inherent sound of your guitar,” Cline says. “To transform it, but also go back to it after i wanted to by merely pushing down on a control button on to the floor.”
To satisfy the growing requirement for sonic manipulation, engineers started discovering new effects, such as the wah-wah along with the talk box. For guitarists like Cline, the explosion allowed for greater experimentation.
“I started thinking about effects pedals as being like a palette with some other colors – using delay, volume pedal, sometimes distortion yet not a great deal, simply to appear to be many different guitarists and several different types of voices throughout the music,” Cline says.
Today, stores like New York’s Ludlow Guitars carry an ever-changing choice of effects pedals. Ludlow sells nearly thousands of varieties, which are the cause of about half its overall sales. Co-owner Kaan Howell explains the enduring appeal.
“It’s all really based in tradition, I find,” he says. “If you love rock ‘n’ roll, and you also much like the Ramones or you like Led Zeppelin, they don’t play clean. If you want to emulate and 20dexkpky something down the same vein, you must start testing out effects pedals.”
At the same time, Howell says, effects pedals also allow guitarists to experiment.
“It’s a genuine type of guitar pedal in trying to produce a sound,” Howell says. “Everything you like will probably be a bit diverse from what other people like. And if you do spend some time to try stuff, the sound you’ll create is going to be slightly different than things which are available.”