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July 7, 2010

Zvex Fuzz Factory

The Fuzz Factory is based on, yet vastly expands the tonal palette of, classic fuzztone designs from the 1960s. Invented in the mid 1990s, the pedals are mostly handbuilt and painted in Minnesota, United States, with a budget line being manufactured in Taiwan.
The basis for the Fuzz Factory is a traditional fuzz effect circuit using New old stock Germanium Transistors, as used on the Fuzz Face, the seminal device used by Jimi Hendrix and many others during the late 1960s/early 1970s. The Fuzz Factory innovates by use of internal feedback loops and component-level bias adjustments to achieve unprecedented control, or deliberate lack thereof, of the distorted signal. Designed by electronic trial-and-error, closely tied to circuit bending, the controls of the Fuzz Factory are highly interactive, and represent a wide spectrum of tonal ability, often extending into self-oscillation and noise. Many musicians find the promise of near-infinite new sounds and textures inherent to the device to be inspiring to their music, and the Fuzz Factory has a well-known following among professional guitarists.
The Factory has 5 knobs, 2 of which are only suggestions of what parameter(s) they actually control. From left to right:
* "Volume" (output level)
* "Gate" (transistor bias)
* "Compression" (transistor bias)
* "Drive" (input level)
* "Stability" (supply voltage)

Custom Finishes

Each unit is handpainted, and while there is a stock design that adorns most models of the pedal, there have been several variations released in limited quantity, including sparkle finishes, kanji finishes (writing and labelling of controls are in Japanese kanji characters), Korean finishes (all controls labelled in Korean), and so on. These limited runs of custom paintjobs underscore the handmade, one-of-a-kind nature of the devices. From the earliest incarnations of the device in the mid 1990s, Jason Myrold painted all Fuzz Factories leaving the Z. Vex shop. Briefly during the mid 2000s the artist Laura Bennett assumed painting duties.

Vexter Series Fuzz Factory
In December of 2004, Z.Vex released a new model of the Fuzz Factory, called the Vexter Series Fuzz Factory. The Vexter series differs from the Handpainted version in that it has a silkscreened enclosure and a shorter warranty period. This effectively lowers the price point, and makes both production easier for Z.Vex and allows the effect to become more accessible to musicians. The Vexter Fuzz Factory contains the same circuit as the original Fuzz Factory pedals, with the inclusion of modern touches such as an indicator LED and DC power jack for powering the fuzz with an adapter. As of August 2006, Vexter series Z.Vex pedal subassemblies are completed in Taiwan, but a large portion is still done in Minnesota.
A Few Famous Zvex Fuzz Factory Manglers Include: Nels Cline of Wilco, Matthew Bellamy of Muse, Robert Fripp, Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Trent Reznor, J. Mascis, Stephen Carpenter of Deftones, Sharin Foo of The Raveonettes, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement and The Jicks, David Sylvian, Jack White of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs and MANY, MANY MORE.

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