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A Brief History of Fuzz

Friday, March 11, 2011

The sometimes fuzzy, sometimes gritty sound of distortion is commonplace in modern music. But, its discovery was an accident – the result of a faulty connection on a mixing board.

Slate and Atlantic Monthly contributor  William Weir explains the unlikely genesis and current ubiquity of the sound of fuzz. And Mike Matthews, founder of the company Electro-Harmonix, tells us about the fuzz boxes he’s been building since 1969, including the ever-popular Big Muff.

Check out the video below of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour putting the Big Muff to good use in a performance of "Comfortably Numb."


Mike Matthews and William Weir

Comments [13]

Esta from india

try this video very good

Oct. 31 2014 08:19 AM
aira from Philippines

Awww, can't watch the video. Our country is blocked by EMI.

sams club credit card

Oct. 29 2011 05:08 AM
Kyle Hagerman from Bed-Stuy

Made by a buddy of mine a few months before this broadcast:
Episode 1: The Origins of Fuzz

Mar. 21 2011 10:30 PM
Kyle Hagerman

Made by a buddy of mine a few months before this broadcast:
Episode 1: The Origins of Fuzz

Mar. 21 2011 10:29 PM
Sam Higgins

Where is Dan Auerbach in this discussion?!

Mar. 21 2011 04:18 PM
Tim E from Brooklyn

You don't hear distortion in the top 10? First of all, most, if not all records today are mastered "hot" i.e. the levels are pushed causing quite obvious DISTORTION on everything. I don't listen to much top 10 music, so I don't have numerous examples, but listen to Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." The main riff in the chorus sounds not only distorted, but almost like a retro fuzztone.

I enjoyed the program!


Mar. 11 2011 11:04 PM

Where is the comment space for homeboy sandman?

Mar. 11 2011 03:01 PM
Simon from CT

What do they think about the future of distortion? Right now you don't even need a pedal to create distortion - there's all kinds of cool software that can manipulate any guitars sound to sound like any pedal/amp setup. Pretty fun to play around with.

Mar. 11 2011 02:25 PM
C. E. Connelly from Manhattan

Can you ask your guests If they know how Hendrix got his sound (his live sound as documented in films). For example in the Woodstock film, he doesn't seem to using any pedals.

Mar. 11 2011 02:20 PM
Siouxie from Bronx

Divine distortion:

first seeing Radiohead on Conan O'Brian playing "Creep."

Mar. 11 2011 02:13 PM
Pete from London

Dave Davis of The Kinks slashed his speakers to get the grungy sound of those incredible early Kinks riffs - was this a separate, later discovery of the technique?

Mar. 11 2011 02:05 PM
Matthias from Hell's Kitchen

The discussion will be incomplete without mention of this:

Mar. 11 2011 12:54 PM
eli from astoria

I recently became friends with an extremely talented fuzz box creator.
Here are some of my demos of his amazing noise machines:
thanks for the cool program!

Mar. 11 2011 11:06 AM

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