Fuzz is one of the effects that are at the top of my list of favorite guitar pedals. If you ask me what would be the pedal I’d take to a desert island along with a guitar and an amp (provided there would be electricity) I would definitely answer with one of my favorite fuzz pedals. The right combination of a guitar, an amp and a fuzz pedal can yield a nearly infinite variety of tones that respond amazingly well to your picking dynamics and to your guitar’s volume knob.
In this King Tone Silicon Fuzz pedal review, you will learn about one of the most interesting fuzz boxes currently available in the market, used by excellent guitarists such as Ariel Posen and Joey Landreth. Apart from diving deep into this beautiful box of fuzzy goodness, we will also take a look at other pedals that could potentially be an alternative to the King Tone fuzz.
Bottom Line Up Front
The King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon is a sturdy, complete and rich-sounding pedal that can find its place in nearly anyone’s pedalboard. The toggle switch lets you adapt to several situations in which you might want a fuller, bassier sound, or something that cuts through the mix better instead.
The bias knob is a wonderful addition that made me wonder why don’t all fuzz pedals have one, and it is just gorgeous to look at with that huge volume knob that can be adjusted with your foot while playing. It is also very responsive to your guitar’s volume and picking dynamics, meaning that there are almost endless possibilities when crafting your tone with this pedal!
What Is a Fuzz Pedal?
Fuzz pedals come in many shapes and sizes. You can also group most of them into “families” such as the Fuzz Face, the Big Muff and the Tonebender. You could say that these are the main types of fuzz, and after the original models were released, many other brands were inspired to create their own versions of these magical circuits that guitarists and other musicians have grown to love so much.
If you play a fuzz and a distortion pedal side by side, you will most likely notice that the fuzz pedal sounds a lot warmer and fatter, and they clip your signal much more. Depending on your fuzz pedal though, there are many features that may or may not be present.
For instance, some fuzz pedals like the Fuzz Face are known for cleaning up extremely well. Many players like to dime the Volume and Fuzz knobs to get an extreme sound for a lead guitar situation, and they will play with their guitar’s volume knob to achieve anything going from full-blown lead to crunch, all the way to a sparkling clean tone.
Not surprisingly, this is very attractive to many musicians, since it allows them to control their sound using only their picking dynamics and the guitar’s volume knob, instead of tap dancing around their pedals while on the gig.
Even though there are thousands of guitarists who swear by fuzz (myself included), I also have to admit that the search for one that convinces you can be somewhat tricky. Apart from making you pay more attention to where you place the pedal in your signal chain (fuzz pedals tend to work best when they are the very first pedal that your guitar sees), some might not clean up as well as you’d like, not have enough gain, be too noisy, among other things.
However, when you find one that you love, I guarantee that you will not want to switch it off ever!
King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon Main Features
If you ask me, the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon is one of the most interesting options in the marketplace today for players that want a versatile and durable fuzz pedal. It is certainly not the easiest pedal to get, since they are not built in huge quantities.
Let’s take a look at some of the main features of this pedal.
Huge Volume Knob
The enormous volume knob in the center of the pedal is not just for looks. I have actually adjusted the volume on the pedal while playing a gig, and the fact that I don’t need to stop playing to do it was great. It is pretty much the same as adjusting the speed on the MXR Phase 90 when you have the rubber cover on the knob to make it easier.
This pedal also has a huge amount of volume on tap, and you can cause your amp to start breaking up pretty easily just by cranking this knob.
Hand-Wired with the Best Components
King Tone has very high quality standards and only chooses the best possible components to ensure that their pedals sound great and last for a very long time. All the knobs, inputs, outer switches and internal dip switches feel sturdy, durable, and everything is hand-wired. All King Tone pedals are engraved using a laser to ensure that the pedal will remain good looking for years to come.
One of my favorite features of the King Tone Mini Fuzz is the toggle switch in the center that changes the tone between three distinct settings, called “Fat/Full”, “Zonk” and “Vintage”. I find myself playing the Zonk setting the most, since it seems to cut better in the mix than the Fat/Full setting.
It also has two internal DIP switches that change the sound slightly for use with a 9V battery or a power supply, and a Bias control on the outside, something that I think every fuzz pedal should have. Silicon transistor fuzzes don’t need it as much as germanium pedal because they aren’t as sensitive to temperature, but it is still great to be able to change it to obtain a wider variety of tones.
As much as I love fuzz pedals, I have to admit that some of them can be a bit tricky to operate. I have had some pedals that would only take 9V batteries, and if you leave them plugged in on your pedalboard, this will continuously drain the battery. Doing this all the time can lead to a situation where your pedal isn’t working during an inconvenient moment just because it isn’t being powered by an isolated power supply, like all my other pedals.
The King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon can be powered by a normal, center negative power supply (like the vast majority of pedals) and even has an internal DIP switch that makes DC power sound closer to a 9V battery. This is valuable since it gives me peace of mind and a more interesting sound at the same time!
Complete Specifications of the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon
You can check the full specifications of the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon below.
- Silicon BC183 transistors (carefully selected by King Tone)
- 3 way tone toggle switch: Fat/Full, Zonk and Vintage
- Internal DIP switch (Vintage/Boost)
- Internal DIP switch for DC power filtering when using a 9V DC plug to make the DC sound closer to a pedal being powered by a 9V battery
- Bias control knob that allows you to underbias or overbias the pedal to obtain a larger variety of sounds
- 3 bright LEDs that let you know when the pedal is on
- Hand Wired
- True Bypass
- Powered by 9V battery or a 9V DC jack (standard center negative)
- Fuzz control, goes from almost clean to full-on saturated fuzz
- Small enclosure
- Long battery life even when you leave the pedal plugged in
- PCB designed to get the shortest possible signal path
- 30 day money back guarantee
Pros and Cons of the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon
- Loads of volume on tap
I was seriously impressed with how much volume this pedal has. The huge knob that catches your attention the second you look at the King Tone Mini Fuzz controls the output, and its size also helps you adjust it with your foot while your hands are free to play the guitar.
If you are in a situation that allows you to push your gear to its limits, don’t miss out on the opportunity to increase the volume on the pedal and see how that hits the front end of your amplifier hard to the point that it starts breaking up.
- Excellent variety of fuzz tones
I have had several fuzz pedals over the last ten years or so, and most of them were either a version of Dunlop’s Fuzz Face, or a pedal from a different brand that was inspired by this classic circuit. I have always loved them for various reasons, but I always felt like there should be something more to help players get closer to the sound in their heads.
The King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon solves this by adding a toggle switch in the center of the pedal. This switch changes between a “Fat/Full”, “Zonk” and “Vintage” settings. All of these have their distinct sonic properties, and they will work better in some scenarios. I appreciate this feature immensely and I wish I would see it more often in pedals developed by other manufacturers!
- Not temperature sensitive like the germanium model
One of the particularities that keep players on edge about fuzz pedals that feature germanium transistors is their sensitivity to temperature. If you usually play live and you have outdoor gigs in places where it gets significantly hot outside, you might notice that your fuzz sounds are not as consistent as you would expect.
However, silicon transistors solve this due to their stable nature that isn’t affected by temperature oscillations. This was one of the selling points of the Mini Fuzz Silicon for me, since I know that I will never need to worry about how hot it might be during a certain gig or session.
- A bit pricey
I have to comment on this pedal’s price because not everyone is looking forward to spending $250 or more (this pedal costs more than €300 in Europe) on a fuzz pedal, but it would be unfair to say this without mentioning a few other things. All of the components are of the highest quality, the pedal feels extremely sturdy, the laser engravings make sure it will look as new for a long time, and it is just a joy to play it. It is a bit expensive, but worth every cent!
- Not the most readily available pedal
King Tone is not a huge company that produces thousands of pedals per year like BOSS or Electro-Harmonix. We are talking about a small operation that does not manufacture an absurd number of products in order to make sure that they stand out in today’s market.
You might have to wait a little before you can get your hands on one, but trust me, you will not be disappointed. And even if you are, I’m sure that you will not have issues selling it on a platform such as Reverb.
Differences between the Silicon and Germanium King Tone Pedals
If you are thinking of buying the King Tone Mini Fuzz, you have surely thought about whether you would like the Germanium or the Silicon version more. Even though they are the same pedal, different transistors will drastically change the character, sound and responsiveness of the fuzz.
Here are a few of the main differences between these two pedals.
The germanium mini fuzz is always going to sound warmer than its silicon counterpart, and it cleans up very well, allowing you to go from fuzzy goodness to a sparkly and glassy clean tone simply by adjusting your guitar’s volume knob and picking slightly softer.
Unfortunately, germanium transistors are sensitive to temperature, which means that your pedal’s sound will oscillate a bit depending on the environment you are in. For example, don’t expect it to sound the same when you play it in a nice studio or on a stage during a gig on a hot summer day.
The germanium version has a small LED just above the Fuzz knob on the bottom right which lights up when the Bias is correctly set for that moment. However, this is just a suggestion, since you can deliberately change it to obtain different tones.
There is also a VERY important detail about the germanium mini fuzz. You have to use an isolated, center positive cable to power this pedal using a power supply, otherwise you will damage it. This doesn’t happen with the silicon version.
The silicon version of the King Tone Mini Fuzz has a few convenient aspects when compared to the germanium pedal. For me, the best advantage is the fact that it is not temperature sensitive. Play it anywhere, anytime, and you can expect your tone to be consistent regardless of the circumstances.
The tone is not as warm as the germanium version, but to be honest, when pairing this pedal with a Fender Deluxe Reverb and guitars with humbuckers, I tend to increase the treble on the amp to compensate for how fat and dense the sound can get.
The cleanup might not be as good as it is in the germanium pedal, but it is still great and I feel super comfortable using the volume knob to change my guitar’s tone on the fly.
Perhaps the most convenient difference between these two counterparts is the fact that you don’t need to worry about the polarity when connecting this pedal to a power supply. The germanium pedals need a center positive cable (something a bit unusual in guitar pedals nowadays) but the silicon version can be powered the same way you power most of your stompboxes without worrying about damaging it.
Other Fuzz Pedals to Check Out as Alternatives to the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon
Even though this pedal is an absolute joy to play, the market today is full of amazing options that fuzz lovers will want to check out. And who says you can’t have 2 or 3 fuzz boxes in your pedalboard? This section is dedicated to showing you some of my favorite fuzz pedals that you can buy today.
They will cover different price ranges and also varied tones, so make sure you try them out when you get the chance to do so.
The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is one of the world’s most recognizable fuzz pedals. It is quite different from the Fuzz Face in the sense that it does not clean up as well, its sound is much more compressed, and it is just a lot dirtier in general.
Many famous guitar players have embraced this classic stompbox, such as David Gilmour, J. Mascis and Billy Corgan. You can hear Gilmour’s silky smooth tones using this pedal in several of his records with Pink Floyd, but it also works amazingly well for those moments when you need a huge wall of sound coming out of your amplifier.
You can find the Ram’s Head Big Muff Pi being sold for a price of around $115.
If you are a fan of guitar players such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Johnson, you have most likely heard tones from the Dunlop Fuzz Face several times, since these two frequently used these pedals during their careers. This particular model pays homage to Jimi, who was one of the main responsible players for popularizing fuzz in general.
This model comes with a few features that will be appealing to more modern players, such as the reduced size to fit better in a pedalboard, and the possibility of powering it via a power supply such as the MXR Iso-Brick, something that wasn’t always possible since many pedals had to be used with a 9V battery.
You can find the Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Pedal for a price of around $130.
Fulltone is a well-known brand in the pedal industry, and guitarists have grown to expect quality products that will last for a long time when they buy from them. The Fulltone ’69 mkII comes with matched germanium transistors that are guaranteed to make your guitar tone come alive regardless of the circumstances.
An increased number of controls such as the Input and Contour knobs allow you to carefully craft your sound and adapt to different rigs, since fuzz pedals are known for sounding substantially different when played through various amplifiers.
Pay close attention to the pedal’s instructions: it requires a center positive power supply if you don’t want to use a 9V battery to feed it. Using a center negative supply would damage the pedal, so make sure you are using the right gear with it.
The Fulltone ’69 mkII can generally be found for a price of around $160.
The Kangra Filter Fuzz is not your average fuzz pedal. If you are currently looking for a simple pedal with a nice fuzzy tone and not a lot of bells and whistles, then you should probably look at a different stompbox. However, if you’re in need of something fresh and original, I can’t recommend the Kangra enough.
It is an aggressive octave fuzz that also features filter envelope effects based on the Kay Fuzz Tone, a vintage pedal that Jared Scharff (guitarist from Saturday Night Live who is a die-hard fuzz fan) loves and wanted to use as a reference when he collaborated with Walrus to create the Kangra.
You can find this amazing pedal for sale for a price of around $200.
The Keeley Fuzz Bender 3 Transistor Hybrid Fuzz is the perfect pedal for the players who can’t decide whether they want a silicon or a germanium transistor fuzz. Robert Keeley designed a pedal that combines high-gain silicon transistors with smooth germaniums to give you the best of both worlds.
Aside from having a unique tone granted by this combination, you also have access to Bass and Treble controls, something I appreciate having on any fuzz, and it even has a Bias control, that lets you obtain anything from a glitchy, sputtery tone to a silky smooth violin-like sound.
You do not have the option to power this pedal using a 9V battery, so make sure that you have a power supply ready to feed this box of fuzz from Keeley!
You can usually find this pedal in store for a price of around $150.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon
Answer: Yes, the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon is a true bypass pedal. This means that the signal coming from your guitar into your amplifier will pass directly from the input jack of the pedal to the output jack, completely bypassing the circuit. Because of this, your tone will not be colored at all, something that does not happen with buffered bypass pedals.
Answer: Getting the Silicon or the Germanium version of this pedal will ultimately come down to your personal taste, since they both sound amazing and have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are worried about having a pedal that is sensitive to temperature and you don’t want to think about getting a different cable (center positive) to power the fuzz, the Silicon version is probably the choice for you.
In any case, it is worth it to try them out side by side if you have the chance, and extract your conclusions by yourself.
Answer: Since the first fuzz pedal appeared, many guitarists were drawn to its thick, saturated sound, and embraced it in their riffs and solos. Some of the most famous musicians who are known for using fuzz are the following:
• Jimi Hendrix
• Eric Clapton
• Doyle Bramhall II
• Ariel Posen
• Pete Townshend
• David Gilmour
• J. Mascis
• Matt Bellamy
• Eric Johnson
• Eric Clapton
There are countless examples of other guitarists who regularly use or have used fuzz pedals at some point in their careers, and you can see how different some of them sound when you compare them to each other. The guitar, amp, type of fuzz pedal and other variables all play their part in how the overall tone sounds like.
Answer: The search for the perfect fuzz pedal according to your taste can be very long, since there are so many different types, offering different features and sounds. You have to at least know more or less what kind of fuzz do you like. Do you want something that cleans up very well with the guitar’s volume knob, or do you want a thick wall of sound all the time?
Here are a few suggestions of fuzz pedals that you could get instead of the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon:
• Electro-Harmonix Ram’s Head Big Muff Pi
• Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini
• Fulltone ’69 mkII
• Fulltone Octafuzz OF-2
• Walrus Audio Kangra Filter Fuzz
• MXR M296 Classic 108
• JHS 3 Series Fuzz
• Keeley Fuzz Bender 3 Transistor Hybrid Fuzz
• Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-M
• Walrus Audio Jupiter Fuzz V2
Answer: Yes, if you prefer to power some of your pedals with a 9V battery instead of using a power supply such as the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2, you can use one with the King Tone Mini Fuzz, regardless of the pedal’s version (germanium or silicon).
Answer: When it comes to planning your signal chain, there are usually a few rules of thumb to follow, but at the end of the day, experimenting with different combinations is also fun and it can yield sounds that you were not expecting and end up wanting to use. With fuzz pedals, it is generally a good call to place them in the very first place of your chain.
They have simple circuits but they’re very finicky. If you place a buffered pedal before a fuzz, it can change your tone drastically, which is why most people use their fuzz pedals in the very first place of the chain.
Closing Considerations about the King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon
The King Tone Mini Fuzz Silicon might be small, but it is capable of producing massive tones that will turn heads regardless of where you are playing. The build quality is impressive, all the components are carefully selected to make sure that the pedal will last for a very long time, and it can be used in a myriad of contexts by adjusting settings such as the bias and fuzz knobs, as well as tinkering with the internal DIP switches and the volume knob on your guitar.
Keep in mind that fuzz pedals are sensitive to a lot of factors, and they can sound significantly different when played through different guitars and amplifiers.
Because of this, I would definitely recommend trying to play the pedal with your usual setup to see if it sounds as you expect it to, or at least buying it in a shop that allows you to return the pedal if you are not completely satisfied with it.