How will Gibson’s foray into the pedal world go down in a crowded market?
Cost: $150 from Reverb.com, Sweetwater, or Maestroelectronics.com
Despite being absent from the pedal market for decades, Gibson has owned the rights to the legendary pedal brand Maestro for the better part of 60 years. 2022 has seen the long awaited revival, with the release of 6 pedals that are highlighted by the legendary FZ Fuzz unit. Dubbed the new FZ-M, this is a remake of the classic FZ-1 fuzz that so many of us learned about from Keef’s “Satisfaction” riff.
It’s a simple pedal attack, level, and tone knobs that do about what you’d expect and a toggle to go from the classic mode to a smoother, thicker modern fuzz tone. The top mounted jacks help make up for the larger enclosure size. But the Fuzz Tone FZ-M is definitely one of the prettier pedals you’ll see me review all year. With great graphics, 3 trumpet LED’s, and the original slanted design. Maestro’s pedals are currently built in China, which we’ll discuss in depth later.
Review & Opinion
There’s a lot to unpack here for sure. I want to start by saying that the classic fuzz tone in this pedal is phenomenal. Gibson and Maestro absolutely nailed the vibe that many guitar players are expecting to get out of this pedal. That horn-like, sustaining fuzz that is wild and sputtery is in no short supply. It has that great tendency to sometimes sound “broken” as your guitar’s signal is chewed up. The control knobs are relatively sensitive too, giving you some nice tone shaping opportunities within a range. I will say that the pedal isn’t really great with the attack knob rolled any lower than 9 or 10 o’clock. Likewise, the modern fuzz setting is rounder and smooth, but lifeless compared to the classic mode and kind of a disappointment.
It adds nice versatility to your board to have a two voice fuzz like this, but I can’t imagine using that modern setting for much more than a slight change of pace. The physical construction is top notch, with a solid and heavy frame and heavy duty knobs and footswitch. Alas, the Maestro fuzz is just so noisy though. There is a high pitch squeal that is apparent in my demo but just never goes away in real life. I suppose the noisy circuit is probably how the original Maestro Fuzz Tones were as well, so I can’t ding them too much for that. But it something to be prepared for.
Conclusion & Final Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The takeaway is that this is a really fun take on the classic Maestro fuzz. It will sound exactly how you want it to and scratch that British invasion itch. Some of my concerns are about the other features and their relation to the price tag. It’s an awesome pedal, but the modern fuzz sound is remarkably bland and the pedal is buzzy and hissy as hell. And it is made in China, which doesn’t bother me for any reason other than the fact that the pedal is $150. In a time when brands are making awesome $99 pedals here in the US, this feels to me like Gibson and Maestro are upcharging you for the fancy enclosure and brand name on the box. I think that overall, this was worth the money that I spent to buy it but it won’t be a pedal I look back on and say “wow that was a steal”. It’s fun, it is worth checking out, but I’m not sure this will be the next great fuzz pedal that everyone needs to own.
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