Based on Arbiter FuzzFace®
Arbiter Electronics Ltd. first issued the Fuzz Face in 1966. Later units bear the “Dallas Arbiter”, “Dallas Music Industries Ltd.”, “CBS/Arbiter Ltd.” or “Dunlop Manufacturing Inc.” name.
The earliest units used germanium transistors. Silicon transistors were used in later editions of the pedal. Silicon transistors provided for a more stable operation, but have a different, harsher sound.
The electronics are contained in a circular-shaped metal housing. Ivor Arbiter “got the idea for the round shape when he one day saw a microphone stand with a cast iron base”. The design was originally intended to be used as a microphone base for guitarists who sang. The pedal uses two knobs, one for volume, and one for the amount of distortion the pedal produces. The arrangement of controls and logo on the box suggests a smiling face.
The circuit is based on the shunt-series-feedback amplifier topology – a standard in engineering textbooks. Sola Sound and Vox had been using the same circuit topology for some of their Tone Bender pedals earlier in 1966.
Dallas Music Industries made a final batch of Fuzz Face units in 1976 or 1977, shortly after moving to the United States. The company bought Crest Audio in the 1980s and although it was operating under that name when it reissued the Fuzz Face in 1986, the units still bore the Dallas-Arbiter name. They made about 2000 Fuzz Faces until 1990. In 1993 Dunlop Manufacturing took over production, making a variety of Fuzz Face units until this day. Several germanium and silicon models are available. In 2013 smaller versions with status LEDs and AC power jacks were introduced.
In the late 1990s Arbiter reissued the pedal as well.
The Fuzz Face’s continuing popularity and status as a classic may be explained by its many famous users. Among them are Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Duane Allman, Pete Townshend, Eric Johnson and George Harrison.