Death By Audio Fuzz War – Review of A Distinctive Fuzz Pedal

Death By Audio is a pedal manufacturing company that makes effects pedals for players who like to break the mold. Founded in 2002 by singer and guitarist Oliver Ackermann, this company hand-makes some of the most interesting effects on the market. With unusual components and non-traditional designs, DBA pedals are meant to help musicians create new and compelling sounds.

The Death By Audio Fuzz War is one of the most distinctive fuzz pedals available today. A unique multi-curve shaping filter lets players dial in a variety of fuzz tones. The Fuzz War pedal is essentially a Swiss army knife of fuzz. Is it right for you?

Things to Consider Before Buying a Fuzz Pedal

If you're already familiar with the world of guitar pedals, you probably know a thing or two about choosing the right fuzz. Fuzz pedals can produce anything from rich, warm tones to screaming distortion, and some are more tonally versatile than others. Before you buy, it's a good idea to think about the following:
  • Do you play mostly notes or chords? Many fuzzes will sound overwhelming and undefined when playing full chords. Generally speaking, a good fuzz pedal shines on leads and power chords. If you play mostly full chords, an overdrive might be a better choice.
  • Do you like the sound? This tip might sound obvious, but plenty of players have been swayed by a pedal's reputation (or price). More expensive is not always better--make sure you choose the pedal that sounds best to you.
  • What controls are there? Lots of pedal enthusiasts love tweaking knobs to find the ideal sound. A two-knob fuzz might seem more straightforward, but if you want something more versatile, it's a good idea to go with a stompbox that gives you more options for playing with tone.

Guitar

Pedal

Model

Price

Main

Death by Audio

Fuzz War

Death By Audio Fuzz War

PRO's & CON's of Death by Audio Fuzz War

Before we jump into our review, here are some quick pros and cons:

Pros

  • The tone knob adjusts the timbre of the pedal, so you can emphasize highs, lows, and anything in-between
  • Precise gain and volume controls let you experience a variety of distortion and fuzz tones
  • Death By Audio guarantees their pedals for life, so they will repair your pedal if it does happen to break

Cons

  • Some buyers have noted that the Fuzz War adds a significant amount of hum and noise to the signal chain, even when switched off
  • While it isn't exorbitantly expensive, this pedal's price tag (a little under $200) may put it out of reach for some players

Features and Benefits

First Impressions

Looks aren't everything, but in a pedal market that's saturated, an eye-catching design is always a draw. Aesthetically, the Fuzz War has a greyscale, grunge-inspired look that suits its sonic capabilities well. All Death By Audio pedals are made by hand, and this one definitely has a look that's high-quality yet unassuming.

Of course, when choosing a pedal to add to your board, it's always helpful to know how much real estate a pedal will take up. It's worth noting that the Fuzz War is pretty big--it's almost 6" x 5" and weighs 18 ounces. However, the current draw is very low at only 1mA, and you also have the option of powering it with a 9V battery. The battery comes with the pedal, making it especially convenient if this is your first-ever pedal purchase. (If you're just beginning to assemble your board, check out this useful video on several ways to deliver power to all of your pedals.)

Controls

Before you decide to get any given fuzz (or any effect, really), it's a good idea to evaluate the controls. Luckily, the Fuzz War has a simple interface, but that interface lets you achieve an incredible array of sounds. The volume control is self-explanatory, but the fuzz knob is the source of much of the pedal's versatility.

On lower settings, this knob essentially acts like a boost. As you turn the fuzz knob higher, you get a sound similar to an overdrive. If you go all out, the Fuzz War goes from controlled fuzz to high-gain, imposing distortion.

The tone knob also operates a little differently from what you might expect. It controls the pedal's timbre, so you can emphasize highs, lows, or anything in between (more on this in the next section).

To get a closer look at the Fuzz War's controls and see what they do, check out this useful video demo and overview.

Sound Quality

Even a quick skim through reviews of this pedal will show that plenty of buyers describe it as "precise" or "detailed." This type of sound may not be for everyone, but it's sure to be a breath of fresh air for anyone who has ever felt that most fuzz pedals are just too fuzzy.

Of course, this pedal can do a lot more than just "detailed" sound. While the Fuzz War has three knobs just like a Big Muff Pi, the tone knob controls DBA's specially designed multi-curve shaping. This means that the tone knob controls the timbre of the output. The manufacturer says this lets you get a range of tones from "super deep bass sludge to screaming highs."

We think this is an apt description, but don't take our word for it. If you want to hear all the sounds this pedal has to offer, check out this video demo--Death By Audio founder Oliver Ackermann puts the Fuzz War through its paces.

Social Proof of the Pedal

Before you click "add to cart," you probably want to make sure that any fuzz pedal you want to add to your board is right for you. Listening to video demos can be helpful, but it's also wise to read online reviews to see what other players' experiences have been like.

We scoured the internet to find the most helpful reviews of the Death By Audio Fuzz War. Here are three that might help you make your decision:

Death By Audio Fuzz War Review 01

This reviewer offers a nuanced perspective, and since most fuzz fans have at least basic familiarity with the Big Muff, the comparison is a useful one. Notably, this review emphasizes the fact that the Fuzz War doesn't have the same distinctive scooped mids of the Big Muff and similar distortion and fuzz pedals.

Death By Audio Fuzz War Review 02

This review offers some of the important pros and potential drawbacks of the Fuzz War. Like many other players, this person found the pedal's tone to be amazingly versatile. However, if you prefer a quiet signal chain, this one may not be right for you.

Death By Audio Fuzz War Review 03

This detailed review offers a helpful history of the Fuzz War design, and it also clearly outlines what this pedal can (and can't) do. While it's probably a good idea to hear this pedal's sound for yourself before buying, this review gives you a pretty accurate idea of the Fuzz War's capabilities.

In Conclusion

Death By Audio is a company with an admirable mission to help artists expand their sound, and we think the Death By Audio Fuzz War is a pedal that challenges our notion of what a fuzz pedal should be. With its unique multi-curve shaping capabilities, this is one of the most detailed-sounding fuzzes out there. And since you can achieve anything from warm, subtle fuzziness to all-out distortion, it's sure to earn its keep on your pedalboard. Click here to check it out!

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