Donner Stylish Fuzz – Review of Affordable Guitar Effects Pedal

Whether you're new to pedals or just on a budget, you likely already know that it can be hard to find great-sounding pedals that aren't incredibly expensive. Donner is a brand that makes some of the best inexpensive pedals out there, and the Donner Stylish Fuzz is an affordable fuzz based on the legendary Electro-Harmonix Big Muff.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Fuzz Pedal

You likely already know that choosing effects pedals is a highly personal process--what sounds perfect to one player's ears may well sound terrible to someone else. Ultimately, it's important to choose a fuzz that sounds right to you. If you can't try one out in person, it's a good idea to listen to video demos of each pedal you're considering. However, there are some specifics to consider before purchasing a fuzz pedal.

  • One of these is whether you'd prefer a pedal made with germanium or silicon transistors. Germanium transistors can make a pedal sound more gritty, and they also can be slightly unpredictable -- germanium transistors tend to sound a little different depending on the temperature. If you'd prefer something steadier, a pedal with silicon transistors might be more your speed. The Big Muff and the Stylish Fuzz are both made with germanium transistors. A famous example of a fuzz with silicon transistors is the Jim Dunlop Fuzz Face.
  • Be clear about the level of distortion you want? Fuzz-boxes provide the much higher distortion than the boosters, overdrive and distortion pedals. They are suitable mostly for the rock genre.
  • There should not be any pedal with buffered output placed before these in the signal chain. However if you are also using Wah effect, the Wah unit should be placed before the fuzz with a buffered unit in between.

Our Picks for Review

Guitar

Guitar

Model

Price

Main

Donner

Stylish Fuzz

Donner Stylish Fuzz

PRO's & CON's of Donner Stylish Fuzz

Before we get too deep into Donner Stylish Fuzz review, let's check out some of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Despite the affordable price, this is a well-built pedal with a quality metal enclosure
  • Many players say it delivers quality 60s-style fuzz tone, and it can do anything from subtle fuzz to full-on distortion
  • Slim design means it won't take up much of the precious space on your pedalboard
  • Volume, tone, and sustain controls let you dial in just the right sound

Cons

  • Some buyers have noted that this pedal makes very audible pop when turning on or off
  • Like the Big Muff, this pedal doesn't have a lot of midrange tone, so it may not be right for all players

Features and Benefits

In this section, we'll take you through the Donner Stylish Fuzz one feature at a time.

Controls

Like many fuzz pedals, the Donner Stylish Fuzz is relatively easy to understand. There are three controls: two smaller knobs for volume and tone, and a third, larger knob for "Bustain." This might just be a typo, or it might be a nod to the Big Muff.

These controls are worth playing around with--the Stylish Fuzz is pretty versatile, and you can keep the fuzz dialed down for overdrive-like sound or crank up both tone and "bustain" for blistering leads that cut through the mix. If you want to see the controls for yourself, check out this video demo of the Stylish Fuzz.

Power Supply Options

Like most effect pedals, the Donner Stylish Fuzz requires 9V DC power (center-negative). However, unlike many pedals, this one doesn't have a battery slot for a 9V battery. If you don't have an existing power supply for your guitar pedals, you may want to use a battery adapter--this is a relatively simple device that allows a 9V battery to power a pedal externally. And if you want to learn more about all the different ways you can power the Donner Stylish Fuzz and other effects, this interesting video discusses some of the options you have.

Sound Quality

Like the Big Muff, the Stylish Fuzz is a "mid-scooped" pedal. This means that it's designed to place more emphasis on lows and highs. Some players prefer this sound as-is, while others might want to stack it with an overdrive or even a fuzz to boost the mids. You can also play around with an EQ pedal or your amp's EQ. Fuzz is a remarkably malleable effect, and if you're a player who likes to tinker, the Stylish Fuzz can be a fun and rewarding pedal to explore.

However, if you're like many players, you probably want a pedal that sounds great on its own as well as when it's part of a chain. This useful video demo lets you hear this Donner fuzz pedal for yourself. You might think differently, but we think this pedal can hold its own against a Big Muff. Plus, it costs around half of what a Big Muff would, so it's great for players on a budget!

It's important to note that the Donner guitar Stylish Fuzz is a true bypass pedal. This means that when the effect is switched off, your guitar signal is unaltered as it goes through the pedal. Many players think of true bypass as being a good thing, but there is a tradeoff--many true bypass guitar effects make a noticeable switching noise when turned on or off. This switching noise is especially noticeable in high-gain effects like fuzz. However, unless you'll be switching the Stylish Fuzz on or off in the middle of the song, hearing an audible pop when turning it on or off may not be an issue.

Build Quality

If you've looked into pedals that cost about what most Donner effects do, you may have found that some are made of plastic. Even though it's very affordable, the Stylish Fuzz is made with an aluminum enclosure. This is good news, as it means that the pedal us durable and unlikely to break. If you aren't gigging with it, you may not need a pedal to be incredibly durable, but cheaper enclosures can still degrade over time.

The size of the Stylish Fuzz is also a benefit. It's an incredibly small pedal--its size is often described as "nano" or "mini" by effects manufacturers. This means it won't take up too much real estate on your board, which is always a good thing. (This demo shows it on a board with other effects). However, because it's so small, the volume and fuzz knobs are very tiny, which might take some getting used to. We think it's a reasonable tradeoff.

When you're shopping for a fuzz effect, the color of the pedal probably isn't your top concern. However, it never hurts to have a pedal that's pretty to look at, and the Stylish Fuzz is a nice shade of metallic teal.

Social Proof of the Pedal

If you've spent any amount of time researching or playing with affordable fuzz effect pedals, you probably know that many very inexpensive pedals don't sound great. However, we've found that the Stylish Fuzz has been reviewed favorably almost all of the time. Here are three reviews we found that may help you make a decision:

Donner Stylish Fuzz Review 01

Like many guitarists, this reviewer has found that the most expensive fuzz pedal isn't necessarily the best-sounding option. For this person, the Stylish Fuzz is an especially versatile choice.

Donner Stylish Fuzz Review 02

This Donner fuzz review is especially useful because the reviewer has also played with the pedal the Stylish Fuzz is based upon. While its sound may not be for everyone, this buyer was impressed with this affordable fuzz pedal.

Donner Stylish Fuzz Review 03

Like many we found, this Stylish Fuzz review praises the pedal for its sound and affordability. However, it does point out a potential issue: the very audible sound that occurs when true bypass is switched on or off.

In Conclusion

We've been impressed with Donner pedals in general, and we think the Stylish Fuzz from Donner is one of the best values when it comes to dirt pedals. With a sound that's close to that of a Big Muff, intuitive controls, and a small footprint, it's a great pedal to begin your collection with or to add to your existing pedalboard. Click here to check it out!

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