Doom Metal is by far more reliant on pedals than most other genres of Metal music. Fuzz is often the key element of Doom, so today we take a look at our favorite pedals that help you bring forth the apocalypse.
The Best Guitar Pedals For Doom Metal: Our Favorites…
We have been talking a lot about Doom Metal here lately, and that’s because it is such a fun genre to explore. Not to mention, I am a life-long fan. The whole vibe of Doom Metal is about ambience and melancholy. Often moving at a glacial pace, building up basic riffs into huge walls of sound.
The coolest aspects of Doom Metal have remained relatively untouched for decades, all the while new gear continues to be released each year. Many guitarists have vintage gear that is the benchmark for their sound.
That’s not to say that guitarists that play Doom Metal never switch up their gear, because they certainly do. However there are some staples when it comes to pedals that almost every Doom Metal guitarist uses, as well as guitars. One of those staples, is FUZZ.
Fuzz is different than distortion in quite a few ways. Distortion gives a constant output of…well, distortion. This gives a balanced tone to your saturation. Fuzz can be a little more unpredictable, even though it is still essentially adding gain to your signal.
Fuzz is unique because it doesn’t just distort your amp’s signal, it changes the waveform and frequency completely. It can sound heavy, glitchy, or even make your amp sound overloaded and broken. Used properly, this can sound really cool.
Likewise, used improperly it can also sound really uncool.
Today we are going to check out the Fuzz pedals that have been around for years, and used by the greats, as well as some of the newer ones that expand on the original designs. While they all share a similar makeup when it comes to the circuits, some have more features to tailor your tone.
These are in no particular order. Look, there are no rules when it comes to fuzz. I couldn’t pick one or two above the others, as I feel that any of the pedals on this list can be the perfect solution for all your Doom-y needs. But one thing is for sure; these are some of the best.
#1 Big Muff Pi
The Big Muff has been around in one form or another for the past 40 years. It has been used in Doom Metal for just as long. The Big Muff is not only a classic but also a still highly sought after pedal.
The popularity of the Big Muff comes from it’s simplicity, it has just three knobs and a switch. The tone acts as a high end pass filter, essentially. The sustain knob acts as a gain control. The only real difference between the original Big Muff and the Pi edition, is the LPB-1 circuit booster, adding more gain.
The Big Muff works best in front of the amp, on the clean channel. Personally, I have received some really great results from adding the Big Muff to the crunch channel, or a low gain distortion channel. This way you can blend the fuzz in with your settings.
No matter how you use the Big Muff, it has a remarkable fuzz tone that has been used forever, for all the right reasons. I can see it being a best seller for years to come. Because where it lacks in versatility, it makes up for in mojo.
#2 Darkglass Duality Fuzz
Darkglass Is a relatively new company when it comes to the pantheon of pedal manufacturers. These are high-end pedals from the great country of Finland. Just because they are new, doesn’t mean they can’t hold their weight with the classics.
The Duality Engine has two different unique fuzz tones that you can switch between, or blend to your liking. One of the fuzz circuits is an all out gain monster that has less focus and control. The other end of the spectrum has a gated sawtooth fuzz, that lets you control the sound a little easier.
You can use either extreme when it comes to the gain sounds, but where this pedal really shines is the blend between the two gain stages. hence the name, right? The dual circuits gives you two very distinct sounds to work with and create your own tonal palate.
The Darkglass Duality is a perfect example of what happens when you take classic tones and not only update them, but make some impressive tweaks at the same time.
#3 ProCo Rat
This was the first pedal I ever owned. way back in…well, let’s not talk about the actual year. I wanted something gnarly and disgusting. That’s exactly what I got with The Rat.
The good thing about this gem of a pedal is that is does one thing really well: Raunchy Distortion. The circuit inside the ProCo Rat is almost a hybrid of distortion and fuzz, controlled by the “filter” knob that acts like a tone knob or a low pass filter.
The reason this pedal gets so much attention is because while it works great on it’s own, it also works great with other distortion pedal, like the BOSS DS1. It adds extra bite and grit to your distorted tones and can easily be switched on and off during a song.
So if you ever tried The Rat alone, and you didn’t like it, then maybe you should try it with your favorite distortion, or even your amp’s own natural sound. Because it is so filthy, you may be quick to discredit The Rat. But that dirty tone is exactly what makes it special and why it is one of the best guitar pedals for Doom Metal.
#4 JHS 3 Series Fuzz
First of all, this is a brand new offering from JHS Pedals, released this year. Now JHS is known for making premium, boutique pedals with a hefty price tag. Their “3 Series” is an attempt to make their mark on the budget market, with all killer, no filler versions of their popular pedal line.
The JHS Fuzz is a pretty extreme pedal! The volume and fuzz knobs are pretty standard fare, but where the pedal really shines is the bias knob in the middle. Usually on a pedal like this, a knob in this position would act as a high/low pass filter, or a tone knob.
The bias knob does something completely different, it acts as a wave manipulator akin to something like an analog synth. So this doesn’t change the tone of the guitar signal as much as it changes the frequency. That’s a pretty unique feature for a “budget” model pedal!
The “Fat” switch further changes the sound, adding some extra “oomph” to the signal, and boosting low frequencies. Since this works paired with the bias knob, you could use this pedal for a bass fuzz as well.
So while the JHS Fuzz looks simple and minimalistic at first glance, it has some tricks up it’s sleeve for sure. With just the turn of a knob you can completely change the sound, with hardly any real tinkering.
I hope JHS continues this line of affordable pedals. Their full range of basic pedals in the 3 Series is not only affordable, but it gives buyers a glimpse into the boutique pedal world without dropping an entire paycheck on a single pedal.
#5 Digitech DOD Carcosa Fuzz
Digitech really went above and beyond with this fuzz pedal, as it is absolutely FILTHY. The Carcosa Fuzz is completely out of control with the amount of gain and fuzz available. That feature aside, it does literally everything else as well.
The AFTER knob acts as a frequency bias, just like the JHS Series 3 pedal mentioned above. The frequency shift sounds pretty gnarly in just about any position, and can even sound “glitchy” in some instances. It’s gross, and I love it. This knob is the key to the whole sound of the pedal.
The pedal is very midrange and treble heavy but this can be dialed back with the Hi-Cut knob. personally, I think it sounds more defined without cutting out those frequencies, and makes for good chord definition. Fuzz can get lost in the mix when playing with a full band, and sound sludgy. This prevents that situation.
While you can definitely coax some classic fuzz tones out of the Carcosa, it is clearly designed to be modern sounding. This is a pedal that can do it all, and then some. Not to mention, the artwork is crazy evil looking, and has literary significance.
You see, Carcosa is the island home to the Yellow King, the bringer of madness and DOOM to everyone. A Robert W. Chambers novel is kind of an obscure reference for something like a guitar pedal. But that just makes it more interesting and sinister to me.
That’s a lot to take in for a guitar pedal. But it lives up to it’s name as the bringer of all things Doom! Sounds expensive right? It’s not!
The Best Guitar pedals For Doom Metal: The Fuzz is Out There!
These are just my personal favorite pedals, and as you readers know by now…my tastes are a bit diverse. But there is something to be said with blending classics with newer, modern fuzz pedals.
Sure, you can just ape some other famous Doom metal guitarist’s tone, and be happy. But where the real fun happens is exploring all of the options out there. Metal is more popular than ever these days, and this is a buyer’s market for products.
Maybe you are just now building your first pedalboard, and you’re looking for something to make your sound “your own”. Any choice on this list will definitely put you in the right direction for ultimate Doom riffing. Whether it’s a new school pedal that has a ton of options, or something simple like the Big Muff, fuzz is where your tone starts with Doom Metal.
There’s no formula for getting the right tones and sounds for something as vast as Doom Metal. Bands like Sleep and Truck Fighters may have helped define the genre and modernize it more, but you certainly don’t have to chase their tones.
As always, get out there and try them for yourself!