SUPERFUZZ pt.3: Guyatone TZm5 Torrid Fuzz

Guyatone TZm5
Torrid Fuzz

I've already looked at two of Guyatone's earlier fuzz pedals, so it's about time I got around to the third part in this series and featured the TZm5 Torrid Fuzz from Guyatone's most recent range of pedals - the Mighty Micros.

Torrid - (adj.) Intensely hot and dry; passionate.

Fuzz - (n.) A fluffy or frizzy mass.

While the PS-030 and TZ2 shared some characteristics and are part of the same lineage, the Torrid Fuzz is totally unrelated and - as Guyatone say - "a new take on the classic three transistor fuzz circuit". The TZm5 was designed by Toshi Torii of HAO pedals.

The TZm5 is unique among the Mighty Micros in that it is a new effect for Guyatone, whereas all of the others in the range are improved versions of - or derived from - their counterparts from the Micro Effects series.

How does it sound? Without giving too much away, it sounds very good. If you like fuzz, you should be able to find plenty you like within this little box... It's very versatile.

What controls does it have?

It has the usual Level, Tone (a low-pass filter; turning it down reduces the treble content and also alters the texture of the fuzz to an extent) and Depth (gain) controls, but also features an input attenuator (the mini trimmer) and a 'Phase' +/- switch.

The biggest factor in defining the overall tone from this pedal is decided by the 'Phase' switch. In the positive (up) position, the fuzz has a much thicker, chunkier sound; good for 90s-esque alternative rock and much more besides. In the negative (down) position, the fuzz is thinner with much less bass, more treble and more of an old school fuzz flavour to it. It is also noisier in the negative phase position, but most of the noise can be dialled out using the Tone and/or Input controls.

The Input Attenuation control is supposedly there to allow you to match the effect to your guitar's pick-up strength but, it too plays a big part in determining the vibe of the fuzz; it's basically a pre-fuzz volume control and has the same effect as turning down the volume on your guitar - less volume going through the circuit equals less gain and a change in character...

With no attenuation, your notes will ring out long and true - even with something like my Epiphone Casino (which isn't the most sustaining guitar in the world). It won't quite rival an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi in the sustain stakes, but then it doesn't try to. When fully attenuated, the fuzz can be really gated and sputtery, especially when the Phase switch is set to negative; perfect for ripped speaker sounds and vintage, garage rock tones.

The Depth (gain), Tone, Input Attenuator controls all have an impact on the amount of fuzz this kicks out, and it is the interaction between these controls that makes this pedal so versatile.

While it doesn't have masses of gain/distortion on tap, I've never really found it lacking gain in any situation I've been in; lots of people tend to use too much gain anyway! The TZm5 is very responsive and rewarding to play through; encouraging you to really attack the guitar strings.

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This is a small pedal with a big sound. It's just a shame - in my opinion - that for whatever reason (such as the high street price in the UK, maybe) it - like the rest of the range - is still very much under the radar of most guitarists.

Compared to the Guyatone PS-030 or TZ2 fuzzes, the Torrid Fuzz is not as wild, but I'd say that could actually be in its favour and this could be the pick of the three.

The TZm5 could easily be your main fuzz pedal, whether you use it for playing rhythm, lead or everything.

Mighty Micro to the rescue!

All of the Mighty Micro pedals share the same layout; with three full size pots for the main controls, a mini toggle switch (either two or three position depending on the pedal) and a mini trimmer control. There is a striking, imposing and very welcome aluminium 'Stomp Guard' which protects the controls from accidental adjustment and stray feet.

The input, output and DC power jacks are top mounted, and the pedals have quick access, top-mounted battery compartments; you just loosen the two thumbscrews and the battery cover pops off.

All of the Mighty Micro pedals use true bypass switching if that sort of thing is important to you... But now isn't the time to get into the whole true bypass vs buffered debate.

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Finally: I haven't looked inside all of them yet, but the MCm5 Chorus and VTm5 Veri-Trem have hidden attenuator switches which are accessible via the battery compartment. These allow the use of these pedals with a variety of instruments and input signals. I'd imagine most (if not all) of the other pedals in the range have them too - the TZm5 doesn't as it has an external input attenuator control.

* * * Notes about the video * * *

Gear used:
  • Guitar - Epiphone Casino
  • Recording set-up - 1980s Roland Cube 20 amp (DI'd through a Palmer PDI-09), to Cubase 5 (via a MOTU audio interface) with no additional processing.