Zoom UF-01 Ultra Fuzz

Zoom UF-01 Ultra Fuzz

When thinking of Zoom effects, no doubt the first things that will come to mind are their multi-effect units - either rackmount or floor-based. It comes as a surprise to some people that they also produced a range of 100% analogue pedals. This range included the UF-01 Ultra Fuzz.

Many people these days consider the Ultra Fuzz to be a 'poor man's Zvex Fuzz Factory'. They do certainly have a lot in common but, if anything, the UF-01 has slightly more up its sleeve.

Whereas the Fuzz Factory is solely derived from a classic fuzz circuit, the Ultra Fuzz offers two different fuzz voicings and (with its 'Color' control) allows the user to blend between the two to create new tones and textures.

Fuzz Voicings:

Zoom refer to the two different fuzz voicings as 'tight' and 'boomy' but they are generally regarded as Fuzz Face and Big Muff Pi voicings.

They're not that authentic in my opinion, if that is indeed what they're supposed to be. Personally though, I prefer to judge the UF-01 in its own right.

A factory of fuzz?

Like the Fuzz Factory, the Ultra Fuzz is very tweakable - as you'd expect from a pedal with six controls - and is capable of some very extreme effects. A slight adjustment of the controls (particularly the Gate and Reso (resonance) controls) can take you from 'normal' fuzz tones, through gated effects, to harsh ripping sounds and velcro fuzz. And that's before you get into the realms of oscillations and glitches.

As is common with many other fuzz pedals, the UF-01 is very responsive to changes to your guitar's controls; adjusting the volume and/or tone controls on your guitar can 'tune' the resonance and feedback of the Ultra Fuzz. To make the most of this pedal-guitar interaction, the Ultra Fuzz needs to be connected directly to your guitar - i.e. it should be the first effect in your chain and should definitely not have any buffers in front of it.

The Ultra Fuzz, particularly when you take the two fuzz voicings into consideration, has a very wide gain range - from clean to high gain. It doesn't have as much gain on tap as a Big Muff, but it should have enough to satisfy most people.

The UF-01 is a great pedal for experimentalists. In combination with some other effects and with a little imagination, a wide range of tones can be produced; from distortion to aggressive fuzz and from searing, synth-like sounds to more textural noises and sound effects. In addition, it should also be able to keep all but the most ardent fuzz traditionalists happy.

While the Zoom name may have negative connotations in some circles, you should not let it put you off. Keep an open mind and take a chance - you may like it!

Other pedals in the series:

* * * 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.