Tsar Face fuzz (Hagerman)


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For those who dislike fuzz or may be looking for an alternative, the TSAR FACE is an option. This is a low-gain germanium PNP transistor-based fuzz with a unique circuit design. Using two Soviet-era transistors, Hagerman Amplification engineered this pedal with an output bias stabilization circuit that “eliminates the need for transistor gain sorting or manual adjustments;” this has an effect of reducing heat issues, as well, a consideration for those outdoor concerts in the Sun and heat.

A true-byass pedal, the Tsar Face’s BIAS control adjusts the output DC voltage of its core from centered (equal clipping top/bottom of waveform) to offset, which produces a more traditional fuzz tone. The ‘edge’ or ‘growl’ achieved with the BIAS dips slightly into distortion territory, and even with some overdrive characteristics. And when dialed back, the Tsar Face cleans up exceptionally well, producing clean, yet bold and sparkly tones. Like most other fuzzes, expression of a fuzz’s characteristics come through via a guitar’s volume control, and the TSAR FACE produces usable tones that transition very well from clean to dirty.

The SAG control affects the response time of the stabilization circuit. As you turn it up, you can hear more rumble, as though the amp is breaking up, but done very tastefully and nothing exaggerated. It pairs well with the BIAS control to either make the notes jump with vigor and greater clarity when a guitar’s volume is dialed back, or thick and meaty when venturing into Doom Metal territory and the volume up. Together, you can control both growl and rumble for a wide array of musical textures.

The buffered TONE control remains flat at 12-noon, whereas dialing it back cuts treble and past 12-noon increases treble. Even with darker pickups and cabs, there was enough treble to get me through the mix. The VOLUME knob provides up to 24dB maximum gain, and the TSAR FACE only requires 2mA of power, via 9-15V power supply (making it very easy in connecting to any pedalboard supply).

At $149 USD, the TSAR FACE is reasonably and typically priced, and you get the quality craftsmanship of Hagerman Amplification in the deal. Moreover, with this pedals’ raised input impedance, you can use the TSAR FACE with humbuckers (or active pickups) and place the pedal before or after other pedals (the included demo has an overdrive before the TSAR FACE in the last composition).