Germanium or Silicon? Which Is Better For Fuzz?

Louise Smart
Thu, Nov 11, 21

Ah. This crusty old chestnut. 

Well, we were going to get to it eventually so we might as well tackle it head on, right now! 

First of all we need to understand exactly what "Germanium" or "Silicon" is referring to. What does it mean? What is everyone actually going on about? 

You see, fuzz pedals basically work by having transistors in their circuits, that are overloaded to cause distortion. These transistors tend to be made out of either Germanium ( early Fuzz Faces are a good example of this ) or Silicon ( Big Muff Pi ). Germanium is viewed as being more "vintage" whilst Silicon is the modern and arguably more reliable alternative.

So which is better? 

Well, thats like saying, "Which do you prefer, petrol engines or diesel engines?". Obviously the answer is petrol, so it's a pretty.... oh. Hang on a second... No that analogy doesn't work at all. Erm... 

Right, got it! Thats like saying "Which do you prefer, apples or lemons?". Hard to say right? I mean if we're talking pies, its apple all day long, but I don't want a Granny Smith anywhere near my G&T. It all depends on the application and fuzz pedals are no different.

There are plenty of amazing sounding fuzzes that use Germanium transistors however there are just as many ( and maybe more ) that use Silicon. It's more about the overall design of the pedal. That's what really counts. Many single men on the internet will tell you Germanium is best for its apparent "smooth" and "creamy" tone, yet no one seemed to mind when Dave Gilmour engaged his trusty Silicon based Big Muff, time after time, for the mighty Pink Floyd. 

It's a bit of a running theme but there really is no "better", it's about what works and sounds good to you, regardless of whats under the hood ( or bonnet here in the UK... Hood sounds better though ), so go and try some fuzzes out! 

Now, someone peel me an apple, I'm off for a gin & tonic. 

See ya soon!