Maestro Pedals – The Originators of Rock and Roll

With a strong legacy and reputation for cutting edge and unique pedals, Maestro is THE founder of guitar effects and the originator of Rock and Roll.

Chris Toft

Chris Toft

There are only a handful of companies who can truly say they helped define the sound of a generation. Maestro is certainly one of them. The iconic Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone was the first widely marketed fuzz pedal and would become synonymous with the sound of Rock and Roll in the 1960s. Fast forward sixty years and the legendary pedal company is back with a bang, ready to inspire a new generation of guitarists!

FZ-1 Fuzz Tone

The Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone was released in 1962 and was the first commercially available fuzz box to gain widespread use. Manufactured by Gibson and designed by engineers Glenn Snoddy and Revis V. Hobbs, the FZ-1 was a game changer for guitarists everywhere.

The original Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone.

Featuring a three Germanium transistor circuit with RCA 2N270 devices, the FZ-1 was originally designed to produce a thick “brass-like” tone. Gibson even went as far as to implement the FZ-1 circuit into their EB-0F basses in 1964 to help push the design.

In the late ‘50s, guitarist Link Wray had been intentionally overdriving his amp to create noisy, distorted tones. He used the newly invented Gibson humbucker pickup to help push his amp harder and even made holes in his speaker cones to help distort the signal. An example of this sound can be heard on Wray’s 1958 song “Rumble”. On its release in 1962, the Maestro FZ-1 allowed guitarists to push their amp into sonically pleasing breakup but at lower volumes and without the need to destroy their speakers!

The FZ-1 would go through a number of circuit changes in the coming years, resulting in the FZ-1A (1965), the Robert Moog designed FZ-1B (1968) and FZ-1S Super Fuzz in the early ‘70s. Such was the success of the FZ-1, a number of “copycat” designs soon hit the market from Arbiter, Mosrite and Electro Harmonix to name a few.

The Sound of the ‘60s

Maestro truly earned their legendary status and cemented their place in Rock and Roll history in 1965. The Rolling Stones’ hit song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” featured an FZ-1 on the opening riff, sending sales of the stompbox skyrocketing. It could have been so different though; guitarist Keith Richards had used the FZ-1 to record a “brassy” guide track and had not intended for it to make the final recording. Against “Keef’s” wishes though, the track remained, and the rest as they say, is history.

Echoplex Tape Delay

Designed by Mike Battle, the legendary Echoplex tape delay (later renamed the EP-1) was released in 1959 and set the standard for the effect in the 1960s. Today, the Echoplex is still regarded as the standard to which all other tape delays are measured. The Echoplex worked by recording the sound onto a magnetic tape, which was then played back. The tape speed or distance between the heads would determine the delay, while a feedback variable (where the delayed sound is delayed again) allowed for a repetitive effect.

The original Echoplex EP-1


During the 1950s, Maestro was a leader in vacuum tube technology. The original Echoplex units used these vacuum tubes to produce their signature warm, delay repeats. The Echoplex’s tubes meant it could also be used as a kind of preamp, similar to those found in amplifiers. By turning off the delay repeats, it added a rich, warm, full-bodied quality to the sound which guitarists quickly grew to love.

In the coming years, the Echoplex would go through a number of design changes. The Echoplex EP-2 saw the addition of an adjustable tape head, which allowed for variable delay, and a tape cartridge to protect the tape heads. The most significant change though came in the early ’70s when the vacuum tubes were replaced with solid state transistors. This revised unit would be known as the Echoplex EP-3. Original designer Mike Battle was not happy with this change though and subsequently sold his interest in the company.

The solid state Maestro Echoplex EP-3.

Eddie Van Halen was a notable user of the Echoplex EP-3 and it featured all over Van Halen’s iconic debut album. The opening riff of “Aint Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” demonstrates the EP-3 being used to add a quick “slap-back” delay, adding depth and texture to Eddie’s sound.

Back with a Bang

2022 sees Maestro make a much anticipated return with their Original Collection. Featuring updated, innovative versions of classic effects, the Original Collection speaks directly to its DNA offering players a uniquely vintage experience.

Maestro’s all new Original Collection.

The Original Collection features five classic effects. Each pedal boasts all analogue circuitry, a familiar wedge-shaped chassis and eye-catching, ‘70s inspired graphics.

  • Fuzz-Tone FM-Z – A recreation of the iconic FZ-1 Fuzz Tone with two different fuzz modes and added functionality.
  • Ranger Overdrive – A modern overdrive, inspired by the overdriven tones of some the world’s most revered tube amps.
  • Invader Distortion – A high-gain distortion with an aggressive sonic character that is rich in harmonic content.
  • Comet Chorus – A lush chorus that utilises Bucket Brigade technology to deliver warm, classic analogue chorus tones.
  • Discoverer Delay – A modern, analogue delay with built in modulation for authentic tape-like “wow and “flutter” effects.

Watch The Captain and Danish Pete put the new Maestro Original Collection through its paces!


Today, it is not uncommon to find vintage FZ-1 and Echoplex units selling on eBay and for heavily inflated prices, as is often the case with vintage gear. The demand for vintage pedals is bigger than ever before and guitarists just can’t seem to get enough of them, it seems. To the average gigging musician though, vintage gear is often out of their price range and their reliability can be cause for concern. Maestro’s new Original Collection is sure to appeal to both vintage aficionados and gigging or studio musicians who want authentic tones with all the benefits of modern manufacturing.

A statement on the Maestro website reads: “While not everyone has heard of Maestro, everyone has heard Maestro.” These words alone are testament to Maestro’s legacy and influence on popular music over the years. It continues: “The world is about to hear it shape an entirely new generation of sound.” This will no doubt be exciting news for fans of Maestro or indeed anyone looking to expand their tone arsenal.

Want to Learn More?

If you’re keen to stay up-to-date with other matters within the musical instrument industry, take a look at more of our Industry articles.

Chris Toft
Chris Toft
Chris is a Senior Digital Product Marketer at Andertons and a self confessed guitar nerd. With a love of all things 80s Rock and Hair Metal, Chris favours humbucker equipped guitars, high gain amps and plenty of chorus and reverb! Clean tones and spandex leggings are optional!

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