Full Review: Hawaiian Pizza Fuzz by Caroline Guitar Company (2021)

Full Review: Hawaiian Pizza Fuzz by Caroline Guitar Company (2021)

Caroline Guitar Company have created a versatile dirt box that expands upon the sounds of the venerable Fuzz Face circuit. I’ll talk about the pedal in detail but here’s the short review:

For guitarists that enjoy classic Fuzz Face sounds but want something that can get a little more textural or gated, the Hawaiian Pizza stands as a great choice. The Hawaiian Pizza also offers unique fuzzy low-gain tones for guitarists that are tired of the standard overdrive fare.

However, the Hawaiian Pizza Fuzz stays relatively tame when compared to wilder fuzz offerings. Although the Hawaiian Pizza can get quite aggressive, it never enters oscillating fuzz or synth-like territory. Guitarists that are looking for chaotic fuzz pedal with more noise making options should probably look elsewhere.

Pedal Features

  • Price: $169.99 (approx)
  • Controls: “pizza,” “pineapple,” and “pig” labels (volume, voltage-cut, and gain, respectively)
  • Features: Top-mounted in and out jacks, on/off LED, 9v power via jack or battery, internally switchable “pickup simulator”
  • Dimensions: 4.7 in x 3.7 in x 1.34 in
  • Created by Caroline Guitar Company

Fun Fact: The Hawaiian Pizza was designed in conjunction with Electronic Audio Experiment’s John Snyder, who also has a number of excellent dirt pedals in his line. Check out Electronic Audio Experiment’s products here.

First Impressions

I absolutely love Hawaiian pizza, which seems to be a contentious take in some circles of the internet. A less contentious take, however, is liking the Fuzz Face, a pedal that’s certainly earned its place in guitar history. The Fuzz Face has become a beloved sound in pop culture, having found itself in the hands of legends like Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, and Eric Johnson.

The circuit’s smooth gain, responsive dynamics, and easily moddable design have made it a favorite for pedal builders to tweak and adjust. Caroline Guitar Company’s Hawaiian Pizza is a fuzz pedal based on the venerable Fuzz Face circuit, but you’d be irresponsible to think of it as just another drop in a sea of clones.

Caroline Guitar Company have always been ones to try to stand out from the pack, consistently offering unique takes on classic effects, and the Hawaiian Pizza continues this trend.

The pedal’s aesthetics are charmingly striking as the design language exudes immediately playfulness and humor. The pedal’s three-knob-layout is intuitive, and its “pizza,” “pineapple,” and “pig” labels (volume, voltage-cut, and gain, respectively) give off a tongue-in-cheek nature. For musicians that like to open up their gear, the PCB is etched with funny easter eggs and an amusing graphic. Even a look back the rollout promos might make you chuckle.

An Upgrade Worth Checking Out

The classic Fuzz Face circuit, despite its unassuming appearance, can be notoriously finicky in practice. The original Fuzz Face housed two germanium transistors that are generally quirky by nature. Depending on the build design and components, something as mundane as the type of battery in the pedal, a buffer in the effects chain, or even a change in weather could alter the player’s guitar tone, for better or worse. Some pedal builders have just embraced these aspects (and nothing’s wrong with that!), but Caroline Guitar Company weren’t ones to settle.

The Hawaiian Pizza takes either a 9v DC Boss-style power jack or 9v battery, and will operate perfectly either way. Inside the pedal are two raucous silicon 2N5088 transistors, which consistently provide juicy high-gain tones. The Hawaiian Pizza even features a “pickup simulator” (activated by an internal dip-switch) to circumvent any issues with signal chain placement. They’ve thought it all out!

With these quality-of-life updates, the Hawaiian Pizza addresses all of the typical Fuzz Face quirks without any sacrifice in tone.

Hawaiian Pizza Fuzz Face (White)
Comes in white too

The Sound: An Array of Fuzz Tones at Your Disposal

The silicon 2N5088 transistors housed inside this pedal are known for their excellent high-gain properties, and the Hawaiian Pizza utilizes them well. The high-gain tones are responsive, dynamic, and bold, but never sound too compressed. The most die-hard Hendrix and Gilmour enthusiasts will feel at home with the Hawaiian Pizza.

When you’re done rocking out with the knobs at 10, adjust the gain knob a little lower to discover a plethora of low-gain overdrive tones as well! While some Fuzz Face-types prefer to have the gain knob cranked for best usage, lowering the gain on the Hawaiian Pizza scales back some saturation and low-end to reveal responsive crunch tones that would rival even the best dirt pedals. Also, there’s certainly enough volume on tap to boost a tube amp into sweet break-up. These airy, overdrive-like settings do especially well pushing the front end of a broken-up tube amp or stacked with other dirt pedals.

As you explore the Hawaiian Pizza, you’ll find that the gnarliest of tones will be from turning the middle “pineapple” knob, or the voltage-cut. All the way to the right, the fuzz tone will be “full,” but adjusting that middle knob down will progressively “starve” the circuit. A light turn will some zipper-y texture to your playing, and going all the way will turn your guitar’s signal into a sputtery, choked-out stutter.

Like many fuzzes from before, the Hawaiian Pizza is very responsive to changes in your guitar’s volume knob. You can find new sounds without even having to adjust the pedal itself! In practice, I personally enjoy leaving the gain at max, adjusting the voltage-cut to around 2 o’ clock for some texture, and only adjusting my guitar’s volume knob from there. Although the tones achieved from rolling off the guitar volume don’t clean up quite like a vintage-accurate Fuzz Face (such as the Analogman Sunface), they are still pleasant and usable nonetheless.

If I had to try to sell the Hawaiian Pizza with one statement, it’d be this: there are no bad sounds! The potentiometer ranges on this pedal are finely-tuned at all parts of their sweeps. The Hawaiian Pizza also cleverly foregoes the traditional tone stack of the original Fuzz Face for a treble bleed circuit that allows the pedal to cut through the mix and retain clarity at all settings. Despite the simple layout, the Hawaiian Pizza encourages players to leave their comfort zones and reach for new, fuzzy horizons.

Listen To It Yourself

Classic Fuzz Face l Volume – Unity l Voltage Cut – Max l Gain – Max
Punchy Drive l Volume – Unity l Voltage Cut – 2 o’ clock l Gain – 2 o’ clock
Zipper-y Fat Fuzz l Volume – Unity l Voltage Cut – 9 o’ clock l Gain – Max

*The sound samples presented in this review were created using a Fender Player Stratocaster and a Milkman The Amp paired with a Mojotone Lite 1×12 Cab. Recording was done with a Shure E609 and a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 v3 Audio Interface.

Final Verdict

The Hawaiian Pizza is a versatile pedal that nails everything from gated fuzz, to bright and articulate crunch, to thick and spongy fuzz. The wide array of tones behind an intuitive three-knob layout make this a product worth looking at by all distortion enthusiasts.

But keep in mind that although the Hawaiian Pizza can get quite aggressive, it never enters oscillating fuzz or synth-like territory. Guitarists that are looking for chaotic fuzz pedal with more noise making options should probably look elsewhere.

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