FM-3 Fuzz Master

Effect Information

“Ace Tone was formed in the early 70s. They later became Roland Electronics [Wikipedia link below]. This pedal is the precursor to the legendary Bee Baa. Unlike the earlier FM-2, this is a Fuzz with a separate, clean boost. There are “volume,” “tone,” and “sustain” knobs for the fuzz. The boost section has its own “volume” and “tone” controls. Two switches on top of the unit control your options. One lets you choose between the booster and fuzz, the other turns the effect on and off.”

“The first thing people ask is: How does it compare with a Bee Baa? My answer would be, BETTER, MUCH BETTER. How do I know? I also own a Bee Baa as well. The FM-3 is MUCH smoother and has a lot more sustain than the Bee Baa. It also sounds worlds better than the FM-1 and 2 models (when people tell me their Fuzz Master stunk, it seems it was the 1 or 2 models). I have compared it with Fuzz Faces, Colorsound Tone Benders and other
such pedals. The FM-3 was as good (sometimes better) and definitely in the same league.”

The boost is the best I’ve ever heard for driving an amp. It has many advantages over the Bee Baa and Range Master circuits:

  1. It is quiet. The Range Master [circuit] is not.
  2. Tone. While the Bee Baa sounds like it’s running through a high impedance buffer, the FM-3 is warm sounding, almost tube like. The “Tone” knob is an added bonus. If you’re driving an amp, it gives you extra control over how your pickups “hit” the amp. This allows you to keep mids and treble where they need to be on the amp to enhance sustain and distortion characteristics. The Range Master does not have as much control and is MUCH NOISIER.

“The only other boost I like as much is the Dan Armstrong Red Ranger but that’s a whole different animal.”

“In conclusion, this is (was) a great product. Unfortunately, Roland chose to combine the FM-2 and 3 into one unit for their Bee Baa model. Bad move. The Bee Baa as a result is a much brighter and harsher pedal. They didn’t use the same transistors, the boost is useless, and the fuzz does not sustain as long as the FM-3.”

“Most people who own a fuzz know that it’s somewhat akin to playing a guitar synth. You have to play cleanly and pick most of your notes. The FM-3 is one of the few I’ve played that lets you rip Holdsworth type lines with just your left hand. The boost doesn’t change my amps sound, it just gives me more gain and sustain. I own over 60 distortion pedals so I know the difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Ace Tone FM-3 is in my top 5.”

“A little history on the FM-3 and Ace Tone: Ace Tone was a Japanese company created before Roland by the same man. They first came out with the FM-1 and FM-2, both of which have an octave, ring-mod type tone, but not the FM-3. The FM-3 is by far the most RARE pedal from the line, having only been produced for a short time before Roland was created. The modified version of this pedal, the renowned Roland Bee-Baa fuzz, is more ubiquitous, and frequently cloned, but this one, the non-octave fuzz version, sounds EVEN BIGGER than a Bee Baa. Better yet, you can play full chords, and they don’t sound all ring-modded out. Its a BIG fuzz, not unlike a Ram’s Head Muff, but more defined, more mids, and it actually responds to a roll back of the volume. With the sustain level low, it has many characteristics reminiscent of a good germanium overdrive, and as you roll in more gain, it goes from fuzzed out fullness, to singing sustain.

“The Ace Tone FM-3 seems to be a rare and interesting fuzz box. Unlike the earlier FM-2 this is a fuzz with a separate clean boost. There are volume, tone and sustain knobs on this fuzz. The boost section has its own volume and tone controls. Two switches on top of the unit control your options. One lets you choose between the booster and fuzz, the other turns the effect on and off. The effect seems to be an early version of the Roland Bee-Baa by combining characteristics of the FM-2 and 1.”

Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-3 is a modified clone of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, made in Japan by Ace Tone circa 1973. Ace Tone was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi (1960), who left to found Roland in March 1972. The FM-3 is not in the February ’72 catalog, so it may have already been discontinued, but it is more likely that it came out later in 1972-73. It was the last pedal in the Fuzz Master series.”

“One of the greatest fuzz tones of all time, the legendary Ace Tone (pre-Roland) FM-3 Fuzz Master, one of the very few clones considered superior to the original, in this case, the early Big Muff/Foxey Lady. A split circuit provides a secondary channel used for volume boost/overdrive.”

“This early 70’s fuzz circuit may have peers, but its second to none, it’s a quest ending, desert island fuzz you’ll never want to be without once you try it.”

These may not be as rare as advertised. I am seeing them show up with great frequency on eBay and Reverb. Most are listings out of Japan as you might expect. They are expensive but be patient as a bargain can still be found. I have two and would concur with most of the above.

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Date Range (07/06/2024 - 07/06/2024)

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