“The Fuzz” Grady Martin 1961
The historical consensus is that Grady Martin himself accidentally invented “fuzz bass” during a 1960 recording session for Marty Robbins — Dave Hunter recounts the incident in Guitar Effects Pedals: The Practical Handbook:
“The Fuzz-Tone connection hints that we need to look further back, and across the pond, for even earlier examples of recorded guitar distortion. Gibson, and hence their subsidiary brand, Maestro, was given the circuit that became the Fuzz-Tone by studio engineer, Glen Snoddy. Snoddy, in turn, had devised the transistorized fuzz-generating design to replicate a sound he’d heard while recording Marty Robbins‘ 1960 hit “Don’t Worry,” when a tube preamp in one of the mixer channels had started to fail and yield a distored tone on Grady Martin’s bass solo. Whoever decided to stick with the track, rather than re-record it through a properly functioning channel, was on to something: the result was Nashville’s first recorded fuzz guitar (a short-scale Danelectro bass, in fact). Courtesy of Maestro, Snotty’s fuzz circuit soon made the trendy new sound available to the world.”
Listener Glen G. at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog (who asserts that Martin was playing a 6-string bass on “Don’t Worry”) has compiled a “spectacular country fuzz” listening list, and 1961’s “The Fuzz” is at the front of the pack, chronologically speaking.
“The Fuzz” would enjoy another shot at life when included in 3-disc early ’60s compilation, I Got a Woman: Gems from the Decca Vaults USA 1960-1961 — a European release.