A good piece of tech-and-music history from NPR:
Musicians, it seems, have always wanted to alter the sounds of their instruments. Over the course of centuries, strings have been added to guitars for a fuller sound. The composition of those strings has changed from animal gut to steel to plastic, each with their own unique sounds. Drummers have tried different shaped pots and kettles for the bodies of their instruments to get different timbres.
But with the advent of electronics, the possibilities for tweaking the sound of one instrument exploded. And perhaps nobody has done more tweaking than electric guitarists.
Sitting in his Bethel, Conn., workshop, pedal maker Mike Piera plugs in a vintage electric guitar and demonstrates what a fuzz box can do by playing part of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.”
“Without the pedal, you just kinda get a dead sound,” Piera says. “Pretty boring.”