Fuzz

There are many variations of fuzz.  All are awesome.  Find your flavor here.

fuzz

ROYAL ALBERT

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The original germanium based Fuzz Face – we all know it.  Jimi Hendrix saw to that.  Woolly, swirly, with the ability to make a guitar scream or sing.  Hendrix’s 1968 Royal Albert Hall performance is my favorite example of how he used this effect when playing live; the Royal Albert is designed with that same circuit in mind, but with a few changes.

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RAMBO

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The Big Muff Pi is THE fuzz sound I grew up with, and there’s a good chance you grew up with it too.  It went through what seems like a thousand versions over the years; my favorite version is the “Ram’s Head” version made from ca. 1973-1975 (David Gilmour used it on Pink Floyd’s “Animals” and “The Wall”).  Around the same time, Colorsound made a fuzz called the Jumbo Tonebender, which was very similar but had a rounder, somewhat “bouncier” sound by strategically omitting a few components, and I really loved that sound as well.  So, the Rambo is both – flip the toggle switch one way and the circuit is a (significantly!) modified version of the Ram’s Head Big Muff.  Flip the toggle the other way, and the circuit is almost identical to the Jumbo Tonebender.  What is different is that the Rambo incorporates a “scoop” control, so you can add back in the mid-range frequencies that are usually scooped out of the original Ram’s Head and Jumbo fuzz circuits. Both positions also feature noise reducing circuitry for reduced hum and hiss.

(No options for this one – it’s so flexible that you can dial in just about any Muff-type tone you can imagine.)

GILGAMESH

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Gilgamesh was an epic hero from ancient Babylonian mythology.  And that was the only image we had when we designed this fuzzThe key to this circuit is the use of two AC125 germanium transistors in the first two gain stages, and a different germanium transistor (usually an AC188) in the third stage.  This offers a really tight but complex fuzz tone, full of different shades and colors.  It cleans up really, really well when you roll the volume down on your guitar, but at full blast, it is frighteningly powerful and just rumbles and shakes.  It has the gain of a Tonebender, but the “bloom” and openness of a Fuzz Face.  But it also has a really low noise floor – so the background hiss and hum is greatly reduced in a fuzz with this level of gain.

Options: Though I really love the AC188, the Gilgamesh can be ordered with another AC125 in the third stage (for a raspier sound) or 2N404 in that spot (for a “bigger”, rounder sound).  Both options are an additional $10.

TRENDBENDER

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The Tonebender (technically, the Sola Sound Tonebender Professional Mark II) is a beast.  It’s an evil sounding monster in the best way.  Jimmy Page used it on the first two Zeppelin albums, and tons of other epic rock recordings that were larger than life.  The Trendbender is based on this most apocalyptic of fuzz circuits, but does a few things the original circuit didn’t.  Since the original was a germanium based fuzz, it was not temperature stable; the Trendbender is temperature stabilized, so no problems there.  The original also had a lot of noise when the fuzz was turned up all the way; the Trendbender includes circuitry to dramatically lower the background noise and hum.  Finally, the Trendbender provides both an external bias knob and a “starve” control that limits the voltage going into the circuit – turn the starve control down a bit, tweak the bias knob, and you can get an amazingly compressed tone with slight upper octave undertones.  This thing is – well, it just has to be heard.

Options: The Trendbender comes standard with AC125 transistors, which are our personal favorite (raspy, angry, heavy).  But it can be ordered with Mullard OC75 transistors (add $25) which are a little woollier, or Mullard OC42 transistors (add $20), which are a just as angry but a bit darker sounding.

GREAT SCOTT!

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The Fuzz Face eventually changed its design from germanium to silicon based transistors providing the fuzz tone.  These were temperature stable, but offered a different sound.  David Gilmour used one for the guitar solo work on the Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album, and Eric Johnson swears by his.  The Great Scott! is the silicon companion to the Royal Albert…same basic design but with adjustments to work better with the silicon transistors we use.  The Great Scott! also has quiet operation, temperature stability (though all silicon fuzzes are temperature stable…) and adjustable bias.

Options: The Great Scott! comes standard with specially-selected low-noise silicon transistors with a tight, aggressive tone.  But the classic BC108/109 transistors can be used in this circuit (add $15) for a more vintage sound.