Monday, February 27, 2012

Park Fuzz Sound ( 2 Knob Version)

holiest of all grails...

This was a demo video made for an ebay auction (won by a friend of the blog!) of this ultimately amazing 2 knob Park Fuzz Sound
I love everything about how this sounds.  The closest I have come to this pedal is a really solid clone built for me by Stu Castledine that is like a mix between a Tonebender, a Big Muff and an Elka Dizzytone.

Seriously awesome stuff is going on here///


thanks for watching!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Steelphon Fuzz with Pep!

I found this youtube demo of the rare Steelphon fuzz.  Not too much is known about them, but it was probably an Italian pedal and built in the late 60s. From what I understand it is similar to the early 2 transistor Tonebenders, but with way more balls!  Not much detail in this post, but it's what we got []

Sorry, the video isn't the best quality, but check it out///

Thanks for reading, and a big Thank You to Graham for the photos!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Some little updates.

So I finally got around to doing a couple things I have been meaning to do around here;
One of those was setting up a Contacts page so you guys could email me with questions and stuff, but also because I am planning on adding another cool part to the blog that I will need YOUR help with.
The other page I added is called "On the Hunt" which is basically going to serve as a Call to anyone reading this who might own an awesome effect that I'm having a hard time finding. It will be an ever increasing list, that hopefully as I chip away at I can then feature the new stomp here!

So please check out the newness.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tone Machine Anyone?

This mondo buffet of fOXX Tone Machines comes to us from our good friend Gino out of Chi-Town. In an earlier post we got deep inside the single Tone Machine I own and mentioned all of the cool other brands and colors it came in. Now you can see for yourself!
I especially like the American Flag ones, which are among the rarest of the rare.

So give yourself to a minute to take this all in (check the impossible to find Select-a-Fuzz):

thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sam Ash Fuzz-Stainer (197?)

and sometimes you just get lucky!

By now you may have realized that I have something of a "problem" when it comes to buying pedals (especially the fuzzy kind). Combine this problem with my overwhelming sense of curiosity and you will get what happened here with this Sam Ash Fuzz-Stainer...

Last June a seemingly homemade pedal came up for auction on ebay. The seller had no idea of its origin or even what it sounded like, since he couldn't get it to work. I did not recognize the circuit but could tell it was old and that it was possibly a fuzz. I figured "what the hell?" and went for it. Worst case scenario, it was something like a home-project Fuzz Face that I could raid for parts; best case, it was some rare and previously unknown circuit I could nab for a really low price and easily fix.

So I end up winning the auction, and the wait was on.
Finally the pedal arrived and I decided to troubleshoot all of the obvious stuff first. I changed the battery, and that did nothing. I checked all of the solder connections and they seemed fine. Finally I decided to plug the guitar cable into the output jack and the amp cable into the input and ZZZAP!!! It worked!

It sounded really cool but what was it? I ended up sending a few gut pics and a description to Bart(discofreq) and he linked me to the Sam Ash Fuzz-Stainer. Up to that point only 1 had surfaced and the owner was being very careful not to give away the magic hiding inside.

Here is what his original looks like (minus the awesome red firetruck paint job that mine has):

The similarities were many between the two pedals;
1- The overall gating effect is the same.
2- There is an internal trimpot that controls the amount of gating.
3- The knob placement.
4- The Tone stack sounds identical in both pedals.
5- The Enclosure of the pedals.
6- The reversed Input and Output jacks.
7- Even the wires used are exactly the same in both!

Another thing I had noticed was that the bottom of the circuit board says "SA-FZ", which to me could easily mean "Sam Ash Fuzz"/

Also upon closer inspection it is obvious that the pedal was originally the same color Blue as the one in the photo. If you look at the pictures of mine, around the switch and on the inside case you can clearly see the blue paint jumping out at you.

In fact, a couple of small paint chips came off and underneath the red was again, that same blue found on the original.

All of this detective work leads me to believe that it has to be nothing BUT a Sam Ash Fuzz-Stainer. I assume that its from the early 70s, but I really have no idea. Most of the components are pretty old and it uses the same brand of footswitch that was in the Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx and Astro Amp Astrotone, but I still don't believe these were from the 60s like those.

I wish I knew the history of this pedal actually, because it almost has this feel of being a project kit that Sam Ash sold in some of their stores. Or the other alternative that makes more sense, is that it was sold in only one Sam Ash location and was built by an employee. Which would be the reason why so few got out into the world and only 2 are known to exist today???

So what does it sound like!?! you ask. Well if you were here a little while back you may have seen this video I posted of my buddy Jerms doing a quick demo of the Fuzz-Stainer. I had sent it to him for a little R&D and he made a really nice clone; like dead on (except the trimpot for the Gating was moved to the front of the pedal for more control).

I don't usually post videos of non-original pedals but this comparison of Jerms' with the Sam Ash gives you a decent idea of what it sounds like (around 2:30 some really fun stuff starts happening):

There are some things you may not have picked up from that video.
For one, the Tone Stack is amazing. Not only is it completely usable through its entire rotation but on one end it can mimic other fuzzes like an Maestro FZ-1a or a Fuzzrite, while on the other end it sounds like a Fuzz Face, or more accurately a Vox Distortion Booster V8162.

But the most awesome thing about it is actually the gating. It allows the pedal to go from this full, big, juicy tone all the way down to a crunching bug zapper! It can even get that effect of unplugging your amp and playing through it until the last drop of power as zipped its way out. It's "break up" on an epic scale/

This is definitely one that I have a hard time not plugging into on a daily basis and it will most likely stick with me for quite a while. The Sam Ash Fuzz-Stainer is a unique one, and the reason I still look for weird pedals everywhere, all the time!

So keep hunting my friends.

If you happen to own an original, please leave a comment here. I would love to know if there are any others out there///

*Update; here is the schematic thanks to Jerms!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pro Co Sound Inc. The Juggernaut (1979)

These past few weeks have seen a lot of really cool stuff come up on ebay, including something I didn't even know existed until I saw this auction a few days back, the Pro Co Sound Inc. The Juggernaut (Bass Distortion) from its original run back in 1979. I decided to bow out of the auction based solely on the fact that the reissue of the Juggernaut sounds like a heaping pile of bat turds...
But as you will see that decision turned out to be quite a bad one!

Being a big fan of the Pro Co Rat, especially between the years of 1978 and '85, I just figured (and hoped) that this was going to be a Rat with more low end and less fizz; and even though it has its roots deep inside that original 1978 Rat, the Juggernaut sounds like a totally different beast. A crunchy, grimey, and gating fuzz that's closer to a Vox Tone Bender than what most people associate with a Rat.

You will notice it has some extra controls and an extra switch. For a Bass effect it's actually a pretty ingenious design. The most useful part of this effect is the clean-blend circuit that allows you to mix in your dry bass signal to taste, which is a good way to round out the otherwise crispiness of the fuzz. There is also an effects-send that is switchable; another really cool feature that allows a whole slew of tonal options depending on what effect you throw in there.

The Tone knob has some character all its own that is not at all like the one on a Rat. It seems to never go down to that blanket-over-the-head level, but instead keeps its bite even at the lowest setting. I would guess that this is because you can blend in your dry signal and bring back any low end you may lose in the fuzziness. Again, cool design style!

Well, as you may have guessed it, this is another loaner to us here at Tone Machines (Thank you again Jerms!) but that doesn't mean we can't do a nice and thorough review///
So go and watch the demo video if you haven't already. I also added a pretty huge pic of the guts in this mofo, so get crackin' you solder jockies!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 13, 2012

MXR Distortion II (black)

So a little over a year ago this all-black MXR Distortion II came up for sale on ebay. I set my max bid way too low and unfortunately I didn't get it, but it has been in the back of my mind ever since.
Now I know it's not really that great of an effect but (and take note pedal builders!) most stomps just look much cooler when they are black, thus making them better. I can't really say why, it's just one of those mysteries of life I guess?

So here she is, the one that got away.///

If you happen to come across another one, please let me know via email (see the "Contact Me" link above). I would love to find one!

thanks for reading/

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ibanez The Dirt Box (1976)

Look how cool this is!

Unfortunately it's not mine...(

Ok so what do we know about this skinny green weirdo of a pedal?
I for one had never seen or heard of the Ibanez "The Dirt Box" until about a year ago when one randomly surfaced on ebay; and although it definitely piqued my interests, I decided to stay out of the auction because the seller was less than helpful over our emails.

I hate letting something cool get away, but as fate would (almost) have it, a few months later another "The Dirt Box" popped up! But this time I didn't set my bid high enough, and again it went to someone else. Feeling down about the whole experience I eventually told myself that time heals all wounds and to just move on...

So after many sleepless nights and a river of tears, let's fast forward to last week when I saw some amazing photos of "The Dirt Box" posted on the D*A*M forum, by user Lucy-Guitar. I knew even though I couldn't own this sweet pedal, I could at least try and get something cool for the Tone Machinests! So I shot Lucy an email and a couple days later I was graced with all of these awesome pics (including gut shots!).

So what does it sound like???

Well upon closer inspection it turns out that it is the same circuit as the Ibanez Overdrive II! Which itself was the precurser to the Tube Screamer. This is not to say that it sounds like a Tube Screamer, because it really doesn't; and it definitely doesn't sound like the Ibanez Overdrive OD850, which is more of a Big Muff (discussed at length in an earlier post). Nope, but it does have a pretty cool gritty dark overdriven tone that isn't too far off from the op-amp version of the Electro Harmonix Muff Fuzz plugin.

So although it may not be the most groundbreaking pedal, or even the best sounding, it at least looks really cool!!!

The pictures below compares the Ibanez The Dirt Box (top) and the Ibanez Overdrive II (bottom), both made in 1976:

So why did Ibanez choose make two pedals with the same exact circuit at the same time but with different names? We can only speculate, but here's my theory:

The original Ibanez Overdrive OD850 was a flop for the first couple of years it was out, purely because it was a fuzz and NOT an overdrive. So, in my opinion, Ibanez decided to distance themselves from that original mistake and create a totally new pedal with a name that gave a better indication of what it would sound like. The problem is a "Dirt Box" can be anything from a Fuzz to a Distortion to an Overdrive. So instead of making it more shopper friendly, they actually made it HARDER to figure out what the hell it did?!?!///
And in the face of failure they decided to go back to the "Overdrive" moniker and realized that they could bill it as a completely NEW and IMPROVED version of that crappy old OD850 (that they continue to make to this day under different, but not any less confusing, names).

My guess is that this pedal is somewhat of a prototype or test version, which subsequently failed the test. But that is is what makes it a perfect fit here at Tone Machines! So this is me putting out the mental and digital vibes that someday I will have one of these little babies for all my own.
In fact, how about a The Dirt Box for everyone!!!

also, don't you just love the way they spelled "Amplifer"/

A giants Thanks! to Lucy for all of the awesome photos,
and thanks to you for joining us again!