Monday, July 8, 2024

Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender, the other Australian Fuzz.

Last year I went on a bit of an odyssey to research one of the earliest fuzz pedals out of Australia, the Claybridge Fuzzmaster. I lucked out heavily because it was well advertised in old Aussie electronics and Rock magazines, so piecing together the majority of the story was relatively easy.

But the whole time I was digging for info on Claybridge I was also looking for anything related to Fi-Sonic; another early Australian amplifier brand that put out at least 2 fuzz effects during the 60s. Unfortunately I found almost nothing...

For me at least, the first introduction I had to the Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender (MK IV) was the above example currently owned by Analogman, Mike Piera.

It's the only one I have seen, so far, and sadly there's not a huge amount to go off of. FXDB has a quick little blurb on the brand, stating that it was started in 1959 and run by Philip Dreoni, but only lasted until around 1969. 

There are a good number of examples of the Fi-Sonic amplifiers online, and I was able to find at least 1 ad showing an Australian electronics company STA Electronics, who I assume were similar to LRE here in States, and what appears to be a Fi-Sonic hifi radio tuner. But also in that same ad (from Oct. 1968) were a handful of guitar effects, including "Fuzz Boxes".

Now obviously there's no way to really know if this is an ad for the Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender, but so far it's the closest I've been able to get.

I have a vacation coming up next week, so digging back through all of these old magazines will be the perfect bored-at-my-hotel activity. Maybe something else will pop up as a result!

So in addition to the possible magazine ad, the only other hard evidence we have is this; the Fuzz Blender, but looking a bit different.

It's an amp-top unit, with an enormous handle (just in case?), and has controls for "Gain" and "Fuzz". Something else to note is that it simply says "Fuzz Blender" on it, and is absent any version designation. Which makes me think this is possibly v1.

When we look inside, it's not a huge surprise. Basically an FZ-1, but with 9v power instead of 3v. There are a few additional value changes, but otherwise it appears to be an FZ-1. 

Now what is interesting is that an original owner claims to have purchased one new in 1965!  But at this point I take those dates with a grain of salt, because people tend to say they did things a year earlier and at least a year longer than they actually did.

But either way 1966 would make this just as early as the Claybridge Fuzzmaster! Which is pretty cool for Australia at the time, who basically had zero access to American gear to buy or even properly copy.

What is still unknown is at what point the Fuzz Blender MKIV was introduced, and if there was a MKII and MKIII? As we saw with the Claybridge Fuzzmaster, at one time we were only aware of the MKIV, but then a green version was found, then the Wildcat, and finally the "prototype" I found last year that appears to be a MKI or MKII. 

So it is very possible that we have yet to see the other versions of this rare bird, and that like the Claybridge pedals, they are all sitting in a box somewhere in someone's closet, just waiting to be discovered.

If you happen to have any additional info on the Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender, or own one, I would love to hear from you! Please message me via Email or Instagram.

thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Music-Son Distorsion Booster - The Spanish Tone Bender?

So the years are not fully known, but some time between the late 60s and mid 70s, the Spanish amplifier brand Music-Son released a fuzz pedal in a Tone Bender MKII-style enclosure, that they called the Distorsion Booster.

*from the handful of examples I've been able to find. This gold one appears to be the earliest...

As of now I have been able to find 3 different circuit layouts and a handful of examples that seem to show a bit of an evolution throughout its life; suggesting that they were made for a considerable amount of time, and not just a one-off.

And this above example appears to be first in the run. It uses germanium transistors and has a more amp-like build than the other two, which is what I typically see when an amplifier company starts getting into the fx game for the first time.

As I was digging for more info on these I did come across this old Music-Son catalog from 1970 that includes the Distorsion Booster, among other effects. Unfortunately I have yet to find any earlier evidence, but at least we have a good starting point now!

What cane next in evolution of the pedal's design was when Music-Son jumped to a silver hammerite paint and a BC 147 silicon transistor-based fuzz.

Again, I am not sure what this is based on, but the circuit does look a bit different than the earlier unit:

The final version shows an evolution of the board, the circuit, the ouput jack, and possibly the enclosure itself (but it's hard to tell just from the available photos). 

This was definitely the most extreme change I have come across; and as of now there are at least 3 examples of just this version. So it's also the most prevalent (so far, at least).

The other thing to notice about this version is both the wires used and the components match those used in Music-Son's other fuzz pedal, the Distorsion Sustain; a super nasty Fender Blender copy that's extra splatty, and looks doomy as hell...

So even if it's a different circuit, at least going by the build similarities I assume they were either being made at the same time, or very close to each other.

Alright, now comes the part where I ask for more info, if any of you out there happen to know anything about the Music-Son Distorsion Booster or the brand itself; please reach out to me via Email or Instagram.

thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

EQD, Park Fuzz, and Honey Baby Crying.

Another awesome video from Earth Quaker Devices showing off two classic vintage fuzzes; the 3-knob Park Fuzz Sound and the legendary Honey Baby Crying Fuzz, with 2 of the most knowledgeable fuzz connoisseurs from Japan, Taka Tozawa and Yuichiro Hosokawa.

Check this out if you haven't seen it yet!

Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Nomad Super Fuzz (rite)?

Back around 2011 I came across a post on an old guitar effects forum that had a photo of a random grouping of vintage fuzz pedals. Last year I made a post about one of these, the insanely rare v1 bakelite version of the Seamoon Fresh Fuzz (check it out here). But another, even more rare pedal stuck out of the blurry pixelation and looked like a Mosrite Fuzzrite but with the logo "Nomad" blazoned across the front...

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

Fast forward 13 years, and I now own both of the pedals from that photo. And while the bakelite Fresh Fuzz is definitely one of my grail finds, the more interesting one is actually the Nomad Super Fuzz.

What is this thing? Where did it come from? WHO is Nomad???

So let's get into what we do know just by holding one of these in my hands.

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

After opening it up I was met with probably the biggest surprise; that it's a germanium Fuzzrite! Either from late 1966 or early 1967. It shares the exact same guts as my longtime germanium Mosrite Fuzzrite from the same era, and pretty much the same tone.

This was surprising because as of now I don't think any other OEM versions of a germanium Fuzzrite have ever surfaced. And even later silicon versions, like the Guild Foxey Lady and the ZB Custom fuzz aren't considered true OEMs.

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

Now I will admit, when I first saw this pedal I considered the possibility that the "Nomad" logo was added later on. And if you've ever seen a real germanium Fuzzrite there's a great chance that all of the labeling has worn off completely. So anyone could theoretically take a blank enclosure and add to it however they wanted.

But upon closer inspection the original knob, switch, and jack labeling are all still in tact and worn exactly the same way as the "Nomad" logo itself.

So this obscurity does seem to be very real! Which  leads back to the original question, Who was "Nomad" in the first place? and what was their relation to Mosrite?

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

There is a Nomad in the effects world, that in 1968 would debut their first effect, the Banshee Fuzz. These were made by Applied Audio out of New Jersey and distributed by LIMMCO Inc. They then followed this up with the Rogue Fuzz, also made by Applied Audio, which was the same as the Banshee with an extra gain stage.

But these effects aside and the handful of Nomad amplifiers I have been to find photos of, none of the logos match; and other than attending some tradeshows like NAMM and AMDIE the same years, the likelihood of LIMMCO having a random bi-coastal relationship with Mosrite is very slim.

So as of now, there are still a few mysteries left to be researched. 

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

The final cool little detail to mention about the Nomad Super Fuzz is that if it legitimately has a 1966/67 production date then it would predate the Univox Super Fuzz by at least a year, and was just a few months behind the Marshall Supa Fuzz. Which means that this is the very first pedal ever called "Super Fuzz", if we don't count the Marshall, that is. ;)

Alright, please let me know if you have any further info on Nomad, Fuzzrite OEMs, or this pedal specifically. As always you can message me via Email or Instagram

thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Long misattributed to the legendary pedal steel brand Emmons, the Riptone has a much cloudier history, that even now I'm still trying to unravel...

Taking one look at the Emmons Riptone you can probably guess what's going on in there. Yep! this is another FZ-1A copy, birthed out of the mid/late 60s pedal craze that saw every guitar, amplifier, and mom-&-pop shop scrambling to jump on the fuzzy bandwagon. 

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

So if this Emmons wasn't THE Emmons, of pedal steel fame, then who actually was responsible for the Riptone fuzz?

Well the clue that got me looking deeper was just sitting right there on the face of the pedal, directly under the output jack:

"Mfd. by Emmons Industries. Belleville, New Jersey"
Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Knowing the more famous Emmons brand was based out of Tennessee, I found it odd that they would have had any association with manufacturing a pedal in NJ of all places.

So I dug a bit, and even though there's not a lot out there about this other Emmons, I was able to track down a small company profile from 1966! It seems to show Emmons Industries as an electronics and parts manufacturer/supplier.

We also get a look at the name of the owner, Donald R Emmons; which definitely puts to rest any association with Buddy Emmons' pedal steel company (who released the Fuzz Machine and String Machine in the 70s).

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

As of now there is little to no additional info that I have been able to find regarding Emmons Industries. But if we look at other electronics companies of the time; Lafayette, Olson, Allied, etc. then it's not so surprising that Emmons was also getting in on the action.

Now, what I don't know is if they offered any additional guitar effects, amps or accessories, so if anyone out there has an old Emmons Industries catalog, I would love to see it!

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

So how does it sound?

Well a friend of the blog has an original, and it definitely sounds like an FZ-1A (as you would expect). And just like most 60s germanium fuzzes, it is heavily affected by temperature changes. 

A little colder, the tone tightens and is less aggressive; warm it up, and you get a full-on gnarly garage, spitting, classic 60s fuzz!

One could say, it sounds like the tone is being, ripped...🤓🤔

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

There's a few things you'll notice when looking inside the Riptone; 1. is that it's clearly an FZ-1A style fuzz. 2. the components match those found in other fuzzes from late 60s NY/NJ manufacturers, and 3. all of the boards have been cracked in half!

The photo above is the only unit I have been able to find still sporting all of its original caps and transistors (which were later replaced by its next owner).

So at this point, the only 3 Emmons Riptones known to exist all have had some parts replaced:

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

It's also safe to assume the consistently broken pcb is a result of the switch being threaded directly through the board and then attached to the enclosure.

Just a handful of stomps from an over-excited delinquent fuzz fiend probably was enough to crack the board like we see here. But what's most surprising is that it apparently didn't affect the functionality at all???

While this is an obvious flaw, it is again though not super surprising coming from an electronics company that probably wasn't regularly making guitar equipment; and the poor design is also a possible reason why we don't see too many of these floating around nowadays.

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

So that is the Emmons Riptone fuzz!

As is with a lot of pedals we feature here, there are still a ton of unknowns.

Who actually built these?

When did they come out?

How and where were they sold?

Is it actually called the "Criptone"? 

So if you do happen to own an original Emmons Riptone please reach out to me via Email or Instagram. I would love to hear from you, especially if you bought the pedal new in the 60s!

Thanks as always,

Sunday, June 2, 2024

History of the Gray DOD 250

Continuing on with the NO Demos video series, the newest episode looks very, VERY deeply into the origins of the best overdrive pedal of all time, the DOD 250 Overdrive Preamp.

This is something I have been breaking my brain researching over the past few years, and decided it was finally time to put all of these facts, theories, guesses, and conjectures out there in the form of a two-part video series.

So here is Part 1! It's really for the true nerds, so get ready...🤓

*Update! Here is Part 2 //

Thank you for watching!