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!

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Jansen Fuzzman (NZ)

When it comes to vintage effects from New Zealand there sadly isn't a huge pool to dive into. And while we've taken a look at brands like Gunn and Holden in the past (who both put out some really awesome pedals) the majority of 60s/70s effects from NZ are still relatively unknown outside of Middle Earth.

Within this hidden world is yet another brand that most likely slipped past your radar until today, and that is Jansen; a guitar and amplifier company that was based out of Auckland. And while their main forte was amps, in the mid 60s - early 70s they took a stab at the effects market with two pedals; the Twin Wow-Wow & Volume, and the perfectly named Fuzzman

Jansen Fuzzman

A little digging around online revealed that the Jansen Fuzzman went through a few cosmetic, and at least two circuit alterations over its lifetime.

There are the grey and black tooled enclosures, and the two rectangular project box enclosures (that look less like pedals and more like table-top units, à la the Rangemaster).

Jansen Fuzzman

As it is with these older pedals from the other side of the planet, it's usually quite difficult to track one down outside of the home country. So I have yet to find one, but with multiple iterations and the amount of photos floating around of existing units, they don't seem to be overly rare.

What is awesome however, is that someone was gracious enough to record a demo of his later version and load it up online:

In addition to the cosmetic differences, the two component photos I have been able to find show what appears to be an earlier germanium Fuzz Face inspired circuit, and a later modded/souped up silicon version. 

The original Jansen Fuzzman was designed by Bruce Eady and reportedly modified later on for more gain and stability. 

*As of now I have yet to see any circuit images of the table-top units, but I'm guessing they're pretty similar inside???

Jansen Fuzzman

Jansen Fuzzman

So as you can see I have been able to gather a bit of information on these, but there are still a lot of unknowns...

Exactly how long were they made? How many? Why the different enclosures? Were they exclusively sold in New Zealand? etc.

Jansen Fuzzman

Jansen Fuzzman

So if you happen to own one, or have any additional info on Jansen as a brand, or even just the Fuzzman itself, please reach out to me via Email or Instagram

Thank you as always,

Friday, April 26, 2024

The Randall FX Line (Late 70s)

For just about 3 years (1977-1979) Randall Amplifiers got into the effects game with a set of 5 pedals; the RP-1 Phase, RP-2 Phase, RP-4 Phase, Notch Generator, and the Envelope Generator

Randall RP-4 Notch Generator

Randall RP-1 Phase RP-2

So where did these come from and were they any good?

In late 1976 Seamoon engineer Jerry Pynckel decided to part ways with the brand, where he had developed a few of their best products; the Funk Machine II, the Controlled Tone Preamp, and the Studio Phase.

Seamoon Studio Phase

His first solo venture into the effects world was starting a brand where he could really flex his engineering skills. It was called Design Technology and featured an innovative roster of pedals; including the Flange Delay Line, the Notch Generator, the Phase Delay Line, and the VCO-VCA(*as of now it is unknown whether this came before or after Seamoon)

If you look at the photo below I'm guessing you'll notice that the Design Technology pedals look strikingly similar to the Randall line. And also, some are literally the same exact product; the Notch Generator, the Phase Delay Line (RP-4), and the VCO-VCA (Envelope Generator).

And you would be 100% correct in your observation! Because in late 1977 Pynckel landed a deal with Randall to build their pedals, and it was a fairly easy transition as he simply adapted the Design Technology effects to the Randall aesthetic (or more accurately, the other way-around). 

In fact, the Notch Generator was an even earlier design he utilized during his Seamoon days, as the Controlled Tone Preamp (albeit, the Notch Generator kicks out a much grittier and crunchier tone). And the RP-2 Phase is supposed to be an adaptation of the his design for Seamoon, the Studio Phase (which was later modded and rereleased as the Studio Flanger, which itself was further adapted by Analog Digital Associates and released as the famous A/DA Flanger... but that's another post entirely).

Both the Design Technology and the Randall pedals are pretty rare, and some of them I can't even find photos of. But I do have the Envelope Generator, which is a super fat sounding auto-wah, and the Randall Notch Generator, which sounds amazing! It's like a giant cookie monster sounding fuzz with a fairly unique tone control.

Randall Notch Generator

In addition to the elusive Design Technology pedals, one effect from the Randall line I have not been able to find even a photo of is the RP-4 Phase. So if you happen to have one please reach out via Email or Instagram, or comment below and let me know! I would love to document their existence beyond just a catalog image.

thanks as always for reading!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Wait, who invented the Tone Machine ???

So last week I finally broke down and bought a copy of the classic 1997 book "The Stompbox" by Art Thompson, and came across an interview with Steve Ridinger (who you probably remember from our last post on the Liverpool Fuzz, as the founder of fOXX). 

The book is actually pretty great; showing tons of old dealer ads, pedals that are still quite rare today, and a whole bunch of interviews with legendary effects builders. And while most of the information is stuff I had heard before, the quote below from Steve Ridinger hit me like a nuclear bomb...

I was involved in the design of our first wah-wah, but we got help from some other people for the rest of our products. The Tone Machine was designed by a classmate of mine from Hollywood High School. His name was Rob, but I don't remember his last name. As far as I know that was the first fuzz unit with a switch-able octave effect. I didn't even know how to spell octave then-that's why it's written "octive" on these boxes.

Wait, did Steve Ridinger just say that someone he went to high school with was actually the one responsible for inventing fOXX's greatest pedal? And also that he can't remember the guy's last name?!!!

Well after reading this my curiosity kicked in to overdrive and I immediately found the Hollywood High School yearbook from 1969. I honed in on anyone named Robert, and also Ridinger himself just to make sure I was looking in the right place.

well, the internet came through as it always does. :)

Ok, step two was to find anyone named "Robert". But this was going to be a much more difficult task, as apparently in 1951 naming your baby "Robert" was stupidly popular (in fact, it was the 2nd most popular name of that year). 

So it looks like my work's cut out for me; now having to sift through each one and tracing their lives via Google, 50+ years later to see if there are any engineers among them and who the most likely candidate could be.

But I actually feel pretty good that soon enough we will find who the true inventor of the Tone Machine really was.

wish me luck, and stay tuned...