Sunday, October 30, 2011

Elka Dizzy Tone (1968)

One of my favorite fuzzes.
The Elka Dizzy Tone!

I'll go into crazy detail at a later post(as I happen to have one), but for now let's check out this sick demo video from our good Italian friend, Ema:

Thanks for watching!

Jordan Boss Boost (1967)

Welcome to Part 2 of the Jordan Juniors series; featuring the sweet, scarce and subtly awesome Jordan Boss Boost!

In Part 1 we looked at the first version of the Boss Tone fuzz from 1967 and also went over some Jordan Electronics history. So today I will keep the background details to a minimum, and instead give you some TONE talk and pedal pics... But before we get in deep, let's just do a mini story of where this little punk came from.

OK, so again taking a cue from VOX, specifically the Treble/Bass Booster plugin (1965), Jordan decided to make a plugin effect that boosted both the guitar's Treble and Bass. Improving on the design ergonomically and functionally, Jordan made the box more compact than the VOX and it had separate controls for Treble and Bass. Although the pre-history and inspiration are pretty clear, the production history of this little guy is somewhat hazy. It does appear as though Jordan only produced the Boss Boost for one year, 1967. They continued to advertise the effect until 1969 when they moved factories from Alhambra, CA to Pasadena, CA.

Before I got really into effects pedals I never understood the idea of a "clean boost". I also didn't own a tube amp nor did I understand the whole "stacking effects" thing. But my first encounter with the awesomeness of Boost pedals was a clone someone made for me of a Dallas Rangemaster. Being a huge Black Sabbath fan and knowing that Tony Iommi got his signature tone from a Rangemaster going into a Laney Klipp amp, I had to try one.

When I got it in the mail I ripped open the package like it was Christmas morning. Overjoyed, I plugged into my new, cool pedal. And there it was... complete disappointment; I heard nothing! All I could hear was that my guitar's high end was louder and more crisp. So I started to experiment. First running it into some fuzz pedals, then switching the order, which was pretty awesome but still not what I was looking for. Then I finally decided to run it into some hot tubeage, and in a devine moment a bright light shined down from the heavens and angels began sing my name. I finally got it! It was that big volume boost of the high end into the tubes that created THE Sabbath tone I grew up loving, and there it was for me. Needless to say I dropped in a wah and played Electric Funeral for about 4 hours.

The Jordan Boss Boost is great for what it is. You can easily get that Rangemaster tone, but with the added Bass boost, you can bang a full body to your sound too. I really like how it can fill out even the most thin fuzz tones, and add some "vintage" character to newer pedals. The best combinations so far have been Big Muff > Boss Boost and MKI Tonebender > Boss Boost. As I mentioned before, the Boss Tone > Boss Boost combo is pretty cool too. So it may not be one of the most unique or distinct effects ever, but it's nice and warm and stacks amazingly with your other fuzzes.

Well that's that! The end of our Jordan Juniors post, until I get my Vico Vibe././ So thanks for hanging with us today.><. and now, I leave you with some pics:

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jordan Boss Tones (3 Versions)

Some listening/viewing for you while I prepare the Jordan Boss Boost write up!

Take a listen to how different these 3 versions of the Jordan Boss Tone are;
1. 2nd version made in Alhambra, CA around 1968
2. 3rd version made in Pasadena, CA around 1969/70
3. 4th version made in Nashville, TN around 1975

Big thanks to Jerms and the North West Fuzz Crew for supplying the whole internet with this fine demo!

Thanks for watching!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jordan Bosstone (1967)

Welcome back! Ok, so today we are going to be looking at 2 of the 3 plugin effects from the early Jordan Juniors series made by Jordan Electronics out of Alhambra, CA. featuring the 1967 Jordan Boss Tone and the 1967 Jordan Boss Boost. I really should be showing the Vico Vibe too, but unfortunately I just missed one on the bay! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's all good, we will do with what we got. Let's just pretend they never made a vibrato and that this is the most comprehensive Jordan Juniors-based informational site in the world.,.

So to jump right into it, let's take a look at the always amazing Jordan Boss Tone ///

By now this is an extremely well known fuzz that defines thickness and saturation; but it wasn't always like that, and in fact this early first version of the Boss Tone has a completely different sound than any other version that came after it.

The story goes that in the early '60s Jordan Electronics was building amplifiers in order to capitalize and compete with the VOX/British amp explosion that was sweeping the nation, via the Beatles. They then decided to come out with a fuzz unit as the popularity of pedals such as the Maestro Fuzz Tone, the Tonebender MKI, and the Mosrite Fuzz Rite were finding their way into all facets of popular music. So in late 1966 they developed the Boss Tone, a trebly fuzz that stood out amongst the crowd for being more articulate and much less gated than either the FZ-1 or the MKI. How many test and 1st production units were made are not known, but as pictured below from a 1966 magazine ad, you can see the cool 1st logo that Jordan decided NOT to go with once it went into full production.
I kind of like it actually>/

Jump ahead a year to 1967 and we find Jordan Electronics poised and ready to drop some cool new effects on the world of Rock & Roll. Although the idea of effects pedals that plugged directly into your guitar most likely came from VOX with their Distortion Booster (1965), Jordan took the idea and made it more compact and work better! The first of these, and the king of all plugin effects, was the Boss Tone fuzz unit.

So how does it sound, you ask?
My real answer is; totally weird! It's very nasally and does a great impression of a small swarm of bees trying to eat your brain by way of your ears. It's not nearly as biting as the Maestro FZ-1a, but it has absolutely no low end or thickness at all.

Now I know you're thinking, "but Ed, you're making this thing sound like it's a piece of crap!" I know, I know. I promise you though, it's Not... The real magic happens when you run it through an EQ or a low-end boosting pedal and then BLAM! it comes to life. I actually love to run the Boss Tone into the Boss Boost in a process where the original weak signal has coalesced on the other end into this loud, thick, stinging, Neanderthal of a fuzz tone; that sort of reminds me of a rusty razor blade you might find on the floor of an old bathroom or something?

Although I don't consider myself a pedal circuit understanderer, I can say from hearing it that there are similarities between this original Boss Tone and the FZ-1a and possibly a little Shin Ei FY-2 thrown in the mix for fun (although I think that came out afterwards?). Either way, it is a distinctive tone and it's really cool to see where this grand master of the fuzz world got its start.

In later posts we'll dissect the other versions of the Boss Tone, but for now it's all about numero UNO!

(Big thanks to Chris Mahoney for his help on the history of Jordan Electronics and cool photos from the old magazine ads.)

Ok kids, it's picture time!!!

stay tuned for part 2... The Jordan Boss Boost!

for info on the 2nd version of the Bosstone: Go Here!

thanks for reading!

WEM Rush Pep Box (1966/67)

Thanks to Ian/Ghost Effects for posting this demo of the mega rare WEM Rush Pep Box fuzz from the 60s. I love how aged and angry this sounds///

for more info and pics of this crazy old man of a pedal, check out this thread on the D*A*M forum:
WEM Rush Pep Box

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vox Tonebender Professional MKII (1966/67)

So in an attempt to make the updating more of a daily experience I have decided to take cues from one of my favorite nerdy blogs, Matrixsynth, and put up some demo videos from time-to-time of pedals that I don't personally own but feel you would enjoy hearing.

So first to break the ice is a video from Pinstripedclips who is demoing a Vox Tonebender MKII fuzz from approximately 1966/67. This thing is mean, lowdown, gritty and grimey sounding, and I kind of wish it was mine! But I guess it's in good hands...


If you're interested in the history of this badass fuzz and want some drool-worthy pics, read more about it here:
D*A*M - The Wife

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Electro Harmonix Frequency Analyzer (1973)

the violet makes it sound better...

So this week we jump out of the completely obscure and into more familiar territory with this awesome 1973 Electro Harmonix Frequency Analyzer.

The first commercially available ring mod for guitar players was (as far as I know...) the Oberheim Ring Modulator, which, in 1969 was rebranded and sold under the Maestro name. The effect was a really cool way to get some sci-fi tones, change your tuning on the fly and could even be used as an octave pedal. The Maestro Ring Mod ruled the school up until 1973 when Electro Harmonix decided it was time to break into the game and drop this monster of a pedal on the world.

Well they definitely thought it was something big and MONSTROUS! because in true EHX fashion their original description and claims for the Frequency Analyzer were a little on the ridiculous side (just take a look at this old product flyer below), and I still wonder how many woodwind and brass players brought one of these home in the mid 70's, stared at it for a few hours before boxing it back up and sticking it in the closet... where it lay for 35 years before they decided to sell it to me on ebay!

So, what the hell does it sound like! Well it sounds like a ring mod/// but a 3-titted, juicy, fat, martian of a Ring Mod! I personally use it as an octave pedal 90% of the time, as I am a huge fan of the MXR Blue Box. My one qualm though with the Blue Box has always been that the "fuzz" tone was so weak and kind of lame. But with the Frequency Analyzer you get a clean blend knob, so you can mix in whatever fuzzed out signal you want! Yes, I know there are actual lower octave pedals that can do this, but there is just something about the F.A. that sounds so wrong that it's untouchable in terms of low end power and warmth.

Yes, of course it can also do all of those cool ring moddy type tones that you are most likely familiar with, which may be the reason it's not quite as revered as the ram's head Big Muff from the same year, but! to me the simple addition of that clean blend allows this pony to offer up more than the 1 trick it is usually known for. Making it much more useful of a tool for us pedal freaks.

Ok, well here we go. I think I may have gone a little overboard with the pics on this one, but what hell!


Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ampeg Phazzer (1974)

After scanning many digital pages of information and misinformation I still feel I don't know the exact history of the Phase Shifter effect, but I will try and give it a go.
The mother of all phasing, chorusing and vibes is the Univox Univibe. I am not 100% which came 1st, but as I understand, the Univibe was birthed from both the Honey Vibra Chorus and originally a section of the Honey Psychedelic Machine from the mid 60s. Although the effect was used by many a-famous guitar player, the Univibe lends almost all of its cred to Jimi Hendrix.
Then in the early 70's Maestro released their extremely popular phaser called the PS-1 (designed by Tom Oberheim) which created another faction of lush modulation perfection. Since that time period many pedal builders have attempted to create similar tones but from smaller packages, all the while using the 2 giants of guitar modulation, The Univibe and Maestro PS-1 as there benchmarks...

The reason I bring up all of this, seemingly unrelated, information is because I tend to refer to all phasers in terms of being inspired by the Univibe or the Maestro PS-1.
Just to let you know what I mean let me illustrate it in this way;
MXR Phase 90 = Maestro PS-1,
EHX Small Stone = Univibe (and was actually marketed as the way to get that "Jimi Hendrix" swirling vibe tone.)

So that finally brings us to the topic at hand, the 1974 Ampeg Phazzer. This was supposedly created for Ampeg Amplifiers by a company called Time Lab, Inc. and even though I have not been able to verify that particular bit of information, I do know it was the only "Ampeg" labelled effect other than the famous 1969 Ampeg Scrambler fuzz (not counting the rebranded 80's Japanese effectors).

Like its older brother, the Scrambler, the Ampeg Phazzer is quite a rare bird. Sometimes the collector nerd in me gets excited purely at looks and rarity, which can be disappointing when I plug it in and hear the actual tone; but in this case, luck be had, it sounded awesome! Also, how could you not jump on the BIN button after seeing that sweet 70's "Phazzer" logo///

Going back to my original classification system for phase shifters, the Ampeg Phazzer clearly and purely lies in the Univibe camp. So much so that if I ever need that tone, it's the pedal I reach for 90% of the time. It's so close to the Univibe that it even has that irregular cycle in oscillations, if you know what I mean? Sure it doesn't do the deep Vibe and Chorusing of the Univibe, but there is no mistaking where the Ampeg Phazzer got its main inspiration from.

The speed knob has a pretty wide range, going from very slow to a fast wobble. Team it up with some fuzz and you'll feel like a total badass while you play the Star Spangled Banner all night long. There is an internal trim pot (see pics) that tunes the modulation so it can sound better on the low end or the highs, depending on what you are going be playing. Overall I wouldn't say the Ampeg Phazzer is abnormally "lush" or "organic", like some of the phasers I have from this same time period, but it sounds good and what it does do, it does it very well.

Apparently these are out there, as I have found a few other owners while digging through the net; but in the last 3 years I have only seen 2 for sale, one of which we are looking at right now, and the other one was all rusted out and not working. So the only conclusion is that the people who do have one must like em, because no one is selling!

This is a cool pedal in looks and flavor, so I won't muddy it up any more with words; Here's the Porno:

Thanks for reading!