Monday, September 19, 2022

Things I didn't know existed... Davoli Trem Dix

One of these cool late 60s Italian pedals just popped up for sale, and the nerd in me freaks out any time I see something I never have before! I did some digging and came across not only some good photos (thanks freestompboxes) but also this youtube demo of the rare Davoli Trem Dix! It's not the best sounding recording, but I think you can get the idea at least...😁








Thanks for reading!
-ed

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Jennings Fuzz (original packaging for the nerds)

A few weeks back I was scrolling through one of those Facebook vintage pedal groups and came across a post from member David W. who put up these photos of his late 60's Jennings Fuzz, complete with the original box and paperwork! To give you an idea with how rare this is, I've been collecting pedals for over 20 years and this is only the second one I've seen with its original box... 

But beyond the rarity, the most interesting thing is the attention to detail they put into the box design itself, with that little cutout for the switch! It's nerdy as hell, but I find that such a cool little addition. So a big thanks to David for letting me share his photos here; and hopefully you can appreciate how awesome this is. 🙏







For more info on the Jennings pedals, definitely hit up the Fuzzboxes.org article here.

thanks for reading!
-ed

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Seamoon Studio Phase Demo


This cool new demo of the rare Seamoon Studio Phase just popped up on youtube! And once you hear it you'll notice something interesting; that it oddly sounds way more like a flanger than it does a phaser. But what's even more interesting, is why... 

Before releasing the Studio Phase, Seamoon put out the very short-lived Studio Flanger. And when you peek inside the two they turn out to be almost identical! The biggest difference being the extra knob on the Flanger that selects between 3 different modes; Flange, Chorus, Phasing. From the research I've done, the official story was that because the functionality of the Flanger was much more than a singular modulation effect, they decided to modify that original design, removed the selector knob, and toned down the wilder settings. What they were left with was something they considered to be more of a phaser, which led them to change the name to the "Studio Phase". 

But the theory that makes a lot more sense (and is much more likely *to me at least) is that the people at Seamoon had just started the company A/DA (Analog/Digital Associates), and wanted something special for their introductory product, something that was unlike any other effect on the market. So they took the Studio Flanger design and continued to build on it, until they finally came up with what eventually became the legendary A/DA Flanger. This is all purely speculation, but discontinuing the Seamoon Studio Flanger, modding it to a tamer circuit, and renaming it so there would be little competition with their future product, seems to be the most believable reason for the birth of the Seamoon Studio Phase (*to me). 

And just to back up this theory, check out the A/DA labeled circuit board that's inside the Studio Phase:


Wherever the truth may lie, this is an awesome sounding pedal and is officially acknowledged as being one of the true precursors to the A/DA Flanger.

Thanks for reading,
-ed

Friday, August 19, 2022

D-B Industries / D&M Co. (Another Fuzz Mystery)...

A lot of what we do here at Tone Machines is dive headfirst into the nerdiest kind of speculation about the unknown details of otherwise unknown pedals. So get ready...

Over the last month I have been happily losing my mind digging through old photos (that go way back to 2002) of all the weird, unique, and super rare pedals I have come across on the net. This past week I made an interesting discovery when I realized that the rare D&M Co. Distorto clearly has a sister pedal, made by a company with a similar name, in the same town, and roughly at the same time; the D-B Industries Supertone!




When the Distorto came up for auction back in 2015, while I'm still pretty bummed I missed out on it, I was very pleased that it wound up in the hands of fellow pedal collector, Simon Murphy of Good Fuzzy Sounds. Which means we got some insight to it's character; he described it as, "a lot like the FZ-1... louder and slightly bassier". It's circuit is thought to be based on the Maestro FZ-1, it was probably built around 1966, and Simon even found a potential connection to the best Steppenwolf song:



Here's the text from a web chat in 2006 with guitarist Michael Monarch:

"Hey Michael, What type of fuzz box did you use on the song called "The Pusher" from the first album?" 

"Hello Robert... I had an old prototype distortion box called "Distorto" which I may have used. It was a silver homemade looking box with a big red footswitch button and the word Distorto on it. I don't know where I got it or what happened to it."

So that's super cool, and almost certainly is referencing the same "Distorto" we are discussing here. But what about the mysterious "D-B Industries Supertone", which I can't find any information on at all. anywhere. in the entirety of the internet. And the only real evidence that it even existed are these four photos I've had since the early 2000s...

The minute you start comparing these two you begin to notice the obvious similarities; the enclosure for both is a classic folded metal project box, the circuits may have different components but otherwise look pretty damn close, and the biggest similarity has to be those manufacturer stamps on the bottom plates (which while they are different fonts, follow the same pattern of company name-city-model name-serial number, all within a rectangle), oh and both were manufactured in Santa Ana, CA!

So have a look and see what you think. And please leave a comment if anything jumps out at you that could possibly tie these two together (or completely destroy my theory) even more!




Quick little Distorto Demo:

Unfortunately I don't know where the D-B Supertone now resides so there's no additional info (yet!). But I am hoping that maybe an old magazine ad pops up, or even better, another unit!

So if you happen to know any additional info about either of these please shoot me an email or message me on instagram. I would love to crack the case on this one.

And a big thanks goes out to Simon for the all the details and the video demo of the Distorto (go check out Good Fuzzy Sounds now!), and thank you for reading.

-ed

Monday, August 15, 2022

FUZZY Pep Demo

Sometimes it can be almost impossible to find legit demos of pedals that fall into that "ultra rare" category, but lucky for us our good friend Rafmax has posted some of his insane collection over on his youtube channel

The one we're going to check out today is an awesome comparison video that features the unbelievably rare FUZZY vs. the WEM Rush Pep Box vs. the Maestro FZ-1 vs. the Maestro FZ-1A

Check it out:

Not sure how you all feel about that video, but after personally owning all of those pedals myself, I feel like the FUZZY sounds far and away better than both Maestro fuzzes; and it's so different from the WEM that it's hard to make a real comparison between the two. 

A couple of years ago I lucked myself into a FUZZY, that inevitably kicked open an entirely new door of speculation about the history and origin of this pedal... Is it German? Who designed it really? How many are actually out there??? 




So as always, if you happen to be a fellow owner of another FUZZY (with Pep) Fuzz, please shoot me a message either through email or instagram.

thanks for reading!

-ed

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Other SRS Pedal...

A little over 10 years ago I lucked into finding two pedals from a brand I had never heard of before, SRS; the now legendary EQ Exciter and the VCO Disco. These were being sold in two separate auctions and I actually won the VCO Disco first! After messaging a friend, Bart who runs the Effects Database website, about the pedals, he asked if I could possibly purchase the EQ Exciter for him since this was a US only auction. Neither of us had heard of "SRS" before, and being the pedal nerds we are that's more than enough excuse to acquire them. Well a week later they arrived and I plugged them in, only to be blown away by the grossly misnamed "EQ Exciter", which turned out to be an insanely HUGE sounding fuzz with a really unique tone control that had the kind of a sweep you'd typically find on a synthesizer! I knew at that moment I had to make my case to Bart that this pedal needed to stay here with me and that maybe we could do a trade for the VCO Disco instead. 😁 (I am still very grateful to him for his reluctant, but gracious acquiescence.)

So what about this other, much lesser known sister pedal, the VCO Disco...



Well, when it came to naming this one they were spot on! It's simply a fat and juicy envelope filter from the 70s with tons of character and all the funk anyone could possibly handle. I am personally much less familiar with this type of circuit but I have been told it is a modified version of the ehx Doctor Q. What I do know is that it sounded great compared to many of the other auto-wahs I've owned over the years.

So here are a couple photos I saved from that original auction. And just like I posted in our full writeup on the EQ Exciter fuzz, if you know anything about this brand or have a pedal yourself, please hit me up with a message! Because after 10 years, these are still the only two examples that have ever surfaced from SRS... 








Thanks for reading! 
-ed

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Fuzz and Feedback!







In May of 2021 I couldn't believe I was actually seeing an online auction for this pedal; one that I have been endlessly searching for, for just about 20 YEARS... This is the BM 104 Fuzz-Feedback, it is awesome, and it is finally mine. 

Long thought to be made by the other (and way more) famous B&M / Barnes and Mullins, it had otherwise been a bit of mystery as only a single photo of it existed on FXDB and no info. But now that I have it I'm not so sure who made it, what country it was made in, if the circuit is a modified version of something else, or exactly when it was made. So I have a bit of digging to do before I can write a full article.

But, I can say with a high amount of confidence that it does predate the BOSS DF-2 Super Feedbacker & Distortion by at least 5 years, and maybe more. It also functions a bit different than the BOSS, and sounds wayyyyyy better! Probably my favorite aspect of this is that the feedback is set to be triggered by that red momentary switch, so as long as you hold it down, you get feedback in the signal. But what makes this truly unique and special is that the feedback seems to not only stay in tune, but also starts off as a quiet oscillation and then builds in volume and intensity as you hold down the switch. Amazingly it somehow never gets too abrasive and stays musical even at its loudest!

So if any of you have additional info on the BM 104 Fuzz - Feedback please let me know! And if you happen to own one yourself, definitely reach out as I would love to compare the two and see if we can find any clues to its origin.

Thanks for reading!
-ed

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Disc Destroyer


Just found this demo for the super rare fOXX Power Machine plugin from the early 70s. What a cool sounding drive! 

The craziest thing about these, that you can't really see in this video, is the enclosure... It's like a small metal recycled flimsy snuff or coffee can disc with a bottom plate that was literally just a thin piece of plastic, or sometimes even cardboard, cut into a circle. 😂 The one I have is so fragile that it's amazing any of these survived!

It is unknown how many of these were made, but from what I can tell they came in Red, Blue, Black, and Purple. So there's at least 4 different units out there (but we're probably looking at somewhere between 15-100).

Check it out in all it's boosty and overdriven glory!







Thanks for reading!
-ed

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Box-o Tone




So lately I have been digging through some old photos and came across these; an amazing example of the super rare and legendary distortion pedal, Astro Amp's "Astrotone" (by Universal Amplifer Corp). Somehow this pedal survived all the way through the mid-60s and into the 2020's, where I assume it now resides in some other pedal nerd's collection...



Probably the most interesting thing about this is what we can read from the instruction manual and it's emphasis on the fact that it uses silicon transistors instead of germanium; Temperature Instability? NO MORE! I'm not sure how common this was for music gear in 1967, but it does seem like a legitimate selling point. I'm also into the final hyperbolic sales pitch that states the pedal "will last and sound better than any distortion generator you have heard before!".


 Thanks for reading!
-ed

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Seamoon Fresh Fuzz (V1 & V2)

Zombie Fresh Eaters...




It's 1973 in Berkeley, California and a young electrical engineering wizard named Craig Anderton has just designed one of the earliest examples of an envelope filter pedal. He calls it the "Funk Machine", and together with John Lang, starts an innovative and experimental guitar effects brand, Seamoon Inc. Hand-building each individual unit, they launch their new brand with that single pedal and quickly word starts to spread.
Fast forward a few months; Anderton decides it's time to expand, and with that he develops Seamoon's own version of the now classic fuzz effect, with a twist...

Over the years the Seamoon Fresh Fuzz has been discussed, debated and dissected by every pedal nerd on the internet, but it's never been fully understood because so few people have actually held one in their hands. It's legendary status comes not just from its rarity, or its origin, but also from the fact that it was a favorite of Boston's Tom Scholz and has been used extensively by Eric Johnson.

Somewhere at sometime someone wrote a review about the Fresh Fuzz stating (incorrectly) that it was "thin sounding", and as rumors tend to go that misrepresentation has been repeated so many times that, to this day, virtually anyone you meet who has heard of (but not actually heard with their ears) the Fresh Fuzz will automatically say, "Yeah, aren't those pretty rare? I heard they're real thin sounding though."

Which brings me here, to my own personal mission;
Clear the good name of this legendary and groundbreaking stompbox once and for all, and lay to rest this distortion of the truth, bringing to light the real legend of the Seamoon Fresh Fuzz!

Originally built in a plastic Bakelite project box, the Fresh Fuzz was one of the first distortion units to substitute an operational amplifier (op-amp) for the typical transistor-driven fuzz. This allowed for a massive volume boost that no other pedal had at the time. Excited guitar players quickly snatched them up, but were unfortunately met with a crushing realization when they actually stomped on one as the delicate pedal would shatter into a million pieces! Anderton quickly abandoned the plastic box and switched over to the slanted metal casing we all know today, keeping the circuit untouched. These original units had a sound that was closer to a classic low gain distortion with a nice breakup (think ProCo Rat with less gain) than a buzzing fuzz. With a big beefy low end, and a smooth amp-like crunch, the V1 Fresh Fuzz really changed the game. But as new innovations tend to confuse the masses, people didn't get it. And after just a few months in production, Anderton went to work on a redesign.
The V2 Fresh Fuzz rolled out at the beginning of 1974 and employed a dual 4558 op-amp, thus doubling the power of the 741 chip used in the original. This created an even larger gain in volume and some real deal fuzzzzzz. Most people prefer the sound of this version for it's versatility and overall tone. And this sucker was LOUD, and gritty and everything you could want from a pedal. On the spectrum of available fuzzes at the time (Maestro Fuzz Tone on one end, Electro Harmonix Big Muff on the other) the Fresh Fuzz would definitely lie closer to the Muff side, but it did have some of the great characteristics of those earlier boxes too.

It is unknown just how long they were made, but by 1975 the look and feel of Seamoon started to change, and less than year later Craig Anderton left the company. So the best guess is that the Fresh Fuzz was around for approximately 2 full years, with the V2 being in production for most of that time. It is hard to say just how many are out there, because this unicorn of a fuzz pedal is just so damn cool that people tend to hoard them! My personal quest took more than 8 years before finally finding both versions within three months of each other. I have only seen 2 of those original plastic Bakelite box units, 4 of the V1's, and maybe twenty to thirty V2's. So they are out there, but I like I said, I just have a feeling that not many people are ready to give theirs up.

I hope this will finally lay to rest the "thin sounding" fallacy that has been unjustly laid upon the Fresh Fuzz. In fact, there is a great demo online of 741 op-amp version that shows just how big, tough, ratty, and gnarly they can get (We posted it HERE a while back). So let's come together and bring to light this wonderful relic of fuzzdom, and repeat after me:
"The Seamoon Fresh Fuzz, yeah I hear they sound like a an ancient monster rising from the depths of HELL!!!"

V1 circuit:
V2 circuit:



(*This article originally appeared in Gearphoria magazine July of 2015)

thanks for reading!
-ed

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

And we are back...


 
After a six year hiatus, and battling with being blocked from all social media platforms (for apparently no reason), we are finally back!!!

I want to first thank everyone who had reached out over the past few years, and anyone else who ever followed, read, or shared what we did here over a decade ago! It blows my mind that I still see people citing this page (for better or worse 😂) in their for-sale and auction posts. 

The vintage pedal collecting world has definitely changed in that time, which is weird as hell to even write, and places like Instagram and YouTube have propelled the hobby to an insane level of popularity.

I myself essentially moved and scaled down the blog to my own Instagram page ( Found HERE ). So yes, I'm still collecting and still nerding-out on these crusty old boxes of joyful noise. But there's only so deep I can go on an IG post, and only so much you'll read in one! So I have decided to resurrect the blog and just see what happens.

I have a bit of cleaning up to do as many of the old posts now have dead links and some info that probably needs updating; but other than that, it's going to be back to what we always did here (with some new ideas thrown in the mix)...

So thanks again, and we'll see you in a bit!
-ed