Thursday, May 18, 2023

Super Identity Crisis...

Most pedal nerds know some history about the legendary Super Fuzz and that it got its humble start in 1967 as a stand-alone unit called the "Baby Crying" Fuzz, made by the Japanese brand Honey. 

What is a bit less known is that, 

A: the original designer of the Super Fuzz is still a mystery! (yes, Fumio Mieda, designer of the Univibe, did NOT also design the Super Fuzz) 

B: production of the FY-6 (Super Fuzz) ran for 10 years! And, 

C: in that time they were licensed to an almost endless list of brands, small shops, importers, and distribution companies.

So part of my ongoing (and super nerdy) research into the true history of this pedal is this little photo list of some of my favorite (and lesser known) variants, in a somewhat chronological order of Super Fuzzdom throughout the years. I hope you enjoy! ๐Ÿ™

Honey Baby Crying Fuzz (The original, made from 1967-1969, produced by Honey. As of now it's still unclear how long, or if at all, Shin Ei continued with the Honey branding after they purchased the company)


LRE Super-Fuzz (It's starting to look like the gray LRE might be the first OEM, made by Honey, Super Fuzz. But I have some pieces of evidence I still need to find to confirm that)


Univox Super Fuzz (the Univox version either came right after or right before the LRE. Also note that these are the only two with that oval-shaped logo plate, and the only two made in a gray enclosure)


Companion FY-6 Super Fuzz (In 1969 Honey was purchased by Shin Ei, who began to produce the pedal under their house brand "Companion")



Shaftesbury Duo Fuzz (The only version with a left-leaning badge!)


Apollo Deluxe Fuzz Tone Expander 





Factone - Fuzz Machine (One of the rarer examples, there have only been two Factone pedals to pop up, and both in Japan) 


Mica-Tone Super Fuzz (the Musical Instrument Corp of America, aka MICA, imported and sold three different fuzzes in the mid-late 60s. The MICA Wailer [same as the LRE Fuzz Sound] the MICA-Tone Fuzz [which was a rebranded Manny's Fuzz] and this)


LRE Super-Fuzz (1970 sees the LRE version go black and also sees Univox most likely ending their contract with Shin-Ei, taking over production in-house with the release of their big box orange & blue Super Fuzz. One year later LRE would end their own deal with Shin-Ei and begin to sell rebranded Univox/Unicord pedals through their catalogs and in stores)


Shin-Ei Companion FY-6 Super Fuzz (Shin-Ei begins to rebrand their Companion line with their own name)



JH Experience Fuzz (V1, I actually love that janky sticker label. Also, while I can't confirm that "JH" isn't an attempt at a subliminal Jimi Hendrix reference, I also can't deny it) 



As you probably noticed I don't have cool little details for most of these, and some of them I'm guesstimating the date. But the point really is that the most retold story about the wedge-shaped Super Fuzz being produced in the late 60's, until Univox changed everything with their big Orange & Red version, is actually... not true.

We find plenty of Super Fuzz wedges dated well after 1970, with the latest I've come across is 1977! And that's a pretty insane revelation considering that most of us thought they were somehow all made between 1968 and '69. 

So hopefully this was somewhat informative for you all, and definitely let me know what your favorite version of the FY-6 Super Fuzz is or what crazy obscure branding I may have missed. 

Thanks for reading,
-ed 

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Bakelite Fresh Fuzz

For nearly 20 years there has been a mysterious photo of a plastic Seamoon Fresh Fuzz floating around the internet. It came from a long-defunct Japanese website and had no context or clues as to who owned it or where it came from... 

At the time I had some thoughts on what it could be, but for years it was the only one I had ever seen. That is until 2011 when I came across a random posting on a guitar forum where the author was showing off his modest fuzz collection; among them a second plastic Seamoon Fresh Fuzz! I immediately joined the forum and reached out to the owner. He was very reluctant to sell, and after a few back and forths, things sadly went south.

It would be 9 long years before I had another siting. This time a badass reader of the blog reached out to me and sent photos of his pedal (I featured one of them on the big Fresh Fuzz article a few months back). Unfortunately though, I somehow missed that email and didn't see it until 2 years later! And by the time I responded he was no where to be found.

I was starting to give up all hope when, fast forward to a couple of months ago, a friend/fellow pedal collector gave me the contact info for a potential owner, complete with a photo! This would be only the 4th plastic Fresh Fuzz to ever come across my screen and I knew I couldn't let it slip away. So I got to work crafting the perfect email, hoping for a huge score but expecting not even a reply.

Well, as you can probably guess, things went well. Because here she is! The very first, very fragile, and very very rare V1 Seamoon Fresh Fuzz from 1973. The enclosure was made by Daka-ware (aka Davies Molding) using Bakelite plastic. Very few of these were made and even fewer survived: 


So if you happen to also have one of these I would love to hear from you! Send me an email or reach out through instagram.

Thanks for reading!
-ed

Monday, April 3, 2023

MKI Tone Benders, full on!

In case you haven't come across any of these demos before, here are a few examples of one of the best sounding fuzzes of all time!!!

These are all original MKI Tone Benders, from 1965:




*Big thanks to Philip, Graham, and Jerms for making these demos of this impossibly rare pedal!

some day....some day. ๐Ÿ™

thanks for watching!
-ed

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

SOUND Pedals, Brazil.


SOUND Pedals was a brand out of Brazil that began in the late 60s and went all the way through the mid 80s. Their first efforts were combination pedals, typically featuring a wah and any insane mix of additional effects they could think of...

I originally found out about them through the amazingly named Devils' Fuzz; which is purported to be a Big Muff circuit. I was lucky enough to come across Fernando L'amounier recently, who happens to own an original, and he sent over this demo for us (also comparing it to the ES-4, Fuzz Wah):

After a bit more digging I came across this demo for the SOUND ES-3, which employs the mix of Fuzz, Wah, Repeat, and Siren effects! This thing is completely ridiculous. Check it out///


And finally, here's our friend Fernando back again, this time with most of the SOUND lineup///


For more info on SOUND Pedals and some background history, check out this site:

thanks for reading!
-ed

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

LRE Super Fuzz and Super Drive?

Starting in 1968 LRE (or Lafayette Radio Electronics) began selling their branded version of the Honey Baby Crying Fuzz, or as we now know it, the Super Fuzz. Along with Univox, they were not only the first OEM versions of this pedal, but also the only two in a gray enclosure with an oval-shaped logo plate. 

In 1970 Univox began selling their version of the circuit in a Red (Orange?) and Blue enclosure. It's currently not clear if Univox began producing the pedal themselves or if Shin Ei continued the production, but what is clear is that the circuit layout and board changed with the aesthetic makeover, and a sticker proclaiming "Made in Japan by Univox Corp of Japan Ltd. under license of Unicord Inc. Westbury, N.Y." was affixed to each pedal.

More interestingly perhaps, is that in 1971 LRE began placing a section in their monthly catalogs showing an orange Super Fuzz and their version of the Uni-Drive, called the Super Drive

While it is possible that we have seen an orange LRE Super Fuzz, because none of the pedals have brandings directly on them, we can say for certain that at least in the 20 years I have been collecting, not a single LRE Super Drive has ever popped up. 

But I am very hopeful that some have survived! 

LRE then has 3 versions of the Super Fuzz, and in my opinion here is the probable timeline:

1968 - Gray LRE Super Fuzz

1970 - Black LRE Super Fuzz

1971 - Orange/Blue LRE Super Fuzz

1970 LRE Catalog:

1971 LRE Catalog:

With the help of a few equally nerdy friends, I am currently working on a more comprehensive history of this classic fuzz.

So if you happen to have any info, personal stories, or anything that could help date these pedals, please hit me up via email or instagram message!

Thanks for reading,
-ed

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Bansheeeeeeeeeeeeee!






Most likely from 1966, the Nomad Banshee Fuzz is a gnarly beast with a disgustingly primitive sound; like an Electronics 101 class project gone wrong, but in all the best ways/// 

Also made under the Allied brand, it sounds like a mix between a Maestro Fuzztone and a Fuzzrite, but somehow more gated.

It's probably related to the fuzzes by Goya or UMI from the same time period, but that connection has yet to be fully made. Until then, just know that it's one of the grossest sounding pedals to come out of the 1960s...



Thanks for reading!
-ed

Monday, March 13, 2023

Sekova Big Muff SE-2015 (1972)

The lineage of Japanese effects is just difficult to research. Most of the available information leads you down a dark and endless tunnel system, splintering off in every direction; starting with a small syndicate of factories and ending with an almost infinite amount of brands, builders, labels, and products.

That all being said, I'm feeling pretty good about this one, and I think you may actually find a new nugget of information (or two). 
So let's go!


As I write this, the true origin of Sekova as a company is still a bit of a mystery... The further I dug into this, the more tangled it all became. But here is what we do know;  By the mid 60s a small builder based in Trumansburg, NY was producing cheap guitar amplifiers for the brand, in an attempt to capitalize on the Rock revolution (post Beatles/Ed Sullivan appearance). And this small builder, while relatively unknown at the time, would end up becoming one of the most influential minds of music technology in the 20th Century; his name, Robert Moog (yes! THAT Moog). 

What is unclear is Moog's true involvement with Sekova. Was it a guitar-based offshoot of R.A. Moog Co.? His business partner Walter Sear had been importing and distributing brass instruments to the US since the 50's, so was Sekova his idea? Or, were they simply hired to manufacture the amps, leaving the distribution to Sekova? Sadly, we don't know any of this.





But what we do know is that in this Upstate NY workshop they were making all kinds of amps, with brandings like AmperEncore Amplifiers, and Sekova (originally named "Segova", until hit with a cease-and-desist from famed guitar player Andrรฉs Segovia). We also know that Sekova was importing Japanese-built electric guitars as early as 1964, and Korean-built acoustic guitars at least that early.

But when it came to the amps, they were being made in the Moog "factory" in Trumansburg and then shipped to NYC, where Walter Sear and a few others would assemble them. Moog was always looking for ways to lower their costs, which eventually lead him to seeking out alternative part options overseas, from Japan. Unfortunately this would quickly come back to bite him in the ass, as they received hundreds of returns from angry customers due to the poor quality.

After a string of money-losing decisions, the Summer of 1966 also saw the demand for cheaply made guitar amps starting to wane. And the final blow to the project was the exceedingly exponential growth of competition in the amplifier market. This, combined with a strengthening Synthesizer business, pushed Moog to drop out of the guitar amplifier world for good, leaving Sekova behind in the process...


But just a year later the Sekova brand would reemerge, now fully owned and distributed by the U.S. Musical Merchandise Corp of New York, they expanded their array of guitars and accessories, and even included their first pedal, a Maestro Fuzztone copy called the No. 59 Distortion Box (discussed at great length HERE).

Throughout the rest of the 60s and 70s the U.S. MMC utilized Sekova to sell things like Les Paul copies, psychedelic picks, mandolins, autoharps and yep, amplifiers. But their biggest contribution to the guitar world was an intensely red-colored set of pedals and plugin effects (almost completely copied from Electro Harmonix circuits), with an oddly cold font choice, and completely manufactured in Japan by the Shin Ei group.



The true star of this series was 100% the no-f*cks-given named, "Big Muff". Released in 1972 it was a nasty and dark-tuned version of the 1971 Triangle Muff circuit, with a size that dwarfed all the other effects in their lineup.

Sitting on a shelf this beast stares back into your soul, beckoning you to pick it up and plug it in; it's just so damn RED! And because of that, for a long time it was the subject of endless stompbox lore, rarely showing up for sale, and in the possession of only a very small group of collectors. 

Even right now you can find old forum threads asking about a strange "Red Big Muff", and was it some unknown Electro Harmonix side project forgotten by time? It wasn't until the late 2000s when a few more of these finally showed up that we began to see the light, realizing it was a Japanese-made pedal, most likely from the early 70s, by Shin Ei and distributed by Sekova.



This particular Sekova Big Muff took me about 7 years to find. 

They would rarely show up for sale, and when they did they were almost always beat to hell and rusted out. And even back then they were selling between $700-$1,000! 

But luckily for me my competition for buying vintage pedals was significantly lower in the early 20-teens than it is today. And finally, in 2011 I scored this beautiful example of the Sekova Big Muff.


So how do they sound???

Well a couple of weeks ago we posted a super in-depth demo and review of one HERE. But I'll also do my best to describe it in my own words.

Ok so as we mentioned above, this is a copy of the 1971 version of the Triangle Muff. The big differences circuit-wise are mainly the transistors used and the values in the tone stack.

This gives the Sekova a much darker, and louder volume overall than its older American cousin. It's great on big chunky chords, and even though it can flub-out on the low end and get a bit muddy, that's precisely the aspect of this fuzz that makes it awesome (and so damn heavy). 


Rolling the guitar's tone back brings less gain but more breakup in the mid/high end; great for crunchy tube style overdrive. And turning the pedal's tone knob up reveals some sizzle on the high end, without sacrificing the lows. It really is a cool variation to the Muff circuit, and seems to be among many collectors' favorite fuzzes. But in the end, it plays with mostly the same character and aggressiveness of any Triangle Muff, with just a tiny bit of the finesse missing. And that's totally fine by me. :)


As you can tell from this writeup there is still a mountain of information to be learned about Sekova. What was their relationship with Shin-Ei? Where were these products sold? How many were made, and by who? And what really was the genesis of Segova as a brand?

Until next time; we'll just have to settle for what information we have, and all these cool photos to drool over...


If you happen to have any additional info that would help clear up some these missing details, please shoot me an email

Thanks for reading!
-ed

Thursday, March 9, 2023

In Search of the Australian Fuzzmaster... Part 3.

For our third installment on the Australian made Claybridge Fuzzmaster pedals we're posting up two demo videos; one for the Fuzzmaster MKIV and another one for the Fuzzmaster Wildcat.

While you can tell that each are based off the same circuit, the MK IV has more grit and highend sizzle but still retains the low end; and the Wildcat is just a roaring explosive fuzz that almost plays more like a Distortion than a classic 60s fuzztone.

So check them out and see for yourself//



A huge thanks to our friend Tony for the MKIV demo! You can check out more from Tony HERE.

Another huge thanks goes to our friend Evan Miller who recorded these little clips just for us.

For way more information on these rare birds, definitely check out Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE, and get ready to go deeeeeeep down the rabbit hole.

Thanks for watching!
-ed

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Audio Phonic Twin Fuzz Demo

While on my recent quest through the annals of Argentine pedal history I came across this awesome demo for the Audio Phonic Twin Fuzz!

I don't really know much about Audio Phonic, but from the pedals they put out it looks like they were possibly an import brand that would buy or license a circuit and then rehouse it as their own, for sale in Argentina. 

This specific pedal appears to be a Japanese made Super Fuzz circuit (or possibly a Royal Fuzz?) ...

So check it out! This thing sounds pretty badass//

*demo starts at 33 seconds:

 Thanks for watching!
-ed

Friday, March 3, 2023

FUZZSTAINER Unknown...

Since 2013 I've had these photos saved on my computer from an ebay auction that sadly I missed. Three grainy images showing what looks like a homemade pedal, called the "Fuzzstainer" (not to be confused with the Sam Ash Fuzz-Stainer we wrote about HERE), with a seemingly simple 2 transistor circuit. 

As you know by now I'm a sucker for this stuff ๐Ÿ˜‚ and not even totally sure why I'm posting this, as it's almost 100% a DIY project someone whipped up in the early '70s, but hey, why not?!

So here it is, the mysterious and unknown FUZZSTAINER:




Thanks for reading!
-ed

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Cosmosound, The Italian FX Wizards


I recently came across this great two-part article/interview on the history of Cosmosound; an Italian brand mostly known for their Fender Blender styled pedals.

It's pretty cool to see how connected all of the older Italian brands were, and all the insane products they produced in the 70s and 80s!

So check it out here at the Classic2Vintage Blog:

Cosmosound Part 1

Cosmosound Part 2


Thanks for reading!
-ed

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Dharma Sound Distorter Has Landed...


After nearly 20 years of searching, I finally found myself the highly coveted Dharma Sound Distorter

It arrived this morning after a somewhat arduous journey from the UK, and is currently being drooled over by myself as I write this.


There is not a ton out there about really any of the Dharma Sound pedals. The most common one, the Phaser (which we discussed HERE way back in 2011) is still quite rare itself. But there was actually an entire series; including the Warper, Extender, Sweeper, and the Eliminator, just to name a few.

I have been collecting info and old adverts over the years, but there's still a lot to learn before I dive in with a full and detailed post on this.

The big thing to know is that it's quite clear after seeing the original Orange pedals from the 70s that Dharma Sound was the manufacturer; as they were literally the same designs, just with a different paint job. But we'll discuss that much more in a later post...


For now, let us all bask in the glory of this awesomely rare bird. Thanks for coming along on this ridiculous ride, as always!
-ed

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Super Fuzz Lab Check 1969

So WITH IT! So NOW! So FAR OUT!

A few years back I came across this interesting/hilarious article about the Univox Super Fuzz from an October 1969 issue of Science and Electronics magazine.

It's pretty funny to see how the raw and completely gnarly sound of a Japanese octave fuzz just blew the mind of the author (and most likely anyone else who plugged one in for the first time).

So read through this if you feel like completely nerding out today. It's a fun look into the theory of distortion from late 60s rock musicians and electronics geeks...




Thanks for reading!
-ed

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Beatsound Distortion Booster (Distorsionador)

So I was originally going to make this post a huge data dump of cool stomp box ads from '70s Argentine Rock & Roll magazines, but as I was going through everything one specific pedal caught my eye more than the rest...

This is the Beatsound Distortion Booster:


After doing some more digging I discovered what this magical triple-knobbed beast was all about. 

It appears to be a Big Muff (kinda) with an additional footswitch/circuit that kicks on even more sustain. (So a Muff + Compressor maybe?) At least that's what I think may be going on here. 

*Nerds please let me know what you think in the comments.


I did find more photos (*big thanks to all the owners of this media :) and even a video demo!

So I apologize for adding yet another pedal to your "must find or I'll literally die" list, but be assured that I too am feeling the pull of this monster.

Alright, now for your pedal porn//






Thanks for reading! 
*and if you happen to have one you'd like to sell, please shoot me an email! click here :)
-ed