Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Effector Book Magazine

For over a decade I have been seeing these really cool looking magazines out of Japan that appeared to be exclusively about guitar pedals, with a an extra focus on vintage. 

I first came across The Effector Book on the Effeken Blog, who lends his collection and words to each issue. The covers were always super striking to me, and the fact that enough people cared about old guitar pedals to keep a print publication going this long, I knew they had to be good. 

So after more than a decade I finally picked up the two issues I was most interested in, Japanese Fuzz and Upper Octave Fuzz. Being written completely in Japanese I knew I would need some assistance from my old friend Google Lens. And it seems to work pretty well! 

Each issue has a main topic that is given a full deep dive and a good amount of dedicated pages. In addition to that they review newer pedals, have interviews, and generally nerd out on all things stompbox. 

I highly recommend checking these out if you're a fan of this blog. Japan has a pedal legacy almost as long as the US, and depth of amazing circuits and brands that is unmatched. 

And hey, if the Japanese can support such a venture, maybe we can too... 🤔

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Satronik Fuzz Sustainer, The Polish Big Muff?

While the 1970s saw a flood of notable Big Muff inspired pedals (Ace Tone FM3, Hohner Tri-Dirty Booster, Elk Super Fuzz Sustainar) the 1980s seemed to turn its back on the wooly beast, and instead builders started focusing on clones of distortion and overdrive pedals (mainly the Boss DS-1, MXR Distortion+, and of course the Ibanez Tube Screamer). But luckily a few brands kept the fuzzy flame burning, and as a result some really badass pedals were  born...

Today we're checking out one of these, the Satronik Fuzz Sustainer, a Polish built pedal from the early/mid 80s.

So what exactly is this thing?

If you were a guitar player in Poland in the 1980s there weren't a lot of options when it came to buying pedals. The brand EXAR was king of the Polish pedal hill, and while they made some really cool fx, many of them were modeled after Boss and Ibanez.

What was interesting about the Polish knock-offs is that inside a lot of them was an attempt at approximating the sound of another pedal without copying the circuit outright. It's almost like they didn't have a schematic or an actual unit in their hands, so instead they got creative and figured something out.

And this brings us to the Fuzz Sustainer. Currently there's not much info (if any) out there about Satronik; who built them? how long were they around? how many pedals did they produce??? And as of now I have only seen two different fx they put out, not including a white version of the Fuzz Sustainer. Additionally the only other potential link is this Polish Doctor Q from a brand called Lab Sound, that used the same enclosures and basic layout as Satronik.

So you're probably guessing that the Fuzz Sustainer almost has to be a Big Muff then... And it IS, kinda.

If you were to plug into it and close your eyes you would swear it was one of the beefiest and buzziest and wooliest of Muffs you ever heard! And it did all that while still retaining articulate, thick bone-crushing harmonics.

The sound sits somewhere between a late 70s IC Muff and a Civil War Muff. And honestly is one of the better BMP copies I've ever played. But that's what's crazy; inside the Fuzz Sustainer is not a copy, and not really derivative of anything (I can think of, at least)!

It's running off a 741 chip (*see DOD 250 or Seamoon Fresh Fuzz), and a duo of silicon transistors, a metal can BC109 (I've also seen a unit with a BC108C in its place) and an oddly shaped BC149.

If you're familiar at all with Big Muff circuits you can tell right away that this is something totally different. So it's pretty cool that they were able to achieve an almost identical tone and texture.

Makes me wonder what other Big Muffs of the world have we yet to discover, simply because the circuit looked like a Rat with too many parts...

So definitely add this one to your search list because it's an awesome and obscure oddity that can give you all the Muffy tones you want, but do it with a slightly different edge.

For a bit more info and photos, check out this post on diystompboxes.

thanks for reading!