Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Sentry Fuzz-A-Tort (1968)

By the late 60s the sweet sound of fuzz was in full bloom, and it seemed like every music magazine had a an endless supply of stompbox-related ads, articles, and reviews. A popular offshoot of this hysteria was the diy guitar fx project; which outlined for the layman exactly how to piece together their own gear.

And one of the true gems of this era came in the form of a small rectangular desktop fuzz box, the Fuzz-A-Tort, designed by Sentry Manufacturing Company and released to the world January of 1968.

The first real introduction of the Fuzz-A-Tort was actually a month earlier, when Elementary Electronics magazine ran this teaser ad in their December 1967 issue; proclaiming that the new "way out" project will bring the reader "way in weird sounds"...

The article itself explains the circuit, essentially how it works, and how to build it. 

Any interested person with a bit of soldering experience could order one of these kits and build themselves a working FZ-1A style fuzz. It was a cool idea for the time, and one that pops up quite a bit throughout the late 60s and early 70s (see our article on the Knight Fuzz Box).

In fact, many brands from the 2nd wave of pedal makers site these magazines and do-it-yourself projects as being the catalyst to looking deeper into pedal design, and ultimately starting their own companies.

I won't post the entire article here, but if you're interesting in checking it out, HERE IS A LINK

So you're probably wondering how it sounds...

Well as we mentioned above, and if you know fuzz circuits at all, you probably recognize the 3 transistor / 1.5v configuration as being a Maestro FZ-1A. And in this case, it's bit closer to the LRE Fuzz Sound, which itself was an early FZ-1A clone of sorts.

And if you know how those ratty little bastards sound, then you pretty much know how this sounds. One thing that's fun to experiment with, when it comes to germanium transistors, is how the pedal reacts to temperature changes.

At a cold/room temp the Fuzz-A-Tort is a cross between a lower gain classic 60s fuzz and a nice crunchy primitive overdrive, i.e. the Astro Amp Astrotone

But when you start warming it up, things get real interesting... It begins to morph and take on all of those classic characteristics of an FZ-1A; hairy, gnarly, 60s Garage fuzz! 

So who was Sentry Manufacturing Co.? I asked myself this question because other than the Fuzz-A-Tort, that's not a name I recognize from anywhere else in the guitar fx or amplifier world.

Well it turns out that Sentry is mostly known to ham radio enthusiasts for their crystals (which I will let Wikipedia do the explaining HERE), and other radio related parts.

So the tie-in to electronics hobby magazines makes total sense. And I'm sure if I did a bit more digging I would come across other collaborations between Sentry and Elementary Electronics.

But as it stands, this seems to be the only time they did anything guitar related.

I feel like I'm always encouraging you to collect and hoard this stuff, but I swear, the Sentry Fuzz-A-Tort is a cool find! And I do recommend picking one up if you come across any; if for no other reason than it's an important, but often overlooked part of fuzz and stompbox history.

thanks for reading,


  1. Very nice. Are there modern magazines that have similar projects? I suppose some component sellers detail projects on their websites. Cheers.

    1. That's a great question! I haven't looked into it, but I would hope they still do. Not sure how many of the projects are fuzz related though.
      Thanks for checking out the blog! 🙏