Friday, February 23, 2024

Carruthers Dyna-Soar Fuzz

A couple of months ago I finally added something to the collection that I had been hunting for... a while.

In the mid 2000s there was a mysterious pedal that began to haunt guitar forums. The only thing we had to go off of was this super blurry/grainy photo. The photo, from 1998, was of Kim Gordon's live board, and featured this black pedal with yellow text that seemed to read "Dyna ___?". 

After more searching and internet scouring from the nerds, it was revealed to be a fuzz called the Carruthers Dyna-Soar. It was made sometime in the 80s in New York, and was a Big Muff clone with enough volume and gain on tap to level entire city blocks; which was pretty perfect for Sonic Youth. And from what the internet tells me the Dyna-Soar is featured on this track "Wildflower Soul" (most likely at the intro and then from 6:35 on). //

Sadly the Dyna Soar would wind up on a list of gear that was stolen from Sonic Youth while they were on the road in 1999. And since then, another one would not emerge for over a decade! 

Fast forward a bit to 2012 when I came across my very first siting of a true Carruthers Dyna Soar. Which was awesome, but there was something noticeably different about it, as the text was orange instead of yellow and it definitely said Dyna-Soar Lite. So what was going on here? 

Well as it turns out Carruthers also made a more chilled version of the pedal, which happens to be about 5 times more common, that sits comfortably in the dirty overdrive category as opposed to the fuzz family. But lucky for me the owner of this pedal had modded it back to it's original non-lite version, as it was technically the exact same circuit but with an odd configuration of the transistors. And after his mods brought it back to it's full wall-of-fuzz Muffy glory it was now punishingly loud and sounded exactly like how I assume the end of the world will sound.

So for the past decade+ I had been trying to find myself an original Dyna-Soar fuzz (minus the Lite) but had only ever seen 1 come up for sale. Which was cool because anytime I see 1 of something I know that A. they definitely exist, and B. time will eventually bring another one out of hiding. 

Then finally this past December patience paid off, and to my mind-blowing surprise what would I see pop up online, but an original Dyna-Soar fuzz!!! 

What a cool take on the Big Muff! This thing is LOUD, beefy, gainy, mean, and just huge sounding all around. The only other Muff style pedal I can compare it to would be the Maxon OD-801, which itself is like a super high gain Civil War Muff. 

When I play this against my modded Dyna-Soar Lite it has a bit more low end, and gives a nice textural crunch in the mids. It's also more "organic" sounding, as my Lite can almost be too abrasive and full-on at times.

I am so pumped to now own both of the Dyna-Soar fuzzes, although I probably need to find an unmodded Lite version.. ugh, it never ends!

The final thing I will leave you with is a small possible clue to the origin of these pedals. On the back of my Lite version is a sticker that reads Dalbec Audiolab - Rensselaer, NY 12144 US. I looked into Dalbec and it appears as though it was/is a sound system manufacturer and distributer. (check their website here) But unfortunately nothing about making hi-fi systems implies that they had anything to do with making fuzz pedals... But who knows! At the very least it requires a bit more digging.

Well, as always if you happen to know anything about the origin of the "Carruthers" Dyna-Soar Fuzz please reach out via Email / Instagram. I would love to hear from you. 

Thanks for reading,

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