Friday, April 5, 2024

Liverpool Fuzz Tone (fOXX)

In November of 1968 a new fuzz box was introduced to the world through the pages of Billboard magazine. The pop publication ran a little blurb proclaiming a new fuzz-tone that "shatters sound" and can "last more than 1,000 hours without a battery change".

Known as the Liverpool Fuzz Tone, from Ridinger Associates, it was a fairly unique circuit for the time that utilized 3 germanium transistors and ran off of 9v. Primitive and raw, it was a hidden gem of American 60's fuzz. 

One month later the Liverpool Fuzz was given a similar treatment in the UK publication Beat Instrumental. Although lacking in classic American hyperbole, this small write-up served as the European introduction to one of the most prolific builders of the 1970s.

And finally, a few months later we would get to actually see the Liverpool Fuzz highlighted in a photo ad, seemingly associated with New England distributor Harris-Fandel, showing a small table-top unit with a hardwired output cable and an on/off switch. 

And while the late 60s were flooded with unoriginal copies and clones, the Liverpool Fuzz Tone immediately stood out, and still holds a very significance place in the history of guitar effects...

So what's the deal with this thing and why is it so important?

Well for those unaware, this is the first effect built and released by Ridinger Associates, or better known as Steve Ridinger of Danelectro fame, Gorilla Amplifiers, and most importantly fOXX!

The story is that he originally built the first Liverpool Fuzzes in 1966 when he was just 14 yrs old. The lore goes on to say that as a young teenager he didn't have the money to buy a fuzz pedal, nor did he have access to any fuzz schematics, so he came up with a fuzz/drive circuit of his own. These early units were all hand-wired using perfboard. Around 1968 he did a deal with a US distributor and also outsourced the manufacturing to a third party who paired it down to a small black enclosure and incorporated a printed circuit board for a cheaper/faster build. 

Ridinger estimates between 500-1,000 were produced in this time (1966-1969). And while that seems like a large number compared to some other pedals we have discussed, the nondescript nature of the blank black enclosure combined with no labeling of any kind, has made it near impossible to track one of these down. And at this point I have only seen 2 in my 20+ years of collecting. 

Following the Liverpool Fuzz, Ridinger created and released the Fox Wa Pedal, which would be the first time he would use the "Fox" name, and ultimately lead to him starting the fOXX brand just a year later.

In the world of vintage guitar pedal collectors these two effects mean a lot. Without Steve Ridinger deciding to dip his toes into building, marketing and distributing stompboxes at such an early age, we may never have heard of fOXX or the best fuzz of all-time, the Tone Machine!

And it all started in 1966 with a little hand-built effect called the Liverpool Fuzz Tone.

As always if you happen to have one of these or any additional info, please feel free to hit me up via Email or Instagram

thanks for reading!


  1. The Liverpool Fuzz was germanium or silicon as the later Tone Machines?

    1. I updated the post with a little more info on the circuit. It's running 3 germanium transistors. I initially thought it was more of an FZ-1 but not it's looking to be something completely different. almost a fuzzy overdrive.