Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Nomad Super Fuzz (rite)?

Back around 2011 I came across a post on an old guitar effects forum that had a photo of a random grouping of vintage fuzz pedals. Last year I made a post about one of these, the insanely rare v1 bakelite version of the Seamoon Fresh Fuzz (check it out here). But another, even more rare pedal stuck out of the blurry pixelation and looked like a Mosrite Fuzzrite but with the logo "Nomad" blazoned across the front...

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

Fast forward 13 years, and I now own both of the pedals from that photo. And while the bakelite Fresh Fuzz is definitely one of my grail finds, the more interesting one is actually the Nomad Super Fuzz.

What is this thing? Where did it come from? WHO is Nomad???

So let's get into what we do know just by holding one of these in my hands.

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

After opening it up I was met with probably the biggest surprise; that it's a germanium Fuzzrite! Either from late 1966 or early 1967. It shares the exact same guts as my longtime germanium Mosrite Fuzzrite from the same era, and pretty much the same tone.

This was surprising because as of now I don't think any other OEM versions of a germanium Fuzzrite have ever surfaced. And even later silicon versions, like the Guild Foxey Lady and the ZB Custom fuzz aren't considered true OEMs.

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

Now I will admit, when I first saw this pedal I considered the possibility that the "Nomad" logo was added later on. And if you've ever seen a real germanium Fuzzrite there's a great chance that all of the labeling has worn off completely. So anyone could theoretically take a blank enclosure and add to it however they wanted.

But upon closer inspection the original knob, switch, and jack labeling are all still in tact and worn exactly the same way as the "Nomad" logo itself.

So this obscurity does seem to be very real! Which  leads back to the original question, Who was "Nomad" in the first place? and what was their relation to Mosrite?

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

There is a Nomad in the effects world, that in 1968 would debut their first effect, the Banshee Fuzz. These were made by Applied Audio out of New Jersey and distributed by LIMMCO Inc. They then followed this up with the Rogue Fuzz, also made by Applied Audio, which was the same as the Banshee with an extra gain stage.

But these effects aside and the handful of Nomad amplifiers I have been to find photos of, none of the logos match; and other than attending some tradeshows like NAMM and AMDIE the same years, the likelihood of LIMMCO having a random bi-coastal relationship with Mosrite is very slim.

So as of now, there are still a few mysteries left to be researched. 

Nomad Super Fuzz Mosrite Fuzzrite

The final cool little detail to mention about the Nomad Super Fuzz is that if it legitimately has a 1966/67 production date then it would predate the Univox Super Fuzz by at least a year, and was just a few months behind the Marshall Supa Fuzz. Which means that this is the very first pedal ever called "Super Fuzz", if we don't count the Marshall, that is. ;)

Alright, please let me know if you have any further info on Nomad, Fuzzrite OEMs, or this pedal specifically. As always you can message me via Email or Instagram

thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Long misattributed to the legendary pedal steel brand Emmons, the Riptone has a much cloudier history, that even now I'm still trying to unravel...

Taking one look at the Emmons Riptone you can probably guess what's going on in there. Yep! this is another FZ-1A copy, birthed out of the mid/late 60s pedal craze that saw every guitar, amplifier, and mom-&-pop shop scrambling to jump on the fuzzy bandwagon. 

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

So if this Emmons wasn't THE Emmons, of pedal steel fame, then who actually was responsible for the Riptone fuzz?

Well the clue that got me looking deeper was just sitting right there on the face of the pedal, directly under the output jack:

"Mfd. by Emmons Industries. Belleville, New Jersey"
Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Knowing the more famous Emmons brand was based out of Tennessee, I found it odd that they would have had any association with manufacturing a pedal in NJ of all places.

So I dug a bit, and even though there's not a lot out there about this other Emmons, I was able to track down a small company profile from 1966! It seems to show Emmons Industries as an electronics and parts manufacturer/supplier.

We also get a look at the name of the owner, Donald R Emmons; which definitely puts to rest any association with Buddy Emmons' pedal steel company (who released the Fuzz Machine and String Machine in the 70s).

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

As of now there is little to no additional info that I have been able to find regarding Emmons Industries. But if we look at other electronics companies of the time; Lafayette, Olson, Allied, etc. then it's not so surprising that Emmons was also getting in on the action.

Now, what I don't know is if they offered any additional guitar effects, amps or accessories, so if anyone out there has an old Emmons Industries catalog, I would love to see it!

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

So how does it sound?

Well a friend of the blog has an original, and it definitely sounds like an FZ-1A (as you would expect). And just like most 60s germanium fuzzes, it is heavily affected by temperature changes. 

A little colder, the tone tightens and is less aggressive; warm it up, and you get a full-on gnarly garage, spitting, classic 60s fuzz!

One could say, it sounds like the tone is being, ripped...🤓🤔

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

There's a few things you'll notice when looking inside the Riptone; 1. is that it's clearly an FZ-1A style fuzz. 2. the components match those found in other fuzzes from late 60s NY/NJ manufacturers, and 3. all of the boards have been cracked in half!

The photo above is the only unit I have been able to find still sporting all of its original caps and transistors (which were later replaced by its next owner).

So at this point, the only 3 Emmons Riptones known to exist all have had some parts replaced:

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

It's also safe to assume the consistently broken pcb is a result of the switch being threaded directly through the board and then attached to the enclosure.

Just a handful of stomps from an over-excited delinquent fuzz fiend probably was enough to crack the board like we see here. But what's most surprising is that it apparently didn't affect the functionality at all???

While this is an obvious flaw, it is again though not super surprising coming from an electronics company that probably wasn't regularly making guitar equipment; and the poor design is also a possible reason why we don't see too many of these floating around nowadays.

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

Emmons Riptone Fuzz

So that is the Emmons Riptone fuzz!

As is with a lot of pedals we feature here, there are still a ton of unknowns.

Who actually built these?

When did they come out?

How and where were they sold?

Is it actually called the "Criptone"? 

So if you do happen to own an original Emmons Riptone please reach out to me via Email or Instagram. I would love to hear from you, especially if you bought the pedal new in the 60s!

Thanks as always,

Sunday, June 2, 2024

History of the Gray DOD 250

Continuing on with the NO Demos video series, the newest episode looks very, VERY deeply into the origins of the best overdrive pedal of all time, the DOD 250 Overdrive Preamp.

This is something I have been breaking my brain researching over the past few years, and decided it was finally time to put all of these facts, theories, guesses, and conjectures out there in the form of a two-part video series.

So here is Part 1! It's really for the true nerds, so get ready...🤓

*Update! Here is Part 2 //

Thank you for watching!