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,

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