Monday, July 8, 2024

Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender, the other Australian Fuzz.

Last year I went on a bit of an odyssey to research one of the earliest fuzz pedals out of Australia, the Claybridge Fuzzmaster. I lucked out heavily because it was well advertised in old Aussie electronics and Rock magazines, so piecing together the majority of the story was relatively easy.

But the whole time I was digging for info on Claybridge I was also looking for anything related to Fi-Sonic; another early Australian amplifier brand that put out at least 2 fuzz effects during the 60s. Unfortunately I found almost nothing...

For me at least, the first introduction I had to the Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender (MK IV) was the above example currently owned by Analogman, Mike Piera.

It's the only one I have seen, so far, and sadly there's not a huge amount to go off of. FXDB has a quick little blurb on the brand, stating that it was started in 1959 and run by Philip Dreoni, but only lasted until around 1969. 

There are a good number of examples of the Fi-Sonic amplifiers online, and I was able to find at least 1 ad showing an Australian electronics company STA Electronics, who I assume were similar to LRE here in States, and what appears to be a Fi-Sonic hifi radio tuner. But also in that same ad (from Oct. 1968) were a handful of guitar effects, including "Fuzz Boxes".

Now obviously there's no way to really know if this is an ad for the Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender, but so far it's the closest I've been able to get.

I have a vacation coming up next week, so digging back through all of these old magazines will be the perfect bored-at-my-hotel activity. Maybe something else will pop up as a result!

So in addition to the possible magazine ad, the only other hard evidence we have is this; the Fuzz Blender, but looking a bit different.

It's an amp-top unit, with an enormous handle (just in case?), and has controls for "Gain" and "Fuzz". Something else to note is that it simply says "Fuzz Blender" on it, and is absent any version designation. Which makes me think this is possibly v1.

When we look inside, it's not a huge surprise. Basically an FZ-1, but with 9v power instead of 3v. There are a few additional value changes, but otherwise it appears to be an FZ-1. 

Now what is interesting is that an original owner claims to have purchased one new in 1965!  But at this point I take those dates with a grain of salt, because people tend to say they did things a year earlier and at least a year longer than they actually did.

But either way 1966 would make this just as early as the Claybridge Fuzzmaster! Which is pretty cool for Australia at the time, who basically had zero access to American gear to buy or even properly copy.

What is still unknown is at what point the Fuzz Blender MKIV was introduced, and if there was a MKII and MKIII? As we saw with the Claybridge Fuzzmaster, at one time we were only aware of the MKIV, but then a green version was found, then the Wildcat, and finally the "prototype" I found last year that appears to be a MKI or MKII. 

So it is very possible that we have yet to see the other versions of this rare bird, and that like the Claybridge pedals, they are all sitting in a box somewhere in someone's closet, just waiting to be discovered.

If you happen to have any additional info on the Fi-Sonic Fuzz Blender, or own one, I would love to hear from you! Please message me via Email or Instagram.

thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Music-Son Distorsion Booster - The Spanish Tone Bender?

So the years are not fully known, but some time between the late 60s and mid 70s, the Spanish amplifier brand Music-Son released a fuzz pedal in a Tone Bender MKII-style enclosure, that they called the Distorsion Booster.

*from the handful of examples I've been able to find. This gold one appears to be the earliest...

As of now I have been able to find 3 different circuit layouts and a handful of examples that seem to show a bit of an evolution throughout its life; suggesting that they were made for a considerable amount of time, and not just a one-off.

And this above example appears to be first in the run. It uses germanium transistors and has a more amp-like build than the other two, which is what I typically see when an amplifier company starts getting into the fx game for the first time.

As I was digging for more info on these I did come across this old Music-Son catalog from 1970 that includes the Distorsion Booster, among other effects. Unfortunately I have yet to find any earlier evidence, but at least we have a good starting point now!

What cane next in evolution of the pedal's design was when Music-Son jumped to a silver hammerite paint and a BC 147 silicon transistor-based fuzz.

Again, I am not sure what this is based on, but the circuit does look a bit different than the earlier unit:

The final version shows an evolution of the board, the circuit, the ouput jack, and possibly the enclosure itself (but it's hard to tell just from the available photos). 

This was definitely the most extreme change I have come across; and as of now there are at least 3 examples of just this version. So it's also the most prevalent (so far, at least).

The other thing to notice about this version is both the wires used and the components match those used in Music-Son's other fuzz pedal, the Distorsion Sustain; a super nasty Fender Blender copy that's extra splatty, and looks doomy as hell...

So even if it's a different circuit, at least going by the build similarities I assume they were either being made at the same time, or very close to each other.

Alright, now comes the part where I ask for more info, if any of you out there happen to know anything about the Music-Son Distorsion Booster or the brand itself; please reach out to me via Email or Instagram.

thanks for reading!