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!

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