Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Orpheum Fuzz

The Orpheum Fuzz - Thanks Andrew Carrell whoever you are
This mean and nasty fuzz is somewhere between the Shin-Ei Fuzz Companion and the Mosrite Fuzzrite. It's buzzy and zippy all at once and really does that 1966 sax-like buzz in a very convincing manner.

I built it because I was looking for that elusive mid 60's fuzz which is both thick and buzzy like that found on Garage Psych albums by west coast bands like the Seeds or Strawberry Alarm Clocks. The first feedback I got on the web stated I should go for a Mosrite Fuzzrite sound or something similar. Finding a simple schematic using Silicon transistors I gave it shot. It's a silicon fuzz and I tried several silicon trannys until I found the right combination. Well I have to admit it...IT SOUNDS GREAT, both on guitar and bass. Beautiful on single coils and Humbuckers. I really nailed the Spirit in the Sky buzz sound by finger picking with the Neck pickup.

The only addition I added was a 68k resistor in series with the 199nF cap at the input to tame the fuzz for humbuckers and to have some extra control on the pedal which simulates the effect of rolling off the guitar's volume knob a bit. This is a great mod and could be hooked up on an SPST switch to enable both options.

After some years building all kinds of ancient fuzz circuits I can definitely say that this circuit delivers some crazy vintage sounds which you wouldn't get from any other pedal. Very buzzy-zippy-sax-like in your face fuzz. NOT for chords but more for those wacky 60's solos and heavy riffs. Amazing on bass and on guitars on the neck pickup. It's that simple....and that rewarding. Mean, splatty and nasty!

Other garage riffs and solos which can be nailed are those by the Seeds. Mellow playing with your thumb on the lower strings with the neck pickup really brings out the buzziness in a beautiful way.

The Orpheum Fuzz
The TONE control really changes the character of the sound and goes from fat crunch to mean sharp buzz. On neck pickup and playing lower strings with your fingers you get amazing sax-like character which is exactly what I was looking for. It's meaner than the Mosrite but not as aggressive as the Shin-Ei. It's just the perfect balance between the two. I love it!!!

Both 2N2222A and 2N3904 as well as Silicon NPNs should sound good as long as the Hfe is around 100-300, I guess. I started with the 2N2222A which sounded great but then moved to 2N3904 which had a bit more gain and gave me more flexibility at lower settings.

If you wanna build the germanium version you can find the schematic here:

The great layouts by Dragonfly can be found on the aronnelson page here:

The no-risk versions from the TagboardFX page:

The Schematic I used for the silicon version is no longer available for some reason on the web so I am adding it here if Dragonfly doesn't mind:
Orpheum Silicon fuzz version
A fascinating comparison between some vintage fuzz circuits which are all based on similar architecture with minor differences can also be found here.

Will soon add a clip to demo this beast.

The Colors I use for painting all enclosures on this blog.
I like the paint job I did. It was my first attempt at doing my own art on these pedals and once I saw the result I never looked back and went on doing the art on all my future pedals.

I tried to find a different name for it as I couldn't understand why they named it Orpheum. It should have been called something like Morpheum.

Highly recommended for any newbee in the DIY business. Easy to build and tune and sounds really authentic and musical.


  1. I have a circuit board for this in my drawer that I bought from John at Basic Audio, it's been sitting there for five years. This is almost enough to get me to to build again.

    1. Well John sure knows what he is doing and his designs and awesome. I would love to see his layout for this one. I will also add some audio clips for if it will sped up your decision to build this one.

  2. I'm going to do it, the board and layout are in Dragnofly's gallery at DIY Stompboxes. I got divorced in January so all my stuff is in boxes in the basement. I haven't build in years so I'm looking forward to it. My next project is the Super Fuzz :-)

  3. My next project is the Super Fuzz too. What layout and schematic are you going to use? :)

  4. Glad you dig the fuzz....

    Andy Carrell

    1. Hi Andy. It's an honor to see your comment on this page. Where have you been man? It seems you are off the grid for a while now. I couldn't find the Silicon version on the web so I added it from my own schematic collection. If you feel uncomfortable with this please send me a link so I could redirect this link to this page.

      btw, what are you up to these days? Any chance of some new layouts for some old fuzzes?