In this blog I would like to share my experiments and thoughts on DIY guitar pedals, namely, fuzzes, overdrives and distortions. The history of circuit design and the stories behind the pedals are part of the fun. Links, schematics and audio clips will follow soon. Stay tuned or follow.
So after a few circuits on the breadboard and a lot of listening and reading I started realizing what the Fuzz is all about....what it is.....and what is should never be!
Fuzz is all about clipping. Not soft clipping like a tube amp or like what we call today 'Overdrive'. Fuzz is about hard clipping. The saturation is immediate and pushed so hard that you get a lot of sustain due to over compression into saturation. The effect of feedbacking a 2nd transistor back into a 1st gain transistor drives the circuit into this hard clipping. Si vs. Ge, architecture and design are all important factors.
When I first heard Garage bands like Strawberry Alarm Clocks, The Seeds (Evil Hoodoo and Pushing Too Hard) and The Sonics, I didn't really know what was so special about their guitar sound. But when I heard Norman Greenbaum's Spirits in the Sky, The Venture's 2000 pound Bee and Buffalo Springfield's Mr Soul, I realized what to look for. It's that BUUUUZZZZZ. It's a sound that sounds so rotten and crushed that it can be nothing but a fuzz. It really sounds like a bad mixer channel or like the speakers were slashed (that's how they first did it).
The Green Spirit is a super usefull FuzzRite workhorse
Once you start listening to the sound of the Fuzz you start hearing the little differences and before you know it you want 10 different kind of pedals. But the problem isn't the pedals, it's the fact that building them takes a lot of time and for a while you really just plan on playing music but you never do 'cause you are always after the next elusive pedal.
The Mosrite Fuzzrite was a classic buzz maker after the success of the first Maestro Fuzz-Tone. The pedal was heavily used between 1966 and 1969 before Fuzz Faces and Big Muffs took over. It's harshness cannot be mistaken and it sounds close to the previously discussed Orpheum. I looked for a Fuzzrite version which would be easy to build and mod, versatile and authentic sounding. The RNFR Green Bomb seemed like a good choice and once I chopped the first chord I knew what to call it. I added a switch to change four caps simultaneously and get that very thin fuzz but other than that it's really the Green Bomb. The buzz is superb and really gives you that Spirits in the Sky effect. I really love this pedal and the sound takes just me back every time. Good with a Vox or a Fender sounding amp pedal just after it. A real candidate for the FuzzQuest all time favorite. You can find the schematic by RNFR here.