Back in the Saddle…

Howdy!

After a short break of a few weeks (during which I got hitched and went on my honeymoon) I am back up and running at SJ Effects.

I am currently catching up with orders and emails, so if you have contacted me in the last couple of weeks please be assured I will be getting back to you ASAP.

I will also be shortly uploading info on another SJ Effects pedal; the ‘Tesla Cannon’. Its my own take on the classic Big Muff circuit, and has been a popular circuit with my customers for a while now.

Cheers!

Steve.

SJ_Logo2

Six Shooter Booster (Germanium Boost)

Heres the latest of my builds to show you guys.

Its an NPN Rangemaster with Input cap blend.

The range control allows you to go from traditional Rangemaster treble boost, all the way through to full frequency boost.

I also used ‘mojo’ components in this build (axial electrolytics, Vishay film caps etc.).

The original Rangemaster unit used an OC71 or OC44 transistor. The Transistor I used in this build is a TI 2N1302. It had the right gain and leakage, sounded good, so in it went! Also, this is an NPN germanium transistor (as opposed to PNP), which means it is a negative ground effect, and will play nicely with external power supplies etc.

Germanium treble boosters (this one included) sound glorious running into amps running at high volume, pushing them into saturation.

I went with Chickenhead knobs on this one to add to the ‘Vintage’ vibe.

Six Shooter Booster 1

Six Shooter Booster

Six Shooter Booster Gutshot

Six Shooter Gutshot

Six Shooter Booster 2

Six Shooter Booster 2

The Faces of Fuzz: A Brief History of the Fuzz Face.

I thought I would post a brief history of the good old Fuzz Face here.

My new pedal, the Gravyboat Fuzz, is based on the Colorsound One Knob Fuzz, with some tweaks and mods to make it fit more into a wider range of applications. The Gravy Boat, via the Colorsound One Knob Fuzz, can be traced back to the Arbiter Fuzz Face; the one that started it all!

Please also note that I have not covered any of the many modern variants of the Fuzz Face around, notable examples including the D*A*M Meathead, Meathead Deluxe and SuperBee, the Dunlop Fuzz Face re-issues (including the artist models), the Analogman Sunface etc. etc.

Also please note that these are my own personal thoughts on the tones these pedals produce. Tone is subjective, and you may have a very different impression of these circuits sounds and vibe!

A Brief History:

Arbiter Fuzz Face (Germanium).

The first Fuzz Face was the one that started it all; The Arbiter Fuzz Face.

The tones a Marshall head combined with a good germanium fuzz face produce can verge on divine!

It arrived in late 1966, in its iconic big, red and round enclosure. The original units used Germanium transistors, which produce a more ‘organic’ and warm distortion (IMO of course) compared to silicon, as a result of a softer clipping characteristic, and respond to rolling back guitar volume controls very well. Notice I say distortion and not fuzz. In my opinion, germanium Fuzz Faces can work just as well as an overdrive/distortion as a fuzz if the guitar volume control is carefully used.

A well tuned and biased Germanium fuzz can go all the way from clean, to crunch to all out Fuzz with a twist of your guitars volume control.

The original transitors used in these germanium Fuzz Faces were NKT 275’s, which are pretty much un-obtainium nowadays. If you find some be prepared to pay top £ for the pleasure. However, many other Germanium transistors can be used to good effect if carefull attention is paid to their gain (Hfe) and leakage characteristics.

The downside to the lovely warm fuzz that the old Germanium NKT275’s produced was the inconsistency; Germanium Transistors vary wildly in gain, leakage, and to top it off, are also temperature sensitive. Your old Germanium Fuzz Face will most likely sound very different depending on temperature!

Certain Fuzz Face aficionados will say that a Fuzz Face must have NKT275’s to be the real deal. I would not agree with this. In my opinion transistor selection (hfe, leakage etc.), biasing, and component selection is far more important to the overall quality of tone.

If you are in the UK/EU, and fancy building a germanium Fuzz Face, then Doctor Tweek (www.doctortweek.co.uk) usually has a nice range of Germanium transistors for sale at a very reasonable price.

Ge_FuzzFace

Note: There is speculation that the Tonebender Mk1.5 came before the Fuzz Face, and that Arbiter used the circuit for the original round and red fuzzer; more info later!

Arbiter Fuzz Face (Silicon).

Due to problems with temperature stability, and consistency issues, Arbiter began making Fuzz Faces using Silicon transistors in the late 60’s.

Silicon Fuzz Faces exhibit a more aggressive fuzz tone; harder and more intense than the Germanium variants. Also, in general, they do not react as well to ‘cleaning up’ by rolling of guitar volume controls etc.

However, many people, myself included, prefer the more intense and general ‘fuzzy’ nature of silicon Fuzz Faces.

The silicon transistors used by Arbiter included BC108C, BC183L, BC109, BC109C, and BC209C. Most of these transistors are still readily available.

Many other silicon transistors sound great as well. Even the ubiquitous 2N3904 can sound great in a silicon Fuzz Face circuit.

Oh, and it is believed that the master of all guitar players; Jimi Hendrix, used a silicon Fuzz Face at his Woodstock performance!

The modern Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face (the blue one) also uses Silicon transistors (BC108’s).

Si_FuzzFace

If you fancy building your own fuzz face, our good friend Doctor Tweek also sells a nice range of silicon transistors (including BC108’s and 9’s).

Vox Tonebender.

The Vox ToneBender arrived at a similar time to the Arbiter Fuzz Face (production spanned from 1966-68), and was most likely based on the Tonebender MK1.5. Notice the addition of a couple of resistors to the standard Fuzz Face schematic.

These are also sometimes referred to as Italian Tonebenders, due to them being manufactured in… you guessed it… bella Italia!

The difference in tonality is clear when using this circuit. Component differences (particularly smaller input and output coupling capacitors) result in a far more treble laden and less ‘woolly’ fuzz than the original fuzz face. Perfect for playing through a dark amp (eg. VOX AC30), but perhaps overwhelmingly ‘ice-picky’ through bright amps (Fender Twins etc.). There is also in general less overall gain and sustain available with these units in comparison to the standard Fuzz Face.

Original transistors used in the Vox Tonebender were usually an SFT337 for Q1 and an OC76 for Q2. These will be hard to come by, but not as ridiculously priced as the ‘Holy Grail’ NKT275’s. It is also worth noting that silicon versions of this circuit were also produced.

Vox_Tonebender

Sola Sound Tonebender Mk 1.5.

The ToneBender Mk1.5 is a Fuzz Face variant of particular interest. This may be the original unit that spawned them all.

The reason for this is that it actually pre-dates the original Arbiter Fuzz Face (production began 1965). Therefore it is more than likely that Arbiter based the Fuzz Face on this circuit!

This fuzz utilised the classic glass cased Mullard OC75 germanium transistor for Q1 and Q2. A classic transistor in the Fuzz World, also used in the Tonebender MkII (another fabulous fuzz pedal). These transistors are quite rare and hard to find. If you find some, hold on to them!

They were built like a tank, and also, surprisingly for the time, featured true bypass switching and shielded in/out wiring.

The sound of these units is more similar to the classic Fuzz Face, in comparison to the Vox Tonebender with its treble heavy tone.

They sure do look cool though don’t they!

Note. A top notch, no expense spared, Mk1.5 re-issue  is available from the original retailer and manufacturer; Macaris Music. Be prepared to have to pay, and wait, for the pleasure of owning one though!

Mark_1.5

Colorsound Fuzz Box a.k.a the ‘One Knob Fuzz’

Now we come to my own personal favourite, and the basis for my own Gravy Boat Fuzz, the Colorsound ‘One Knob Fuzz’.

A silicon Fuzz Face variant employing BC109 and BC108 transistors, this fuzz produces a full, thick, intense fuzz tone; far more fuzz than your standard silicon Fuzz Face. They also happen to sound incredible when using a bass.

There was only one control on the One Knob Fuzz; volume. The relevant fuzz control resistor is set to 1K for all out fuzz attack. If you are after a ‘transparent’ Fuzz Face that cleans up well on the volume control then this is definitely not for you, but if you are after a massive fuzz tone… look no further.

A variety of interesting fuzzy tones can, however, be attained by adjusting your guitars volume and tone controls.

You may notice the extra capacitor between the base and collector of Q1 when looking at the schematic below. This capacitor is in the circuit to replicate the ‘Miller effect’; the high frequency roll-off that occurs with the Fuzz Face’s original germanium transistors. They also prevent oscillation and other nasty side effects that can occur when using silicon transistors in the fuzz face circuit.

Many modern silicon based Fuzz Face variants feature these capacitors to tame the high end and avoid oscillation.

OKF_FuzzFace

SJ Effects Gravy Boat.

I can’t rightly finish a roundup of Fuzz Face variants without mentioning my own now can I!

My Gravy Boat Fuzz is based upon the Colorsound One Knob Fuzz, with tweaks to the design to get it to my exact liking. The pedal also features an internal bias control (bias is one of the most important factors in Fuzz tones) so it can be dialled in exactly at the sweet spot.

More info and ordering information here: http://sj-effects.com/2012/03/04/gravy-boat-fuzz/

Summary

The Fuzz Face is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) fuzz pedals around, and not without good reason.  Depending on circuit and component selection, it can conjure a range of tones ranging from spitty and splatty mis-biased velcro buzz, to smooth and warm touch sensitive overdrive.

There are many, many, Fuzz Face clones and variants available to purchase, ranging from tens of pounds all the way into the thousands.

However, if you are a DIY’er, or fancy getting your feet wet, the Fuzz Face is a perfect pedal to build up and experiment with.

I recommend getting the breadboard out, grabbing a beer, and building up the different variants, experimenting with bias, in and out coupling capacitors etc. to come up with your own perfect Fuzz Face.

The standard Fuzz Face hfe values are usually recommended at 80-90Hfe for Q1, and 110-130Hfe for Q2. However, experimentation is key. For example, the recent Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face features Germanium transistors with a much lower hfe, but still produces a lovely smooth fuzz tone.

An excellent source for more technical information (bias, hfe ranges) on the Fuzz Face can be found here: http://www.geofex.com/article_folders/fuzzface/fffram.htm

The beauty of the circuit is its versatility for such a simple design, and perhaps this is the reason for its enduring popularity after over 40 years on the market.

That completes my small roundup of Fuzz Face variants. I hope you found the information helpfull, and if you get a chance to try any of these classics, you will not be dissapointed with the fuzzy goodness they provide!

Gravy Boat Fuzz

Exciting times here at SJ Effects; I have a new SJ Effects pedal to introduce to you all… The Gravy Boat Fuzz!

Gravy Boat Fuzz

This is one of my Standard line pedals, and can be ordered from the ‘pedals for sale‘ section on the site.

Its a heavy Silicon Fuzz based on the classic Coloround Fuzz Box (commonly referred to as the ‘One Knob Fuzz’).

The pedal features Volume and Fuzz controls, and also features a ‘Weight’ toggle switch which allows you to alter the lowend response of the pedal (of which there is plenty; this pedal works really well as a bass fuzz).

The pedals origins go back to the classic Fuzz Face, still a favourite amongst us fuzz junkies after all these years, and with good reason!

The price is £80.00 + Shipping.

Soundclips to follow shortly.

More info here: http://sj-effects.com/pedals-for-sale/gravy-boat-fuzz/

The Wall (Big Muff + Bass Fuzz).

Howdy!

After a nice break over Christmas and New Year I am kicking of 2013 with another custom build.

This is a 2-in-1 fuzz pedal for a cool guy from Perth, Australia.

Its a Woolly Mammoth-alike circuit (built on a Madbean Sabretooth PCB) going into a Hoof-alike Muff (built on one of my new Tesla Cannon V2 PCB’s).

I tested the Muff circuit side by side with my own EQD Hoof and it sounds pretty much indentical to my ears (other than there being a bit more gain on tap on the Tesla Cannon). The PCB allows you to switch between LED or 1N4148 diodes for each clipping stage with the DIP switches.

You could also choose no clipping on either stage if you wished to as well, which would produce cool jumbo tonebender tones.

There is also a mids control on the Muff, that lets you go from traditional ‘scooped’ mids, to boosted mids.  This makes the circuit a lot more versatile than a traditional Bif Muff, and helps to ‘cut through’ a band mix.

The customer chose the pedal and circuit names: ‘The Wall’ comprising of ‘Brick’ and ‘Mortar’.

He is a White Stripes and Black Keys fan, so I think he should dig the tones this thing produces.

Hope you like the pics!

The Wall 1

‘The Wall’ 2-in-1 Fuzz Pedal

The Wall 2

The Wall. 2-in-1 Fuzz Pedal

The Wall 3

The Wall. Gutshot! 2-in-1 Fuzz Pedal.

 

The Gentleman’s Relish (Big Muff)

Alrighty, heres another recent custom build.

This one is a Big Muff (built to Skreddy Mayo spec’s), with an added mids switch.

The mids switch lets you go from traditional scooped mids, to flat-mids, which can help cutting through a mix when playing with a band.

Its pink, because as we all know, real men wear pink!

Hope you like the pics!

Gentlemen’s Relish

Gentlemen’s Relish Gutshot

 

Boostie Boy

This is a recent custom build I did for a nice guy who wanted a nice clean boost to use with his valve amps.

He christened the build the ‘Boostie Boy’, which I quite like!

The circuit is based on the classic Jack Orman Mosfet Booster.

As you can see from the ‘gutshot’ photo below, its a simple circuit (a single Mosfet Transistor amplication stage), but this simplicity results in a really nice and full tone. Boosters are one of the simplest, but also most useful, pedals out there IMO.

Another handy feature is that with the Gain control at minimum, it works quite well as a buffer, which can be handy for long signal paths (ie. long cable runs) where high frequencies can become attenuated.

If you would like to discuss a custom order similar to this build, just Contact Me.

The Boostie Boy Lives!

Boostie Boy Gutshot

 

 

 

 

The Gravy Train Overdrive

Here’s the Gravy Train overdrive. Which I posted a soundclip for last week.

This is one of my Standard line of pedals (ie. non custom), and can be ordered from the ‘pedals for sale‘ section on the site.

Here’s the soundclip:

Its an Overdrive based on the classic DOD OD-250. With selectable Asymmetrical/Symmetrical clipping stages. This defines the overall tonality of the overdrive/distortion.

The symmetrical clipping  uses some old OA202’s (no longer manufactured) which I have a small stock of. After going through all my collection of clipping options (germanium, silicon, LED’s etc.) these sounded the best to my ears, so in they went.

I’m loving this circuit; Its so simple, but it sounds really great.

Hope you guys like the pics and soundclip!

Gravy Train Overdrive 2

Gravy Train Gutshot

New Soundclips!

I’ve finally got around to recording some new sound clips.

The two clips below are for the Gravy Train Overdrive (more details and build report to follow) and for the Tesla Cannon Fuzz.

I put some drums in there with the guitars as… well… everything sounds better with drums!

Hope you guys like the clips (they can also be found in the soundclips and videos section)!

Multiplex Delay + Reverb

Another day, another delay!

This is 1776 FX’s Multiplex delay PCB/project that I built up.

I also coupled it with a reverb circuit to give a kind of ‘Space Echo’ vibe.

More info on the multiplex (and where you can buy the PCB’s if you are a DIY’er) can be found here: (http://1776effects.com/store/)

The Multiplex has three modes; ‘Binson’, ‘EP3’ and ‘RE-201’. The RE-201 mode in particular is massive fun (2 seperate delay lines for some rythmic delay fun).

This is undoubtedly one of the best delay circuits I have tried; it just sounds ‘right’ and mixes with the dry guitar tone very well. The reverb is based on the Belton Reverb module (as used in the Hermida reverb etc.), and is a really nice sounding ‘verb.

Pics of the build:

Multiplex

Multiplex + Reverb Combo

Multiplex2

Multiplex+Reverb Combo 2

Multiplex + Reverb Combo 3

Multiplex + Reverb Combo 3