Tone Bender

Last updated

Tone Bender is the name of several fuzzboxes. Macari's Ltd, who also own the Sola Sound Brand, and who have built and sold the pedals since 1965 now own the Tone Bender trademark. [1] Korg used to own Tone Bender trademarks in the 1990s. [2] [3]

Contents

Sola Sound Tone Bender MKI

The first incarnation of the Tone Bender was a three transistor circuit based on the Gibson Maestro Fuzz-Tone. [4] Gary Hurst, a technician, began selling these in mid-1965. By September he was selling them through the Macari brothers' Musical Exchange shops. [5] Early incarnations were housed in wooden enclosures. Later on folded steel enclosures were used.

Sola Sound Tone Bender ("MK1.5")

This version of the Tone Bender is a two transistor circuit, upon which the better known Arbiter Fuzz Face and Italian-made Vox Tone Bender are based. [4] It is essentially a negative feedback amplifier.

The MK1.5 was not known as a two transistor circiut before the swedish pedal collector Dennis Johansson open the pedal and discovered it!

Although this was de facto a second version, no version number was used on its case. To differentiate it from the MKI and MKII, it is known as the "MK1.5" today.

This successor of the original Tone Bender was available, at the latest, by February 1966. The electronics are contained in a sand-cast aluminum enclosure, with sheet metal (steel) base plate.

It was also available in different guises as Sola Sound made OEM products or prototypes for other companies such as Rotosound. Another variant was the elusive Rangemaster Fuzzbug. Little is known about this unit. As Dallas Musical Ltd. had a 'Rangemaster' brand of products at the time, it is likely it had been made for that company.

The Arbiter Fuzz Face, which was released later in 1966, is a clone of an early variant of the Tone Bender MK1.5, that featured a 500k volume pot instead of the more common 100k, providing a fuller low end. The bias point was slightly adjusted to make it less susceptible to temperature changes.

Sola Sound Tone Bender Professional MKII

The MKII Tone Bender is a three transistor circuit [4] based on the MKI.V version, but with an additional amplifier gain stage.

Sola Sound produced the circuit for Vox, Marshall and RotoSound as well. These units were named Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII, Marshall Supa Fuzz, RotoSound Fuzz Box. [6] [7] [8] There also was a version of the short lived Rangemaster Fuzzbug containing this circuit. Other variants may exist.

The Sola Sound and Vox version used the same sturdy, sand cast metal enclosure designed by Hurst as the MK1.5 version. In fact, most Sola Sound branded MKIIs were probably leftover stock of MK1.5s with the circuit modified to MKII specs and a "Professional MKII" silkscreen added, presumably to differentiate them from the earlier version. These MK1.5 conversions can be identified by their smaller circuit board. Only few Sola Sound branded units with a large circuit board exist. It seems the last of them were rebranded from Sola Sound to Vox. After that point only Vox branded Tone Bender Professional MKIIs seem to have been produced.

By November 1966 the pedal was being advertised in Beat Instrumental magazine, marketed as a "Gary Hurst Design". [9] The circuit remained in production until early 1968. Marshall continued producing a slightly different looking version of the Supa Fuzz until at least 1972.

Most units used Mullard OC75 or Impex S31T transistors. Shortly before production ended a batch of pedals using Mullard OC81D audio driver transistors had been made. Most of these are branded Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII, but Rotosound Fuzz Boxes and Marshall Supa Fuzzes from that era do exist.

After being out of production for over 40 years, the Sola Sound Tone Bender Professional MKII is available again from Macari's since 2009 as part of their Vintage Series of pedals. It is being made by D*A*M Pedals, South Yorkshire.

Sola Sound Tone Bender MKIII, IV, Tone-Bender Fuzz

The Sola Sound Tone Bender MKIII, and later Tone Bender MKIV, featured a tone control. It's a three transistor circuit with a germanium diode, that came in several different enclosures and is closely related to the Burns Baldwin Buzzaround. It was available under different names and brands. Most MKIII Tone Benders are branded as Vox. The Sola Sound version is scarce. The Park Fuzz Sound and Rotosound Fuzz Box were also available with this circuit. By 1969 the same circuit was sold in a smaller updated case as the Sola Sound Tone Bender MKIV. The larger MKIII version was sold concurrently. The Carlsbro Fuzz and Park Fuzz Sound were available in the MKIV enclosure as well. By 1971 the MKIV's graphics were updated, marketing the device as the "Tone-Bender Fuzz" from that point onwards. By the mid-70's it was also available in another different enclosure, branded as the CSL Super Fuzz. The circuit was discontinued around 1976 and reintroduced in 2012, once again with MKIV graphics.

A short lived version of the MKIII with only two controls, containing a circuit with four silicon transistors exists. It probably predates the more common germanium version.

Colorsound Supa Tonebender

The Supa Tone Bender is a four transistor circuit, based on the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff π.

Colorsound Jumbo Tone Bender

The Jumbo Tone Bender is a three transistor circuit based on the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff π. Sola Sound made this pedal under various names, in various enclosures and for various distributors. It can be found in a narrow Colorsound enclosure with the same graphics as the late germanium Tone Benders, a wide Colorsound enclosure, using Jumbo Tone Bender graphics, in Vox MKIII Tone Bender enclosures, in a different narrow enclosure rebranded as B&M (Champion) Fuzz, B&M Fuzz Unit, CMI Fuzz Unit, G.B. Fuzz, G.B. Fuzz Unit or Pro Traffic Fuzz Unit or in a smaller enclosure labeled as the Eurotec Black Box Fuzz Module. It was also part of the Colorsound Supa Wah-Fuzz-Swell.

The current "thin case" Tone Bender is using this circuit.

Vox Tone Bender

The Vox Tone Bender (model no. V828 in Vox's 1966 US price list) is based on the same circuit topology as the MK1.5 version. It was made for Thomas Organ Co. by the Jen company in Italy. [4] This circuit uses different component values and transistor types making it different in tone and behavior. It used a PCB instead of the UK built MK1.5 which used strip board. Different transistor and capacitor setups have been used over the years. Earlier variants are fuller sounding, while later ones are rather bright and cutting.

It is assumed that these were initially made for the US market, while the Sola Sound made units were distributed in the UK and Europe.

JEN used the enclosures and circuit boards to make Fuzz for other companies such as Elka, Gretch and Luxor. They also released it under their own name of JEN and used the enclosure for a range of other effects.

Related Research Articles

Effects unit Electronic device that alters audio sources

An effects unit or effects pedal is an electronic device that alters the sound of a musical instrument or other audio source through audio signal processing.

Vox (musical equipment)

Vox is a musical equipment manufacturer founded in 1957 by Thomas Walter Jennings in Dartford, Kent, England. The company is most famous for making the Vox AC30 guitar amplifier, used by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Queen, Dire Straits, U2, Manilarajj and Radiohead, the Vox Continental electric organ, the Vox wah-wah pedal used by Jimi Hendrix, and a series of innovative electric guitars and bass guitars. Since 1992, Vox has been owned by the Japanese electronics firm Korg.

Wah-wah pedal

A wah-wah pedal is a type of electric guitar effects pedal that alters the tone and frequencies of the guitar signal to create a distinctive sound, mimicking the human voice saying the onomatopoeic name "wah-wah". The pedal sweeps the peak response of a frequency filter up and down in frequency to create the sound, a spectral glide, also known as "the wah effect". The wah-wah effect originated in the 1920s, with trumpet or trombone players finding they could produce an expressive crying tone by moving a mute in and out of the instrument's bell. This was later simulated with electronic circuitry for the electric guitar when the wah-wah pedal was invented. It is controlled by movement of the player's foot on a rocking pedal connected to a potentiometer. Wah-wah effects are used when a guitarist is soloing, or creating a "wacka-wacka" funk-styled rhythm for rhythm guitar playing.

Electro-Harmonix Guitar pedals company

Electro-Harmonix is a New York-based company that makes high-end electronic audio processors and sells rebranded vacuum tubes. The company was founded by Mike Matthews in 1968. It is best known for a series of popular guitar effects pedals introduced in the 1970s and 1990s. Unknown to most people, EH also made a line of guitars in the 70's.

The Shin-ei Companion FY-2 is a discontinued fuzz pedal, made by the Japanese Shin-ei effects pedal company from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The pedal is known for its raw, distinctive, gated fuzz. FY-2 pedals are now rare.

Sunn amplifiers was a brand of musical instrument amplifiers based in Tualatin, Oregon.

Ibanez Tube Screamer

The Ibanez Tube Screamer (TS9/TS808) is a guitar overdrive pedal, made by Ibanez. The pedal has a characteristic mid-boosted tone popular with blues, rock and metal players. The Tube Screamer, which various reviews give the honorific "legendary", has been used by many guitarists to create their signature sound, and is one of the most successful, widely copied, and custom-modified ("modded") overdrive pedals in the history of the electric guitar.

Pro Co RAT

The Pro Co "The RAT" is a distortion pedal produced by Pro Co Sound. The original RAT was developed in the basement of Pro Co's Kalamazoo, Michigan facility in 1978. Numerous variations of the original RAT pedal are still being produced today.

Fuzz Face

The Fuzz Face is an effects pedal for electric guitar, used also by some electric bass players. It is designed to produce a distorted sound referred to as "fuzz," originally achieved through accident such as broken electrical components or damaged speakers.

Distortion (music)

Distortion and overdrive are forms of audio signal processing used to alter the sound of amplified electric musical instruments, usually by increasing their gain, producing a "fuzzy", "growling", or "gritty" tone. Distortion is most commonly used with the electric guitar, but may also be used with other electric instruments such as electric bass, electric piano, and Hammond organ. Guitarists playing electric blues originally obtained an overdriven sound by turning up their vacuum tube-powered guitar amplifiers to high volumes, which caused the signal to distort. While overdriven tube amps are still used to obtain overdrive, especially in genres like blues and rockabilly, a number of other ways to produce distortion have been developed since the 1960s, such as distortion effect pedals. The growling tone of a distorted electric guitar is a key part of many genres, including blues and many rock music genres, notably hard rock, punk rock, hardcore punk, acid rock, and heavy metal music, while the use of distorted bass has been essential in a genre of hip hop music and alternative hip hop known as "SoundCloud rap".

Treble booster

A treble booster is an effects unit used by guitarists to increase the high end of their tonal spectrum. Many units boost the overall volume as well. Treble boosters were commonly used by guitarists in the 1960s and 1970s. During the last couple of decades, their popularity has increased again and many clones and reissues of the classic circuits have become available.

Jennings Musical Instruments is a manufacturer of musical instruments, and the original owner of the Vox brand. The company was founded by Thomas Walter Jennings.

A combo organ, so-named and classified by popular culture due to its original intended use by small, touring jazz, pop and dance groups known as "combo bands", as well as some models having "Combo" as part of their brand or model names, is an electronic organ of the frequency divider type, generally produced between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. This type of organ predated, and contributed largely to, the development of modern synthesizers. The combo organ concept, at least in the context of mass-production, is thought to have arisen from popular demand, when smaller home organs were seen in music stores. Combo organs were probably originally developed in the United Kingdom, based on the Univox polyphonic version of the Clavioline, and some models included the inner-workings of Italian-made transistor accordions. They were the brainchild of necessity for portable organs of simple design, mainly for use in these small groups. Combo organs ended up having a major impact on the music scene of the mid- and late 1960s, particularly on rock and roll of that era.

The Univox Super-Fuzz was a fuzzbox produced by the Univox company, primarily for use with the electric guitar or bass.

Big Muff Effect for electric guitar

The Big Muff Pi (π), often known simply as the Big Muff, is a fuzzbox produced in New York City by the Electro-Harmonix company, along with their Russian sister company Sovtek, primarily for use with the electric guitar. It is used by bassists as well due to the Big Muff's squeaky frequency response.

Fuzz bass

Fuzz bass, also called "bass overdrive" or "bass distortion", is a style of playing the electric bass or modifying its signal that produces a buzzy, distorted, overdriven sound, which the name implies in an onomatopoetic fashion. Overdriving a bass signal significantly changes the timbre, adds higher overtones (harmonics), increases the sustain, and, if the gain is turned up high enough, creates a "breaking up" sound characterized by a growling, buzzy tone.

Vintage musical equipment

Vintage musical equipment is older music gear, including instruments, amplifiers and speakers, sound recording equipment and effects pedals, sought after, maintained and used by record producers, audio engineers and musicians who are interested in historical music genres. While any piece of equipment of sufficient age can be considered vintage, in the 2010s the term is typically applied to instruments and gear from the 1970s and earlier. Guitars, amps, pedals, electric keyboards, sound recording equipment from the 1950s to 1970s are particularly sought. Musical equipment from the 1940s and prior eras is often expensive, and sought out mainly by museums or collectors.

Lovetone was a manufacturer of analog effect pedals in England in the 1990s and 2000s. The effects were created by Vlad Naslas and Daniel Coggins, and their pedals were noted for their tongue-in-cheek names like the "Big Cheese" and the "Ring Stinger".

The Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster was an effects unit made for guitarists in the 1960s. Its function was two-fold: to increase the signal strength of the guitar going into the amplifier, and to increase tones at the high end of the spectrum.

Gibson’s Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone was the first widely marketed fuzz distortion guitar and bass effect. Introduced in 1962, it became popular in 1965 after the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards prominent use of the Maestro on "Satisfaction". In its wake many recordings, in particular from garage rock and psychedelic groups, featured Maestros on guitars. In the 1990s Gibson re-issued and again discontinued the FZ-1.

References

  1. Intellectual Property Office - Tone Bender trademark
  2. United States Patent and Trademark Office - Tone Bender
  3. United States Patent and Trademark Office - Tone Bender Germanium Charged Fuzz
  4. 1 2 3 4 Pedal Porn - A little History
  5. Beat Instrumental No.29; September 1965
  6. Vox Tone Bender Professional MKII
  7. Marshall Supa Fuzz
  8. RotoSound Fuzz Box
  9. Beat Instrumental, November 1966