Stompbox: Fulltone ’70 Pedal

A nice sounding silicon fuzz would have to be my “Desert Island Pedal” and the Fulltone ’70 pedal is one of the best. I’ve had this one for a long time and it has that spitty nasty fuzz sound that I keep coming back to.

The Mids control is a nice addition to the standard fuzzface circuit. Jimi Hendrix switched from germanium to silicon fuzzfaces toward the end of 1969 in all of his live shows and never went back. His use of it on the Band of Gypsys album exemplifies the sound of this pedal.

I love the way that this pedal, when pushed, it can sound like it’s almost on the verge of complete chaos. It’s also a great pedal for playing with feedback.

Update: I purchased a Dunlop JH-F1 fuzzface pedal and rehoused it a regular sized box so I could fit it on my pedal board.  Although the two pedals were very close in sound to one and other, I decided that the JH-F1 had the edge and so I sold the ’70 pedal and never looked back.

One problem I had with both pedals was that when my guitar volume was turned all the way up, the sound was “woofy” and undefined.  Rolling the volume back to 8 on my guitar, cleaned that right up.  I did a mod inside the pedal with a passive voltage divider circuit (with a trimpot and resistor) and I was able to tweak the trimpot to fix that problem sothe pedal sounds great no matter how I have my guitar’s volume control set.

Have a favorite silicon fuzz?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Stompbox: Fulltone ’69 Pedal

The Fulltone ’69 Pedal is the classic Fuzzface pedal with germanium transistors that Jimi Hendrix used on first album are you experienced and the incredible US debut of the Jimi Hendrix Experience at Monterey Pop in 1967 (see Rock Me Baby).

I really like that the contour and bias controls are ‘on the outside’instead hidden inside as trim pots. It really helps in dialing in the best sound. Germanium transistors are very temperature sensitive (better fuzz when cold) and I sometimes need to tweak those controls depending on how cold the pedal is.

The fuzz sound of germanium transistors is very warm and full – especially compared to silicon transistors like the ones used in the fulltone ’70 pedal. That pedal can be a lot more harsh and “spitty” but both are great sounds and I switch back and forth between the two types of fuzzface pedals depending on the song I’m playing and my mood at the moment. 8)

Have a favorite fuzzface pedal?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Stompbox: KR Musical Products Megavibe

The Univox Univibe sound is usually associated with Jimi Hendrix who began using it regularly in the second half of his career. It’s a type of phase shifter that was originally invented to imitate the doppler shift sound of a leslie rotating speaker.

The KR Musical Products Megavibe pedal is one of the best clones of the original that I’ve heard. It has a jack on the side that you can use with a footpedal to control the speed and two settings, chorus (the classic watery sound) and vibrato (pitch shift).

The univibe effect is one of my favorite sounds. I like to place it before distortion pedals otherwise I can sound to wishy or fizzy. My fuzzface pedals however like to be connected directly to the guitar pickup with nothing in between and loose some bass response when this pedal intervenes. I found this cool schematic for simulating a guitar pickup in a signal chain to deal with this and added that mod to this pedal with a bypass switch on the side. It doesn’t solve the problem completely but it does help and makes the sound more “chewy” when I have the fuzz engaged.

Update: The Megavibe does one thing and does it extremely well, but after purchasing a FoxRox Aquavibe pedal, I fell in love and decided to keep that and sell the Megavibe.  The Aquavibe seemed to work much better with my fuzzface (better buffering?) and the range of sounds it can produce is much greater due to the “center” control.  With the Aquavibe, I can get the classic Univibe sound plus a whole lot more.

Have a favorite vibe pedal?  Tell me about it in the comments?

Stompbox: Boss FT-2 Dynamic Filter (rehoused)

The Boss FT-2 Dynamic Filter pedal is an envelope follower (sometimes called a touch wah) which alters the sweep of the EQ based on the dynamics of the note. I imagine they are hard to come by these days.  I think I’ve had mine for twenty yearsat this point.

In the usual mode setting, it sounds most trebly when the sound is loudest and then sweeps towards the bass as the note decays, yeilding a wah type of sound for each note that is played.

Jerry Garcia used this type of pedal quite often back in the day in songs like Estimated Prophet and Shakedown Street.

Do you have a favorite envelope follower pedal? Tell me about it in the comments!

Stompbox: Catalinbread Ottava Magus Octave Pedal

Octavia pedals add an octave above the original guitar signal. The are very sensitive to volume and attack and when everything falls into place the notes kind of explode or ‘bloom’ as some people put it after the intial attack. Playing two notes at once can yeild a ring modulator sound where the two frequencies add together to produce odd sounding overtones. Not necessarily beautiful – but mutated!

I bought and sold several Tychobrahe Octavia inspired pedals before settling on the Catalinbread Ottava Magus. Some of the other pedals I tried were too metallic and harsh sounding. Others only sounded good if I had everything set just right (play at the twelfth fret, turn down guitar tone and volume controls, select the rhythm pickup) which just seemed too limiting. This tiny pedal just sounds good no matter the configuration.

I fell in love with the sound after hearing Jimi Hendrix’s Who Knows from the Band of Gypsys album. Jimi broke a string and drops out of the mix for a minute or so and when he comes back he has the wah and octavia swtiched on and has the most incredible strangled twisted sounds coming out of his guitar.

Update: I’ve upgraded to the Catalinbread Ottava Magus II pedal.  It has a third control (saturation) to adjust the amount of distortion, further increasing the range of sounds I can access. It also has a cool LED effect behind the artwork if you play the pedal in a dark room – trippy!

Have a favorite octave pedal? Tell me about it in the comments!