©Kit Rae. Last update May 2013
This is a list of all the market release dates for most major fuzz pedal releases and Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, related Muff pedals and clones, from the mid 1960's to the mid '70's. To put everything in context, the list includes the creation of the first recorded fuzz tones in rock and roll, and significant songs or albums the fuzz tone appeared on. Some dates should be considered approximate as there is now no way to verify the exact year for all. Dates are based on release dates of songs or concerts the effects were known to be used on, catalog or advertising dates, case date marks, pot dates, knobs, and pedal graphics that relate to other related pedals with known release dates, as well as recollections from original buyers and/or collectors. Some dates came from articles in books, magazines, or trusted internet sources, but most have been verified in more than one way. Thanks to all the folks on the incredible D.A.M. forum (stompboxes.co.uk) who helped with additional info and dates, and freestomboxes.org. DAM is a superb resource full of great folks who love vintage stomp boxes. If you have info to verify or correct a date, or see an omission, please let me know. Contact - nasnandos @ kitrae.net
A note on circuit "design" credits - There is much debate on how much actual designing went on in the creation of these early fuzz circuits. It should be noted that basic amplifier circuits appeared in Mullard, Valvo, GE, and Phillips application books in the 1950's, '60's and '70's. These books offered examples of audio amplifier circuits designed to use transistors, specifically to help sell more of their transistors. Electronics engineers at the time often used these text book circuits in fuzz and booster pedal designs as clients usually wanted things fast and inexpensive. Sometimes they used nearly the exact book circuits or slightly modified forms, sometimes combinations of those different circuit stages, other times only the circuit architecture was used, but component values were changed to suit the application. That was how most circuit design was accomplished back then, and it is still done that way today. I would speculate that 90% of all pedal circuit design is based on something that previously existed. When a person is credited as the "designer" here, it is in reference to the person most directly responsible for putting the end circuit design in the pedal, regardless of whether or not it was based on something that existed previously.
• Producer and song writer Lee Hazelwood, an early pioneer of fuzz tone who was writing and recording songs with Duane Eddy around this time, has a fuzz box created by a radio station technician for use in the recording studio. Guitarist Al Casey, a top session player and song writer who also worked with Hazelwood and Duane Eddy relates (in Exclaim.ca 2007): "Lee knew a guy who worked at a radio station and he built a little box for that. This happened before all the fuzz tones. We were trying to get a good, nice clean sound. Lee wanted the distorted sound.” Al Casy used this fuzz box in recording sessions for the Sanford Clark song Go On Home, released in March 1960. This is one of the first, if not the first recorded use of an electronic circuit specifically built to create a fuzz tone. Note that this is not the first recorded use of "fuzz", as many other methods of producing fuzzy, distorted guitar tones had been used prior to this, but this was likely the first use of a solid state electronic device to produce the sound.
• Recording session engineer Glen Snoddy records Marty Robbin's hit Don't Worry in Nashville, Tennessee USA. So the story goes (there are several versions), an accident causes a Langevin tube amp module in the mixing console to blow a transformer, making Grady Martin's bass guitar on the song have a fuzzy, distorted tone. The decision is made to keep this unique "fuzz" bass solo as part of the final song, supposedly recorded in late 1960, but not released as a single that year. It first appeared in January 1961 on a greatest hits album. It shot to the #1 spot in the country charts in February. This is generally accepted as the first recorded "fuzz tone" circuit, although Sanford Clark's Go On Home also featured a fuzz box and was actually recorded earlier that year. Grady Martin continued to use this fuzz tone effect in his recordings, including an instrumental called The Fuzz in January 1961. Country musicians, mostly from the Nashville area, picked up on the fad and featured fuzz tone guitar on various recordings for the next few years. These included songs recorded by Carl Butler, Claude Gray, Darrel McCall, and Glen Garrison.
• California pedal steel player, session musician, and electronics technician Orville 'Red' Rhodes creates a fuzz circuit for use in the recording studio, housed in a small metal box with a distortion level knob and bypass switch. No production version of the pedal was ever made, although it is reported that Red made several of these Rhodes fuzz boxes for fellow musicians, including Nokie Edwards of The Ventures and Billy Strange. Rhodes also made other effects, such as the Rhodes compressor, used by Nokie Edwards and the guitarist for The Carpenters, Tony Peluso (who incidentally was also one of the first guitarists recorded using a Big Muff!). Rhodes later created the Royal Amplifier Shop in California where he made amplifiers and guitar pickups, working with David Schecter and Michael Tobias, who each went on to start their own guitar companies. Some sources state the Rhodes fuzz was actually made in 1962, and that Red was inspired to make it after hearing Marty Robbin's hit Don't Worry. However, Billy Stange used it on a recording in 1961, and Nokie Edwards of the Ventures stated he was also using it 1961. Others say Rhodes actually made it in 1960.
The Ventures contracted a company to make Ventures amplifiers in 1966, which were made under the Award brand name, but were also branded as a Mosrite product in a licensing deal (Mosrite built the guitars used by The Ventures, but not these amps). The Rhodes fuzz box circuit was supposedly built into the distortion channel of these amps, which were based on a prototype Ventures amp which did include it. Mosrite also started building their own line of amps, which included their Mosrite Fuzz-rite circuit in the distortion channel (making two Mosrite branded amps built by different makers). Both amp lines were very short lived as both companies went bankrupt shortly thereafter. Nokie Edward's has stated he suspects it was the same Rhodes fuzz circuit used in both: "The transistor fuzz box I had been using for years was design by Red Rhodes. We had it built into our prototype and the Award amps, and I believe that Mosrite also used Red's design." The fuzz in the Mosrite built amp and the Mosrite Fuz-zrite fuzz box do sound like the same effect, but very different from the Ventures Rhodes fuzz sound. Ed Sanner is credited with designing the Fuzz-rite in 1966.
• Session guitarist Billy Strange, a friend of session musician and tech Red Rhodes, uses the Rhodes fuzz box on the the Ann Margaret recording I Just Don't Understand. This is one of the first recorded uses of a fuzz box.
• Nokie Edwards of the Ventures is seen using the Rhodes fuzz box in Hawaii, December '61.
• The Ventures use the Red Rhodes fuzz box to record the song 2000 Pound Bee. Billy Strange is credited with playing the fuzz tone guitar. This is generally accepted as the first recorded use of a fuzz pedal in a 'rock and roll' song. According to Ventures guitarist Nokie Edwards, he used the effect for several years, and it can be heard on such tracks as Walk Don't Run '64 and the Live in Japan '65 album features the effect throughout.
• Maestro Fuzz-Tone (FZ-1). In the US, engineer Glen Snoddy, seeing fuzz tone becoming increasingly popular since it appeared in the bass solo (caused by a faulty tube preamp) on Marty Robbins song Don't Worry, creates a transistor circuit to replicate the fuzz tone. Glen states (in the book Fuzz and Feedback by Tony Bacon) : “Later when I found out what it was, I set about trying to develop that sound using transistors. We fooled around with it and got the sound like we wanted. I drove up to Chicago and presented it to Mr. Berlin, the boss at the Gibson company, and he heard that it was something different. So they agreed to take it and put it out as a commercial product." Gibson becomes the first to the market with a mass produced consumer fuzz circuit. The first production version was built into Gibson bass guitars, then later in a stand-alone floor pedal form (FZ-1). The design is credited to Snoddy and fellow Tennesseean Revis V. Hobbs, an engineer with the famous WSM Radio in Nashville. Many other fuzz pedals that would follow were knockoffs or modifications of this first transistorized fuzz circuit. The FZ-1 is generally accepted as the first production fuzz pedal ever made, and the pedal that would later spawn the British fuzz tone craze. Gibson expected the pedal to be very popular and made over 5000 units on the first run. It was a disappointingly poor seller, but sales would finally come later in 1965.
• (circa 1962) In the UK, Vox supposedly has a prototype clone of the Gibson Maestro Fuzz-Tone made by engineer Dick Denney (designer of the Vox AC-15 and AC-30 amps), but chooses not to bring it to market.
• The Beatles are seen using the USA made Maestro Fuzz-Tone in the studio.
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• In the UK Dave Davies of the Kinks records You Really Got Me. Supposedly, the fuzz tone was produced by slashing the speaker of his cabinet with a razor blade, using a Vox AC-30 amp. This was one of the first popular uses of the fuzz tone in a power chord riff of a Rock and Roll song, though by no means the only one.
• Keith Richards records the Rolling Stones #1 hit (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction with the Maestro Fuzz-Tone (FZ-1) on May 10, 1965, marking the real beginning of the fuzz pedal era world wide. It was released in the US in June 1965 and the UK August 1965.
•Jeff Beck uses a fuzz pedal in the Yardbirds single Heart Full of Soul, released in the UK June 1965 and in the US July 1965. This song was released nearly two months before the Rolling Stones Satisfaction in the UK, and a month after it in the US.
• MKI Tone Bender fuzz pedal (Mark I). The first British made fuzz pedal to market, to compete with the Gibson Maestro, which being an American made pedal was difficult to acquire in the UK. The three transistor circuit was based on the Glen Snoddy designed/American made Maestro Fuzz-Tone of 1962. According to electronics engineer Gary Hurst, he was the designer. Hurst's story of the origin is that Vic Flick (creator of the James Bond theme) brought a Maestro Fuzz-Tone to him at Macaris Music Exchange (where Gary worked in London) because he was not completely happy with the sound. Gary copied the Maestro circuit for him, tweaking it slightly and changing from 3v to 9v to increase the sustain. The Tone Bender (Mark I) was based on this three transistor prototype, and advertisements for it clearly state Gary Hurst was the designer. In the beginning the MK I was made in a wood case by Gary and his brother in their home in London, and sold out of Macaris Music Exchange shops. Gary then partnered with Larry Macari, who created Sola Sounds Ltd. of London, which handled all manufacturing and distribution through Macaris. The Tone Bender was one of the first pedals to feature true bypass switching.
• Maestro Fuzz-Tone (FZ-1A). A revised version of the 1962 Maestro Fuzz-Tone, created after the Rolling Stones popularized the Fuzz-Tone in thier hit #1 Satisfaction. Over 40,000 of this version were made. Later an FZ-1B version was released, changing from Germanium transistors to Silicon.
•The patent for the Maestro Fuzz-Tone was granted on Oct. 19, 1965 (filed on May 3, 1962).
• Buzz-Around. Early two-knob fuzz pedal. Later made in a three-knob version after Baldwin buys Burns Guitars in 1965.
• Fuzzy, designed by Italian sound engineer Pepe Rush. A red, wedge shaped fuzz box, based on the Maestro Fuzz-Tone. The control knobs were for volume and "pep".
• Pete Townshend uses the MKI Tone Bender in 1965 and '66.
• Jeff Beck uses the MKI Tone Bender on the Yardbirds Heart Full of Soul. According to designer Gary Hurst, Jeff beck often broke the wood boxes the original MK I Tone Benders were housed in, inspiring Gary to have a stronger sheet metal enclosure made.
• Mick Ronson uses the MKI Tone Bender and it becomes his main fuzz box, later used in David Bowie's Spiders from Mars band.
• Paul McCartney uses a Tone Bender on Think for Yourself, during the Beatles' Rubber Soul recording sessions on November 8th, 1965. The pedal could either be a Tone Bender Mk I, which was already on the market, a Tone Bender MKI.5, as Gary Hurst has claimed it was, or a prototpe of the Vox version of the Tone Bender, as Vox designer Dick Denney has claimed. Both Denney and Hurst worked together briefly while Hurst was an engineer at Vox. Denney claimed he gave the Beatles the proto Vox fuzz in 1965. If true, the Vox prototype may be what later became the msyterious Mk I.V Tone Bender, possibly created as a special order for Vox. Hurst has stated he did repair work on the Beatles gear locally, and even brought them fuzz pedals to use in the studio. Regardless which story is true, or if both are, it appears some version of a Tone Bender was used.
• Jimmy Page uses a fuzz box in a January 1965 David Bowie session in London. Unknown which fuzz it was, but Roger Mayer did design a fuzz pedal for Jimmy in 1964 (according to Mayer), based on a Maestro Fuzz-Tone. This may have also been a standard Maestro Fuzz-Tone. He was also seen with a Maestro in 1966.
• FUZZ-rite fuzz pedal made by Mosrite in the USA. It was designed by Ed Sanner. One of Ed's friends, a steel guitar player, had issues with the sound cutting out on his Mastero Fuzz-Tone when the transistors got cold. Ed designed a new circuit to fix the problem. Mosrite (pronounces moze-rite), a guitar manufacturer in Bakersfield, California, liked the pedal and made a production version called the FUZZ-rite. The same circuit was also built into the distortion channel Mosrite amplifiers about a year later. It is rumored the Fuzz-rite circuit may have been based on the 1961 Red Rhodes fuzz circuit which was built into a prototype amp the Ventures had made, and wanted Mosrite to make in 1966. Mosrite could not make the amps in time, but built their own amp with the fuzz built in soon after.
• Astrotone and Sam Ash Fuzz Box - Fuzz box made in New York City by Astro Amp/Universal Amplifier Corp. The Astrotone was also rebranded for New York based Sam Ash music company as the Sam Ash Fuzz Box. The Sam Ash version was sold in the identical Astrotone enclosure, then moved into it's own enclosure. Minor changes to the circuit component values were made during the production. These were sold until around 1968. This was one of the first American fuzz pedals to feature a tone knob (bass on left, treble on right).
Vox V816 Distortion Booster designed by Vox/JMI engineer Dick Denney. The V816 was a small 2 transistor fuzz, in a thin red rectangular shaped box. It had a built in plug and an on/off switch, similar to some Electro-Harmonix plug-in pedals like the Muff Fuzz that would come later. It was basically the same circuit as the Fuzz Face and Tone Bender Mark 1.5, but was actually on the market in 1966 before the Fuzz Face, and appeared in an February '66 Vox price list and a June parts manual. There was also a V8161 version with a volume control, a V8163 version in a square plastic box with built in plug. The two transistor amplifier circuit found in these fuzz boxes circuits were based on a common text book amplifier design, and could be found transistor manuals in the early 1960's. Brian May of Queen used the VDB circuit inside his Red Special guitar for a period of time.
• Tone Bender (Mark I.V) by Sola Sound of London. A different circuit than the original '65 Tone Bender, this time with 2 transistors. Essentially the same curcuit as the Vox 816 Disortion Booster and the Arbiter Fuzz Face. It is unknown which came first, but it is likely the Tone Bender came before the Fuzz Face, and the Fuzz Face circuit was a copy of either the Vox DB or the Tone Bender. Gary Hurst, engineer for the Mark I Tone Bender, claims he designed this circuit in February 1966 (Gary has also stated at one time that there never was a two transistor Tone-Bender, which this is, so take that into account), and that it came before the Fuzz Face. The Vox DB was advertised in February '66, but it is unknown if it was on the market by then, but the Mk 1.V is known to have been on the market at least by February 1966. This pedal is an oddity, since it appears to be identical to the Vox circuit, does not include the name Sola Sound on the enclosure, and was immediately replaced by the three transistor Sola Sound Tone-Bender Professional Mark II. It has been rumored that this was actually intended to be a Vox Tone Bender, and Vox engineer Dick Denney even claimed he gave the Beatles a proto Vox Tone Bender in 1965 that was used on Rubber Soul, recorded in late 1965.
• Rangemaster Fuzzbug by Sola Sound of London. Same circuit as the MKI.V Tone Bender, but in a different enclosure.
• Arbiter Fuzz Face Distortion Unit pedal made by Arbiter Electronics Ltd. in the UK. This may have been cloned from the MK I.V Tone Bender circuit, or the Vox Distortion Booster. Both were advertised in early 1966, but the FF came to market nar the edn of '66. It is claimed that the Tone Bender version came first by TB designer Gary Hurst, and both utilize essentially the same circuit. One clue that the FF came after the TB was the fact that the instruction sheet for the FF states it is a "battery powered tone-bending unit". Jimi Hendrix was the poster boy for this fuzz pedal, making it hugely popular, and he was first seen using one in November 1966. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd also used this pedal heavily throughout the 1970's. Sometime around 1968 the brand name changed to Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. Early FF's were red or grey colored. The idea for the round face shaped came to Ivor Arbiter from looking at a microphone stand. The original units used Germanium transistors, later changed to Silicon. They were sold until around 1975.
• Zonk Machine pedal by JHS (John Hornby Skewes) of Leeds England, a clone of the Tone Bender MK1 circuit. Possibly on the market as early as 1965.
• Pepbox WEM Rush, another fuzz pedal based on the Maestro Fuzz-Tone. This was licensed to WEM by Italian sound engineer Pepe Rush, though it is different from his '65 version, the Fuzzy, which was a Maestro FZ-1A clone in a red wedge enclosure. This early version was in a silver wedge shaped box similar to the Fuzz-Tone. A version in a larger enclosure was also made in 1968, called the WEM Rush Pep Box.
• Tone Bender Professional Mark II by Sola Sound of London, designed by Gary Hurst. An upgrade to the MK I.V, now a three transistor circuit. It had a much more powerful fuzz tone and became one of the most popular fuzz pedals in the UK. Sola also made the same pedal as the Rangemaster Fuzzbug (made previously with the MKI.V circuit), one for Rotosound, and one for Park as the Park Fuzz Sound.
• Vox Tone Bender Professional Mark II, a very rare OEM label version made for Vox by Sola Sound of London. Identical to the Tone Bender Professional Mark II.
• Marshall Supa Fuzz. Rebranded Tone Bender MKI made by Sola Sound of London for Marshall, made in a very short run.
Rotosound Fuzz Box, an OEM label version made for Rotosound by Sola Sound of London. Identical to the Tone Bender Professional Mark II.
• Vox Tone Bender. Made in Italy by the Jen Company, based on the MK I.V two transistor Tone Bender circuit, very similar to the Fuzz Face sound. This is probably the most well known version of the Tone Bender. The circuit is nearly identical to the Vox Distortion Booster and the Tone Bender MK1.V
• Buzzaround by Baldwin-Burns limited.Very rare three knob, three transistor fuzz similar to the Sola Sound Tone Bender MkII/Vox Tone Bender MKIII/Italian Elka Dizzy Tone circuit. Sold in the UK, but likely Baldwin/Burns Guitars had the manufacturing outsourced, possibly to another country. This was one of the first British fuzz pedals with a tone knob (labeled timbre, treble on left, bass on right). According to the November 1966 issue of Beat Instrumental, this was a new version of the original two-knob Buzz-Around, which was likely made in 1965, before Baldwin bought Burns: "A new Baldwin-Burns fuzz box has been introduced. It is a fresh version of the existing Buzz-Around and incorporates a special sustain effect. It is available now at a cost of 10 guineas.". Robert Fripp states it was discontinued in 1968. Gary Hurst claims he did not design this, but he did make the Buzzaround reissue prototypes for Burns in 2009, which were built into the incorrect Elka Dizzy Tone shaped enclosures.
• Selmer Buzz-Tone. A three transistor fuzz box made in the UK. Shown at the September '66 British Musical Instruments Trade Show and advertised in Beat Instrumental in 1966. Syd barrett of Pink Floyd used one in 1966-67.
• Paul McCartney is pictured using the a Tone Bender during the Revolver recording sessions in April 1966.
• John Lennon is pictured using the early wedge shaped WEM Pepbox Rush pedal during the Revolver recording sessions in April 1966.
• Jimmy Page is spotted using what appears to be a Maestro Fuzz-Tone on stage at the Casino Ballroom on August 23rd, 1966.
• Jimi Hendrix used a Arbiter Fuzz Face in the second week of November 1966 in Munich, Germany, where fans got into the sounds so much they pulled him off stage, breaking his guitar neck, and promting Jimmy to smash it on stage for the first time. Jimi first recorded with Fuzz Face on November 24, 1966, for the Love Or Confusion sessions.
• Octavia (Evo 1 version). In February 1967 Jimi Hendrix records Purple Haze with a fuzz pedal and the custom Octavia pedal made by his tech, Roger Mayer, who also built and modified effects and gear for Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Roger was 19 and had only just met Jimi in January. The band members kept Rogers identity a secret at the time (according to band memebers). This is generally considered the first use of an octave doubling pedal on record. Jimi also records Foxy Lady and other songs for the landmark fuzz tone album, Are You Experienced, released May 1967. There was no production version of the Octavia made at the time, as these were custom built effects, but Mayer would make and market a much different version several years after Jimi's death. The original Octavia was discarded after Jimi used it and several revised versions were used thereafter, according to Mayer. He moved on to designing recording consoles for Olympic Studios in London after 1968, although he claims he stayed in contact with Jimi and continued to evlolve the Octavia design. Interestingly, an original Hendrix used Mayer Octavia was cloned in 2007. It is nearly identical to the input stage amplifier of a Helios recording console that hit the market in 1969. The Helios console designer (and Helios founder) Richard Swettingham had previously worked at Olympic Studios, and designed the consoles used for the recording of Are You Experienced in 1967. He founded Helios to make these same custom consoles on comission, so it appears the Octavia Mayer built was possibly based on Swettingham's circuit.
• Marshall Supa Fuzz. This was the second Supa Fuzz version, a rebranded Tone Bender Professional Mark II made by Sola Sound of London for Marshall. Almost exactly the same circuit as the Mark II.
• Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-1 - A clone of the Maestro FZ-1A, made in Japan by Ace Tone circa 1966-67. Ace Tone was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi, who later founded Roland.
• Foxey Lady V1. A rebranded version of the two knob Mosrite FUZZ-rite, sold by guitar manufacturer Guild in the USA. It was named after the Jimi Hendrix song. The FUZZ-rite was an Ed Sanner design, made by Mosrite, who simply repackaged it for Guild. Supposedly only around 1000 of these pedal were made before Mosrite went bankrupt in 1968.
• Foxey Lady V2. A new version of the two knob Foxey Lady fuzz. Mike Matthews briefly had these made for Guild, manufactured by Aul Instruments in the USA. The circuit was different than the Foxey Lady V1.
• Goya Panther Fuzz-Tone and Treble Booster, made in USA. Basically this is a Fuzz Face circuit combined with a treble booster. Shown in the 1967 Goya catalog. This may have been the same pedal as the Applied Fuzz and Treble Booster, just reboxed. The Goya Fury may also be the same fuzz circuit.
• Pete Townshend first used a 1966 Gibson Maestro Fuzz-Tone fuzz box on stage. Pete was primarily using the Marshall Supa Fuzz (Mark II Tone Bender) along with an occasional Arbiter Fuzz Face.
• Jimi Hendrix records Axis Bold As Love with a custom fuzz pedal made by his tech, Roger Mayer. It would later be released in a production version called the Axis Fuzz, not to be confused with the Electro-Harmonix Axis fuzz from 1968, which is a different fuzz circuit.
• Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd uses a Vox Tone Bender at the Games for May concert on May 12th.
• Linear Power Booster (LPB-1) EH-2001 and 2002 . One of the first pre-amp overdrive effects, packaged in a small plug-in box that could be plugged driecty into the guitar or amp. Made by Electro-Harmonix in the USA.
• Foxey Lady V3. A new version of this two knob Foxey Lady fuzz circuit made by Electro-Harmonix for Guild in the USA, designed by amp repairman and engineer Bill Berko in New York. It replaced the previous Foxey Lady pedal made by Mosrite for Guild when Mosrite went bankrupt in 1968.
• Axis Fuzz by Electro-Harmonix. A rebranded Foxey Lady V3 that E-H made for Guild, not to be confused with the Roger Mayer Axis pedal made for Jimi Hendrix. Designed by Bill Berko.
• Super-Fuzz by Univox. This is an octave fuzz pedal, designed to emulate the Jimi Hendrix Octavia sound, made by Unicord in Japan, designed by Shin-ei. This became Pete Townshend's main fuzz box on just about every live Who concert from this point to 1978. The earliest appearance I have seen for this is the 1968 Univox catalog. It was also rebranded and/or repackaged as the Ibanez Standard Fuzz, with a different input stage, the Aria Diamond Fuzz, Mica Fuzz, Bruno Fuzz Machine, Fuzz Machine.
• Fender Blender by Fender. This is another octave fuzz pedal designed to emulate the Jimi Hendrix Octavia sound. Made famous in the 1990s by Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins.
• Tone Bender Mark III by Sola Sound of London. A new three knob version of the three transistor Tone Bender with an added tone control to adjust treble and bass, and a new tapered body enclosure. Several different versions of the circuit were made, with minor variations, but giving a wide variety of tones. The same circuit variations appeared in the MK IV version in a different enclosure. OEM labeled versions in a different enclosure than the Sola version were made for Park, Rotosound, and the most common one made for Vox, which was labeled "Mark III". The Sola versions in the MK III enclosure are rare, an are not labeled with "Mark III".
Vox Tone Bender Mark III, an OEM label version made for Vox by Sola Sound of London. Identical to the Tone Bender Mark III circuits, though there were many variations of the circuit. The enclosure was different than the Sola Sounf MK III. This is the most common of the Mark III versions.
• Park Fuzz Sound, an OEM label version made for Park by Sola Sound of London. Identical to the Tone Bender Mark III.
• Rotosound Tone Bender Mark III, an OEM label version made for Rototsound by Sola Sound of London. Identical to the Tone Bender Mark III.
• WEM (Watkins Electric Music) Rush Pep Box. A new version of the Pepbox WEM Rush in a larger enclosure, which was based on the Maestro Fuzz-Tone. This was licensed to WEM by Italian sound engineer Pepe Rush. The long red enclosure was one of the largest fuxx box enclosures ever made.
• Sinphoton by Montarbo. An Italian made fuzz pedal with two clipping diode stages. Very Big Muff sounding.
• Jimmy Page uses the Tone Bender Professional Mark II on the recordings for Led Zeppelin, their debut album. Jimmy mentions that "a friend" made this for him (the article states Gary Hurst by name), and that he used it for 75% of his sound. This is from a 1968 interview done prior to Jimmy forming the "new" Yardbirds, which was later renamed Led Zeppelin. It is likely this was the fuzz pedal Jimmy had been using since 1966. In later years Jimmy seems to have confused effects maker Roger Mayer for effects maker Gary Hurst, by naming Mayer as his pedal maker. Roger Mayer did design fuzz pedal for Jimmy in 1964 (according to Mayer), based on a Maestro Fuzz-Tone, but that was only used in Jimmy's pre-Zeppelin session days. Jimmy was seen with a Gary Hurst MKII Tone Bender from 1968-69, and again in 1971, and in the It Might Get Loud film he again names Mayer as the pedal maker, but the pedal shown in the film is the Hurst MKII Tone Bender reissue from the 1990s. One of Jimmy's original MKII's, possibly his pmly original, supposedly died during the Walking Into Clarksdale sessions in 1997. Roger mayer has denied ever modifying, or making a fuzz pedal for Page in a MKII enclosure.
• Pete Townshend briefly uses the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and Univox Super-Fuzz. He would use the Super-Fuzz into the late 1970's on stage.
• Big Muff Pi V1 (EH-3003). In the USA Electro-Harmonix creates the first Big Muff, designed by Bob Myer and Mike Matthews, now known as the Triangle Big Muff. Considered a fuzz pedal (though I think a Muff and Fuzz are two different things), the BMP was one of the few original fuzz designs created since the original Maestro Fuzz-Tone in 1965, which spawned most of the other fuzz pedals in the 1960s. The Big Muff would go on to be heavily copied just as the Maestro was. An early perf board version was on the market in late 1969 according to some sources, including Electro-harmonix founder Mike Matthews and original owners, and a printed pcb version was on the market in 1970.
• Muff Fuzz (EH2008 and 2009) from Electro-Harmonix. Simple 2 transistor fuzz built in the same plug-in enclosure as the E-H Linear Power Booster. Similar to the Fuzz Face circuit. Later reissued in floor pedal form as the Little Muff Pi, and then again as the Muff Overdrive.
• Sola Sound Tone Bender Mark IV by Sola Sound of London. The Sola Sound Tone Bender Mark III in a new Mark IV thin bodied rectangular enclosure. Essentially the same variety of circuit variations seen in the MK III, with a wide variety of tones from unit to unit. Branded Sola Sound at the top of the case, with MARK IV above the foot switch. It came in several colors, including yellow, orange, and silver enclosures. These are very rare.
• Jennings Fuzz - A Dick Denney engineered fuzz pedal made by Jennings Electronic Development. Tom Jennings, founder of Vox, started this company after he sold Vox in 1967 and brought Vox engineer, and designer of the AC-30 amp, Dick Denney with him. This is another Fuzz Face style circuit, with a single volume knob control. Denney also revised the circuit for a later version, and there were OEM branded versions made for RotoSound and others. In the 1990s Denney and Macari's of London released a version of this circuit called the Colorsound Fuzz Box. In the advertising for the Colorsound version, there is an interesting claim that Denney designed the original circuit in 1961! The circuit does resemble the input stage of the short lived Vox T60 amp head, from 1963.
• Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-2 - A clone of the 1968 Unixov Super-Fuzz, made in Japan by Ace Tone circa 1968-72. Ace Tone was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi, who later founded Roland. The FM-2 is shown in the February 1972 Ace Tone catalog.
• George Harrison is seen using a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face.
• Jimmy Page uses the Rotosound Tone Bender Mark III in Led Zeppelin, on three different occasions in June 1969.
• Foxey Lady V4. Three knob version. A rebranded Big Muff V1 made by Electro-Harmonix for Guild.
• Tone Bender Fuzz by Sola Sound of London. The same as the Sola Sound Tone Bender MK IV in the thin bodied rectangular box with new graphics, and the Sola Sound brand minimized to very small type. The Tone Bender Fuzz featured minor circuit variations throughout the 1970s, giving a wide variety of tones. It usually came in a silver or grey enclosure. There was also a yellow version with a "hit it" graphic below the foot switch. The circuit started with Germanium transistors like previous Tone Benders, then changed to the more commonly used Silicon. There was a reissue made in the 1990's but it used a version of the simplified Big Muff circuit from the Jumbo Tone Bender, not one of the Tone Bender Fuzz/Mk IV versions.
• Colorsound Power Boost made by Sola Sound of London and marketed under their new brand name Colorsound. The PB was an 18v bass and treble booster with a drive knob, housed in a bright orange case. Often confused in references as an "Orange" bass and treble booster. Some sources state this was actually first made in 1969, but from my research, the Colorsound brand was not created and used by Sola Sound until 1970, the first ads appeared in 1970, and the preamp core of the circuit (likely where the design originated) appeared in a Mullard application book in April 1970. The PB was later renamed the Colorsound Overdriver in a gray box, and much later rereleased with a master volume added. Possibly designed by Gary Hurst. Gary mentioned he was working on a new bass and treble boost back in the January 1966 issue of Beat Instrumental, when British booster units were very popular. It was described as being a volume pedal. Gary did design a bass and treble booster housed in a volume pedal case for CBS/Arbiter, called the Power Driver, though that was much later in 1974 or 1975.
• CSL Super Fuzz, an OEM label version made for Charles Summerfield Ltd by Sola Sound of London. CSL was music instrument retailer in the UK. Identical to the Tone Bender Mark IV/Tone Bender Fuzz circuit, but in a different enclosure. Very rare.
• Park Fuzz Sound, an OEM label version made for Park by Sola Sound of London. Identical to the Tone Bender Mark IV/Tone Bender Fuzz.
• Carlsbro Fuzz, an OEM label version made for Carlsbro by Sola Sound of London. Identical to the Tone Bender Mark IV/Tone Bender Fuzz.
• Jordan Creator. A modified Big Muff circuit clone made by Jordan in the USA. Possibly the very first Big Muff clone.
• Colorsound Overdriver made by Sola Sound of London. A renamed Colorsound Power Boost, this time in a gray box, and changed from 18v to 9v. Later reissued with a master volume knob. There was also a version made for Vox in a different enclosure around 1971, in the same gray color, with the Power Boost name. The Overdriver factory schematic dates 14.6.71.
• Sola Sound Wah Fuzz / Wow Fuzz made by Sola Sound of London. A combo fuzz and wah circuit. Schematic is dated November 1971.
• Uni-Drive by Univox. This was a booster and volume pedal combo made by Unicord in Japan, enclosed in a wah style foot pedal with a rocker treadle. The earliest appearance I have seen for this is a December 1970 Univox sales bulletin. Jimi Page used the Uni-Drive in Led Zeppelin beginning in 1971.
• Carlos Santana purchases a V1 Big Muff in February '71. Santana's well known tone was primarily from loud Fender Twin Reverbs and later a Fennder Princeton amp with an extra gain stage added by Randall Smith, which Smith eventually developed into the Mesa Boogie amps Santana was later known for. Though often associated with the Big Muff in Electro-Harmonix advertising, it is unknown if Santana ever recorded with one. It was possibly used on the Santana (aka Santana III) album released later in 1971, though he may have used a borrowed Big Muff on some tracks from Abraxas. Several of those solos sound very much like a Big Muff through a Fender amp.
• Jimmy Page uses the Univox Uni-Drive in March 1971 for Led Zeppelin's Ireland/UK tour.
• Little Muff Pi (EH-1008) from Electro-Harmonix, circa 1971. This was the E-H Muff Fuzz effect packaged in a floor pedal enclosure. This transistor version was replaced with an op-amp version circa 1975-76.
• V1 Big Muff used by Tony Peluso for the solo on The Carpenters' hit Goodbye to Love. This is the first well known use of the Big Muff on a recording, and probably the first use of a fuzz guitar solo on a love song ballad. It is also one of the earliest examples of what became known as a power ballad. A Gibson guitar and the Big Muff were recorded directly into the recording board with no amplifier.
• Roland Bee Baa made by Roland Corporation in Japan. A fuzz/treble booster combo.
• Jen Double Sound Super Fuzz Wah made by Jen in Italy. Fuzz side of the circuit is identical to the Vox Distortion Booster.
• Big Muff used live by guitarist Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers in '73-74. The (Whos) That Lady solo is played with a Muff combined with an Maestro Phase Shifter. An Octavia pedal, hand made by Jimi Hendrix tech, Roger Mayer, was supposedly recorded direct to the mixing board for teh studio version, but the studio version sounds like it was also the Muff/Maestro combo. It has a very Santana/Hendrix inspired feel and sound.
• Big Muff Pi V2 (EH-3003) by Electro-Harmonix, now commonly referred to as the Ram's Head Big Muff, The first version with the "47" circuit.
• Foxey Lady V5. Large box, three knob version. A rebranded Big Muff V2 made by Electro-Harmonix for Guild.
• Marveltone Distortion Sustainer (OEM Electro-Harmonix). A rebranded Big Muff V2 made by Electro-Harmonix for Targ & Dinner. Circa 1973.
• Wabash Distortion Sustainer (OEM Electro-Harmonix). Circa '73-74. A rebranded Big Muff V2 made by Electro-Harmonix for David Wexler & Co. Circa 1973.
• Jen Jumbo Fuzz made by Jen Elettronica in Italy. A modified Big Muff clone with a gate circuit, also rebranded as the Dallas Arbiter Jumbo Fuzz, Sam Ash Jumbo Fuzz, and Sam Ash Fuzzola II . It was built in Jen's Tonebender style case, with sliders on top instead of knobs. Based on the Jen case style used (with the battery door on the bottom), the numerical codes on the back, the techno font used (popular from 72 into the 1980's), packaging style, and other OEM versions dated the same way, I estimate this pedal was made circa 1973-75. The Dallas Arbiter Jumbo Fuzz first appeared in a 1973 Sound City price list and catalog.
• Colorsound Supa Tone Bender by Sola Sound of London, branded under their Colorsound label. A modified Big Muff clone. This was essentially a four transistor Big Muff circuit minus one set of diode clippers from the first gain stage. The Supa Tone Bender was also made in a three transistor version (Big Muff circuit minus the recovery stage). That same circuit also appeared in the 1973 Tone Bender Fuzz case and much later in the Colorsound Jumbo Tonebender case.
• Ace Tone Fuzz Master FM-3 - A modified clone of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, made in Japan by Ace Tone circa 1973. Ace Tone was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi, who left to found Roland in March 1972. The FM-3 is not in the February '72 catalog, so it may have already been discontinued, but it is more likely that it came out later in 1972-'73 as the V1 Big Muff circuit is closely follows was a 1972 model. It was the last pedal in the Fuzz Master series.
• Tone Bender Fuzz tone control version, by Sola Sound of London, circa 1972-73. The same silver enclosure as the circa 1969/70 Sola Sound Tone Bender Fuzz, but this version featured a simplified Big Muff circuit rather than the Tone Bender MK III/IV circuit. The only visual difference between this and the standard Tone Bender Fuzz enclosure was the word TONE instead of TREBLE and BASS under the tone knob. This three transistor circuit was also used later in the Colorsound Jumbo Tone Bender. There was a Tone Bender Fuzz reissue made in the 1990's that used a version of this simplified Big Muff circuit but the case was marked TREBLE and BASS instead of TONE.
• Lyle Distortion Sustainer (OEM Electro-Harmonix). A rebranded Big Muff V2 made by Electro-Harmonix for L.D. Heater Music Co. Circa 1974.
• Maxon OD-801 Distortion Sustainer (D&S ). A modified Big Muff clone made by the Nisshin Onpa company in Japan for their Maxon brand. This exact pcb appeared in other Maxon pedals, like the Maxon Magum Distortion MD-9, and Maxon Jet Driver JD-01. Sold in Japan.
• Ibanez Overdrive OD-850 (OEM Maxon). This was an OEM version of the Maxon OD-801 D&S pedal, which was a modified Big Muff clone. This version was licensed to Ibanez for worldwide distribution. There are various versions of this circuit in other Ibanez pedals, like the Ibanez Overdrive OD-9, and Ibanez 60's Fuzz Soundtank SF-5.
• Phil Taylor, David Gilmour's gear tech for Pink Floyd, introduces David to the V2 Big Muff.
•Electronic Sounds Fuzz King, UFO Fuzzman, Electronic Sounds Sustain. Big Muff Pi knockoffs from the Italian made plastic cased Electronic Sounds series, manufactured from 1975 to 1979. Sold under 3 brand names - Electronic Sounds, Dallas Arbiter, and the UFO brand for Meazzi. Electronic Sounds was owned by Tone Bender designer Gary Hurst. These pedals were marketed as "a Gary Hurst design", but in fact the Fuzz King was simply a knockoff of the Sola Sound Supa Tonebender, itself a knockoff of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi. This seems to imply that Gary may have been responsible for the original Supa Tonbender while working with Sola Sound. The Fuzz King was a three knob version, and the Sustain was a two knob version with what appears to be a trim pot inside for the tone control. The UFO Fuzzman was the same circuit as the Fuzz King, only in a differently shaped plastic case. The pedals were made in Italy, possibly by Jen Elettronics, but the case designs and knobs do not match many known Jen made pedals.
• Colorsound Jumbo Tone Bender by Sola Sound of London, circa 1976-77. A simplified three transistor Big Muff circuit, minus one set of diode clippers from the first gain stage, and the final recovery stage. A nearly identical circuit was used in the 1973 Colorsound Supa Tone Bender. There was a Tone Bender Fuzz reissue made in the 1990's that also used a version of this simplified Big Muff circuit.
• Big Muff Pi V3 (EH-3003) from Electro-Harmonix
• Little Muff Pi Op-amp version of 1971 Little Muff Pi, from Electro-Harmonix.
• Little Big Muff Pi (EH-1009, EHSP1). One knob version of the Big Muff V3 from Electro-Harmonix. Transistor version.
• Big Muff Pi V4 (EH-3003) and V5 tone bypass Big Muff Pi (EH-1322) from Electro-Harmonix. These were the op-amp versions.
• Little Big Muff Pi (EH-1322 V4/5 circuit). Op-amp version from Electro-Harmonix
• Deluxe Big Muff Pi (EH1330, EH1330A) from Electro-Harmonix. Circa 1978.
• Big Muff Pi V6 (EH-3034) tone bypass transistor version from Electro-Harmonix
• Little Big Muff . EH3034 transistor version from Electro-Harmonix.
• David Gilmour records Pink Floyd's The Wall album with his '73 era V2 Big Muff as the main distortion pedal. He records the two legendary Comfortably Numb solos with it.
• Muff Fuzz. Op-amp version from Electro-Harmonix. Circa 1979.
• Deluxe Big Muff Pi (EH-3053 and 3054A, B, and C) from Electro-Harmonix
• Deluxe Big Muff Pi used by guitarist J Mascis on the debut album by Dinosaur jr. Dinosaur would be an influential band for many other bands that came out of the Grunge/Alternative music scene of the 1990s.
• Red Army Overdrive. First Russian made Big Muff circuit released by Mike Matthews/Sovtek.
1990 or 1991
• Russian made "Civil War" Big Muff Pi V7 from Electro-Harmonix/Sovtek, a rebranded Red Army Overdrive. Commonly referred to as the 'Civil War' Big Muff for the blue and gray US Civil War colors used.
• The Smashing Pumpkins release their landmark album Siamese Dream, featuring heavy use of the Big Muff Pi V4 (EH-3003) op-amp version and V5 tone bypass Big Muff Pi (EH-1322) transistor version from Electro-Harmonix. The op-amp Big Muff was the core of the album's guitar sound.
• David Gilmour used the Civil War Big Muff on Pink Floyd's Division Bell album, and subsequent tour.
• Green Russian Big Muff Pi V7 from Electro-Harmonix/Sovtek. Tall font version. Identical to the Civil War circuit.
• Green Russian Big Muff Pi V7 from Electro-Harmonix/Sovtek. Bubble font version. Slightly different circuit to the tall font version.
• Black Russian Big Muff Pi V7 from Electro-Harmonix. Identical circuit to the green Russian.
• Black Russian Big Muff Pi V7 from Electro-Harmonix. Small box version. Slightly different circuit than the previous edition.
• Big Muff Pi USA reissue V9 from Electro-Harmonix. Revision A to the reissue circuit also came out this year.
• Mogwai Big Muff Pi V9 from Electro-Harmonix. A special branded stock USA reissue BMP made in a limited run for the band Mogwai.
• Double Muff. Two 1969 Muff Fuzz circuits in one box. Discontinued in 2008.
• Little Big Muff Pi V10 from Electro-Harmonix. Three knob nano sized Big Muff.
• Big Muff Pi USA reissue V9 from Electro-Harmonix. Circuit revision B.
• Big Muff Pi USA reissue V9 from Electro-Harmonix. Circuit revision C.
• Bass Big Muff V11 from Electro-Harmonix.. Replaced the Russian made Big Muffs.
• Nano Muff Overdrive from Electro-harmonix. Reissue of the 1969 Muff Fuzz/Little Muff Pi.
• Tone Wicker Big Muff Pi V12 from Electro-Harmonix.
• Germanium 4 Big Muff Pi V13 from Electro-Harmonix. This is a fuzz pedal and overdrive combo.
• Nano Double Muff from Electro-Harmonix.
• Deluxe Bass Big Muff from Electro-Harmonix.
Article written in 2007
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