This fuzz pedal is a blueprinted version of the old Sola Sound / Colorsound / VOX tonebenders that had three germanium transistors and a TONE knob. These are known as MK-III and MK-IV versions, also known as "thin case" Tone-Benders. The grey one (MK-III) was made in 1973. Some RotoSound and Park fuzz pedals also used this circuit. We own three original versions of these pedals which we studied to make ours. The rare yellow MK-IV model was sent to us from a customer in Germany who LOVED the sound but wanted a smaller, more reliable clone that was made and sounded EXACTLY the same. That led us to the R & D which we used to make our production pedal after we made his custom exact clone.
These fuzz pedals use 3 germanium transistors and have a TONE knob unlike the earlier MKI, MK1.5, and MK-II versions. The tone knob goes from a bassy tone to a trebly tone, it's sort of a "mix" knob in the way it works, it does not just cut highs or lows. I find it best to keep the tone knob low, around 9:00, don't think you need to keep knobs at noon.
The transistors used in the old ones are unmarked so we pulled them out and tested them to find the specifications. Then we checked our stash and found some NOS Mullard germanium transistors which we had been saving for many years that were similar. We made about 100 of these pedals with these NOS transistors. Now, we have a version with two NOS Russian transistors, which I found closest to the originals in sound and even looks, and one of the old Mullards. The Russians sound the same in the MKIV, as they are not critical in that part of the circuit. These first two transistors are in a "Darlington Pair" configuration which gives them very high gain.
- Top Jacks for tight pedalboards
- Battery power only, battery may last a year of normal use (120 hours of use).
- Volume increased over the original, for a nice loud fuzz sound that will cut through.
- Tone knob is reversed to "normal", down for bass, up for treble.
- Bias trimpot allows setting for different temperatures or different hardness/softness of tones.
- SIZE : 2 5/16" x 4 5/16", MXR size 1290 or 1590B enclosure.
- Buffers before the MK-IV do not hurt the tone much, makes it brighter and tighter. Clean up is not like a germanium Sun Face so that does not get changed much with a buffer. No problem with buffers after.
I get asked about the differences between this and our MKI.5 Sun Bender a lot. The MK1.5 is more raw and 1960s sounding, with a BIAS knob, and gets nice cleaner sounds too. The MKIV is more saturated and 1970s sounding, and has a tone control that can go from thick to thin and trebly.