Fuzz Sound MKIV (used to be badged as the MKIII) Basically a pimped out version of the Tone Bender MKIII and MKIV but with more tonal scope, more muscle and packing space age features.
First up, a few quick words on the differences between a Tone Bender MKIII and a MKIV. They do both use the same circuit blue print if you will but there are subtle and noticeable differences to each pedal in the tone department. Without over complicating matters, as I do what to get to the point, the Sola Sound made MKIII and the MKIV basically sound of their time. The early MKIII's sound fuzzy and choppy, later MKIV's sound smooth and distorted. Then there's a blurry line in the middle. Basically the biasing evolved to the point that the pedal became more overdriven than fuzzy. Ya know, I guess, to suit the needs of Musicnauts of the day.
The FS-75 is the blurry line in the middle and some. It's not a direct replica of either but the flavour I have gone for is an all out balls to the wall, big hair, big boobs, fat cars, fast food, dirty denim, dirty hippies, 8-track stereo cranking, 3-D glasses rocking fuzz tone. To quote, its: "1970 rollin' in sight"
My freaking ears
So the tone is fat and fruity. Smooth fuzz tones bordering on the sound of a quality distortion box that I grew in a pot on the window sill. Yes, I am going to use that word...organic. It's organic. It's a pedal packing three germanium Mullard transistors and lays down a tone as greasy an as fat as a pound of butter, so I think I'm allowed.
If you want a comparison, say a pedal for pedal idea of what I was aiming at here it's kinda like this. It's a nice tasty sour mash style soup made from a few sliced & diced Sola Sound MKIII & MKIV Tone Benders, a few grated Buzzarounds (remember the that one, that's related here too) all simmered on a medium heat and served up with a nice slice of Big Muff Pie. In other words. Mojo of the MKIII, the base tone and clarity of a MKIV and a Buzzaround and the go fuck yourself volume of a Big Muff.
You have unity with an original MKIV at 10 O' Clock on the Volume control, after that you have mucho boosting! Up to around 2 O'clock you have a good deal of boost with the same flavour, after that only the lords of space know. It's kinda in the ball park of the Meathead's Dirt control as it will start boosting highs and the saturation levels as it is increased. Mr.Bass player stealing your frequency? Not any more. Chop that sucker in half with your formidable clarity.
The flavour of both the original MKIII and the MKIV's with the tone control set for full treble is kinda like chewing on glass. It's fun an all but pretty useless. The treble side of the FS-75 tone control is a little more healthy shall we say. You can still get that swarm of killer bees type tone but minus the tinnitus. The bass side of this control has a little more kick also giving four string folk and lower tunings a helping hand. Past 2 O'clock on the rotation you have a little more muscle to play with over a stock MKIV.
The sustain is as you expect. Turn it up and your thing gets longer. One of my main hang ups with sound is clarity. It's easy to distort the shit out of something and get mad crazy fuzz but there is a boarder line between the two. I guess this is it. I really wanted this pedal to gel with other things so it's not totally ape shit crazy. It is a high gain fuzz, don't get me wrong. It basically stops short of that last fraction of a turn on a Buzzarounds sustain control where all the stars in space fall to earth. The FS-75 will basically stand aside a Pro MKII or say a Triangle Big Muff in the sustain department, it sings it don't scream. Though due to the fierce some volume boosting capabilities you still have the means to further push it over the edge it your really wish too.
Where to begin
Well unlike most other D*A*M pedals setting everything to noon is a good place to begin your journey. This, with most guitars and amplifiers, will give you a nice starting block. Use the pedal alone with your guitar and amp at first; do not use anything else until you get accustomed to the pedals flavour. This is a high gain germanium fuzz and has subtle layers of colouring within the tone. Let the pedal speak to you, get friendly with its ways and how it reacts to how you play. Also set out with a clean amplifier tone and at good volume levels. You don't have to have your amp crazy loud but dial in enough to give the Fuzz Sound room to breathe. This pedal is our most "modern" sounding germanium fuzz box to date but it is still of a very vintage nature. In other words, you will still have better results with low to medium output pick-ups and classic amplifiers. High gain active pick-ups and a super hi-gain modern amp might not be the best option for this pedal.
Pound for pound
What's inside? Tasty things...
1. High quality gain selected trio of genuine NOS Mullard germanium transistors.
2. Quality components and parts including BC Components metallised polyester film capacitors, SAMWHA and Vishay/BC Components Electrolytic capacitors, Arcol carbon composition resistors, Audio grade Alpha potentiometers, Bulgin style Chicken head knobs and Gold plated Neutrik audio jacks.
3. A very high quality heavy duty cast aluminium enclosure that features a super tough acrylic coating, six screw fixing and a rubber gasket sealed base plate.
4. An easy access tool free slide out battery drawer that makes battery change overs a breeze.
5. Low noise circuitry featuring the heavy use of internal shielded cable, short signal paths and single point grounding.
I know none of this is rocket science or revolutionary but just pointing out I did think about every part of this pedal and everything has its place for a reason. And yes it's a big pedal but it doesn't eat up a much room as you'd think. The internal space is well used too. Gotta let them Mullards breathe eh.
Fuzz Sound FS-75 page sound clips written and performed by Philip James Johnston. Copyright 2011 Pinstripedclips Click below to play