I can be quoted as having said I am not a fan of fuzz as a guitar effect. While this notion is still mostly true, I'm starting to come around and become more ok with it. After building my EHX Muff Fuzz and Shoe Pixel clones I'm starting to appreciate fuzz, the better I understand it. I still won't go overboard and start making a huge amount of fuzz pedals, most of which I would never use over just a plain overdrive. However, there are a few fuzz pedals that I now feel almost compelled to build, such as a Fuzz Face clone and at least one iteration of the Tonebender.
For a handful of years now I've had a pair of 2SB173 germanium transistors I took out of an old Calrad 10-75 mixer. At that point they were worthless, so I figured the components inside were worth more to me by recycling it rather than reselling it. I sat on these transistors for the longest time, debating what type of project would be worth using them in. Germanium treble boost? No, I already built a silicon one. Germanium Fuzz? No, I'm not a huge fan of fuzz. Well, maybe? After watching a video about the history of the Tonebender I started to think maybe a germanium fuzz would be a worthwhile build, but there were issues.
Old fuzz pedals use a positive ground, meaning I would have to add more to the circuit than I felt was necessary. Why couldn't there be a way to built a negative ground vintage inspired fuzz pedal? Well, there is! The project requires very few components and I could socket the transistors, so let's do it! And so I did. The resulting pedal sounds fuzzy and bright, with far too much bass. Is that the signature of a vintage germanium Fuzz Face? I couldn't tell you, but that's what I got. Am I happy with the results? Not entirely. I don't hate it, I'm just not connecting with it. I've tried silicon PNPs and they have a much more mellow bass while sounding almost identical in the fuzz characteristic.
|2SB173 Transistors in circuit
I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with this circuit. Technically it's another pedal circuit that I've built and I'm proud of it, sure, but it didn't quite scratch the itch that I've had to use the germanium transistors, which was the whole point. Now that I know I can make a circuit using the negative ground I may just use silicon transistors in this one to finish it up and experiment with input and output caps in another to dial in these germanium transistors.
Yet again Kali, my Kalamazoo Model 1, pulls through and proves why I depend so heavily on her opinion when it comes to my pedal builds. After testing the pedal through my Mustang Mini I wasn't 100% sure about it, there was just way too much bass. After testing this pedal through Kali the pedal sounds great. I know there is a lot to be said about sending a pedal through real tubes vs solid state modeling, believe me I know. Most times I simply test my pedals with the solid states, it's just sometimes I get lazy and hope the Mustang Mini is good enough; it's not. Now I'm feeling better about this build and I'm also more confident this germanium Fuzz Face clone was the project these transistors were meant to be in.