ITALIAN FUZZ

(based on the Italian made tone benders)

Standing on the shoulders of giants.

The 1960’s Vox Tone Benders made in Italy by the Jen Company are some of my all time favorite fuzzes.  Pretty much a Fuzz Face/MK1.5 circuit design,  voiced brighter with more articulation. Not really a thick and syrupy saturated sustaining kind of fuzz, but more of an open and airy reed-like fuzz that cleans up very well with your guitars volume knob and retains the general sound and character of your guitar very well.  Don’t get me wrong, she gets dirty, especially through a cranked amp and hot pickups, but she cleans up really well for some rhythm and clean passages. The clean up is just as good or even better than what you would expect from a good germanium Fuzz Face. For me, it’s just about perfect through a cranked AC30, especially with humbuckers.

 

The Jen Fuzz is really just the Vox TB rebranded as “Jen Fuzz”.  They were all made by Jen with pretty much the same parts and by probably by the same people.  There is some speculation that the early 1966 year of production Vox units in the silver-grey hammered finish case with SFT337 and OC76 transistors, black face, and larger text may have been made in England; much like the early Vox guitars before they moved production to Italy at the EKO factory.

The idea with the Italian Fuzz was to take these two great sounding Italian made fuzzes and blend everything I liked about each of them to get a sort of ideal Vox Tone Bender. The Italian Fuzz features the same transistor combination as the 1966 Vox first year of production pedal on the right, one SFT337 and one OC76, but it’s voiced a little darker and with a little more balls, like the Jen Fuzz on the left.

The Acid Test: To assure authentic tone each Italian Fuzz is tested alongside an original '66 Vox and Jen Fuzz.    

The original pedals each sound amazing in their own way, but as anyone who’s had a classic germanium fuzz knows, they can be a bit of a PITA depending upon what temperature the room is. IMO the Vox/Jen Tone Benders are often just too bright with certain guitar/amp combinations, so in addition to the original “Attack” (FUZZ) and “Level” (Volume) controls, the Italian Fuzz has an external bias control.  This allows easy user control over the bias voltage to the second transistor. So, you can compensate for temperature changes and get some varying shades of fuzz from spitting and gated to smoother and boosted at the turn of a dial. Also features a tone voicing switch to allow some more low/mids giving it a much richer and darker tone if you need it.

Thanks to gearmanndude for the video: http://www.gearmanndude.com/

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