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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Univox - Super Fuzz


"This is my Fuzz pedal. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My Fuzz pedal is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my Fuzz pedal is useless. Without my Fuzz pedal, I am useless. I must play my Fuzz pedal true. I must play harder than my enemy, who is trying to outfuzz me. I must outfuzz him before he outfuzzes me. I will. Before God I swear this creed: my Fuzz pedal and myself are defenders of Rock 'n Roll, we are the masters of our enemy, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen." - Fred Briggs, 19/02/2012.



The Univox Superfuzz is an absolute classic - it's buzzsaw power fuzz tone has been employed by many of Rock's greatest guitarists. One of the best known users of the Superfuzz was Pete Townshend of The Who - he used it for that classic big box fuzz tone on his later records and was the reason his tone sounded so damn good on the "Live at Leeds" recording.

Here's some more info from thewho.net regarding Pete Townshends use of the Super Fuzz:

"The U-1093/U-1095 Univox Super-Fuzz fuzz pedal represents a key part of Pete Townshend’s classic stage sound. He used versions of the Univox Super-Fuzz between 1968 and 1978. You can hear the effect clearly in recordings from this era — the signature “buzz saw” sound during leads and rave-up outros.

Pete began using the Super-Fuzz in late 1968, likely November or December, with the first documented occasion being the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in Wembley on 11 Dec. 1968, which also represents Pete’s and John’s first known use of their Hiwatt-badged Sound City stacks.

Prior to this, he used a variety of fuzz pedals in his setup, including the Sola Sound Tone Bender in 1965/66, Marshall Supa Fuzz in 1967–68, as well as employing a Grampian spring reverb unit for distortion in 1967–68, and, most recently as the August 1968 U.S. tour, the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face.

He used the first version of the Univox Super-Fuzz, the metal grey version, on stage from late 1968 to mid- to late-1971, when he switched to the reddish-orange die-cast version with the large pedal surface. He used this version until 1978, where the last use of the pedal was 15 May 1978, at the Shepperton show filmed for The Kids Are Alright."

And here's an image of him stomping on it:


Rock and F**king Roll!!

Here's yet more info taken from the Univox Super Fuzz wikipedia article:

"Origin

The circuit was designed in the late 1960s by the Japanese company Shin-ei, (who also produced another well known fuzz box, the Shin-ei Companion FY-2) and manufactured in Japan by Unicord. The first Super-Fuzzes were made in 1968, and production continued until the late 70s.

Design

The first units were made in a simple stamped sheet metal box, painted grey, with a blue Univox sticker on the top. Around 1970 production was changed to a die-cast metal box, with a large pedal featuring a rubber cover that had the words "Super-Fuzz" embossed on it. The first die cast units were either grey or black, with a green or black foot pedal. Around 1973 or so, they were all produced with an orange pedal, with a green or blue foot pedal. The later models also featured an internal trim pot for controlling the octave balance.

Alternative manufacturers

Although the Univox is the most well known incarnation of this circuit, Shin-ei licensed this circuit out to dozens of manufacturers, including Ibanez, Apollo, Companion, Shaftsbury, Mica, JAX, Kent, Teisco, Marlboro, Royal, and many others. With a slightly altered input stage, the circuit is identical to the Ibanez Standard Fuzz. Sometimes it was packaged with a wah pedal, or with the tone switch being a footswitch, or both. This circuit is also very similar to the famous Fender Blender and Roland Bee Baa. More recent applications of this circuit type can be found in Guyatone's TZ-2 Fuzz, MJM China Fuzz, Black Candy Superfuzz Deluxe, Prescription Electronics' OUTBOX, BOSS's FZ-2 HYPER Fuzz, and others, although most tend to agree the newer versions do not sound quite the same.
Sound

This unique fuzz tone is an octave fuzz using two germanium diodes to produce the square wave clipping. The controls are 'Balance' (volume), 'Expander' (fuzz amount), a two position 'tone' switch, and an on/off footswitch on top. There are two unique features of this device that set it apart from other distortion and fuzz pedals. The first is that the full-wave rectification of the circuit produces an upper octave as well as a slight lower octave. This also gives the sound a lot of compression and gives a mild ring modulator effect. The second unique feature is a tone switch that engages a 1khz filter that "scoops" the mids, giving a very fat, almost bassy tone, unique to this circuit.

Today, the Super-Fuzz is being manufactured under the name "Classic Fuzz" by Wattson Classic Electronics, which is in no way associated with Univox, Unicord, or any of the original companies that manufactured the Super-Fuzz. Other versions of the Super-Fuzz circuit are available from boutique companies like 73 Effects and Black Cat.

Super-Fuzz users

Notable musicians who have used the Super-Fuzz include:
Pete Townshend of The Who
Poison Ivy of The Cramps
Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney
J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins (Although he was much more famous for using the Fender Blender and the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff)
Fu Manchu
Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys
Hillel Slovak of Red Hot Chili Peppers
Joe Preston of Thrones
Tony McPhee of The Groundhogs
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (Although he mainly used the BOSS DS-1 and DS-2.)
Josh Homme of Them Crooked Vultures, Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss
Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks[1]
Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys uses the Ibanez Standard Fuzz, a nearly identical circuit in an altered housing."

And if you still need extra help understanding how this monster sounds here's a nice demo (It's one of the older grey models):


And here's how one that isn't so battered looks (I much prefer the look of the orange ones!):


Pretty damn awesome! Now, you're gonna want to build one now - here's the Super Fuzz schematic and some close relatives:


Here's a schematic for the Ibanez Fuzz Wah that is very similar:


And the Boss Hyper Fuzz FZ-2: 


[Here you can see the control layout]

[nice tidy insides!]

And here's a great clone of the original circuit board from http://members.fortunecity.com/uzzfay/home.html :



Alternately if you don't like PCBs here's a great vero from Mike Livesley:


Here's a great post from mictester that answers some common Super Fuzz questions:

"LucifersTrip wrote:
I finally got around to reading this killer thread...Excuse me if I missed it here somewhere, but I was just curious about a couple things I didn't come across that I was surprised wasn't discussed.

1) What would be a typical hfe of a 2SC539 and 2SC828 in an original Superfuzz?
(my guide shows 90-700 for the 2SC539 and 65-700 for the 2SC828, which is a large range)

- The 539 had a slightly better noise spec. The 828 seemed to be almost any old transistor that came off the line and they couldn't fit into any particular category! In my experience, the circuit works best with high hfe for the first two transistors and lower for the rest. I used BC109Cs for the first two transistors and then a CA3046 for the rest. Sounds really good!

LucifersTrip wrote:
2) Since there are 2 different transistors (2SC539 for Q1,4,5,6 and 2SC828 for Q2,3) used according to the schematic,
why does it seem everyone is subbing all the same transistors for Q1-Q6?

- The types aren't too critical, though it helps if the long-tailed pair are matched and the resistors around them are matched too - you get much more octave that way. Almost any silicon transistors will work well in this circuit!

LucifersTrip wrote:
3) Did anyone try any germanium subs (and re-bias) for any of the transistors?

- There's no point. It wouldn't sound much different, and it would be quite temperature sensitive. The biggest change you can get is by using silicon instead of germanium diodes for the clipper!"

For more info check out the great thread on the freestompboxes.org forum: http://freestompboxes.org/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=3354

13 comments:

  1. dumb question briggs, but is the vero above verified?
    built one from another source, it's not doing much but lookin' pretty...
    quicker to build than debug sometimes, ya know?
    ;)
    thanks man
    jimi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yooo, Graemey's built one from Mike's layout and confirmed it's good to go.

      Delete
    2. You probably no longer need a Super Fuzz layout, but this one kicks ass:
      http://effectslayouts.blogspot.com/2014/11/univox-superfuzz-modded.html?showComment=1459278210604#c7093892458815345012
      I've built seven different layouts and to me, this Derringer version really shines.

      Delete
  2. yo yo, briggs...

    built mike livesly's vero, worked like a charm...couple variations from the schematic..

    expander (or is it balance?)...the "tone" control seems to like a 3.3k resistor between lug3 and ground... that way, it doesn't work as another volume, and becomes an effective tone control.

    thanks bro..loving this thing.
    peace
    pjp

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice sound!
    I think the circuit works fine. Just replace the pedal switch and you should be OK.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Can any one add a new schetch where every thing goes on the Pcb like the pots etc .I can work out some things from schematics but this pedal has so many 10mfs ,22k s etc .pigeon fx had a similar pcb for sale with no explanation , not good for newbies though .

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am about to start my Super Fuzz build this week.
    I intend on using the original schematic with the remarks given in this thread.
    Can anyone suggest a cool way to turn the TONE switch into a full range pot?

    Thanks, love your blog Briggs
    Doron (FuzzQuest.blogspot.com)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Haven't tried it, but it seems like you could take the balance control and instead of hooking the one outer lug to ground, hook that to the other side of where the tone switch connects so that the pot replaces the switch. Then you could take the 100k to ground off the output and replace it with a 100k pot with the wiper going to the output for volume control.

    ReplyDelete
  7. just get a Wattson...

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Im having an issue with mine where Im getting low volume and very little fuzz, Everythings wired correctly, but I am using NOS 2SC828 transistors in there. Any suggestions on this? Also to I have a 25k linear pot for the expander control when its normally a 50k I was wondering if that might have something to do with it.

    ReplyDelete

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