Road to the Ultimate Fuzz Tone

A long time ago I purchased a literal crap load of Russian and German Germanium transistors with the intention of build the ultimate fuzz pedal. The most elusive of all the pedals, they never sound like Andy from ProGuitarShop.

The stash of Germaniums

The fuzz obsession started when I was asked to build a clone of the Fuzz Factory for my friends Muse inspired electric Ukulele project, yeah it is as crazy as it sounds. I over purchased some AC128’s and it was all over from there. Since then I had periodically collected bulk lots of germaniums, from Russian to German to anything I could find.

Trying some ideas

There was some testing involved in the process. Breadboarding out a basic fuzz board and switching multiple combinations of transistors, pots, resistors and caps. I eventually got to a where I could get a consistant sound I liked from one layout.

 Building up the PCB's

The final idea was to build an all germanium big fuzz with multiple circuits true by passed. One to be OC81 based, one to be AC128 based and one to be MP39B and IT308B based ( the Bonamassa fuzz ). And there started the compiled ordering of 50 per type of all sorts of Russian germanium transistors, we all know how wildly varied they can be so I over ordered so I had some to select from.

I always hated positive ground circuits, they always have issues and never played nice with anything else. So I ended up designing my own boards with voltage inverters based off various schematics online, only to etch them upside down. This resulted in soldering on the copper side, which wasn’t ideal but I didn’t want to redo everything. It actually looks rather retro if you are an electronics geek.

Routing the wires was pretty easy and it looks cool with solid core wire. All the effects are true bypass to each other, the booster at the front is an LPB-1 and will get swapped for a Range Master one day when I design a circuit that isn’t crap.

Finished Fuzzes

All in all they sound good and different with each transistor pair having its own unique characteristics. I also ended up building a separate fuzz unit with the same boards.

Materials:

  • 1590DD case
  • Various germanium PNP transistors
  • Cool looking reverse PCB’s