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jorhay1

Tone Bender MKI clone

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I of course know I can get a D.A.M. Colorsound, or another high priced option.

Anyone know of any dirt cheap, crappy, clones out there that just basically cop the circuit, without all the vintage NOS guts?

Thanks!

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The clones are few and far between and they aren't exactly inexpensive.

 

The MKI is an older version of the circuit. You can buy the Electro Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz and get that same circuit for about $100.

 

I built myself an MKII clone for around $50 from a kit. Its OK but not nearly as good as I would have liked. Getting a good sound requires transistor matching to get the best gain staging. I bought a second set of transistors to try swapping them out but simply haven't gotten around to it yet.

 

I can say - I have a Vox stomplab pedal, they're smallest unit. Its got the Vox Tonebender effect built into it and it sounds exactly like the real thing.

(another reason I haven't gotten around to tweaking that pedal) The Vox pedal cost me $59 so I have no need for a separate fuzz at this time.

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The clones are few and far between and they aren't exactly inexpensive.

 

The MKI is an older version of the circuit. You can buy the Electro Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz and get that same circuit for about $100.

 

I built myself an MKII clone for around $50 from a kit. Its OK but not nearly as good as I would have liked. Getting a good sound requires transistor matching to get the best gain staging. I bought a second set of transistors to try swapping them out but simply haven't gotten around to it yet.

 

I can say - I have a Vox stomplab pedal, they're smallest unit. Its got the Vox Tonebender effect built into it and it sounds exactly like the real thing.

(another reason I haven't gotten around to tweaking that pedal) The Vox pedal cost me $59 so I have no need for a separate fuzz at this time.

 

Yeah that's what I've been finding out. That's for the confirmation.

 

I have a StoneBender MkII clone, and I'm happy with it.

 

I didn't know The Satisfaction Fuzz was a MkI clone.

 

Because of the song reference, I assumed it was an Maestro FZ-1 clone?

 

It seems BYO is the only alternative for a reasonable priced MKI.

 

I'll check out the Vox. Sounds like a cool little gig box.

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The clones are few and far between and they aren't exactly inexpensive.

 

The MKI is an older version of the circuit. You can buy the Electro Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz and get that same circuit for about $100.

 

Sorry, but that's not even close to being accurate information. The EHX Satisfaction is not at all based on the MkI Tonebender. It's not even based on the Maestro FZ-1 that Keith Richards used for Satisfaction (and that served as the inspiration / starting point for the original MkI Tonebender circuit). It's based on the Jordan BossTone fuzz circuit.

 

http://www.harmonycentral.com/expert-reviews/electro-harmonix-satisfaction-fuzz

 

Yes, the MkI is the earliest version of the Tone Bender... followed by the Vox and the Mk1.5 variants, then the MkII and MkIII. All of them sound different.

 

The classic sounds that I think of whenever someone mentions the MkI is the stuff Mick Ronson played with Bowie with the Spiders From Mars.

 

 

[video=youtube;zLnPd7lzT4g]

 

 

As far as inexpensive MkI influenced pedals, I went with the Del Ray Custom Shop Pro MkI+ and I've been very happy with it. It may not be a part for part clone built into an exact reproduction of the original case, but it nails the sounds in a way that I'm, uh, satisfied with.

 

http://www.harmonycentral.com/expert-reviews/del-rey-custom-shop-pro-mki

 

 

 

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Sorry, but that's not even close to being accurate information. The EHX Satisfaction is not at all based on the MkI Tonebender. It's not even based on the Maestro FZ-1 that Keith Richards used for Satisfaction (and that served as the inspiration / starting point for the original MkI Tonebender circuit). It's based on the Jordan BossTone fuzz circuit.

 

http://www.harmonycentral.com/expert...isfaction-fuzz

 

Yes, the MkI is the earliest version of the Tone Bender... followed by the Vox and the Mk1.5 variants, then the MkII and MkIII. All of them sound different.

 

The classic sounds that I think of whenever someone mentions the MkI is the stuff Mick Ronson played with Bowie with the Spiders From Mars.

 

 

[video=youtube;zLnPd7lzT4g]

AeVkqH3F6UziQICYeN

 

 

As far as inexpensive MkI influenced pedals, I went with the Del Ray Custom Shop Pro MkI+ and I've been very happy with it. It may not be a part for part clone built into an exact reproduction of the original case, but it nails the sounds in a way that I'm, uh, satisfied with.

 

http://www.harmonycentral.com/expert...m-shop-pro-mki

 

 

 

You know, in a google search, an almost decade old thread from the HCFX days came up where you were saying that you were going to eventually get a MK1 clone. I was going to ask you what you ended up doing....Wow! Full circle. lol

 

I saw the Del Rey, but he doesn't have any made and for sale, that I could find.

I think that's the way I'll go, The clips on YouTube sound 98% pretty spot on, I was impressed.

Any Tips one how to get them to build one? Just order it to build?

 

Oh and yeah after the above post, I googled the Satisfaction and saw that it's a Boss Tone minus a couple of things, that you can mod to make it an exact Boss Tone.

For a Boss Tone clone, I'd prolly go with The Voodoo labs SuperFuzz. Man what is it with Boss Tone clones and the misleading names?

 

 

Thanks Phil

Edited by jorhay1
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Jorhay, there's also a guy on Ebay who goes under the name of Lowbrow Effects who makes a Mk1 clone... I've never tried them, so I can't say if they're any good or not... but it's something else you might want to look into...

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lowbrow-Effe...sAAOSwxvpXOe4v

 

As far as Del Ray Custom, I'd just drop them an email and see if they're still making the Pro Mk1+. I'm pretty sure they still do - they have them up on their website:

 

http://delreycustomshop.com/products/pro-mki

 

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Jorhay, there's also a guy on Ebay who goes under the name of Lowbrow Effects who makes a Mk1 clone... I've never tried them, so I can't say if they're any good or not... but it's something else you might want to look into...

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lowbrow-Effe...sAAOSwxvpXOe4v

 

As far as Del Ray Custom, I'd just drop them an email and see if they're still making the Pro Mk1+. I'm pretty sure they still do - they have them up on their website:

 

http://delreycustomshop.com/products/pro-mki

 

Interesting.

Have you heard a clip of the Lowbrow?

[video=youtube;dMe2P2kE1Q4]

Does that sound like a Mk1 to you?

To me it sounds more like a Mayer Page-1 Fuzz.

(because Roger invented EVERYTHING! :rolleyes2:, , , , :D )

[video=youtube;MzsYlZaURhw]

( sorry about the Español! )

 

For the same money, I think I'll go with the Del Rey, diggin the examples I've heard.

Edited by jorhay1
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Note taken. For some reason I remembered the MK-I was a 2 transistor design and they went to a 3 transistor on the MK II. The versions overlap between 2 and 3 transistor designs, with and without diodes, Silicone and Germanium.

 

Apparently my thoughts were correct on the satisfaction being a 2 transistor design which it is. Jordan uses a 2 transistor design that's similar to the Maestro FZ-1s. The main difference between them is the Jordan uses two clipping diodes instead of one.

 

The FZ-1 and 1a are three transistor designs which used a third transistor for the clipping instead of diode(s) The MK I and II are mostly 3 transistor fuzzes. Some of the II's were two transistor.

 

You can argue the differences but these are all simple fuzz circuits with minor variances. The manufacturers all copied each other, legally and illegally and made small changes. Its the popularity, that make these differences seem big in peoples minds. The actual circuits? - there isn't much of a difference between any of them. They're all simple fuzz circuits.

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It's not so straightforward identifying Spiders from Mars tunes that feature the MkI TB because of the distinctive distorted Marshall amp he is (or isn't) using it in conjunction with. The solo in 'Suffragette City' sounds like he's using his wah pedal as well. Apparently his MkI was broken during the recording of 'The rise and fall...' anyway?

I think the MkI is a lot brighter and aggressive sounding than the clones people build based off schematics and such portray it as. My vintage unit (albeit with the smaller output cap) is really bright and buzzy.

 

I'll link a couple of period tunes where we can be pretty confident that the MkI was used.

 

(Mick Ronson, probably sans the Marshall Pig...)

 

I don't know much about boutique pedals but I can vouch for Castledine and Thunderbird for cheaper alternatives to the D*A*M gear (no affiliations). They've both done plenty of independent research into this field where most people just copy schematics from Fuzzcentral/FSB and chop away until it sounds usable. Reportedly there's an extremely wide margin for error (or variance) when making a MkI Tone Bender...

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It's not so straightforward identifying Spiders from Mars tunes that feature the MkI TB because of the distinctive distorted Marshall amp he is (or isn't) using it in conjunction with. The solo in 'Suffragette City' sounds like he's using his wah pedal as well. Apparently his MkI was broken during the recording of 'The rise and fall...' anyway?

I think the MkI is a lot brighter and aggressive sounding than the clones people build based off schematics and such portray it as. My vintage unit (albeit with the smaller output cap) is really bright and buzzy.

 

I'll link a couple of period tunes where we can be pretty confident that the MkI was used.

 

(Mick Ronson, probably sans the Marshall Pig...)

 

I don't know much about boutique pedals but I can vouch for Castledine and Thunderbird for cheaper alternatives to the D*A*M gear (no affiliations). They've both done plenty of independent research into this field where most people just copy schematics from Fuzzcentral/FSB and chop away until it sounds usable. Reportedly there's an extremely wide margin for error (or variance) when making a MkI Tone Bender...

 

Great post!

I've noticed two things new since posting this thread.

1

Although they vary from pedal to pedal, and some do seem to be smoother than others, in the the few clips I could find of actual MkI's, most of them seem to be, indeed, very buzzy, raspy, and gated, in contrast to many of the modern clones that offer a 'nice', generic Ronno type of sound with little to no gating issues.

2

While watching the famous Hammersmith Odeon Ronson interview where he plays the blue Tele, plugged directly into a small practice amp, and on songs like Jean Genie, where he used a small solid state a Mike Matthews Freedom amp, that regardless of gear, Ronno always sounds like Ronno.

If the phrase 'tone is in your fingers' ever applied to anyone, it would be Mick Ronson.

 

But as great as Ronson's tone is, IMHO it is second to his musicianship, grace, humility, and class, as a human being. That is more rare than any mythical magical mojo box.

Edited by jorhay1
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Came across these videos. Thought it might be interesting for those interested.

 

 

[video=youtube;YJFnV3Eqy_s]

[video=youtube;PyrTpDrtyfk]

[video=youtube;SZX0SUZAYj4]

[video=youtube;Fc8gro3RgAY]

 

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I hate to keep correcting you but the MkI Tone Bender is actually a 3-transistor design. You're correct about the Mk1.5 and FF being 2-transistor designs. They went back to a 3-transistor circuit for the MkIII, but it's different than the MkI circuit.

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Great clips Jorhay - thanks for posting them!

 

The bias / setup on the MkI really does make a huge difference. It certainly has a more gated sound than the later MkII and MkIII TB variants do. More similar to the Maestro that inspired it than to the later fuzzes IMHO, but with better sustain.

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On 4/10/2017 at 11:28 AM, WRGKMC said:

The clones are few and far between and they aren't exactly inexpensive.

 

The MKI is an older version of the circuit. You can buy the Electro Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz and get that same circuit for about $100.

 

I built myself an MKII clone for around $50 from a kit. Its OK but not nearly as good as I would have liked. Getting a good sound requires transistor matching to get the best gain staging. I bought a second set of transistors to try swapping them out but simply haven't gotten around to it yet.

I can say - I have a Vox stomplab pedal, they're smallest unit. Its got the Vox Tonebender effect built into it and it sounds exactly like the real thing.

(another reason I haven't gotten around to tweaking that pedal) The Vox pedal cost me $59 so I have no need for a separate fuzz at this time.

What version of the vox stomplab did you have/ what settings got the most accurate tonebender sound?

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On ‎10‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 9:13 PM, Lucas553 said:

What version of the vox stomplab did you have/ what settings got the most accurate tonebender sound?

I have one of those little stomplab 1G units that cost about $60 new.  I found one on sale for $39 and use it all the time. 

As far as the settings go, I'd need to check the manual. They have the distortion/fuzz pedals listed all together and you have your choice between a Tube Screamer, Boss, Fuzz Face, and of course a Vox Tonebender because it is a Vox pedal.  Along with that I added some other effects, Compression, EQ, reverb, and amp/cab modeling to complete the chain of having an entire amp setup when recording.   I was able to nail this Harrison tunes sitar like guitar tone you hear at the intro on this song using that pedal.  

 

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I finally found a schematic for the Mk I Tonebender and was surprised to find it's a xerox COPY of the Maestro  FZ-1, exact same circuit design with different transistors and component specs. It also operates at 9 volts versus 1.5 or 3 volts of the original Maestro Fuzz-tones. So, the "attack" control in fact controls the biasing of Q2, which leads to the 'gating' of the signal.  I suspect that the "good" tonebenders are those where the transistor gains were closest to the designer's original. 

On 4/9/2017 at 7:11 AM, jorhay1 said:

Anyone know of any dirt cheap, crappy, clones out there that just basically cop the circuit, without all the vintage NOS guts?

That's the problem, those old germanium transistors, crummy by today's standards, are a big part of why those old fuzzes sound the way they do. 

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On ‎10‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 8:02 AM, Mr.Grumpy said:

I finally found a schematic for the Mk I Tonebender and was surprised to find it's a xerox COPY of the Maestro  FZ-1, exact same circuit design with different transistors and component specs. It also operates at 9 volts versus 1.5 or 3 volts of the original Maestro Fuzz-tones. So, the "attack" control in fact controls the biasing of Q2, which leads to the 'gating' of the signal.  I suspect that the "good" tonebenders are those where the transistor gains were closest to the designer's original. 

That's the problem, those old germanium transistors, crummy by today's standards, are a big part of why those old fuzzes sound the way they do. 

Yea and they changed operation with changes in temp too.  If you live up north and play in a basement the cement floor can get quite cold and change the tone quite drastically compare to having the pedal on hot deck outside in the summer. 

 

By the way, anyone into Fuzz has to read this history . It explains most of the history between the different versions and tries to clear up allot of the fact from fiction. 

http://www.bigmuffpage.com/The_Tonebender_Timeline.html

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