Reverse Fuzz Factory 111
Reverse Fuzz Factory 111
This variation of the Fuzz Factory will be available to order from February 9th until February 16th. As these are hand-painted pedals they will ship in 4-6 weeks after orders are closed.
Hand painted pedals feature a lifetime warranty. Colors and details may vary.
The Reverse Fuzz Factory 111
In 1995 ZVEX Effects produced its first pedals, the Octane and the Fuzz Factory. The story is much more humorous than you might imagine. I made and sold 16 Octanes through Willie's American Guitars and the owner told me in November that he wanted me to design him something new. So I went to Ax-Man Surplus, a Saint Paul store that was a popular hangout for artists and creatives looking for cheap unique things to fuel their need for stuff and in a back corner, I found a military green metal bin with a pile of old transistors buried in dust and junk, forgotten. It basically looked empty, but I could tell there were transistors in there, and I sorted through the crap and found about 150 of them. I'd never seen anything like them. They were what I called at that time, spam can transistors. Flat on two sides, slightly in the shape of the cans of meat produced in my home state that my dad really loved fried up for sandwiches when I was a kid. I loved how they looked and, with no price on the bin, the salesperson sold all of them to me for a few bucks.
I went home to check them out and quickly discovered that inside a typical fuzz circuit, they barely got going in a fuzzy direction. They sounded literally anemic. I fixed that quickly with another transistor as a booster, and then they went crazy. Over the course of the evening and late into the night I tried everything I could think of to get them under control, connecting every spare potentiometer in my parts kit (rather limited at the time) to adjust different values to find the perfect combination, but something weird happened. I discovered that there were a lot of different settings that sounded good, and I really didn't want to have to choose one particular resistance value for any of the pots, so I just left them in the circuit and went to bed. I woke up the next day to test the thing again, which at the time I'd decided to call the "flat foot fuzz" because it had five controls and I thought I'd put it into a foot-shaped enclosure with the five knobs as toes (patent design pending, sorry kids), and I was kinda blown away that it still sounded really crazy and interesting.
I brought the final device to Willie's and started selling them there, and they're still our best selling pedal 22 years later. The thing of it is, between then (1995) and now, I couldn't find any more of the spam can transistors anywhere, until recently. They're back! I found several types, and this is the first one. I call it the "111". It's not exactly the same model of transistor as the original, but it's got a velvety texture with lots of character and I'm extremely pleased to be using spam can transistors from the 50s again. They're older than I am, and I'm older than dirt. Most pedal makers can't use these transistors because the hfe is too low. The Fuzz Factory LOVES low hfe. So we all got lucky.
The story is slightly more intriguing. When I ran out of the original spam can transistors back in 1996, my dear friend John Kuker (RIP) offered to give me a red box full of beautiful RCA transistors in exchange for me making him a pedal with them. I tested them in a Fuzz Factory circuit and was blown away at how great they sounded, but because they were the wrong polarity (NPN), I had to wire the entire circuit "upside down" with the plus and minus reversed on the battery, capacitors and polarity protection diode. Interestingly enough, these "111" spam cans that I'm using for this new version of the FF are also NPN devices, which were incredibly expensive and rare back in the 50s, so expensive that designers simply didn't use them. That's why they're still available. They didn't get used up because they cost too much to make way back then, so you can enjoy them now. So what we're offering you is a mash-up combination of the first two versions of the Fuzz Factory from 1995 and 1996, with spam can transistors AND reverse polarity. The reason the artwork appears in reverse is because of the reverse polarity of the transistors and the power requirement. Please remember to use a reverse polarity power supply or connector cable (they often have red cables). Enjoy!