Wattson SuperFuzz

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by emjee, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. emjee

    emjee Member

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    Wow! The Wattson SuperFuzz is nasty with fuzz. It is a veritable beast that can be trained but not tamed.

    Since I had never owned a SF, I had to get a reference tone to compare it to, so a little google helped me with that. As soon as I did that I realized I had heard this fuzz for many years on my favorite old 60's and 70's tunes.
    Reading the manual you will find there were three incarnations (bona-fide fuzz freaks are already well familiar with this) and a bit different tone for each. The original Shin-Ei and earlier Univox versions had their own unique sound, because they had a two transistor circuit that adds an octave up to the fuzz ( I have really become a big freak for this effect and the SF gets it in spades). However then a trimpot was added sometime in the late 60's early 70's which allowed the octave circuit to become intentionally unbalanced to get more variation. This also changed the tone (because resistance from the trimmer changed the bias for the octave circuit), which some fuzzheads didnt like so many old ones have the trimpot removed and jumper wires added.

    Anyway, to remedy this and still have the capability of the unbalanced transistors AND retain the tone, Wattson reduced the value of some of the other resistors in the circuit in order to compensate for the trimmer,
    thus allowing you to choose between the Shin-Ei, earlier AND later version of the SuperFuzz. So in this one pedal you can get all three incarnations. Very ingenious.

    When Jim dropped it off last nite, (Imagine the maker offering to bring the pedal to your house!) I plugged it in to my little tweed Champ and was impressed with how it sounded right out of the box. In fact, I enjoyed playing it so much at the factory setting I havent even gotten around to the trim yet. But so far I am in love with this sound. Wattson enginnered the pedal so that you can adjust the trimmer while the casing is off so you dont have to adjust it, put it together, listen, take it apart, adjust, put it together, listen, etc.

    Will add more when I have checked it our more thoroughly, but suffice to say it definitely does whats supposed to do. Also I have found that getting that upper octave effect become the most pronounced when you use the neck p'up ('Buckers are best), roll the tone knob back, and play above the twelfth fret and let notes ring (no shredder riffs), also bending double stops are very cool. SuperFuzz freaks will not be dissappointed.

    MG
     
  2. duende

    duende Member

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    Agreed.... this pedal is an absolute blast from the past. Dead on shi Ei Super Fuzz sound. I'm not touching my trimmer either. (at least not yet ;))

    Seriously big thumbs up to these guys for doing there homework and not compromising anything to get the superfuzz sound.
     
  3. amp_surgeon

    amp_surgeon Member

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    :D Thanks!

    It was great meeting you, emjee! :AOK
     
  4. duende

    duende Member

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    Amp Surgeon!

    Thanks for holding a pedal for my pal Clifton (fuzz movie) I know he'll be as impressed as I am with your Super Fuzz.

    It's like a crazy psych sitar meets Godzilla. So much fun... And the respect for vintage tone is absolute top. Reminiscent of DAM attention's to detail... and I don't say that lightly as David Main is the ultimate in Vintage fuzz tones in my book.

    Big Congrats. I'm in the Bay Area as well, give me a PM sometime.

    Best,

    Alex
     
  5. amp_surgeon

    amp_surgeon Member

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    Thanks Alex!

    I spoke to Clif on the phone about a week ago. He was kind enough to send me a dvd of the movie and a large poster of the cover art, which is now hanging in my project studio! I can't imagine how cool it must be to have your own name on the dvd cover along with guys like Frampton and Billy Gibbons! Sincere congrats, dude!

    I'm shipping Clif's pedal out today. It's kind of a sad moment. This is the very last one on the shelf for at least another week, and we won't be shipping any pedals from the next batch until we've successfully crossed the CE certification minefield, which will probably add another week or two.

    We've also got an accessory coming for the Wattson SuperFuzz in the coming weeks. Stay tuned...
     
  6. emjee

    emjee Member

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    Now that I have had it for a couple days it has impressed me all the more. Jim you did a tremendous job on this pedal! I can see why you chose the Shin-Ei/Univox to remake, and I can also see why many people hold this as the ultimate fuzz.
    The thing has a very even freq response. It sounds great with the "balance" knob at nine, noon and three o'clock, each one fuzzier than the last. Also the switch has very cool tones: on one side it has a darker sound, with emphasis on bottom end and lower mid's, the other setting on the switch has a great upper mid to high freq sound. Very nice singing fuzz notes with decent sustain, reminds me of the solo on the old "Hot Legs" by Rod Stewart (Ron Wood?), and you can also get the nice octave sound like the intro to "When Doves Cry". I didnt notice a huge difference in tone when I turned the trimmer from twelve to two o'clock, but any further and I got a squeeling sound, so I backed it off just a tad, and it was fine. This feature is definitely for the user who has a very defining ear.
    Anyway, this pedal has a great fuzz tone in just about any setting, and I was hard pressed to find an unuseable sound to it. Definitely a keeper.

    MG
     
  7. amp_surgeon

    amp_surgeon Member

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    Thanks, emjee! :)

    The differences between the various incarnations of the original Shin-ei/Univox pedals are really pretty subtle. There are even differences in pedals of the same type and vintage, the most significant being the wide assortment of transistors they used. 2SC828's were the most common, but 2SC539's, 2SC537 "buttons", and 2SC536's made it into a lot of the pedals. Aside from the trim pot in the later versions, all of the other components were pretty much the same. Even so, those early silicon transistors were not known for their consitency from one part to another, so there are noticeable tone differences even between two different pedals which are virtually identical.

    The "official" '69 Univox schematic you can find on the internet shows four 2SC539's combined with two 2SC828's. This schematic was the basis for our design, which is why we also used two different types of transistors.

    The trick to making a great reproduction is to find a vintage pedal that precisely captures that vintage tone. You may have to audition loads of old pedals to find "the one", but once you've found it then it becomes the "tone model" on which everything else you do is based. Then you hook it up to all of the lab gear and start analyzing exactly what that vintage pedal is doing to the signal at every point in the circuit, using test signals of different amplitude and frequency. You repeat these test with your own circuit, and then superimpose the signal plots on each other to find out where your circuit is doing something different from the vintage pedal circuit, and then figure out what you need to do to make your circuit behave more like theirs.

    Here's an example of the "Tone 2" output from our Shin-ei "tone model", and our original prototype. We've got hundreds of plots like this one:

    [​IMG]

    We didn't like those spikes being noticeably larger on the Shin-ei, and we ended up changing a cap in the tone stack to compensate for it. Turns out the problem was not the cap, but the way our prototype was hand wired. This problem disappeared once we went to a PCB, so we went back to the original cap value. When someone tells you that a hand wired perfboard is better than a PCB, you should take that with a grain of salt. When you're working with signals this low in amplitude, where even a slight increase in coupled noise can make a big difference in the tone, inconsistency is not a good thing. They may nail that perfect tone with a perfboard, but heaven forbid you should accidentally move some of those wires while changing the battery! :eek:

    In the case of the Wattson SuperFuzz, 90% of the work was finding the right transistors. The other 10% was identifying the right sort of capacitors to use in the "Tone 2" tone stack. Since the constency of components today is much better, each and every Wattson SuperFuzz has the exact same tone. Every circuit board is subjected to a 29 step test procedure to make absolutely certain that this is the case. We had to toss out a few transistors when we built the last batch because, although they were within the manufacturer's tolerances, they were running a little too close to our limits in the circuit.

    As far as the trimmer pot goes, going too far in the clockwise direction will cause the octave amp to go into oscillation. Sound, or even hum from your pickups, will momentarily stop the oscillation. This is why the manual recommends that you test each adjustment by lowering the volume pot on your guitar to see if it begins to oscillate. The sort of tone variation you'll get is subtle - just like the tone variations between different vintage Super-Fuzz pedals. The type of tone variation is also different, depending on whether you offset the trimmer clockwise or counter clockwise. In the clockwise direction you're changing the balance in favor of the root tone. In the counter clockwise direction you're changing it in favor of the inverted, or "octave" tone. Like the manual says, more than 10 or 15 degrees in either direction will throw the octave amp so far out of balance that further adjustments won't make much further difference.

    And you're right - this is definitely an excercise for the most discerning guitarist who has a specific SuperFuzz tone he's looking for, and is willing to spend the time finding it.
     
  8. emjee

    emjee Member

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    Thanks for the info Jim. After reading your reply I took the trimmer back to about ten o'clock, and it does make the octave much more pronounced; very cool zoundz. I have heard fuzzes for twice the price that dont sound nearly as fat and hairy. I hate thin fuzzes that sound buzzy. I predict this is gonna be a big hit with fuzz freaks.

    Matt
     
  9. markom89

    markom89 Senior Member

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    Glad that you're digging it, Matt.
    I should be getting that '70 or '71 Superfuzz soon :D
     
  10. emjee

    emjee Member

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  11. echodeluxe

    echodeluxe Member

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    awesome, emjee! im glad you love it as much as we do!
     
  12. fatback

    fatback Member

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    I too am most impressed with my Wattson SuperFuzz. It both sounds and looks as wicked as an original. I normally wouldn't pay much attention to this sort of thing, but the 12 page manual and warranty card that came with it really surprised me. I've seen much less professional documentation from some of big boys in the pedal industry. All in all it was a very positive purchase. Now I can't wait to see what classic Wattson sets their sites on next.

    :AOK
     
  13. markom89

    markom89 Senior Member

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    fatback, demo video? :)
     

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