1976 Sola Sound Tone-Bender Fuzz

Model Description:

Famed English electronics engineer Roger Mayer is probably at the root of the long history of the Sola Sound Tone‑Bender. In the early 1960s, Mayer was making improvements to the Gibson Maestro Fuzz Tone for guitarists like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and session musician Big Jim Sullivan. The first Sola Sound Tone‑Benders began to appear around 1965, designed and built in London by in‑house technician Gary Hurst. The early ‘Mk 1’ pedals with sand cast metal enclosures were sold through Macari’s Music Exchange in London and the electronics were also branded by different companies such as Vox, Marshall and RotoSound. The two‑transistor ‘Mk 1.5’ version from 1966 formed the basis of the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and Vox Tone Bender. The three‑transistor Sola Sound ‘Professional Mk II’ appeared from 1966 until 1968. By around 1970, the ‘Mk III’ Tone‑Bender Fuzz pedals featuring a new tone control appeared followed quickly by the ‘Mk IV’ featuring a three‑transistor circuit with a germanium diode. 1970 also saw the Colorsound ‘Sola Sound London’ trademark appear for the first time and from 1971, the pedal was marketed as the Tone‑Bender Fuzz with its now‑classic orange and black graphics over a silver pressed steel enclosure, which is probably the most recognisable form. In 1973, Colorsound also introduced the Supa Tone Bender, which used a different circuit based on the 1973 four‑transistor Electro‑Harmonix Big Muff. Another variation was the Colorsound Jumbo Tone Bender. The various incarnations of the Tone‑Bender circuit were discontinued in 1976. There have been numerous variations on the circuit design over the years and the differences are often technical and made little difference to the overall sound of the pedals, as far as the majority of consumers were concerned. Many collectors see the hallowed ‘Mk 1.5’ as the holy grail of Tone Bender pedals and these attract the highest (and scary) vintage market prices. Over the years, many copies and reissues have emerged onto the market, perpetuating the spirit, and indeed the mythology, of the cool & rare 1960s and 1970s originals.


Pedal Description:

There are really only a very few guitar effect pedals out there that can earn the title of being genuinely iconic. This accolade belongs to stomp boxes such as the Dallas‑Arbiter Fuzz Face, the MXR Phase 90 and the Ibanez Tube Screamer. The classic Colorsound/Sola Sound Tone‑Bender Fuzz is probably another inclusion into this select group. Here we have a classic 1970’s version of the highly revered Tone‑Bender Fuzz, made in London, England in typical silver, orange and black, this one dating to July 1976. For the geeks out there, this particular version is based heavily on the Tone‑Bender ‘Mk III/IV’ design but with a slightly different circuit based on a simplified Electro‑Harmonix Big Muff v3. This subtle internal difference can be readily identified by the word ‘Tone’ instead of ‘Treble’ and ‘Bass’ below the tone control and the reversal of ‘Instrument’ and ‘Amplifier’ jack sockets. The ‘Colorsound’ brand is nowhere to be seen here, only the Sola Sound name. This cool example carries a few superficial scars to the pressed steel enclosure as evidence of decades of use and its ridged rubber baseplate strips are missing. Otherwise, it is all‑original, intact and works perfectly. Most importantly, the circuit inside has been well‑protected and seems to be completely untouched. The aesthetics don’t affect the diverse distorted tones that made it a benchmark effect in the first place and popular with long‑time endorsees such as Jimmy Page. For such a simple old‑fashioned circuit, the humble Tone‑Bender makes a mightily monstrous sound, everything from low gain to squealing feedback, from warm mellow to cutting shrill tones. With guitar volume rolled back, it can produce that lovely edge‑of‑breakup grating noise that pushes into snarly, growling scuzzy distortion when you dig in, to all out frantic fuzziness if and when you want it. The Tone‑Bender’s talents make for a very addictive and seductive tonal palate. It’s all in there to be released, like a caged and frustrated Sasquatch on heat. It is reminiscent of a very good Electro‑Harmonix Big Muff but slightly different. The original Tone‑Bender deserves its hyperbolic accolades. May the fuzz be with you.

Features:

  • Made by Sola Sound, England, UK in July 1976
  • The ‘Volume’ knob controls the output level
  • The ‘Tone’ knob controls the amount of treble or bass
  • The ‘Fuzz’ knob controls the amount of distortion
  • Standard ‘Pre‑Set Button’ on/off footswitch controls whether the effect is on or off
  • Standard ¼” input and output mono jack sockets
  • No LED status indicator
  • 9V battery operation only
  • No serial number

Artists:

  • Jeff Beck
  • Jimmy Page
  • Big Jim Sullivan

Detail Gallery:


 ← Return to ‘effects’ page

Like it? Why not share it?