1970s Colorsound Swell

Model Description:

English brand Colorsound was created by brothers Larry and Joe Macari in London in 1967. Colorsound pedals were manufactured by another Macari‑owned company, Sola Sound, based in Charing Cross Road. Colorsound is probably best known for their classic, even iconic, Tone Bender fuzz pedal, famous in the 1960s and 1970s and used by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Under the Colorsound brand, Sola Sound produced a number of different effect pedals, often presented in brightly coloured enclosures and sold through Macari’s Musical Exchange store. Sola Sound also manufactured pedals for various English amplifier brands such as VOX, Marshall and Carlsboro. The straightforward swell/volume effect was often combined with other Colorsound effects, such as the ‘Wah‑Swell’ or the ‘Wah‑Fuzz‑Swell’. The discrete Colorsound Swell volume pedal was a relatively minor but notable effect in Colorsound’s history and, in comparison with other Colorsound pedals, the Swell was also one of their plainest pedals, being made in demure black or grey/silver. The Swell is just about as simple as a guitar effect gets, comprising just input and output with a passive 100K volume pot in between – no switch, no battery or external power supply required. Macari’s of London still own the Colorsound brand and sell a number of effects based directly or indirectly on their classic original fuzz pedals. A Swell pedal is not part of the current Colorsound line-up. Vintage examples of the Swell are relatively common and are generally not considered particularly collectable or pricey at the moment.

Pedal Description:

Here we have a Colorsound Swell pedal from the late 1970s. The passive volume pedal is probably the most basic of all guitar effects, in that it simply acts like a guitar’s volume control but on the floor. Implementing it well, though, is another matter. I sought out the humble English Colorsound Swell because it does just what it says on the box – no more, no less – there is no pretention here. This is a one‑owner pedal that looks like it has spent a fair proportion of its time in storage when not being used at home. I haven’t dismantled it to confirm the pot dates, as it has been untouched and the cover is tricky to get off, so it has been left well alone and the date remains to be determined. It is in terrific overall condition with just a couple of minor paint chips on one corner. Unusually this one comes with its original branded cardboard box, which is a nice bonus and possibly contributed to its protection from knocks over the years. It also works just like it should, in that the pot works smoothly without any scratchiness. The Swell is great for producing those violin‑like bowed sounds used by many guitarists (NB. very effective when used with fuzz, delay and reverb) or it can be used simply to mute the signal. There is really not an awful lot more to say other than it’s a swell (sic!) pedal to have.


  • Made by Sola Sound in London, England in the late 1970s
  • Foot treadle controls the volume of the output – no on/off switch
  • Standard ¼” input and output mono jack sockets
  • Passive effect – no power supply required
  • Original box (no instruction manual)

Detail Gallery:

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