Is the classic Germanium fuzz the only real way to get that groovy, liquid fuzz tone? I’m personally a big fan of Ge fuzzes, but I’ve recently had my eyes and ears opened. Fuzz dogma be damned! As Evil once said about the Supreme Being, “He knows nothing of the potential of the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how He spends His time! Forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men!”
If I needed a fuzz pedal with which to storm the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness, then it would have to be the incredible “Axis Face” silicon fuzz pedal designed by Phillip Bryant (http://fuzzcentral.ssguitar.com/), one of the gurus of fuzz on the web. If you build pedals, be sure to visit his site and soak it all in.
The Axis Face is a pedal that every DIYer simply MUST build. (If you prefer, we can build one for you – same cost as the Fuzz 292 – just contact us through the site.) It’s worth hunting down the proper transistors, too, since their particular gain ranges are what make this Silicon fuzz sound so incredibly Germanium-y. (We have these also, again – write to us if you need some).
Silicon revolution, day one!
Not commercially available (as far as I know) the “Axis Face” is one of those pedals that make building your own worth all the trouble. In this case, the trouble might be tracking down the BD139 and PN2369A (aka 2N2369) transistors. If you get a hold of those oddball transistors, the option of adding in Jack Orman’s “Stupidly Wonderful Tone Control” (www.musique.com) gives you a more flexible, if slightly different sounding, pedal. Definitely socket the transistors and try lower-gain Si transistors, like 2N2222, BC108/109A or B, etc. You might find the right combo among more easily found transistors, so it’s worth experimenting.
I’ve created two options here in the layouts, both on a relatively small 10×8 vero board. The first is the straight-up Axis Face, as shown on Fuzz Central’s circuit diagram. I’ve left space on the board to add in the “Stupidly Wonderful Tone Control”, and if you are a neat wirer, you can probably fit everything in a 1590B enclosure, even with gain, volume, bias, and tone pots:
Download the full PDF with both versions here:
Please visit the Fuzz Central website here for the schematic: http://fuzzcentral.ssguitar.com/axisface.php
You’ll notice that the schematic includes the “Smooth” control, which I haven’t planned into the vero layout – this optional input potentiometer allows you to set a sort of “maximum input strength”, if you will; sort of like having your guitar’s volume pot rolled back a bit. This is a cool option if you don’t need balls-to-the-wall fuzz at the maximum setting. With the Smooth control set to ease up on the fuzz, you can dime your guitar’s volume pot without getting too much gain, which can be handy for live situations, where that fraction of a turn of the guitar’s volume pot goes from pleasantly fuzzy to total mayhem. In any case, simply add the 1M pulldown resistor at the input of that pot. NEVER add the pulldown resistor to the input jack of a pedal, since it would then always be in the signal chain, even when you hit the bypass switch!
This circuit is audio art. Build it, plug in your axe, crank it up, and after the smoke clears; “Do be careful – Don’t lose any of that stuff. That’s concentrated evil. One drop of that could turn you all into hermit crabs.” (- The Supreme Being)
best regards, joe dochtermann