Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sola Sound Tone Bender MKIV (1971)

Today we have a guest author to the Tone Machines blog, our good friend and fellow fuzz junkie, Nick! You may have seen some of his demo videos on the youtubes, but maybe you didn't know he had a really cool collection of vintages fuzzies too?

I had been envious of Nick's rare pedal acquisitions for a while, but when I saw this old tattered yellow box of love, I knew I had to try and talk him into a post on T.M.

So here it is! and a big THANKS to Nick for the words and pics.

The three knob Tone Bender you see most often is that classic silvery grey pedal where they really went all the way in the graphics department; finally no more cheap 1960s silk-screening! With the new far-out ‘Batman’ style flash logo it’s pretty clear what you’re gonna get when you step on the pedal. They seemed to stick this circuit of  in a number of different coloured boxes, including rebranded versions for companies such as Carlsbro (“Fuzz”) and Park (“Fuzz Sound”), and not to mention a whole load of Sola Sound branded (“Tone Bender Mark IV”) pedals, all in different colours (and don’t forget the earlier Vox Tone Bender Mark III).

But right here we are looking at the sexiest of the lot – the Sola Sound yellow Tone Bender.
It’s had a hard life as you can see from the photo. Rust spots and big chunks of the paint job just torn right out – the signs of a great sounding fuzzbox! 

This Tone Bender flew in all the way from Australia, and took a while for UK Customs to come to the conclusion that it was just a messed up old pedal (and not a bomb!). When I finally did get it the ‘Fuzz’ and ‘Treble and Bass’ controls were in really bad shape – the whole pedal would just cut out if you adjusted them, the volume control was totally missing with the shaft of the potentiometer snapped right off!
Even with the pedal in its broken-to-shit state, you could really hear how Sola Sound carefully refined the Tone Bender; this thing can go from a screaming banshee to sounding just like a cranked Marshall stack, depending on how you play through it (sounds even better now that it’s been repaired!).

The Sola Sound Tonebenders, despite being pretty rare, were extremely versatile, well built and fantastic sounding fuzz pedals that, to me, are worth every penny!  I have even found a way to make this one work where it does this cool half-cocked wah effect when you turn the amount of fuzz down – cuts through the mix like a swordfish!

Thanks for reading!

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