BASCOMB FUZZ FACE
I call my Fuzz Face builds BASCOMB, and tune every unit against my 1966, first-batch NKT-275 unit for germanium builds, or my ~1968 BC183KA unit for silicon builds. Both of my vintage pedals have completely unmodified circuit boards, and sound exemplary.
AN HISTORY OF THE ARBITER FUZZ FACE
Arbiter released the Fuzz Face within months of the Sola Sound Tone Bender (MK1.5). Though the details remain hazy, by most accounts, Arbiter lifted the Tone Bender circuit, made minimal adjustments, and packed it in a microphone-stand base.
The dual common-emitter amplifier circuit used in the MK1.5 was based closely on a common-use General Electric design. The first amplifier stage overloads the second, and you have distortion. Simple. The Sola folks wanted a bit more, though: they wanted control over the amount of distortion. The obvious answer was to throw in an output potentiometer after the first amplifier, but this wasn’t exactly what they wanted. Instead, and perhaps by accident, they introduced a negative-feedback network that fed current from the second amplifier back into the input of the first. The attack control determines how much current is fed back: the more feedback, the lower the overall distortion—an elegant solution.
Arbiter’s only significant change to the circuit was subbing in a larger output-potentiometer, which passed more low-end out of the circuit.
One could spend years reading online opinions on how the two circuits differ. In my experience, good examples of ‘66 Tone Benders and Fuzz Faces sound very similar. If one were to generalize:
-Regarding attack, the TB is sharp, the FF round
-Regarding decay, the TB may sputter to silence, the FF may decay naturally (*though this is not a circuit thing! It's simply determined by the q-point of each transistor's bias)
-Regarding guitar volume interaction, the TB may clean up to gated, choppy sounds, the FF may clean up to less distorted tones while maintaining natural decay.
-Regarding frequency response, the TB may give the impression of a balanced response, the FF a low-passed response.
In reality, the aforementioned qualities of a TB might be found in a FF, and vice versa. They’re wonderful devices, and each deserve their legendary status; I mean, the FF comes in a circle for christ’s sake!
NOTE: Orders currently take ~6-8 weeks to fulfill. Thanks for your understanding!