BIG BRIERLY MKII TONE BENDER
My MKII is called BIG BRIERLY, and is tuned against my original (Sola Sound built) Marshall Supa Fuzz. My vintage Marshall MKII is less gated than some, cleans up pretty well, and is lower gain. I can also tune yours to be highly gated, with lots of swirl and stutter in the decay.
Big Brierly is available in Standard, Focus, and Old Pal construction.
AN MKII HISTORY
This version of the Tone Bender enjoyed a long tenure in the mid-late ‘60s as Sola Sound’s standard product. MKII were probably made concurrently with the MK1.5 for a short time. This circuit is essentially an MK1.5 with a buffer stage at the beginning. Some early units had the buffer stage stuffed onto completed MK1.5 boards.
Original MKII sound a lot like MK1.5, despite the circuit differences. I’ve heard more variation among old MKII units than among other fuzz types. Some of them are minimally gated and clean up well, others are heavily gated and do not clean up. I do not believe transistor type has anything to do with these differences in performance.
With the professional MKII, Sola Sound began supplying other companies with rebranded builds, though the internals remained unchanged. Charmingly, on one of their products, Sola Sound struck their name out with a heavy black bar, and screened “VOX” above it. This unit went to Vox as a product sample, which they must have liked, because the properly screened VOX Tone Bender followed. Sola Sound also supplied MKII builds to Marshall, Rotosound, John Hornby Skewes, and perhaps others.
Parts were pretty consistent, with typical Iskra and Piher resistors, and Wima and Iskra capacitors. Mullard OC75 were the standard transistor, though Impex S3-1T, Mullard OC81, and Mullard OC81D sometimes slipped in later on. Early transitional boards had a couple 12k resistors and 500k (rather than 100k) volume pots. I suggest you do not get hung up on the occasional variations in capacitor values, resistor values, filtering capacitors, etc. Tuning has everything to do with how these things sound and behave.
Modern takes on this circuit tend to be very high gain, compressed, and saturated, with long sustain and minimal or no gating. I tend not to like these builds, as they forego the scrappiness of the original units in favor of a generic, blown-out distortion personality similar to the EHX Big Muff. I don’t like Big Muffs.
To hear the MKII sound, check out mid '60s Jimmy Page
Orders currently take ~5 weeks to fulfill. Thanks for your understanding!