Pedals

Supa Fuzz MkII by Toetags Electronics

  • By David A. Evans @tonereport
  • July 01, 2016
  • 1 Comments

The Supa Fuzz MkII is Toetags Electronics’s version of the hard-to-find Marshall Supa Fuzz. This fuzz is part of the “Tone Bender family,” as Toetags calls the assortment of fuzz and distortion pedals which fell under the Tone Bender name. It’s a sweet-sounding fuzz, and at least in terms of design and components, extremely close to the originals.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the Tone Bender, the effect is essentially one of the first fuzzboxes put on the market, way back in 1965. Various iterations of the same effect came and went over the years, but tone hounds across the land have debated the merits of circuit design, component quality, and just what the perfect combination of the two would look like. Curiously, one company, Sola Sound, produced the fuzz circuits for Marshall’s Supa Fuzz, as well as the circuits for Vox, who often incorporated the circuit into its own amplifiers. The specific version that Toetags has reproduced is actually the third in the series of Tone Bender pedals, the previous being the MkI and MkIV Moreover, because Sola Sound produced the same circuitry for Marshall as well as Vox, the two classic pedals ought to have the same tonal nuances—at least in theory.

The Supa Fuzz MkII is about as simple a pedal as they come. It features only two large knobs, one for Level and one for Filter. That’s correct, the pedal does not feature a distortion knob. Yet it’s not really a problem because the pedal cleans up really well if one backs off on the instrument volume knob. I could dial in a slightly less intense fuzz in this manner, but I had to increase the Level on the pedal. Still, I found that I didn’t really want to back off on the fuzz because it was really at the perfect level. It was thick, heavy, and provided the sort of killer sustain which helps bring solos to life.

What’s particularly nice about the Supa Fuzz MkII from Toetags is that the folks at that company not only reproduced the circuit but they also went to the trouble of finding new old stock components. “New old stock?” asks the reader. Well, it’s high time the reader understood the variations in and between components of different eras.

In certain times, components were built to certain tolerances and specifications. Many people believe that the special je ne sais quoi of these old fuzz pedals can be explained by their components, whose tolerances and construction differ from those manufactured today. Regardless, it’s safe to say that with a Toetags Supa Fuzz, a person will be a whole lot closer to the real deal—the original pedal—than in some reissue which has been thrown together with little concern for the qualities of the components.

Alas, one aspect of the pedal concerned this reviewer: the lack of power jack. Now, Toetags claims that their design is wholly in the spirit of the original Tone Bender models. Given that batteries powered these vintage pedals, the Supa Fuzz MkII is also powered by a battery. I understand the desire to remain true to one’s vision, and to the spirit of the original pedals. However, many people these days prefer 1Spots and other power adaptors to nine-volt batteries. The most serious tone hounds will likely modify their own pedals. This means that they’ll have to drill a little hole in the housing for the adaptor or its wire. We all know that people will do this, so why try to pretend like it won’t happen?

Despite this one concern, the Supa Fuzz MkII is a solid fuzz pedal whose tone, construction, and simplicity should please even the most demanding ears.

What We Like:

Nice, saturated fuzz with ample sustain; a simple layout and a solid housing.

Concerns:

It pains me to challenge the company’s commitment to the vintage spirit, but the lack of a power jack is hard to believe; tone hounds will just add their own, so why try to fight the inevitable?