The Toe Bender MkII is Toetags Electronics’s special edition, limited-run version of a Tone Bender MKII fuzz pedal. In some ways, it’s similar to the Supa Fuzz MkII, also produced by Toetags. However, the Toe Bender produces a thicker fuzz with a bit more bite. It, too is constructed with germanium transistors, as were many of the original fuzz pedals of yore.
The Toe Bender MkII is really great at producing the sort of thick, compressed fuzz which makes a guitarist scrunch up his face, nod, and mouth “oh yeah” with deep satisfaction. One also imagines audience members holding up “devil horns” with their hands as they nod along to a crushing riff. Compared to the Supa Fuzz MkII, I’d say that the Toe Bender provides a thicker wall of distortion. It’s a more rounded, fuller sound.
The Toe Tags features a simple layout. It’s a simple pedal, really, because it doesn’t even have a gain knob. It’s pretty much on or off for this effect, although some tinkering with my guitar’s volume knob produced a cleaner tone. However, as I reduced the volume to its lowest level, and compensated on the pedal by increasing the Level knob and boosting the Attack, I decided that the Toe Bender only seemed to clean up. In actuality, the pedal merely masked the higher frequencies, the ones which tend to sound buzzier. I suppose that while performing, I could “fool” the audience into thinking I had a cleaner, darker tone. However, with a quick spin of my volume dial, I’d be right back into distortion land, at a much higher volume.
Although the Toe Bender, like the Supa Fuzz, is admirably housed in a sturdy and rather retro-looking metal box, I was sad to discover that the Attack knob didn’t attach to the pot’s shaft as sturdily as I would have liked. Even after re-tightening the retaining screw, the knob tended to slip just a bit. I’m sure that this could be remedied with a bit of glue, but for its price, it’s fair to ask that the knob not come loose.
One other issue—the same I had with the otherwise excellent Supa Fuzz: the pedal is powered only by a nine-volt battery. Serious tone hounds will likely find a way to power the thing off of a power supply. Toetags says it opted for battery-only power in order to stay true to the spirit of the original pedals. I understand the rationale, but the reality is that most people who invest in these special pedals don’t want to have to modify them, easy as that might be. Why not eliminate the hassle for the end user?
Despite these minor concerns, the Toe Bender MkII is an excellent example of the sort of exciting things that can still be done with even the oldest of fuzz circuits. New-old-stock components and tweaks to the design demonstrate that fuzz has a future.
What We Like:
Thick, rich fuzz which is a bit more powerful than that of the Supa Fuzz MkII; solid housing and simplicity of design make for a no-nonsense pedal.
A lack of a power-supply input and a loose knob which could have been easily remedied with a few design alterations.