||Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face Mini (Germanium) review.
| br>Rex Coil 7
| br>I picked up a new (new!) Joe Bonamassa Mini Fuzz Face the other day. I've built a few FF over the years, all ~silicon~ transistor versions. I've never even tried a germanium version.
** Custom built "Shredbilly" mega-chopped telecaster body ... all Warmoth wood, Gotoh chromed brass bridge, Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder pickups with coil taps, all stainless hardware (Callaham), Planet Waves self trimming and locking tuners, stainless frets, black macassar ebony fretboard, unfinished (oiled) Padouk neck, unfinished (oiled) alder body, Ernie Ball "slinky" 0.9mm strings. Axe is about seven years old.
** Dean ML, totally gutted with all new pickups and all new wiring installed. Seymour Duncan "59s" humbuckers, wired straight out with no tone controls (volume only). Maple neck and fretboard.
** Fuzzy Joe.
** Custom built all hand wired Marshall JTM45 head.
** 2x12 sealed back birch plywood cab with Celestion Greenback speakers, wired at 16ohms.
** Cables are nuttin' special, the speaker cable is an oxygen free unit made by the Tone Elves that live in the Tree Of Tone.
Thoughts: Wow .... is that fuzz sumthin' special though!! Playing pairs of the thin strings as intervals (5ths, 4ths, minor 3rds, octaves) just roared! Middle strings kick you right in the nuts, especially paired up intervals, they just HOWL. Playing thick strings way up past the 12th fret ... talk about ROAR ... single note riffing on the fat strings above the 12th fret produced wonderful singing sounds worthy of Robin Trower, Tommy Bolin, Pat Travers. Super fat ... just fat as all hell. I used the "Fuzz" knob dimed and volume set to unity, with the amp set to a ~fairly clean-ish~ setting. The bass control had to be reduced, and I turned up the mids, treble, and presence controls. Both channels are bridged, with their gains set at 12 o'clock. Noise level was surprisingly low with the fuzz engaged.
All that, and on a wall wart for power no less! I have a dual 9v batt box I made up that plugs into a pedal's wall wart input. The box allows me to switch between wall wart, batt "A", and batt "B". So using different types of batteries (or batts at different charge levels) is easily done. But all I tried so far was wall power. Even so, STILL way impressed.
I gotta say, I've never heard my "Trower rig" sound so .... uh .... hmm ... what's the word to use here ..... AH! ... GOT IT! .....
Simply wonderful tones. And I really like how dinky the unit is as well ... it's just about the size of a regulation hockey puck. Same color too, black. Built well, die cast aluminum housing, seems to be a powdercoated finish. The footswitch is nice and easy, not like those "Blue Taiwan" foot switches many of us use in our DIY builds. I can actually play in my sox without the foot switch digging into my foot. Bright blue LED.
So I am totally happy. I got it on eBay for $102.00 free shipping, brand spankin' new. From what I've read there were only four hundred of these made. Not sure about how true that is however.
Would I recommend it to someone I care about? Totally!!
I still want to work with it some more (A LOT MORE). There is a shit ton of potential in that thing. I have several wah pedals to try with it (Keeley, Zack Wilde, Standard Cry Baby) as well as a number of phasers and other Trower-esque "uni-vibe" type modulators. It pairs well with a closed back cab and Greenbacks ... but I also want to try it with my Fender head hooked to my other 2x12 cab (open back with Celestion vintage 30s wired at 16ohms). I also have a custom built Marshall 2061 head that I am itching to test it with. That 2061 (EL84 power tubes) responds to pedals super well (that amp yields a thicker midrange presence, sounds like a 50 watt Plexi with less power), so I'll see what the different amp/cab combos yield.
Ok, so ... yea ... I'm about a happy-ass! Very pleased, very well spent money, total keeper.
EDIT: I also tried it with my Odyssey synth. Not so good there. ALL of the bottom end went totally bye byes. I mean, it's ~ok~ ... but it would be reserved for special FX sounds. When using the ring mod in the Odyssey that damned thing KILLED IT! totally bad ass sound, screaming screaching lead tone that would work especially well with something like a Space Echo. Beyond that type of thing, it didn't seem to mesh well with the synth. But that is totally ok, since it smashes the Earth and Planets with my guitars!
BONZAI! br> br>
| br>Rex Coil 7
| br>Ok ... just ... HOLY CRAP!
Last night (until far past 2am) I tried it with an $89.00 Marshall MG15. No bloody "FX" ... no bloody "DFX" ... no bloody "CFX" ... just an MG15. For those unfamiliar with the Marshall MG15 series, they are small practice amps, closed back cabs, 15 watt solid state amps, 8 inch speaker. The straightforward MG15 has no digital FX, no fake "carbon fiber" covering (that is what the "CFX" means in the model designation .. carbon fiber looking covering with digital FX). The controls are simple as simple gets ... gain, volume, bass, mids, treble ... 5 knobs.
Paired up with the Fuzzy Joe, the ensemble sounds incredibly bitchin. My MG15 is modded with a speaker output jack. so I patched the MG15's output to the 2x12 closed back cab with Greenback Celestion speakers. Oh Lordy! I'm certain I could gig with that rig and very few people (if any) would be able to tell it wasn't a 50 year old Plexi with a 50 year old germanium Fuzz Face.
The MG15 may be had for less than a hunsky. The mini Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face can be had for a sniff over $100 bucks. So for around $200.00 you've got yourself one stage monster. Mic it up, and you're done. Smaller gig where you don't want/need to mic up to the PA? Use an extension cab (requires a simple modification on the MG15 to add an extension speaker output jack). Add a simple little DIY "phase 90" fakey stompbox properly set to produce a uni-vibe ~like~ throb, a good wah, and you've got Robin Trower, Pat Travers, or certain eras of Jeff Beck for miles. Um, "previous experience required" ... I mean ~No DUH!~ right?
Travers is my favorite rock player, no doubt.
This combination can even be coerced into producing decent "Jimi tones" if that's yer thang. You'll need a Strat though (and again with the whole "skills needed" thing).
Anyhow, just needed to include this little addendum to the gear review.
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