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The circuit was designed in the late 1960s by the Japanese company Honey, in the form of a multi effect called the Honey Psychedelic Machine. Later on, Honey was taken on by Shin-ei, who produced the effect separately (who also produced another well known fuzz box, the Shin-ei Companion FY-2) and imported in the USA by Unicord. The first Super-Fuzzes were made in 1968, and production continued until the late 70s.
The first units were made in a simple stamped sheet metal box, painted grey, with a blue metal Univox sticker on the top. Around 1970 production was changed to a die-cast metal box, with a large pedal featuring a rubber cover that had the words "Super-Fuzz" embossed on it. The first die cast units were either grey or black, with a green or black foot pedal. Around 1973 or so, they were all produced with an orange pedal, with a green or blue foot pedal. The later models also featured an internal trim pot for controlling the octave balance.
Although the Univox units are the most well-known incarnation of this circuit, Shin-ei licensed this circuit out to dozens of manufacturers.
This fuzz is an octave fuzz using two germanium diodes to produce the square wave clipping.
The controls are 'Balance' (volume), 'Expander' (fuzz amount), a two position 'tone' switch, and an on/off footswitch on top.
There are two unique features of this device that set it apart from other distortion and fuzz pedals. The first is that the full-wave rectification of the circuit produces an upper octave as well as a slight lower octave. This also gives the sound a lot of compression and gives a mild ring modulator effect. The second unique feature is a tone switch that engages a 1kHz filter that "scoops" the mids, giving a very fat, almost bassy tone, unique to this circuit.
Notable musicians who have used the Super-Fuzz include:
- Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys
- Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins
- Billy Cox of Jimi Hendrix
- Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie
- Elliott Frazier of Ringo Deathstarr
- Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
- Hillel Slovak of Red Hot Chili Peppers
- J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
- Joe Denardo of Growing
- Jon Niederbrach of The Untold Fables
- Joe Preston of Thrones
- Josh Homme of Them Crooked Vultures, Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss
- Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard
- Kurt Cobain of Nirvana
- Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney
- Pete Townshend of The Who
- Poison Ivy of The Cramps
- Scott Hill of Fu Manchu
- Steve Hackett of Genesis (rebranded as the Shaftesbury Duo-Fuzz)
- Dave Stewart of Hatfield and the North (rebranded as the Shaftesbury Duo-Fuzz)
- Tony McPhee of The Groundhogs
- Paul Vinegar of Jahbulong
- Josh Hamby of From Zero To Zed
- Hughes, Tom (2004). Analog Man's Guide to Vintage Effects (First ed.). USA: For Musicians Only Publishing. p. 117, 119. ISBN 0-9759209-0-1.
- Hughes, Tom (2004). Analog Man's Guide to Vintage Effects (FIRST ed.). USA: For Musicians Only Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 0-9759209-0-1.
- "Gary Louris/Jayhawks fuzztone".