Our Classic Fuzz incorporates the same modifications that I personally developed for Jimi and can be heard on his early recordings.
Electronically this guitar effect uses the Fuzz Face configuration of the classic two transistor amplifier but the low parts count and simplicity of this configuration produced many problems in the mass produced versions that were produced and available to the public. The large variations in tone quality from unit to unit, radio pickup and high frequency oscillations, temperature causing tone quality to change all made life very difficult and it was not unusual to have to select from up to 20 units to find a really good one. No two units were the same!
The version that we produce today has eliminated all of these problems and is representative of the best units that Jimi used. PNP Germanium transistors of the exact same type that were used in the early versions are very carefully selected for gain and stability to produce the rich smooth rounded tones that the later version NPN silicon transistors failed to emulate. These are still used by many modern manufacturers in so called vintage Fuzz Face versions. Germanium transistors do not pickup radio or oscillate and a pre-set has been added on the PC card to enable the unit to be optimised at varying temperatures. It is unquestionably the most accurate "Vintage fuzz effect" manufactured today that replicates the sound of the early Hendrix tracks. The Roger Mayer Classic Fuzz has the genuine pedigree and heritage and you can rest assured of having a device designed and built by the man who was there.
"Oh, the sonic havoc you can wreak with only two resistors, three caps, and a pair of NOS(new old stock) germanium transistors. The Fuzzīs volume and intensity knobs deliver classically brittle sounding fuzz on a monstrous scale. Once you experience it, you'll understand why Hendrix amps could sound like they were about to detonate at any second. The Fuzz is quite dynamically responsive..."
Guitar Player Jun/-93
"The Dan Dare science fiction case gets the prize for best looker, with thick aluminium design and well hidden controls." "The sound is thick, compared to the Pro Mkll(Vox), but with a little more gain for strong lead. Still, it's pretty much a one sound pedal as all true fuzz pedals are."
Total Guitar Apr/-96
"Sounds incredible. I've tried it side by side with other pedals that supposedly get the "Hendrix sound" and none of them compare. Overall rating:10 "
User from the net -96
The Axis Fuzz was developed in early 1967 to give an additional series of tone colours for Jimi. This guitar effect is named after it's most famous use on the title track of the album "Axis Bold as Love". It can also be heard extensively on the "Band of Gypsies" and various other post 1968 recordings by Jimi. Since it's reissue it has become a firm favourite by guitarists who demand rich fill range quality fuzz tones with plenty of bottom end but that can also be used on chords and riffs. It cleans us very well from the guitar volume control and retains its large range of tone colours. The guitar does not loose identity and is truly a modern classic used by many leading performers today.
Electronically the Axis uses a discrete circuit configuration that is completely unlike the simple and crude Fuzz Face configuration. Both PNP and NPN silicon low noise transistors are used in an unique configuration that is temperature stable, free from radio interference and producing more output level and sustain than the Classic Fuzz. It produces a distinctive rich-biting sound that makes solos extremely noticeable but not thin sounding and weedy like so many popular mass marketed effects. The unit has a high input impedance to keep the guitars character and quality of tone whist providing great sustain. It is definitely best described as fuzz rather than distortion but has the ability to be used on chords as well as solos.
"Excellent sound quality. Provides thick, rich fuzz for chords at lower volume setting (around 6-8) and great sustain drenched in fuzz for solos at higher volume settings (8-10). I've got a couple of old Arbiter Fuzz Faces, and this sounds some like they do, but with more gain and sustain along with more overall "tone"."
Michael Gilreath (internet -96)
The Roger Mayer Spitfire is the latest fuzz guitar effect in the Rocket Series and has been deliberately designed to produce the classic triode tube type distortion that is particularly rich in harmonics that are very musical and pleasing to the ears. This basically means that chords can be used at high levels of distortion without sounding raucous or just plain nasty, as would be the case with other types of fuzz boxes.
The Spitfire maintains the guitar's original tone characteristics with the open sound, detail and sonic heritage that have their roots in my association with the making of Jimi's recordings. I have added a few new design twists and coupled with my extensive knowledge from the retro fuzz and distortion boxes we already produce have come up with a new sounding modern distortion/ fuzz sound that does indeed sound fresh and distinctive and not just another boring reissue or clone of a 30 year old design.
It has definite advantages that will appeal to those players who strive for a modern sound with strong roots in the past. The Spitfire is a very Low Noise analogue high gain design, stable, free from radio and other electronic interference that cause so much trouble. It has a greatly increased output level that enables it to overdrive the front end of any amp very hard. Turning up the Gain or Drive control will produce feedback at very low sound levels and a virtually never ending sustain that is very full and tight with the top end staying sweet encouraging soaring string bends and wild solos.
The overall EQ has been carefully developed to produce a well-rounded fatness and musical tone, not the nasal or fizzy thin type of fuzz sound that is common with digital modellers, multi effects etc. Analogue circuitry really does sound better when it comes to high gain low noise situations; there is no contest. The unit really comes into it's own during live performance situations as it cleans up superbly well using the guitar volume control whilst maintaining the guitar's original tone as the signal goes from wild distortion to the original guitar tone.
This effective control from the guitar makes life a great deal easier for the live player who likes to change tone effortlessly from his axe. The Spitfire even when used at high gain levels maintains a very clean transition from note to note that is transparent and free from the usual nasty type of spitting sounds heard so often when the signal decays and a new note begins. This of courses encourages fast solos with lots of sustain that actually sound louder due to the fact that the spaces between the note are not filled up with mush and noise.
The circuit senses and uses electronic information fed directly from the guitar's pickups to control it's own operational parameters and it is recommended to use the Spitfire 1st in the signal processing chain to take full advantage of this internal feedforward feature. It is this particular feature of the Spitfire that that helps to make it quite different from early fuzz pedals and makes the unit respond very well to each individual players touch, style and playing technique.
Five minutes playing with the Spitfire will convince anyone this is not just a re-hashed design but genuinely innovative with some new tone colours.
The unit comes in the very rugged Rocket housing and features Hard Wire Bypass and an attractive and striking Signal Red paint finish. It has two controls: Output Level, Drive or Gain and is powered by an internal 9 Volt battery with an operational life of over 150Hrs so changing a battery should not be a problem. An external power supply (not supplied) can be used. Successful operation is simple and is probably our easiest box to use with no previous knowledge or study of a manual required.
"The most exciting aspect of the Spitfire is the way it puts you in control of your sound. It's almost as if the pedal has three control knobs - the third being the volume control on your guitar."
"The Spitfire offers insane amounts of sustain, drive and sweet 'tubey' harmonics to the daredevil lead player."
Guitarist -July 2002
"This pedal offers a wide range of sounds, too, from mildly dirt to completely over the top. You may not like the whole range of possibilities and you may like some of them only some of the time, but you're going to find some combination of amp, guitar and pedal that really makes you want to play."
Guitar Magazine - April 2002
"This pedal is a perfect marriage between a great Hendrix orientated Fuzz and superb distortion pedal. It's brighter than most Fuzz Face clones with more articulate tone.It has very balanced tone: nice low-end that is not mushy, great midrange without the "honking" tone, and clear bright high-end that is not piercing."
Custom Sounds 2002
The MONGOOSE FUZZ was developed in 1985 for guitarists who demand a guitar effect with lots of fat fuzz and enough bottom end to keep a metalhead happy. The MONGOOSE FUZZ also sounds as if it has a pre-set type wah voice that gives the distortion distinctive focus. It has proved popular with a wide and varied type of guitar player from Metal through Rock and Jazz. It is more modern sounding and civilised sounding than the Axis or Classic Fuzz and has found a niche with those who want an alternative but not too radically different sound that the current range of mass produced units from the USA, Japan and Far East produce.
Electronically the Mongooose uses a combination of both discrete and IC analogue design techniques. The clipping circuit primarily comes from a passive diode circuit resulting in smooth compression and harmonic overtones providing a smooth and transparent transition from clean to overload states. Chords sound very good and with the amazing amount of sustain available, feedback is possible at the lowest amplifier volume settings. These features have made the Mongoose popular in the recording studio and similar situations where feedback is desirable at low sound levels. Current users include Bono (U2) and Joe Perry (Aerosmith).
produces lot of fat fuzz with enough bottom end to make a metalhead happy. The Mongoose also sounds as if it has a bit of preset wah voice; it gives the distortion a vowel-like focus thatīs pretty cool."
Guitar Player Jun/-93
The OCTAVIA is probably our most famous and distinctive creation. This guitar effect was designed in early 1967 and featured on "Purple Haze" and "Fire" by Jimi. It's unique tones can also be heard on such tracks as "One Rainy Wish", "Little Miss Lover", "Little Wing", "Machine Gun" etc.
The OCTAVIA produces a sound that is an octave higher than the note you are presently playing. This doubling effect is accomplished through electronic mirror imaging techniques that are program sensitive and also respond to the feedforward inputs of the player. The electronic circuitry is analogue in design and will react faithfully to all the subtleties and harmonic overtones from the guitar. The effect produced is very unique but human in quality. The unit that is manufactured today is representative of the latest evolution of Octavia that Jimi used and contains the feedforward and gating effect that my earlier evolutions lacked. The modern clones today often copy the Tycobrahe unit that in fact was a rip off of my earlier 24 volt versions. These units were not designed to work optimally with 9 volts and in fact you would be buying a clone of a copy so it makes sense to buy a unit from the man who invented it.
Electronically the OCTAVIA is an analogue circuit with the properties of a frequency doubler, envelope generator and amplitude modulator with addition frequency shaping filter circuits. The effect produced is subtle to wild depending on the settings used and will respond to the attack of the player. A clean tone from the guitar with say the tone rolled control rolled off will produce "ring modulated" overtones that characterise the solo to "Who knows". The sound is tangibly different if a fuzz unit is in front of the Octavia: an upper octave double is created, clearly demonstrated in the solo to "Purple Haze". The bright harmonics are more controllable if the neck pickup is selected and the tone control set to roll off the treble. The effect really comes into it's own on the top E and B strings from the 7th fret up. A clean and precise picking style is essential with particular attention to accurate fretting techniques.
Jimi placed the Octavia after a fuzz and wah unit in most cases so it would react to the combined effects of both the wah and one or more fuzz boxes. It is important to experiment with how much signal you are driving the Octavia with as this has a great influence on the sound produced.
OCTAVIA / OCTAVIO HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
ROGER MAYER WEDGE SHAPED OCTAVIA/OCTAVIO 1968-1969 MODEL SHOWN ABOVE:
There is a lot of misinformation out there on the web and on the forums with all kinds of people claiming to make a better clone that this one or the other. If you want the truth and are interested to know please read on and learn the truth from the man who invented the Octavia / Octavio.
First thing to clear up is why two names Octavia and Octavio. The answer is simple I always called the boxes Octavia but Jimi and a few others called them Octavio. The boxes were never labelled by me and the exhibit in the EMP Museum in Seattle has been labelled by someone else to read Octavio (SEE PHOTOS OF EMP EXHIBIT ABOVE).
I would like to take this opportunity to set Octavia history straight once and for all.
1.The Octavia / Octavio sound was first heard on record in the solo of "Purple Haze" and this solo was recorded on Feb 3rd 1967. I first met Jimi on Jan 11th 1967.
2. The actual Octavia used on these first recordings did not have the same circuit, type of transformer or enclosure the wedge shaped pedal in Hendrix display EMP has, as this exhibit was manufactured at least 20 months later. It did however use elements of an electronic configuration that could be considered pivotal. This first unit can be considered as Octavia Evo1.
3. This Evo1 unit used germanium transistors and a ferrite transformer and also had limited drive capabilities. It was used in the recording of "Purple Haze" and "Fire" with another custom driver in a separate enclosure that also used germanium transistors. This driver was placed in front of Evo1 to give enough drive and extra EQ to satisfy Jimi and produce the sound you hear on the recordings.
4. After the Purple Haze / Fire session recordings Evo 1 was never used again in it's original form and I consigned it to the trash bin.
5. It then became obvious that both a driver section and the Octavia section should be combined into one box.
6. The path of development and understanding through experimentation by Jimi and I was continuous and fast like in F1 Motor Racing and in the space of less than a year at least 15 variations and evolutions had been produced.
7. These units were used by Jimi and not housed in a wedge shaped box. Some only had a life of a week or so as we both learned and experimented and moved on. It can be thought of as racecar development throughout a season. Maybe the same chassis configuration but lots of component changes.
8. Later in 1967 after we began recording sessions for the second album "Axis Bold as Love" which used the latest evo of Octavia on several tracks and if you listen carefully the clarity and detail of the Octavia effect was much more defined. Of course at the same time I was updating, building and customising the distortion units to compliment the latest evo of Octavia being now used.
9. At the end of 1967 I designed the wedge shaped enclosure that was manufactured by my fathers electronic company and only 5 or so examples were made.
10. The latest evo of the Octavia were then housed in these new wedge enclosures and still used germanium transistors and ferrite transformers. They however had a DPDT foot switch which the previous versions did not have which were primarily designed for studio work and not suited for touring.
11.Visually the first wedge boxes used different knobs than the example in the EMP Museum and this identifying factor makes indentification easy to see which series of pedals they are without even looking inside for confirmation..
12. I went on tour to the USA with Jimi from Jan 30th 1968 until April 19th 1968 where the first wedge shaped Octavia was used on a few special gigs. We did not use it everyday owing to fact they custom made and could not be replaced as I was on tour as well. Having gear stolen from the stage was a real problem every night. We never lost an Octavia though. Jimi and I kept the Octavias save with us at all times.
13. After the winter 68 tour in the USA I returned to work at Olympic Studios having left the Admiralty Research Laboratories to start a new career designing and manufacturing recording studio consoles and associated outboard equipment. I of course still kept in close contact with Jimi and the Octavia development continued on. I was also meeting lots of other famous musicians and bands that came to the Olympic Studios who also expressed a desire to have access and own an Octavia example.
14. It became obvious that a more rugged type of Octavia using silicon transistors and iron type audio transformer would be needed for rugged stage use. The use of low noise silicon transistors was an improvement in temperature stability over the germanium type. The iron laminations construction of the audio transformer did not have the high frequency detail of ferrite type but overall construction was more rugged and not subject to breakage from dropping. Ferrite core material can be damaged more easily than iron laminations.
15. At the end of 1968 I decided to build a limited run of 5 or so Octavias and 5 Distortion Pedals all housed in the wedge enclosure.
16. EMP and Tychobrahe derived clones.
All the clones I know come from this later series of pedals.
This latest series Octavia configuration used a driver section comprising of complimentary NPN PNP low noise silicon transistors driving a commercially obtained iron audio driver transformer. The biasing used for these units were also varied to provide evos that were designed for up to 24V operation for recording studio work to a version that would use an internal 9 Volt battery.
This series of pedals used the type of knobs you can observe on the EMP example.
17. These units were completed in early 1969 and went to guitar players like. Syd Barrett - Pink Floyd Steve Marriot - Small Faces, Peter Frampton - Small Faces. Keith Relf - Yardbirds and Jimi of course.
18. In May 1969 I went to live in New York City with my new married American wife and started Roger Mayer Electronics building and designing studio equipment. I also had taken a few of the remaining 10 pedals with me to New York. I of course was still in contact with Jimi and the development of the Octavia continued. The aim now was to get rid of the transformer altogether and Jimi and I got together at the Record Plant and Hit Factory to play with the latest evos and distortions I was developing.
19. After Christmas 1969 I get a call from Jimi saying he needs an Octavia for his upcoming gig News Years eve at the Fillmore East as all his ones were gone missing. Luckily I had an Octavia and distortion left from the 10 I had made earlier that year and took these to rehearsal for the "Band of Gypsys" concert. The results can be heard on the album on tracks such as Machine Gun etc.
20. 1970 saw Jimi really busy but I still caught up with him in the studio and showed him the latest version of the Octavia and new devices coming along when he visited New York.
21. In October 1970 whist working with Stevie Wonder at Media Studios I hear of Jimi's death. The session was immediately cancelled and everybody was very sad.
22. The Rocket version of the Octavia is the latest version connected with Jimi and does not use a transformer but represents the last of the development program helped and inspired by Jimi.
23. This is the reason I have never myself made a replica wedge box or indeed ever claimed that the Rocket Box was used was on "Purple Haze" or "Fire". The wedge box EMP has was never used on these records and was made at least 20 months after the fact. A wedge box made in 1969 was used at the BOG concert but was not exactly the same as the EMP one.
24. The spirit of the Octavia sound lives on and the latest version the Vision Octavia is an evolution inspired by my memories of Jimi and his music .It is a version I believe Jimi would have loved.
25. The Tychobrahe clone or more correctly put innaccurate copy was based on a 1969 variation of Octavia for 24 Volt operation and this type was copied from the example Keith Relf had.
So the fact is I think if you want the best and most versatile Octavia sound buy a new Rocket or Vision Octavia because if in my opinion I believed the transformer version was better I would surely be still be using them today. I would obviously reissue my own design if that were the case. By definition a clone is an actual replica of the original not some copy made from a circuit drawing found on the web and of dubious origin. I will never reveal the inaccuracies I have found in the web published schematics and all the clones are not clones but copies with basic flaws.
The Roger Mayer STONE FUZZ is is a modern evolution from the fuzz pedals I modified for Jimi. It is a very heavy sounding fuzz with roots that go back to the early fuzzes Jimi used but is not a clone of the old Fuzz Face.
The STONE FUZZ maintains the guitars original tone characteristics with the open sound and sonic heritage that is the trademark of Jimi's recordings. I have added a few new features and advantages that will appeal to those players who strive for a modern sound with strong roots in the past. It has deliberately been designed with this is mind and is not a clone of an old design that duplicates the original faults and shortcomings.
I have used the same basic transistor configuration but with several new innovations applied to the very basic circuit that was used then.
The new Stone Fuzz is a very Low Noise high gain design, stable, free from radio and other electronic interference that cause so much trouble. It has a greatly increased output level that enables it to overdrive the front end of any amp as hard as you want with the Stone Fuzz set to produce virtually nil distortion in volume boosting mode.
Turn up the Gain or Drive control and produce some of the deepest and tight low-end fuzz you have ever heard with the top end staying sweet encouraging soaring string bends and wild solos. The overall EQ has been carefully developed to produce a well-rounded fatness and musical tone, not the nasal or fizzy thin type of fuzz sound.
The unit really comes into it's own during live performance situations as it cleans up superbly well using the guitar volume controland maintains the guitars original tone as the signal decays from wild distortion to original guitar tone. This unit can be effectively controlled from the guitar making life a great deal easier for the player who likes to change tone effortlessly.
Because the circuit senses and uses electronic information directly from the guitars pickups to control it's own operational parameters it is recommended to use the Stone Fuzz 1st in the signal processing chain to take full advantage of this internal feedforward feature. It is this particular feature of the Stone Fuzz that helps to make it quite different from early fuzz pedals and makes the unit respond very well to each individual players touch, style and playing technique.
Five minutes playing with the Stone Fuzz will convince anyone this is not just a re-hashed design but genuinely innovative with some new tone colours.
The unit comes in the very rugged Rocket housing and features Hard Wire Bypass/True Bypass and an attractive and unusual Stone paint finish. It has two controls: Output Level, Drive or Gain and is powered by an internal 9 Volt battery with an operational life of over 150Hrs so changing a battery shouldn't be a problem.