ASTRO TONE Fuzz
Analog Man's first new pedal of 2010 is the ASTRO TONE fuzz.
This pedal is based on the 1960's SAM ASH FUZZZ BOXX and ASTROTONE
FUZZ made in New York City in 1966-68 by the Astro Amp company. It was one
of the best fuzz pedals. Analog Mike had a NOS Astro Tone fuzz back in the 90s, here is a copy of the
manual that he saved from it.
Here is the old ASTROTONE, a dark grey pedal.
Here is a link to this old
ASTROTONE FUZZ pedal that Mike repaired for a customer, showing the insides of the pedals.
Here is the ASTROTONE next to the more common
There were two versions of the
Sam Ash case, the boards were the same in both.
This was the first pedal that Analogmike cloned, way back in about 1994.
Mine was really a clone, down to the artwork on the board and the board mounted pots. Still works very well!
I met Gene Cornish from The Rascals at at the Long Island, NY Classic American Guitar show in the mid 90's
where I brought this prototype pedal. Gene told me that he was using one in the 60s and Leslie
West saw him use it. The next time they met, he saw that Leslie was using TWO
of them in line! Ira Stone, who played with and knew Leslie back then (and came to
my shop to check out some pedals recently) confirmed this, saying
"Leslie used two Sam Ash fuzz tones in line many times with the Vagrants".
Analogmike finally got an engineer, John Foege, from Georgia Tech,
to help with some of the time-consuming
design work (board layout, testing, etc) so this was a great first project.
He used some nice software to design the board, and it came out great.
The picture at the left is computer generated simulation, not a real picture of our board.
Here is the actual inside of the pedal.
The Analog Man ASTRO TONE is not quite the same as the old pedals.
I took our first prototype, made to 100% original specs, to play with my power trio.
At the shop we compared it to an original and the sound was exactly the same.
But I did not like it, I could not hear it well with the band, it was not thick enough.
The problem with the original design
was that there was very little low end, the sound was quite thin. You REALLY had
to crank up the volume on it to get a good sound. But this would make the ON
sound too much louder than the OFF sound for live use. And the tone knob was really limited
in the useful range. So we took the circuit
and with some modern software analyzed it and found out how we could retain the
low end, and make the tone control somewhat more useful. But we made sure that we
could still get the EXACT sounds of the original pedal if that was desired. By turning the
tone knob up higher, you can still get the original sounds which are good
into a large, cranked amp. But we made it so that it now sounds awesome even into
a little amp like a Fender Deluxe Reverb, at near unity gain on the pedal.
I found several hundred original Astrotone transistors about ten years ago,
and have been saving them. Many even have the same 1966 date codes on them
as my original pedals! You can see "641" in the picture which means the 41st
week of 1966. They are little plastic,
flat, pill shaped Fairchild transistors. They have gold plated leads - they
were made back in the days when gold was cheap and transistors were expensive!
These transistors are pretty consistent, and usually well behaved,
but we have do discard some that are too noisy for a fuzz pedal.
We should be able to make hundreds of these pedals with these original, excellent transistors.
When we run out, we will no longer make a pedal called the ASTRO TONE. We used up
the 1966 transistors, but found some slightly later ones. These were still made by Fairchild
but in the '70s in their Singapore plant, they look and sound identical. 748 date code on these
should be 48th week of 1978.
Many people have problems using a Fuzz Face type pedal, like our Sunface, live with a band.
I had the same problem which is one reason we are making these pedals, itís something I need to get the sounds I want.
I play Fender amps with a Les Paul, which is not too favorable to fuzz face pedals. But this pedal
works great with that setup.
The sound is not as compressed as a Fuzz Face, not SUPER thick and saturated,
something between a fuzz and distortion. Itís fuzzier into a smaller amp (Fender Deluxe), and more of
a BOOSTER into a large distorted amp (Marshall 1970s Super Lead).
It can also be stacked with other pedals, for example running a fuzz face into it can get a sound like
Spirit in the Sky, which buzzes and cuts out. Or run the Astro Tone into an OD pedal like a TS808
or KoT to make it fatter.
True Bypass switching
Super Bright LED for lower power use, buffed so as not to blind you!
Uses less than 1 mA of power when off, only 3 when on, so an Alkaline bat
tery will last a few hundred hours of normal playing time.
Three simple knobs - Volume, Fuzz, and Tone.
High quality, hand wired REíAN input and output jacks.
In and Out jacks on top for best pedalboard real estate management
Normal Boss style power jack, on the right side, negative ground so no polarity problems
original 1966 Fairchild Silicon transistors, not affected by heat
like a Germanium fuzz.
Sound is not as compressed as a fuzzface, not SUPER thick and saturated, something
between a fuzz and distortion but closer to a fuzz.
SIZE : 2 5/16" x 4 5/16", MXR size 1290 or 1590B enclosure. Black version!
Some people on The Gear Page wanted a black version with gold graphics
like the original, so we made a batch in late summer 2011. We have the black/gold
available as an option.
Elton's Saturday Night
AnalogMike's 59 reissue Les Paul into Astrotone into ARDX20 delay into a Deluxe Reverb reissue.
Fuzz is up about 3:00 and tone about 12:00.
AnalogMike's 58 reissue Les Paul into Astrotone into ARDX20 delay into a Deluxe Reverb reissue.
Fuzz is up about 4:00 and tone about 1:00.
AnalogMan Astro Tone Fuzz from
Doppler Demos on Vimeo.
Here are the above video clips in a longer audio format from
which will be on his GET KILLER TONE dvd series. First is a Les Paul into our ASTRO TONE
into our Boss DD3 mod, into a 1963 Fender Vibrasonic. The first one shows the cleanup
of the pedal with your volume knob, Hendrix-esque Neck Position :
Here is another one, same setup, Classic Rock Bridge Position...
Analog Man Astro Tone fuzz demo by Scott Metzger from mike piera on Vimeo. VIDEO
Analog Man Astro Tone fuzz demo #2 by Scott Metzger from mike piera on Vimeo.
Here is a
Premier Guitar magazine review
My old friend Bobby D!
I brought one to Luther Dickinson when
The Black Crowes were back in CT in fall 2010.
He didn't seem too interested but when he plugged it in his eyes lit up and his tech
put it right on his board. He used it on the first song for an awesome solo and
it sounded amazing through his loud Fuchs amp. His smile and thumbs up made me very proud. After
using it for a few weeks, Luther wrote :
The Astro Tone is the best, most usable Fuzz I have ever used and caused me to take the
Sunface off my pedal board! When I met up with him in 2017 he said he was still enjoying it on his board. The KoT is still onboard for cleaner boosts, of course.
You are the best!
In June, 2012 I finally got to hear Gary Clark Jr when he came to Connecticut.
Gary has been using our ARDX20 for quite some time, and our Astro Tone and KOT pedals also.
Gary is a FUZZ MEISTER and one of the hottest guitarists to come out in years!!!
He used the Astro Tone for his basic fuzz sound, often in combination with the KOT,
and sounded AMAZING. Here's his simple yet effective pedalboard:
This pedal seems to need some time to really sound best. Many people
have reported that their pedal was a bit weak when they got it, but
after using it for a while it got stronger with better tone.
So feel free to leave it hooked up to a 9V power supply overnight to
form the capacitors and blow the cobwebs out of the 40 year old silicon
in the transistors.
Tone Quest Report Magazine article
Here is an article on the Astro Tone Fuzz from
Tone Quest Report.
Review: Analogman Astro Tone Fuzz