Univox Super Fuzz

The Univox Super-Fuzz is a fuzzbox produced by the Univox company, primarily for use with the electric guitar or bass. Super-Fuzz pedals have become highly sought after, and have developed a fanatical following, exalted by many as the "Holy Grail" of fuzz pedals.

The circuit was designed in the late 1960s by the Japanese company Shin-ei, (who also produced another well known fuzz box, the Shin-ei Companion FY-2) and manufactured in Japan 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 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 is the most well known incarnation of this circuit, Shin Ei licensed this circuit out to dozens of manufacturers, including Ibanez, Apollo, Companion, Shaftsbury, Mica, JAX, Kent, Teisco, Marlboro, Royal, and many others. Sometimes it was packaged with a wah pedal, or with the tone switch being a footswitch, or both. This circuit is also very similar to the famous Fender "Blender", and Roland "Bee Baa". More recent applications of this circuit type can be found in Guyatone's TZ-2 Fuzz, MJM China Fuzz, Black Candy Superfuzz Deluxe, Prescription Electronics' Outbox, Boss's Hyper Fuzz, and others, although most agree the newer versions do not sound quite the same.

This unique fuzz tone 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.

Today, the Superfuzz is being manufactured under the name "Classic Fuzz" by Wattson Classic Electronics, which is in no way associated with Univox, Unicord, or any of the original companies that manufactured the Superfuzz. Other versions of the Super-Fuzz circuit are avaiilable from boutique companies like 73 Effects and Black Cat Pedals.

Notable musicians who have used the Super-Fuzz include:

* Pete Townshend of The Who
* Poison Ivy of The Cramps
* Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney
* J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
* Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins (Although he was much more famous for using the Fender Blender and the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi.)
* Fu Manchu
* Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys
* Jon Niederbrach of The Untold Fables
* Hillel Slovak of The Red Hot Chili Peppers
* Joe Preston of Thrones
* Johnny Gash of MAMMOTH MAMMOTH
* Creston Spiers of Harvey Milk
* Tony McPhee of The Groundhogs
* Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (Although he mainly used the BOSS DS-1 and DS-2.)
* Josh Homme of Them Crooked Vultures, Queens of the Stoneage, Kyuss
* Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie
* Joe Denardo of Growing
* Gary Louris of The Jayhawks

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