silicon fuzz

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

After building the Mighty Mite amplifier project, I found that it needed something extra to give it character. I thought a nice Hendrix-style fuzz face would add a nice edge to the tone as well as allow some character to come along with low-volume playing. Well, what a universe unfolded when I started researching the internal workings of this devi

silicon fuzz
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ce. It is perhaps the perfect example of seeming simplicity masking amazing nuance and system complexity. The damn thing is just two NPN transistors and a few caps and resistors! However, you can spend days 1) trying to figure out how the circuit works and 2) weeks/months combing through the mountain of information on the net about components, modifications, what sounds good, what sounds bad, etc. I made it my goal to understand this enigma and build a good-sounding fuzz box out of 100% scrap and on-hand parts. No trip to the store, no expense. Nothing but some previously junk-parts and some wire and solder. Much of the wind that has been expelled about the fuzz face is about the transistors in use. Note that the fuzz face is a very old device. It is said that the Rolling Stones (I Can`t Get No) Satisfaction started the whole distortion/fuzz trend that quickly became the standard for Rock guitar. As early as 1968, hobbyist projects and articles in Popular Electronics were guiding the DIY crowd in building this simple device. That`s probably where the controversy started. Back in that day, transistors were made from a magical substance called Germanium This naturally occurring mineral was discovered to have semi-conductor properties when the Germanium crystals were "doped" or otherwise mixed with slight impurities. Soon Silicon replaced Germanium for several reasons including cost, manufacturability, and thermal stability....

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