North Effects The Boss

Various

Northwind

The History

Arriving on the scene in the late sixties c/o the Jordan company in California, came the Bosstone - a very big fuzz in a very small plug-in module that connected straight into the guitar. Strat players were not amused. Coming along at the right time and place it was a success from the off, and the Jordan company licensed production to Sho-Bud of Nashville (who are better known for their pedal steels) who continued to manufacture the modules in various versions well into the seventies. Their reputation has deservedly grown in the interim, with originals going for at least £200. Notable players include Randy California of Spirit (the Bosstone is all over their first four albums) and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys has a re-housed original on his pedal board.

The Clone

This is my take on the second generation Sho-Bud version of the Bosstone. It's in a convenient die-cast aluminium pedal format (rather than a plug-in module), and is built with high quality components (Alpha pots and footswitch, heavy duty Neutrik jacks, ABS battery snap - not flimsy cheap PVC ones). Keeping it old school, there's no 9v adapter (the higher, smoother voltage of a good old Zinc Chloride, which comes supplied, is better in this case), and no LED - it will be immediately apparent when this is on.

The Sound

It wants to live. Primitive. Searing 60s psych-ness with more than a hint of the garage caveman, however I wouldn't be surprised to find it on some 80s hard core recordings either. The two transistor circuit design is in some ways fairly typical of its era, but has a couple of twists that really set this monster out on its own. Firstly it uses a combination of NPN and PNP silicon transistors, which give it a not-so-typical saturated sound, and it has a set of clipping diodes at the output which tighten things up considerably when compared to a contemporary like the Fuzz Face. It has two controls - "Volume", which controls the overall level, and "Attack", which controls the instrument input level (essentially doing the same job as your guitar's volume knob). With the attack cranked up all the way, you get an amazing fat (though definitely not flabby) fuzz, with well defined highs that hold chords really well. Turn up the gain on your amp to break-up point, and you get a huge bottom-heavy tone that still has plenty of punch - think early Black Flag. Dialing back the Attack to noon gets more biting bluesy tones and some nice "hollowed out" tones that sound great on rhythm. Further back at around 9 o'clock gets some weirdly ace mid-boost (a bit like setting your wah at its sweet spot). Even at bedroom gig levels it is surprisingly easy to wring wailing, fat harmonic feedback out of your guitar - in fact has an uncanny ability to kick seven shades of huge sounding overdrive out of even the weediest amp.

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