North Effects The Super


North Effects

The History

The original Superfuzz first went on sale back in 1968 and again marked a significant advance in the field of "The Fuzz". Manufactured by Shin-Ei of Japan as OEM for a plethora of musical equipment companies around the world with Univox being the most well-known. Production continued right up to the late 70s, and with Shin-Ei being a major player producing in large volume, there must still be lots of originals around; that said, prices are often well beyond many budgets - that alone speaks volumes about how great these things sound.

Pete Townshend gave his Marshall Supa to a roadie in '68, bought a Super, and took it with him to Leeds and beyond (you can see one perched by Keith's left kick in the ace Tanglewood '70 video bootleg). William Reid deployed the fuzz-wah version for his chainsaw-on-glass "tone" on Psychocandy. Mudhoney (sort of) named their first EP/LP after it and it can be heard up-front in the iconic intro to grunge's high-point, "Touch Me I'm Sick". Tony McPhee of the mighty Groundhogs also had one (which excites me no-end). Poison Ivy of The Cramps had one (which excites me in a different way). Its use is almost mandatory in the stoner rock genre.

The Clone

Built to factory schematics with a couple of modern substitutions that remain sonically faithful to the originals, this also features some modern conveniences like true bypass switching and a 9V DC jack (battery power is also onboard - save your old dead batts, cuz this one sounds particularly good when struggling under a low-voltage). I've also included the "octave balance" trimmer that's present in the later red-box versions; this allows for precise biassing of the octave generating transistors, and teamed with a pair of matched germanium diodes, gives the best sustain and upper-octave sound when set correctly.

The Sound

I could drone on about full-wave rectification, etc., but honestly, when you step on that switch you won't be thinking about any of that. It's a spiky, harmonically complex sound with tons of compression and more than a hint of upper octave when playing up the neck, beautifully mangling double stops into ring-modded oblivion. The "Expander" knob takes the fuzz girth from fat to obese. The toggle switch at the top provides two very different modes - "Normal" is an aggressive, boxy smack around the head (cf "Touch Me I'm Sick"), "Notch" kicks in a filter that scoops out all the mids for a big fat kick in the dick that sounds like it's vomiting up your Big Muff. Appropriately, the sound has more in common with Paris '68 than the Summer of Love.

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