Reuss Musical Instruments
A wah like no other, based on the vintage 1970s DeArmond Thunderbolt
The Reuss Silver Balloon offers a completely different flavour of wah, using a unique type of wah-circuit
The original DeArmond Thunderbolt is a rare and expensive collector's item. The schematic is nowhere to be found, and to create the Reuss Silver Balloon, I teamed up with an electronics engineer to make a complete tracing and reverse engineering of a vintage original pedal from 1979. It's been a long process, stretching over two years.
Electronically it's an accurate clone of the original circuit. My only goal was recreating it. Not improving or 'updating' this legendary piece of gear - except, I must admit, I wired it for true bypass switching and gave it a pair of indicator LEDs. The only real difference between the Silver Balloon and the Thunderbolt is the shape and size of the enclosure. The old DeArmond Thunderbolt was a huge monster of a pedal. I put the circuit in a standard wah enclosure. It gives a bit of a different feel from the original, but most importantly, the sound is there. Exactly.
And it really is something else. Quite a sweet and 'juicy' sounding wah tone with a smooth high-end and a wonderful low-end growl, which is nothing like a normal wah sound.
Like the Thunderbolt, the Silver Balloon features a switchable 'distortion mode', which adds a subtle distortion to the sound. The trade-off is a slightly reduced output level in 'distortion mode'.
The Reuss Silver Balloon is the only DeArmond Thunderbolt clone available. It is handmade in the European Union.