Like the Old Shoe Fuzz, the Chutney Fuzz is for people who like their fuzz-face-ness with a little tweakability, in the form of six knobs and three internal trimpots.
The Chutney Fuzz is named after the tongue-scorching stuff that my wife makes from scratch, usually with mint and lots of chili peppers. Sometimes she makes it with garlic. Either way, after dinner, my breath could knock over an iron post. And that's how we roll, here at TH Audio World Headquarters.
As I've mentioned with regards to the Old Shoe Fuzz, the Chutney might not be your cup of masala chai if you want something that you just hook up and play, there, yaar. But if you're willing to spend some time listening to the different transistors that come with the unit and adjusting the trimpots on the board, the Chutney might be just the thali tray for you.
Note: the Chutney Fuzz does come with an external power jack, even though the unit in the photos above doesn't have one.
Why No Carbon Comp Resistors?
Since the Chutney Fuzz already goes into 'dixie-fry' mode at the drop of a hat, adding a touch of second-order harmonic distortion probably wouldn't make much difference.
Like the Old Shoe Fuzz, the Chutney Fuzz comes with three pairs of Silicon transistors for the fuzz-face pair, and a pair of AC127 NPN Germanium transistors for an extra charge. The Chutney Fuzz ships with a 2N5088 NPN Silicon transistor loaded in the Q1 (input stage) position. You can replace the 5088 at Q1 with a different NPN transistor if you want to, but personally, I've found that the Chutney sounds better with a lower-gain transistor, like 5088 or even the lowly 3904, in the Q1 position.
Q1 can be replaced in the same manner as the other two. The Chutney ships with a 3904 in that position. Personally, I think a lower-gain transistor sounds better there, but you might hear differently. You could try a 5089 or one of the BC transistors in that position, or even a Germanium. Once again, make sure that whatever you put in there is an NPN, not a PNP.
- Bias Controls the strength of the signal through the input stage, by setting the resistance between emitter and ground of the input transistor. Turning this knob clockwise reduces the strength of the audio signal before it reaches the pair of transistors that make the square wave where the fuzz-face-ness is. Setting the Bias can be useful when the Feedback and Fuzz controls are turned up (see below).
- Feedback Along with the Fuzz knob, sets the "personality" of the fuzz sound. Specifically, Feedback controls the resistance in the feedback path from the output of the second FF transistor to the input of the first FF transistor. Turning this knob up more than halfway can give you some pretty sick sounds - with Feedback turned way up, you'd want to back off the Fuzz knob to reduce noise.
- Fuzz Along with the Feedback knob, sets the "personality" of the fuzz sound. Specifically, controls the resistance between the emitter of the second FF transistor and the biasing capacitor tied to ground.
- Trim Rolls back the strength of the signal at the input to the first FF transistor. Useful for reducing noise at extreme settings. Turning this knob up will bogart some of the high frequencies.
- Hi Cut Rolls off the high-frequency "sizzle" of the output signal, very slightly. Specifically, this is a low-pass filter formed by a series resistor and a small shunt capacitor before the output stage.
- Vol Controls, you guessed it, output volume. Traditional fuzz face circuits often use a 500kOhm volume pot on the output, resulting in a noticeable reduction in high frequencies when the volume knob is turned down. The Chutney Fuzz doesn't really do that - to maintain consistent tonal response, the volume control is placed before the output transistor stage, and the output impedance is fixed at around 330kOhms. If you don't know what any of that means, suffice it to say that it's a little different than most Fuzz Face or ToneBender derivatives.
The Old Shoe ships with the trimpots set to where Sole Proprietor of TH Audio likes them. But you may like something different, so:
- Turn trimpot #1 clockwise to reduce noise at exreme fuzz settings.
- Turn trimpot #2 a little bit clockwise but probably not all the way. Listen and leave it where it sounds good.
- Keep trimpot #3 at around halfway. Adjust, listen, and leave it where it sounds good.
The Chutney Fuzz, like everything from TH Audio, features:
- True bypass switching
- Metal film resistors, 1% tolerance
- Switchcraft or Neutrik jacks (depending on unit and availability)
- High-quality powdercoating over an aluminum enclosure
- Heat-treated silkscreened graphics
All TH Audio pedals are handbuilt and tested in the United States of America.