If you're looking for a Fuzz Face replica that you can just pop on your pedalboard and take to a gig the same night, the Old Shoe might not be for you. 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 Old Shoe might be for you.
A good "plug-'n-play" is the Euthymia Crucible Fuzz, which is available in either Silicon or Germanium versions. The AnalogMan Peppermint Fuzz is also very nice. There are lots of other good ones out there; I'm listing these two because I happen to own one of each.
The Old Shoe Fuzz is "canonical," as it were, in that it's built with:
- Those big fat 1/2-Watt carbon composition resistors
- A 500kOhm volume pot
- No input or output buffer, and
... but departs from "tradition," as it were, by its use of:
- NPN transistors (not PNP)
- an LED (or not, if you don't want one)
- sockets for mixing and matching different transistors, and
- three, count 'em, three adjustable trimpots on the circuit board
Note: the Old Shoe Fuzz does come with an external power jack, even though the unit in the photos above doesn't have one.
The Old Shoe can be loaded with a pair of either Silicon or Germanium transistors (or one of each). Germaniums will exhibit less sustain, but they tend to sound more "vintage" when they're well-chosen. Silicons, on the other hand, will usually exhibit more sustain and brightness, but also more noise.
The Old Shoe ships loaded with a pair of BC109C's, which will usually give you a little too much fuzziness that you might want to back off a little... or not. You will also receive an additional two pairs of Silicon transistors with each Old Shoe: BC109B's and BC107's, which will exhibit less gain that BC109C's but will be no less interesting to listen to.
For an extra charge, the Old Shoe will ship AC127 Germanium transistors loaded (the other three pairs of Silicon transistors are still included).
Many small-signal NPN transistors, within reason, should work with the Old Shoe. If you've got your own you could try them, or you could get some from Mouser, Digi-Key, Newark, or your local electronics store. Note: I've found that the AC187 Ge and the GT404B Ge don't work well in the Q1 position.
The Old Shoe Fuzz comes with three trimpots on the circuit board, to accomodate different transistors and different tastes. 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 you think it sounds good.
- Keep trimpot #3 at around halfway. Adjust, listen, and leave it where you think it sounds good.
The Old Shoe Fuzz, like everything from TH Audio, features:
- True bypass switching
- Switchcraft or Neutrik jacks (depending on unit and availability)
- High-quality powdercoating over an aluminum enclosure
- Heat-treated silkscreened graphics