Creepy Fingers Selmer Buzztone clone
Well folks, it's no real secret how obsessed I am with Syd Barrett so when Brad from Creepy Fingers mentioned he could make me a Selmer Buzztone, the pedal Syd used in early Floyd and some solo work I had to jump at the chance.
There was NO WAY I was ever going to own a real one and the "official" re-issue is WAY too expensive for a simple three transistor boost so this was it. Brad's stuff is amazing so I had no reservations getting him to make me one.
Syd's tone was incredible. As was his playing, his songwriting and his voice. I'm never going to be able to play like Syd but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get something close to his tone just for personal pleasure.
Syd used the Selmer pedal with a Binson Echorec into a Selmer Treble and Bass combo. The amp was mainly picked for it's clean, chiming tone and the pedal had only been released in about Sep '66 and was probably chosen over other more common fuzz units (Vox, Colorsound, Marshall etc) because he was already familiar with the Selmer brand ? He mainly used a Fender Esquire which is actually integral to his tone as in the "bridge" position, the Esquire bypasses the tone cap and gives a VERY sharp, clear tone, even for a Tele, with more output. For a one pick up guitar the Esquire is extremely versatile. He used the preamp in his Echorec to drive the amp and ran the pedal on full and used his guitar volume knob to swell and drive his amp (and pedal) into distortion.
Watching live footage of Syd you can see what a master of his instruments he really was.
He later switched to a Vox Tonebender (and a Strat or Danelectro) and by early '67 was using a newer version of the Echorec and while his tone and playing style changed, it was still VERY much Syd.
So, Brads clone was interesting as I had never (still haven't) heard an original one but Brad had said he worked off a "confirmed" schematic and every other Creepy Fingers I've tried that I have an original of NAILS the tone. His work and quality is exemplary.
This is a low gain fuzz or high gain boost depending on how you look at it. It's a three stage gain and Brad has used old RCA 2N404's in this one. The original used 2N2613 transistors but if Brad says these are close, I trust him. Again I can't run it side by side with a real one so I can't comment on how close it is but .................. This is one cool fuzz.
With humbuckers it pushes my little Matamp into serious breakup and has HEAPS of gain. It's a very full fuzz with lots more bottom end than I expected, but, most of the British fuzzes had more bottom end than their US (and Japnese) counterparts until the late 60's/early 70's when the Univox/Shen-ei Superfuzz (Brad makes a great version of them too) blew everyone away. It still has great clarity and nice tops and has really nice harmonics. Personally (and I'm going to get crucified for this) I'm not a huge fan of germanium fuzzes but this one is REALLY nice.
With single coils it's another beast. VERY touch sensitive. VERY sensitive to volume roll off. VERY nice harmonics. Brad added a "more gain" switch to this one as he was afraid I would be disappointed with the original Selmer version but I actually prefer it. It gets a bit too "germanium" for me in the higher gain position with slightly muddy bottom end and erratic sustain, especially with humbuckers. It's a great fuzz for lead in the more gain version but overall I think the standard is nicer.
I'm not a great player by any stretch and I would KILL to be able to play like Syd but it had to be done. I plugged my old Esquire into one of my Selmer Zodiac 50's (a very similar circuit to Syd's T&B) with an old WEM Copy Cat and there it is. It's beautiful. That tone is amazing. It's all VERY sensitive to playing and volume and, while being very noisy, is a joy to play with.
So, thanks Brad for joining up two important points in my guitar/music life. I'd love to have 100th of the talent that Syd had (without the demons) but an Esquire into this Buzztone copy and a nice delay and into an old Selmer amp is probably the closest I'll get, and I'm fine with that.