The Tym Fuzz Munchkin pt 3
Well, here we are at the pointy end of nearly two years of research and development. It's been time consuming and expensive but fun and taught me more about Big Muffs (and electronics) than I ever thought I'd know. Backing and forwarding with J to get it just right ..... and we got it right (see J's endorsement at bottom) I'd like to thank J for letting me be the first builder to ever make an official J Mascis fuzz pedal. He's been a hero of mine for years and Dinosaur Jr have been a huge influence on lots of what I listen to.
If you read my first two blog stories you'll see what led up to this point so I won't bore you with the hairy details. One of the reasons J (and Brett from Built to Spill) asked me to make their signature pedals for them is because they know and understand what it is I do. I make all my stuff BY HAND. I don't get powder coated boxes and loaded PCB's delivered to my workshop and assemble them here like other "boutique" manufacturers. I MAKE them all BY HAND. This is of course a very time consuming and expensive method of production in this mass produced world, but it's the way I do things and some people, like J appreciate that. There will be people out there who don't understand why I do it this way, but I'm not making stuff for them. The list of bands and my loyal customers who I do work for and are happy to pay (and wait) for my products is testimonial that there are still people out there who want products made like this.
So, I'll run you through the process of making these pedals (all my pedals are made this way) so you can appreciate the work and time that goes into them. As you probably know if you follow my blogs I make as much as I can in house here at my workshop. The enclosures are hand folded stainless steel and after I drill all the holes to the correct sizes the adhesive printed aluminium faceplate is attached and the holes drilled through them. This is a lengthy process but I think my custom enclosures and artwork are part of the reason why my pedals are sort after and I've always wanted to make gear that didn't look like everything else on the market. Once drilled, I take them to my assembly bench and start loading the PCB's ready to assemble. The PCB's are custom designed and made for me so once they arrive from being manufactured I load them with the components. I only use good quality caps, resistors and diodes in the PCB's and Switchcraft jacks, good quality 9V adaptor and ROHS triple pole, double throw footswitches.
The PCB's have the pots loaded and the enclosures are fitted with the switches, jacks, LED's and 9V adaptor. Once the PCB's have the pots they are fitted into the enclosure and then the hand wiring starts. I have designed this whole pedal around ease of assembly as I have NEVER had to make three hundred of the same thing before, so assembly time was obviously an issue when designing all the components. My runs of effects usually top out at around five at a time and sell before I can make more, so this is a huge undertaking for a manufacturer like me, but that's what J wanted.
Each Fuzz Munchkin takes over four hours from start to finish (not including ordering and collating parts) so I'm doing these in runs of ten at a time. Working on those figures means that making ten of them is a full time weeks work. Because I also have two shops to look after and do repairs and other manufacturing I am estimating it will take me over a year to make the first hundred and maybe a few years to complete them all.
The official J Mascis Fuzz Munchkin comes with a limited edition T shirt only available with the pedal and have J's hand drawn "Munchkin" printed on the front and are available only in, you guessed it, purple. The first one hundred pedals are serial "numbered" with song titles off all the Dinosaur Jr albums. These also have to be hand stamped adding more time to each build. As I've said this is a privilege for me and I'm so honored that J and I have a relationship that has allowed me to do this. I hope that people understand that when they buy something like this they are supporting a VERY small niche of a small market that still cares about what they do and why they do it.
There's going to be people out there who don't get it, who don't want to pay, who will say "it's a pedal, it should be cheap". That's fine with me. These people are usually the first ones to make or buy clones of new or exciting products when they hit the market and then the first to complain when small boutique makers close down and all they've got to choose from is Boss or Digitech. They have no forethought or understanding that supporting these small builders, like me and others like me, is actually in THEIR best interest. They say they're passionate about gear but then undercut and compromise the very people who do this for them. I'll never understand them and maybe that's a good thing.
So, anyway, here we are. The new Tym guitars official J Mascis Fuzz Munchkin. Reverse engineered from the "ramhead" BM J bought back in 1987 and has used as his essential live sound ever since. These, like all my effects DON'T take batteries and have external 9V power only. I have added more filtering to this circuit than J's original had for people who use cheap power supplies. If you still get slight "squealing" with everything on full with a cheap supply it's like any high gain transistor circuit, get a better power supply. The bypass switch bypasses the volume control completely so you can get J's rhythm and lead sound in one pedal. J uses his Big Muff with a bypass loop with the volume down as his rhythm sound and then the pedal on full for his lead sound. The Fuzz Munchkin gives you both in one pedal.
They'll be slow in the making but be patient and watch the site for updates. I'll do my best !!
"Tym tried to harness my sound in a little a box and I think he's got it. Step on the Fuzz Munchkin for a good time. Dial down the volume for cleaned up rhythm then hit the bypass switch and the flood gates are open, the volume control dissapears, all sanity dissapears, its just searing lead tone cranked all the way up. So now if your sound sucks you must lay blame somewhere else, your amp, your pickups, your fingers, but don't blame the Fuzz Munchkin." J Mascis.