The wonderful Shen-Ei FY-2 has been a long time favourite of mine. It was an early fuzz I built after the BUZZrite and the FUZZ. Like the Fuzzrite it's a 60's 2 transistor fuzz however the FY-2 is very .... Japanese.
The story of Shen-Ei/Companion is reasonably well known now and is probably most famous for the FY-6 Fuzz Wah used by the Jesus and Mary Chain. It's a complex and very nice fuzz similar to the Honey (Univox) 6 transistor Superfuzz and nothing like it's original, simpler sibling here.
The FY-2 was introduced in the late 60's a simple 2 knob fuzz box to make your amp square wave and for what it is, it's a GREAT little fuzz.
There's only 2 knobs on the top edge of the box that are marked Volume and Fuzz and this pedal has no LED or 9V input so it's all pretty simple. The original "wedge" enclosure had the (unmarked) input and output on the left hand side of the box with two thumbscrews for access to the battery. The footswitch was 2/3rds up the face of the box.
The amount of complexity and tone they got out of such a simple circuit with only 2 transistors was testament to Japanese electronics in this early fuzz period. This little circuit has great harmonics and a thick slab of fuzz with a little bit of gating and splutter around the edges.
The only really disappointing thing about the original FY-2 was it dropped in volume slightly when engaged. This hasn't stopped a lot of great players recording with one but you rarely saw them used live as the volume drop is noticeable enough to be slightly annoying. If you set the volume with the fuzz engaged and use it as such, it's great and I've seen many people use one with a boost or gain stage to bring them up over unity.
The fuzz tone however is not disappointing at all. It's a great thick slab of square wave fuzz that is so fun to play, and play and play.
When I made the BUZZrite deluxe, which is my standard BUZZrite with a boost built in so you can drive it much harder, I designed a new enclosure to look more like the original and utilized the original Battery ON/OFF switch as the boost switch. This enclosure was also for the new Fuzz Box FY-2. Both of these pedals pay homage to the originals by having no LEDs but like all my pedals don't use batteries so a standard BOSS style 9V adaptor is included on side.
My first version of this great little circuit was in my screen printed Hammond enclosures and also had a built in boost to make it louder. I then used this circuit as the heart of my Fuzzilla pedals, again with a boost built in although the Fuzzilla has a MUCH greater gain stage to add more of everything to the signal.
Having not made a genuine original FY-2 circuit for many years I decided to go back and visit this great little fuzz and make a standard version for those who want to leave that original fuzz tone intact. However, always being disappointed with that volume drop the deluxe version here gives you the option of running it completely as standard or switching in a discrete single transistor gain stage in after the fuzz to boost the volume. This added circuit is a clean, neutral gain stage that doesn't colour the original fuzz tone but just adds more output. If you wind the volume up to "silly" levels it starts to add a little more bottom end but this is at it's limits and very loud.
The FUZZ knob on these is a subtle change and was marked "Expander" on later Companions. I have called it a "Depth" control which makes more sense as it It adds 'thickness" to the fuzz, not "more fuzz"? It has more effect with lower output pickups and single coils. Winding back the volume on humbuckers and high output pickups makes this control a little more interactive as well.
The Tym Fuzz box FY-2 gives you an original FY-2 fuzz box and an improved louder box in one. The Shen-Ei brand is now back up and running and making EXACT replicas of the original FY-2 if you're interested in an original without the silly price tag and there's a few builders around making copies. While I would personally never turn off the boost section in one of these and run it just over unity, it's a great little fuzz in both forms to add to any fuzz arsenal.