Analog Man ASTRO TONE fuzz is based on the 1960’s SAM ASH FUZZZ BOXX and ASTROTONE FUZZ made in New York City in 1966-68 by the Astro Amp company. It was one of the best fuzz pedals and extremely rare and hard to find in vintage market. Analog Mike first built a NOS Astro Tone fuzz and was the first pedal that he cloned, way back in about 1994.
From Analog Man:
The Analog Man ASTRO TONE is not quite the same as the old pedals. I took our first prototype, made to 100% original specs, to play with my power trio. At the shop we compared it to an original and the sound was exactly the same. But I did not like it, I could not hear it well with the band, it was not thick enough. The problem with the original design was that there was very little low end, the sound was quite thin. You REALLY had to crank up the volume on it to get a good sound. But this would make the ON sound too much louder than the OFF sound for live use. And the tone knob was really limited in the useful range. So we took the circuit and with some modern software analyzed it and found out how we could retain the low end, and make the tone control somewhat more useful. But we made sure that we could still get the EXACT sounds of the original pedal if that was desired. By turning the tone knob up higher, you can still get the original sounds which are good into a large, cranked amp. But we made it so that it now sounds awesome even into a little amp like a Fender Deluxe Reverb, at near unity gain on the pedal.
I found several hundred original Astrotone transistors about ten years ago, and have been saving them. Some even have the same 1966 date codes on them as my original pedals! You can see “641” in the picture which means the 41st week of 1966. They are little plastic, flat, pill shaped Fairchild transistors. They have gold plated leads – they were made back in the days when gold was cheap and transistors were expensive! These transistors are pretty consistent, and usually well behaved, but we have do discard some that are too noisy for a fuzz pedal. We should be able to make hundreds of these pedals with these original, excellent transistors. When we run out, we will no longer make a pedal called the ASTRO TONE. We used up the 1966 transistors, but found some slightly later transistors. These were still made by Fairchild but in the ’70s in their Singapore plant, they look and sound identical. 748 date code on these should be 48th week of 1978.
Many people have problems using a Fuzz Face type pedal, like our Sunface, live with a band. I had the same problem which is one reason we are making these pedals, it’s something I need to get the sounds I want. I play Fender amps with a Les Paul, which is not too favorable to fuzz face pedals. But this pedal works great with that setup.
The sound is not as compressed as a Fuzz Face, not SUPER thick and saturated, something between a fuzz and distortion. It’s fuzzier into a smaller amp (Fender Deluxe), and more of a BOOSTER into a large distorted amp (Marshall 1970s Super Lead). It can also be stacked with other pedals, for example running a fuzz face into it can get a sound like Spirit in the Sky, which buzzes and cuts out. Or run the Astro Tone into an OD pedal like a TS808 or KoT to make it fatter.
- True Bypass switching
- Super Bright LED for lower power use, buffed so as not to blind you!
- Uses less than 1 mA of power when off, only 3 when on, so an Alkaline bat tery will last a few hundred hours of normal playing time.
- Three simple knobs – Volume, Fuzz, and Tone.
- High quality, hand wired RE’AN input and output jacks.
- In and Out jacks on top for best pedalboard real estate management
- Normal Boss style power jack, on the right side, negative ground so no polarity problems
- Original 1966 Fairchild Silicon transistors, not affected by heat like a Germanium fuzz.
- Sound is not as compressed as a fuzzface, not SUPER thick and saturated, something between a fuzz and distortion but closer to a fuzz.
- Like most 1960s fuzz pedals, it does not work well with a wah into it, unless it’s a “fuzz friendly” wah like the RMC, or a wah with the Foxrox Wah Retrofit installed.