JHS Firefly Fuzz Pedal a modern twist on the Tone Bender heard on many classic recordings from the 60s. Jeff Beck in the Yardbirds era, Pete Townshend back in the sixties and in the good old days of Mick Ronson Spiders from Mars with David Bowie. Jimmy Page during the early days of Led Zeppelin and a key component of Eric Clapton’s “Woman Tone” on the Disraeli Gears album by Cream. David Gilmour on the earlier albums especially.
Iron Butterfly In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The Ventures and 2000-lb Bee part 1 & 2. Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum, Incense And Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Pusher by Steppenwolf, Iron Man by Black Sabbath, Randy Bachman’s guitar on American Woman by Guess Who, Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young, Pictures Of Matchstick Man by Status Quo and the list goes on and on!
The Tone Bender MKII featured three germanium Mullard transistors. Of course Hendrix made using a fuzz an art form.
In 1965 a new fuzz circuit called the Sola Sound* Tone Bender MKI arrived on the booming London music scene. By 1969 several versions and variations of the Tonebender existed. It was the British engineered answer to the popular American made Gibson* Maestro Fuzz-Tone, and it delivered a lot of fuel for the British Invasion that swept over the American airwaves in the 60’s. From its inception, the Tonebender soon became a staple in the tones of some of the greatest guitarist of the era which caused many versions and copies by other companies like Vox*, Jennings*, Coloursound* and JMI* to be produced. The Firefly Fuzz is our take on delivering this classic three transistor Germanium fuzz circuit, in JHS Pedals fashion, including major improvements while caring for the details that preserve its legendary tone.
At first glance you will see four controls, Volume, EQ, Fuzz and Bias. The Volume is your standard master volume; the Firefly has an enormous amount of headroom that allows it to be used as a boost that can hit extremely hard if needed. The EQ operates as a cut, as you rotate to the right you will remove highs and fatten the tone. The Fuzz control simply adds more distortion/fuzz making the signal dirtier. One of the major additions to this classic circuit is our Bias control knob. This allows you to fine-tune just the right amount of power to the perfectly hand-matched germanium AC128 transistors inside. The results are loud and powerful tones when rolling the Bias knob to the left and more dirty/saturated tones when rolling it to the right. This control also helps you tweak the pedal to perfection and overcome the issue of the transistors sounding different in various temperatures and environments that all Germanium Fuzz pedals are subject to. Another huge improvement over vintage Tonebender units are that we internally adjust voltage and polarity so that you can power this classic circuit on a normal 9v power supply!
The Firefly is JHS’ tribute to the Tonebender MKIII model of the late 60’s. If you are a fan of classic fuzz and the unique touch sensitivity, response and rich tone that a true Germanium fuzz offers, the Firefly is a perfect fit. This fuzz is truly a powerful and versatile piece of gear that can reach from blues to rock to heavy grinding distortion.
This pedal requires standard 9V DC Negative power, consumes less than 100mA, and measures 2.2″x4.3″x1.5″
In the interest of fairness, there are many fine fuzz style pedals on the market. JHS pedal is pretty expensive at around $199. What is a bit ridiculous for a pedal that cost this much and does NOT run on a battery (you MUST use a 9 volt power supply) is that JHS does not INCLUDE a power supply for a pedal. This means you need to realize that you need to put this on a “powered” pedal board or supply you own 9 volt pedal power as running it on a battery is not an option. Forget about running it out of the box unless you have a proper power supply.
As much as I like the pedal, I believe this is not cool. Most pedals I have purchased that can not run on a battery INCLUDE a power supply. Lucky for me I have a drawer full of them. Hopefully you will have one or know you will need to purchase one.
Another note is that the I/O for your amp and guitar are not labeled as in (for guitar) and out (to amp). A minor thing, but no manual is included or available online. JHS does off some general information and history of pedals that you can fine here.
Make no mistake I like this pedal and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an old fuzz sound that I was after.
JHS Firefly Fuzz Pedal Demo
Some great samples of songs utilizing this fuzz tone in no particular order