Tone Report Weekly Issue 80 - Page 20

“EVER PLAYED AN ELECTRO-HARMONIX BIG MUFF AFTER THE YEAR 2000? FRAN DESIGNED THAT. FRANTONE’S PEDALS—IF YOU CAN FIND THEM—HOLD THEIR VALUE EXTREMELY WELL AND WILL LIKELY BE BURIED WITH THEIR OWNERS DUE TO THEIR SOUND QUALITY AND GENERAL SCARCITY.” 20 TONE TALK // type pedal. Before The Sweet was released, Frantone sought out to craft a Big Muff, and took some real liberties with the design. Firstly, the clipping stages were reworked, with transistors two and three being changed to NTE103A, modern off-the-shelf germanium transistors. These pieces are extremely expensive because they’re engineered using modern technology which affords them less leakage and variance. The standard 1n914 clipping diodes were also discarded and replaced with 1n6263 diodes, a Schotkey type that clips less, for a more saturated, yet open fuzz tone. This isn’t to say that Frantone left the other transistors alone; Q1 was changed into a super-high-gain Darlington to let untold amounts of gain into the clipping stages, and Q4 was a mysterious “dome-top” Fairchild house-numbered transistor, similar to the ones used in the very first Big Muff circuits. Finally, the tone stack was completely refined, resulting in a tonal range that exceeds the normal “between 10and-2” spread that most users bemoan about the Big Muff. Clearly, there’s a lot to take in here, but Frantone’s germanium-equipped Muff is the first germanium transistorized Muff on the market and I am absolutely shocked that The Sweet has been thus far immune to cloning—it’s one of the best sounding Muff variants out there, period. The Cream Puff is a blatant misnomer in the best way possible—nothing about this unit sets you up for the sound it produces. From the white Bakelite knobs to its pastel pink color, up through the name and the “Fluff” knob, the Cream Puff might be misconstrued as a lowgain overdrive of sorts. Spoiler alert: it’s not even close. The Cream Puff will maul your amp within inches of its life—if you let it. The Fluff knob is incredibly versatile, ranging from something appropriately named to full on tear-your-head-off fuzztone. The Cream Puff is op-amp based, with a full LED clipping structure for raw open fuzz that every rhythm player should strive for. In fact, there may not be a better pedal out there for this purpose. Welcome Back, Frantone: Her Top 5