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Rotosound RFB1 Fuzz Pedal

rotosound rfb

It was no doubt that in 1965, when budding guitarists listened to the Rolling Stones' (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction for the first time in summer 1965, their jaws dropped. What was a relatively simply three-note riff, had a layer of echo plus the Maestro Fuzztone pedal. Soon, fuzztone pedals were in high demand and multiple manufacturers and flavors popped up.

Engineer Gary Hurst started handmaking pedals at Larry Macari's Musical Exchange music store under the name Sola Sound(s) in 1965. One of most famous customers was Jeff Beck, who used the Sola Sound Tone Bender pedal in the Yardbirds on songs such as Heart Full Of Soul, Over Under Sideways Down and Psycho Daisies. Jimmy Page took notice of Beck's acquisition and by the time Page switched over to guitar, he also employed one. A receipt said that he took possession in December 1966.

Page brought the Tone Bender with him to Led Zeppelin and he used it to create the the fuzz distortion up until the Marshall amplifier took over in March 1971. For a short period in June 1969, Page used the Rotosound MK III. You can see and hear it in the French Tous En Scene footage from Led Zeppelin's 2003 DVD.

Jason How, the son of the founder of Rotosound, decided to have the MK II re-imagined. Like the original, a Darlington Pair of germanium transistors were used for a high input gain. Some components were updated since their original counterparts were not available. The original style of battery was no longer available in the UK, so a more current PP3 (9-volt) was used.

The Fuzz control changes the amount of drive, from a soft crunch to a gruff growl, but retaining that fabled germanium roundness. The Treble control varies the ratio of bass to treble, allowing a good variation from muddy to crisp. The Volume control varies the output level.

The pedal (RRP £250, $379) is encased in a pressed steel box finished in a gloss silver hammer powder coating, again mimicking the traditional Rotosound pedal. It is extremely robust, durable and hardwearing and in keeping with their tradition of manufacturing in the UK, the pedal is made at Rotosound's factory in Sevenoaks, Kent under the strictest quality control. It will be shipping November/December 2012.

I found the Rotosound RFB1 to be a delight. With settings dialed in at Fuzz @ 75%, Treble @ 33% and Volume @ 100%, I imagined myself as the young guitar wizard James Patrick Page at L'Antenne Culturelle du Kremlin Bicêtre in Paris, France on June 19, 1969, rocking through Communication Breakdown, crushing the eardrums of unsuspecting French audience members, with the sizzling fuzz crunch.

For the sound that you are looking for, there is no other. The Rotosound RFB1 is it.

You can order the Rotosound RFB1 from many fine online retailers or from Rotosound.com.

Jeff Strawman
October 27, 2012



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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

April 24, 1969 - 2nd US Tour begins (1st as headliners) at the Fillmore West
April xx, 1970 - Robert comments about the violence in the audience near the end of the fifth tour
April 04, 1970 - Jimmy Page performs White Summer/Black Mountain Side on the Julie Felix BBC show
April 16, 1970 - Whole Lotta Love was certified Gold in the US after selling over a million copies. The single had peaked at No. 4 on the US singles chart. In the UK, Atlantic Records had expected to issue the edited version themselves, and pressed initial copies for release on December 5, 1969. However, band manager Peter Grant was adamant that the band maintain a "no-singles" approach to marketing their recorded music in the UK and he halted the release.
April xx, 1971 - Untitled is rumored to be released this month
April xx, 1972 - Recording sessions for Houses Of The Holy at Stargroves and Olympic studios
April xx, 1973 - Led Zeppelin rehearse their new stage show in preparation for their huge 1973 US Tour
April xx, 1974 - Swan Song concentrates its efforts on signing new acts
April xx, 1975 - Jimmy does some mixing at Electric Lady studios for TSRTS soundtrack
April 19, 1975 - 51,000 tickets sell in two hours for three nights at Earls Court, two added dates see another 34,000 tickets sold
April xx, 1976 - The band decide they will release their film to theaters
April 30, 1977 - Led Zeppelin breaks the record for the largest attendance for a single-act show in the Pontiac Silverdome with 76,229 in attendance
April xx, 1978 - The band hold a meeting, this time with Robert, to discuss Zeppelin’s future
April 03, 1979 - Page, Bonham and Plant jam with Bad Company again in Birmingham
April 27, 1980 - The band rehearses at Rainbow Theater for an upcoming European tour
April 26, 1988 - James Patrick Page III’s birthday. He is named after his father is the only son of Jimmy and Patricia Ecker. Jimmy spoke of his son saying: "He is wonderful. He has made a big difference to my life."
April 21, 1998 - Page and Plant released Walking Into Clarksdale.
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