Benson Amps - GERMANIUM FUZZ
Stocking Benson products has truly been a bucket list item for me, one of those brands I have really admired and hoped I could stock one day, and I'm so proud to say that has finally happened! I first tried their Pre-Amp pedal courtesy of a friend that owned one and was not one bit disappointed. It seems this Germanium Fuzz equally meets it's hype too! Receiving an astonishing 10/10 Editors Choice award from Guitar Magazine as well as countless other high profile gear industry praises. Why you ask? Well let's dig in...
This pedal is designed around two germanium 2N527 OR 2N404 Germanium Transistors. They have been graded for gain and leakage and carefully matched to sound their best. They are set up in the ubiquitous 60’s circular fuzz topology, and tuned for good sound, and include some additional oddities aimed at solving the issues that prevent more widespread use of Germanium devices....
THE FIRST FUZZ PEDAL WITH AUTOMATIC THERMAL BIAS TECHNOLOGY
The bias of the transistors in this pedal is automatically regulated by a circuit that GENTLY warms the transistors to a preset operating point using analog components, and ensures a consistent sound, no matter the external temperature. When the LED is orange, the transistors are warming up to increase their hFE (transistor gain) and to shift the bias point to the correct voltage. When the LED turns green, the warmer is off because the correct bias and hFE have been set. Expect the LED to toggle back and forth every so often while the pedal is on…that is how you know its working. The heaters will warm the transistors enough to still be effective on a sunny stage, but far cooler than anything that would harm the transistors. This pedal is designed to operate between freezing and 100˚F but might still sound fine outside this range. There are two colors: Studio Black is not meant for direct sunlight, Solar White is fine with it. We have found there is a 20˚F difference between a black pedal and a white pedal in direct sunlight.
The low input impedance of the classic two transistor germanium fuzz circuit is both a blessing and a curse….a blessing because it can yield a tight sparkly clean tone when guitar volume is rolled down, and a curse because it sounds nasty (in a bad way) if there are buffers or pedals before it in a signal chain. Benson went to some extremes to keep the blessing and lose the curse.
They installed a class A buffer in the very input of the Germanium Fuzz. This buffer feeds a Jack Orman style passive pickup simulator circuit (an audio transformer set up as an inductor, a resistor, and a capacitor). These two additions make compatibility with other pedals possible without losing the desired sound. After the pickup simulator circuit, they have added an “Impedance” control, which simulates rolling down the guitar volume to get that tight sparkly sound…without adjusting your guitar volume….which you can still do and still sounds great.
The circuit has been tuned to be used as a rich sounding clean boost, an overdrive, all the way up to an aggressive fuzz with some octave overtones. It will sound different, and Benson think more useful, than the classic versions. There are many colors of tone available with the impedance and gain controls…they are very interactive. This is meant as a “pretty” fuzz a la 60’s-70’s classic rock/psychedelic rock. It is not a spitty, harsh experimental fuzz and more often sounds like an overdrive or distortion until the gain is turned all the way up, and the impedance is turned down.
INTERNAL TRIMMER - Important
Please don’t turn the internal trimmer. It is precisely set at the Benson factory. Turning the trimmer voids the warranty. The correct trimmer position is marked in case you get one used where a tone lord hath already turn it.
This pedal is for use only with a 9vdc Boss style center negative power supply...There is no battery. Please do not subject this pedal to more than 9vdc or the pedal or power supply could be destroyed. This pedal draws less than 100ma when the heater is engaged, and far less than that when it is off. It will pull those 100ma instantaneously, which most power supplies have no issue with. With substandard or non standard power supplies it is possible the pedal will start oscillating madly at the heater threshold, where the LED changes, in which case may we suggest using a current doubler cable, or switching to a higher rated power output.
2 years excluding modification, trim pot manipulation, or damage.
Guitar.com Magazine's Michael Watts reviewed the Benson Fuzz in April 2021 and awarded it a massive 10/10 after a thorough run down! You can read their review online HERE