||Download Example 1
Volume 2, Tone 1, Fuzz 3. Epiphone Slash Les Paul, bridge humbucker.
||Download Example 2
Volume 2, Tone 11, Fuzz 5. PRS Starla X, bridge soapbar pickup
||Download Example 3
Volume 3, Tone 9, Fuzz 5. Fender Strat, middle pickup.
|Clips recorded through a Fryette Memphis with Shure SM57 into Pro Tools.
For those of you who want a little fuzz from the past in your future,
Analog Man has unleashed another interpretation of a classic—and
underrated—circuit, the Astro Tone. In this case, Analog Man looked to
Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx and Astrotone Fuzz pedals that were built by Astro
Amp in the mid-to-late ’60s. Analog Man took those fuzz circuits and
improved on them—most notably making more bottom end available, a
move that lets the pedal sound better with a band.
Built for Exploration
Like all of Analog Man’s pedals, the Astro Tone is built rock solid. The
case sports cool graphics that evoke a ’60s aerospace company logo.
The Astro Tone also features true bypass switching and is built around
a simple set of controls: Volume, Tone, and Fuzz. And pedal geeks take
note: the first few hundred of these gems will be built around original
1966 Fairchild Semiconductor silicon transistors that were an essential
part of the original Astrotone’s sonic signature.
I began evaluating the Astro Tone using a Les Paul and a Fryette
Memphis amp. Despite its mid-’60s lineage, the Astro Tone’s basic character
resides somewhere between a fuzz and distortion. It’s not strictly
limited to the bee-buzzing sounds of a Maestro Fuzz Tone or the MKI
Sola Sound Tone Bender typically associated with ’66 fuzz. Nor is it as
buzzy, compressed, or over the top as a Fuzz Face. Instead the Astro
Tone’s fuzz has a full, crunchy growl.
Using neck and bridge humbuckers made it easy to dial up a smoother
’70s rock tone. Single-coils sounded great too, driving the Astro
Tone into warm, bluesy territory without diminishing the pedal’s
capacity for sustain. A Paul Reed Smith Starla X with soapbar pickups
worked beautifully with the Astro Tone too, exhibiting a knack for
bold overdrive with ample low end and plenty of rock crunch. And
unlike many fuzzes, each guitar cleaned up nicely by just rolling off
the guitar’s volume.
The Tone knob is most effective past the half way point up to the maximum
setting. And delightfully, I didn’t encounter much noise save for
when cranked the Fuzz knob all the way. I preferred the tone of the
Fuzz backed off a little anyway, at about 95% as opposed to full on.
Fuzz tone—especially the mid-’60s variety—isn’t very useful to many
contemporary players. But the beauty of the Astro Tone is that it covers
that buzzy territory while also being able to deliver thicker, saturated
sounds. It’s great for giving both flavors of kick to smaller or cleaner
amps. With a cranked large amp, the Astro Tone acts more like a
booster. So if you liked the sound of the original Sam Ash Fuzzz Boxx
or the Astrotone Fuzz, but also need burlier tones that shine in a band
context, you’ll appreciate Analog Man’s 21st-century version. It could
become your secret weapon.
you desire a beefy fuzz tone and buzzy
you need modern, high-gain distortion.