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Analog Mike's Sun Face NKT- 275...
By Ulf Edelönn.
Analog Mike's Sun Face NKT- 275
Since our first contact with the Sun Face at the Tone Party in January, we have been wanting to do a more in deapth reviewe of it.
First some history about the Fuzz Face which the Sun Face is based upon.
The Fuzz Face was made by the Arbiter Electronics in London, and was first produced in late -66. It was one of few pedals at the time using DPDT switches ( true bypass). It soon got famous through well known users like Jimi Hendrix. The heart and soul of those early pedals was two germanium transistor made by Newmarket Electronics called NKT 275. These transistor have become the"holy grail" for fuzz freaks all around the world, and the prices on vintage Fuzz Faces have gone through the roof, since the NKT 275 isn't made any more and is extremely difficult to find. The downside to the NKTs are their sensivity to temperature changes and the need for proper matching and biasing. This is why vintage Fuzz Faces vary so much from pedal to pedal.
The Sun Face is pretty much a Fuzz Face clone but with several improvements. The components are of high quality and are well matched. Apart from the standard volume and fuzz knobs you have two internal pots. The first one is a trimpot where you can preset the fuzz level. This works as if you would lower the volume on your guitar. The second is a bias pot which helps you keep your sound when temperature changes. This pot is also available as an external knob called the sun dial. The test pedal came equiped with the sun dial.
The guitars used were a Les Paul with humbuckers, a Telecaster with singelcoils and a Grosh with H/S/S. Test amps where a Germino lead 55 and a vintage Marshall JTM-50 into an old 4*12 cab. Also a vintage Vox AC-30 TB was used.
The thing is that I haven't been much into fuzzes. When I first saw it at the TP I didn't pay much attention to it. To me a fuzz was a cool toy to use for an effect in certain songs but pretty useless for anything else. But when my old JTM-50, which is really sensitive to pedals, sounded fatter then ever, I started to pay attention.
One of the first thing I did was to open the box and lower the fuzz trimpot a few notches. When maxed it had to much fuzz and when turning down the guitar volume it had an on-off effect.
After lowering the trimpot I got much more even taper on the git.volume knob while still having as much fuzz I ever needed. As Mike points out on his site, this isn't a pedal for beginners.
If your used to channel switching amps and never work your volume knob you will miss alot of this pedals magic. I have never played through a pedal so sensitive to vol. pot tweaking. It's really not as fuzzy as many other fuzzes. Rather a combination of overdrive and fuzz. Max your volume and you've got a ultra fat singing and grinding tone with plenty of compression. Lowering it to 8-9 and it cleans up to a cruchy but very open and harmonicly rich tone.
Decreasing the volume even more you get a completely clean sound that is spankier an more open than the pedal switched off and the volume raised. This means that you can play a whole gig without switching it off, just working your vol.knob. A cool experiment was to set the Les paul rythm pickup at about 5 for a clean open sound, and the bridge pickup at 10 for a big lead sound.
The Sun Face sounded great with every guitar and amp we played it through, but the magical combination was the Germino into the old Marshall cab with pre Rola 30 watters. I found myself getting sucked in to my playing and getting inspired in a way I haven't experienced in a long time.
The Sun Face is not for every one. But if you like non master vol. amps. If you like to tweak your vol. knob and if you have been missing something in your overdrive arsenal. You owe it to yourself to check the Sun Face NKT 275 out.
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