Rhythm & Detonation

El Toro Loco

I made this pedal for Rob Grauer guitar player in Fraud, and Mad World, a repeat customer  from Chesapeake, Va.  I also made him a MOSFET booster and Rangemaster.

When Rob told me he plays a Les Paul through a Laney, I all but MADE him buy a Rangemaster from me because that's the setup Tony Iommi used on the first Black Sabbath album. Laney's have a really high, clean headroom, and when you slam it with the Rangemaster, you get that sweet Sabbath sound.

Rob's Gear

1990 USA strat plus w/lace
Parts single H strat
MIJ 50's reissue tele
~90 epiphone dot
Gibby Lp studio
Epi LP custom
Dean V Platinum

83 Laney AOR pro tube 100
~78 Lab series l7 4x10 combo (same amp bb king used)
Sunn beta lead (at one time was a 4x10 combo. I still have the cab.)
90's fender champ 25
Original flextone

I also made him "El Toro Loco," a tube-sound fuzz circuit. This is my favorite circuit to make, and I think it's also the best  overdrive/distortion I make.

There's a bit of history with this circuit: It first appeared in Craig Anderton's book, Electronic Projects for Musicians, published in 1975. It's been a very popular project among hobbyist for years. I found out about it when I was looking into Tom Petty's guitar setup and came across a pedal called the Red Llama by Way Huge Electronics. Except for a few tweaks, the Red Llama is extremely similar to Anderton's Tube Sound Fuzz Circuit. Way Huge went out of business a few years back, and the Red Llamas now go for obscene money on eBay. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and it's what actually led me into building my own effects.

The Tube Sound Fuzz has a very wide range of sounds, from mild overdrive to all-out fuzz. With the gain dialed down on I put it up against a Tube Screamer, and it sounds better. Then, with gain cranked all the way, I put it up against my Fulltone Soul Bender, and again I preferred the Tube Sound Fuzz. The circuit is very versatile; I'd say the only drawback is that it has a high-current draw that will eat batteries. I recommend keeping it on a 9-volt DC adapter.

Rob wanted me to make the pedal a tribute to his favorite Mexican restaurant that he dines in at least twice a week. I painted the pedal in automotive-white enamel and applied the decals using a new (to me) water slide with a white background. I really like this new decal stock for full-color work...the colors really pop. When I used transparent stock in the past I had a problem getting colors to look good. I used a super-bright, water clear red LED, and finished "El Toro Loco" with red knobs.

Tube Sound Fuzz on guitar
Tube Sound Fuzz on bass