Rhythm & Detonation
28Sep/100

Fuzz In The Rain

This pedal is an octave-down fuzz. It fuzzes up the sound and then duplicates it two octaves lower. The blend control acts like a balance control: full left is the 2-octave-down sound, full right is regular fuzz. The volume control is a typical volume knob.

This effect was introduced by MXR as the blue box and famously used by Jimmy Page on the guitar solo in the Led Zeppelin track "Fool In The Rain."

The graphics for the pedal are inspired by the 45 cover art of In Through The Out Door, which was a simple brown paper sleeve with a stamp on it. I painted the enclosure a light brown color, and used cream-colored knobs.

I got the schematic and layout from Francisco Pena over at tonepad.com The circuit involves a fuzz circuit and a cd4013 cmos flip-flop chip for generating the octave sound. The circuit is pretty big and seemed like a tight fit for a Hammond 1590B, so I put it in a Cliff 125B, which is a little big bigger in all directions and made for an easy fit. I used a blue LED as an homage to the original MXR blue box. The sad thing about this effect, is that it costs as much to make one as it does to buy one, and I saw a used one in the pawn shop the other day for nearly half what it costs to make one.

It's a worthy project, though, because I learned a lot about octave-down circuits, and I'm already planning my next project to have a selectable one-octave or two-octave down switch, a tone control, and possibly more mods.

The sound of the pedal is very chaotic: It has trouble tracking lower notes, especially when you pick hard, as it jumps octaves. I found that using the neck pickup and rolling the tone off helped the pedal be more predictable. It really sounds best once you go up into the higher registers, above the 12th fret. You can get really cool synth sounds out of it, and in certain blend settings it sounds like a Nintendo on the fritz.

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