Ah, the murky world of the Tonebender... First a quick recap. Sometime in '64, James Bond ("dun-duhduh-dun-dun!") session man Vic Flick took his Maestro FZ-1 to electronics engineer Gary Hurst and had it modified to give a bit more sustain. Hurst delivered and then some - the Tonebender was born.
The following year, the more user-friendly two-transistor Tonebender (widely known as the Mk. 1.5) and Fuzz Face upped the ante (both were based on the same circuit topology, though which begat which is not entirely clear). By 1966 music was getting progressively louder and hairier (thanks in no small part to Jimi, the Fuzz Face and bigger amps), and in he same year, in a Cold War style fuzzy Arms Race, an extra gain stage was bolted onto the front of the FF (along with a few other tweaks) and we had the stupendously unruly Tonebender Mk. II Professional, cranking the loud and the hairy up several notches.
Most famously featured on the first two Led Zep albums (after much speculation Page finally spilled the beans in the 2009 documentary "It Might Get Loud"), the Mark II stayed in production until the end of the 60s and on into the 70s in the guise of the even fuzzier Marshall Supa Fuzz.
The Mk. II
The North Effects Mark II places a set of carefully matched vintage AC125s centre stage and lights the blue touch paper. Featuring true bypass switching, high quality Philips electrolytics and shielded input and output wiring. This one definitely sounds livelier on a battery, so we've kept it simple and dispensed with the DC jack. An internal trimmer allows for precise setting of the bias voltage for the best in stinging fuzz. Control wise there's a volume knob to set the overall level (there's a very healthy amount of output volume available, should you need to floor the first three rows in a live setting), and an Attack knob that controls the amount of fuzz from mild to full on rave-up.
In front of a clean amp, the Mk. II administers a savage, ratty kicking to your sound. Roll back your guitar's volume for a gut-punching rhythm attack, crank it back up for full-fat saturation that's rich in harmonics and has a great, slightly boxy, pick attack. Oh yes, nearly forgot - it's very, very, very fuzzzzzy.
Time to crank it up. Remember, maximum volume = maximum results.
- Here's a familiar riff. Volume about 2 o'clock, Attack about 3 o'clock
- And another. First clean, then Attack at 3 o'clock with guitar volume rolled back, again with guitar volume cranked up, finally at max Attack. Volume is about 12 o'clock
- Add a Telecaster, and you really have to play this
For further reading on the development of the Tonebender you can do no better than peruse this. All trademarks are used for reference only and remain the property of their respective owners.