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I've spent many hours digging for some slight difference between a vintage pedal I love and one I'm building for one reason or another to be sure I could truly nail the sound. I've had my employees flat out saying, "Sorry man, I just can't hear a difference", then giving me the, man, this guy is crazy look. Why I mention this is to say that after all the muff type pedals built under my belt, The Tall Font Russian was the toughest pedal to nail. Why did I choose the Tall Font S****K version to recreate? After a conversation via email with an acquaintance who plays in a very successful band this quest began.
One of my favorite traits is a "boxy"quality to the sound that was the toughest thing to reproduce. Wish I had a better way to describe it, but "boxy" is what it is to my ears. It almost sounded right, but I couldn't get a certain growl I heard on the vintage pedal and the boxy thing still wasn't quite right..Finally, I tested the pots and found the actual vs. stated pot values were over 30% "off" in some cases. IMO this inconsistancy is partly responsible for one unit sounding particularly sweet and another sounding so, so. In other words, those absolutely crappy pots created a happy accident. After custom tweaking those pots, I realized that this was one of the things responsible for keeping the low-mid range from getting to mucky and is also a factor in the more over-drive type quality these Russians can produce. I found the growl! The kooky values found can't be purchased as such so we have to mod each pedal's pots ourselves to get the desired values. As far as I know, we're the only company that goes as far as to modify the pots for a S****k clone.
This boxy-growl also helps make them particularly great on bass, and fantastic for raunchy, less friendly guitar tones ala The Black Keys, White Stripes, Mars Volta, and many others seeking a nasty F-You snarl (not saying the afore mentioned bands use these exact pedals, just using their tones as a reference). With many other desirable muffers (and our Tri Pie 70') the goal is warm, smooth and buttery, but the TFR has a different goal in mind. There is a growl and raunchy yet truly musical sound produced by these ugly green beasts. The lows have an overdrivey compression that keeps things tight, and the highs have a rich upper-harmonic thing going on thatÌÎå'll make one understand the affection some have for this pedal. The mids have the standard muff-scoop but it is not as pronounced as some of the other generations. Add to that a less gainy/fuzzy tone overall and you end up with a unique muff with a character all its own. Good stuff.
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