Foxx Tone Machine

September 19, 2005

The Foxx Tone Machine quickly gained a reputation for its torrid take on fuzziness when it was introduced back in 1971. Despite that success, Foxx folded after only a few years, assuring the pedal’s eventual status as a highly sought-after collector’s item. The reissue Tone Machine ($249 retail/$199 street) cops the look and feel of the original—including the, er, fuzzy exterior covering, available in blue, black, red, yellow, purple, and lime green—with the only exception being that the word “octave” is now spelled correctly. That’s octave as in adding an octave above the fundamental tone—à la “Purple Haze”—which you do by flipping a sturdy metal toggle switch. There’s also a metal bypass footswitch and plastic Volume, Sustain, and Fuzz Mellow-Brite (sic) knobs. Inside you’ll find the same 1N34A germanium diodes and 2N3565 transistors used in the ’70s version.

The Tone Machine has all the subtlety of a WW II German buzz bomb. It roars with full-bodied fury on even the most conservative settings, and with the Volume and Sustain knobs cranked the amount of gain is truly scary. The basic tone is big and brawny, with the Tone control varying the amount of top-end bite, and the Octave switch adding an almost synth-like edge to all notes—not just those above the 9th fret, as with many octave-fuzz pedals. The Tone Machine was especially impressive with a somewhat anemic Stratocaster, endowing it with truly mammoth girth and weight. The pedal is somewhat noisy (though, for some reason, it gets a lot quieter with the Octave switch engaged), it tends to pick up radio signals on extreme settings, individual note definition is nearly nonexistent, and it doesn’t clean up well when you roll back the guitar volume. But who cares? The Tone Machine faithfully reproduces the glorious sturm und drang of the original, and that’s all that former and future Foxx fans need be concerned with.

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