Stretch Goal #1: $4,100 - Boost Circuit!
If The Germ hits $4,100 I will add a boost stomp switch, with level control to every one of The Germ! This will be a Kickstarter exclusive. After the funding ends, the boosted version of The Germ will take on a new name. Thanks to everyone who has pledged so far!
I have some exciting news! The Infamous GearMannDude will be doing a review on "The Germ!" I just talked with him last night and he has agreed to post a review on his YouTube feed! If you don't know who he is you should check him out. Just go to YouTube and search for gearmandude! Also I have changed the main video to include some clips of "The Germ" in action. The original video is still available below for those interested in the chit chat on the project!
The Scoop on "The Germ"
So here's the scoop, if you are looking at this chances are you play guitar. If you don't play guitar then something has intrigued you about this project. In either case let me feed the intrigue. I'll start with a little bit about what The Germ is and how it differs from other pedals. Then we can move on to a little history behind the fuzz!
Here is a quick List of Features:
- Unique Germanium/Silicon Hybrid circuit for a smooth vintage Fuzz
- Hand wired point to point for maximum quality and tone
- True-bypass switching that doesn't degrade sound quality
- Vintage spec parts and NOS Germanium transistors
- Power switch so you can keep it on the pedal board without draining the battery.
- Classy yet unique powder coated and silk-screened aluminum enclosure on final product. With "The Germ" Electric Transistor Logo!
What is a Fuzz?
Just in case you fall in the later of the two aforementioned groups I will give you a little history on the Fuzz. Way back in the day there was a little band named "The Rolling Stones." When Keith Richards ripped out the classic riff in "Satisfaction" He was using the first production Fuzz. A Maestro Fuzz Tone! From this spawned a large number of fuzz pedals over the next few decades. Most notable being The Tone Bender and Fuzz Face. The Fuzz has created some of the greatest music in history. Hendrix, Page, Beck, The Beatles, The Edge, you name it. That warm high gain sustain responsible for taking you out of your mind and into another world during a massive guitar solo! That's what Fuzz is all about!
What's in a Fuzz?
Well I'm not really going to give you a full rundown of how the Fuzz circuit works but rather the two main types of Fuzz pedals. Germanium and Silicon. These are the two different types of transistors normally used in Fuzz circuits. All the original Fuzz pedals were built using Germanium, where as most modern Fuzz pedals use Silicon. Why? Well Silicon replaced germanium because Germanium transistors were very finicky and hard to find the right fit and had issues with temperature changes affecting functionality. The advantage to Germanium is that it really provides the best Fuzz sound. It's a nice warm natural distortion as opposed to the sometimes shrill and harsh distortion from the silicon Fuzz pedals. So here is where "The Germ" Comes in.
What is "The Germ" & How is it Different?
So now to the goods. This is what you are putting your money into and you want to know why it's worth it and why this pedal is different. Well here it is. The Germ is a Hybrid Fuzz. What is that? What's a hybrid fuzz? Glad you asked. The concept behind it is to take the benefits from both Germanium and Silicon Fuzz and put them in one pedal. The fuzz circuit in "The Germ" uses 2 transistors, but instead of germanium or silicon it uses both. This gives it consistency, and stability without sacrificing the warm tone and characteristics of a full Germanium circuit. It sounds great! What else does it have? Well it's a hand wired circuit, wired point to point on terminal strips. This means no printed circuit boards, only quality connections from one part to the next. Better quality better sound. But wait! There's more! I love the sound of a vintage Fuzz so during the design process I decided to use era specific parts. Back when the first Fuzz effects were designed the parts weren't as accurate as they are nowadays, so when I went on my parts search I decided to find the closest match to the parts they used when the Fuzz was originally designed. After all that vintage rock tone is what everyone is after, so why not use what they used back then! This also goes for the Germanium transistors, which are actually all NOS transistors. They are also hand selected since this is where the tone of the pedal lies I pick them individually for quality. All this together contributes to the warm vintage tone of "The Germ." Last but not least, "The Germ" has true-bypass switching. This keeps the pedal from degrading signal and tone when the effect is disengaged.
And the Design?
Okay, so now for the design first thing everyone is going to ask. Why no DC jack? There's a reason for this, and it's not because we are cheaping out on the pedal. One reason is because the circuit used in "The Germ" is reverse polarity. Meaning that it uses a positive ground as opposed to negative. If you were to chain this pedal to another you would blow the power supply. The second reason is that this circuit just sounds better with a good old cheap 9-volt. It also eliminates issues with noise from the power supply which is a big issue when trying to use a power supply with a Fuzz. Analog man wrote a quick blurb about this, and has some great insight that I agree with 100%.
The layout and how it works
"The Germ" has two control knobs "Dirt"(Fuzz) and "Bang"(Volume). On top of the pedal there is the juice(power) switch. This enables you to keep the pedal on a pedal board without having to unplug the input to save the battery. Just that simple!
How does it sound?
First off excuse the playing, this is meant only to give you a taste of what The Germ can do. In the audio clip I go through a few different ranges on the "Dirt" knob. I kept the "Bang" knob at the same level through the entire clip. The pedal has a great range of tones. When I designed it I wanted something versatile as well as fuzzy. So you can turn the dirt down and get more of a creamy distortion, or crank it up for that sputtery bottom end.
This clip was recorded through a Fender Blues Jr. III with an Eminence Cannabis Rex speaker at a low volume. I used a Les Paul Studio with a Seymour Duncan Jazz and JB.
Where's your money going?
So for the sake of transparency it's time to tell you what the money is going to do. Here's a quick run down.
- Fund the initial production of "The Germ"
- Purchase additional tools to help make the job easier, such as a drill press for enclosure drilling, better soldering stations, solder, heat shrink tubing, etc.
- Cover costs for setting up silk screening, and powder coating boxes.(This is a big one.)
- Fund the startup and continuous improvement of the HazelEffects website.
- Ordering Sweet Tees From CustomInk.Com!
- And of course to cover all costs associated with fulfilling our promises to our backers.
Who are you and where do you make "The Germ?"
Me? Well I'm just a regular dude with a little bit of inspiration and a dream! I love music, and I love the ability to make music. It comes from creative people and good gear! It's hard to imagine a world without a Fuzz pedal, and thats my inspiration for "The Germ." So again I'm just a regular dude. Not a corporation, not an engineer, or big executive. I just want to make a great sounding pedal for people to enjoy. That being said I build these pedals in my home on my workbench with a cup of coffee and a soldering iron. And I love it! I feel like it also gives me a personal connection to anyone who buys a pedal, knowing that I sat down at a work bench in my home to build that pedal, for them.
I need to throw a little blurb in here about the company name that I chose and where it comes from. A sweet little lady named Hazel Cannon is the reason that this dream is a possibility. It was the 100 dollar bill that she gave me for Christmas one year that I used to build the first prototype for "The Germ." It is in her honor that I have named the HazelEffects(plus it's a really cool name!) I am very passionate about this project and have already begun designing the next pedal. I look forward to a full lineup of amazing pedals through HazelEffects!
Update: I've just learned of a site called Kicking It Forward and HazelEffects will proudly participate in donating 5% of the profits from this project to another Kickstarter! Hit the link for more info
Is this picture of "The Germ" the final product?
Yes and no, This is the third prototype of "The Germ" and is available as a reward. The first pedal(also available as a reward) was a 100% germanium fuzz with a crazy sound. Number 2 was the first hybrid version as well as some other component changes to improve the sound, the added "Germ" logo, and it also had an over-baked paint job that bubbled up! This pedal is now being used by a musician here in LA, Michael Mazochi. Number three was where the magic happened. After a couple more tweaks to the circuit the final pedal was born. So back on topic! The pedal circuit is done, and will remain unchanged for the final pedal. However the graphics and color scheme will be transformed from the hand drawn sharpie with acrylic(Which turned out better than expected) to a silk screened master piece. Right now the color scheme is set to be a beautiful "Galaxy Red" from Pedal Parts Plus, with a Gold silk screen for the lettering and logo. This is of course subject to improvements over the course of the project, but you will receive updates as the project progresses.
Time table for production.
Alright so it's time to give out some dates. When the project ends if fully funded an order will immediately be placed for all parts necessary. This puts the parts in my hands around April14th with production immediately beginning upon arrival. This puts "The Germ" in your hands in the first half of May. If any snags come up with the suppliers for parts, you will be updated right away.
Risks and challenges
As with anything in life there are always risks and challenges. The biggest risk involved in the production of "The Germ" would be parts sourcing. When ordering large quantities of anything there is always a chance you might run into the dreaded email saying BACKORDER!! I am very confident in my suppliers. Most of the parts come from Mouser.com and it is very unlikely that they will run out. I do however have a back up plan in the event that this does happen I will source the parts from Digi-key. If any issue at all arises I will keep everyone up to date on the situation, although I don't forsee any problems arising.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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