Blammo Electronics has put together something very special for the fuzz pedal aficionado who believes everything sounded better in the ‘60s. It’s called the Skronk Machine, and it is essentially a Zonk Machine with a contemporary refurb to make it a little more user-and-pedalboard friendly.
For any player who spends their day dreaming about fuzzboxes of yore, the John Hornby Skewes Zonk Machine is something of a Holy Grail, the sort of pedal that was only produced between 1965 and ’66 and yet did so much to configure our tastes in fuzz.
A kissing cousin of the Gary Hurst MK1 Tone Bender, with a three-transistor circuit, original production units are by now museum pieces, in the hands of a few collectors or those players who stepped on them back in the day.
But given that the British Pedal company already has a couple of reproductions on offer, one Vintage Series with the larger wedge-style enclosure, one Compact Series, is there room on our ‘boards for another take on the pedal?
Well, yes, is what Blammo is saying, and its Skronk Machine is both an exercise in refinement and a love letter to the original. And there are some key differences that might make you choose a Skronk over a Zonk.
For starters, it is in a smaller housing, with jacks relocated to the top of the unit, which is all good news for those nursing an already overcrowded ‘board. The Skronk Machine has a no-click relay switch that can be used in momentary or latching mode, and remembers the last setting so that when you power it up again its still in that mode.
Perhaps the biggest differences are in the circuit itself. The Zonk Machine was a notoriously bright-sounding fuzz, which is part of its charm. It had a more puckish treble than the Tone Bender, and as Blammo says, “more sustain and bite” than the Maestro FZ-1.
All of which could be a little uncompromising, depending on how bright your electric guitar is, so Blammo has added a passive tone control to take roll some of that high-end out to taste. The NOS germanium MP38a transistors have been selected so they handle power better, with each biased and checked on the circuit to make sure their consistent.
The pedal is true bypass. A blue LED illuminates when it is active. And just like the original, the graphics are cool. The Skronk Machine is priced $169 and is available now. See Blammo Electronics for more details.