“This incredible box dishes out delicious tones unlike those of any pedal ever made”: Danelectro unearths long-lost Steve Ridinger fuzz design from the ‘60s and releases it as the Nichols 66

Danelectro Nichols 66
(Image credit: Danelectro)

Danelectro has unveiled the Nichols 66, a fuzz pedal that’s really half-distortion, half-fuzz, 100 per cent vintage, and dates back to the mid ‘60s when Dano owner and Foxx pedals founder Steve Ridinger was still living at home with his parents. 

In fact, this is a version of Ridinger’s first ever guitar effects pedal, first designed in 1966, which he then called his Liverpool Fuzz Tone. Ridinger was a coltish 14-year-old with a gift for circuitry, he hand-wired each pedal himself and sold them to the kids at his school. 

A year later he had a company make them for him and shifted hundreds of them. Fast-forward 50-plus years and he owns Danelectro and the Liverpool Fuzz Tone is enjoying a second act as the Nichols 66, so-called after the Nichols Canyon residence where he grew up.

The pedal itself has been revised with Dano’s pleasingly retro stylings. The control setup has been modernised, with Fuzz, Drive, Tone and Volume knobs, plus a Stock/Mid Cut toggle switch which performs as you might expect it.

And it sounds like it might be quite a hard-working little pedal. Depending on where you set the interactive Fuzz and Drive knobs, the Nichols 66 is capable of pulling double shifts on your pedalboard on distortion and fuzz detail. The tasting notes are exquisite: “glass-shattering” sounds are the kinds of electric guitar tones we’d get out of bed for in the morning. And we always like to hear that a pedal works nicely with the guitar’s volume knob, cleaning up and revealing more tones.

All things considered, the Nichols 66 circuit is a little offbeat. Ridinger did not have much to work with. There were no circuit schematics floating around the ether to draw upon. His creation featured a trio of transistors. But offbeat is kind of the point. It’s meant to be a little off-brand, not easily placed in the great constellations of Big Muff and Fuzz Face variants, which probably is why it makes a good fit for Danelectro.

As with Danelectro’s current pedal lineup, such as the 3699 fuzz/octaver and the Breakdown distortion pedal, the jacks are mounted on the top of the unit. The pedal is priced $199 and is available now at retailers such as Sweetwater for pre-order. For more details, head over to Danelectro

In fact, this is a good time for Dano fans to check in with the Danelectro site, with some all-new additions to the brand's guitar lineup, including a double-neck in White Pearl and a Fifty Niner DC semi-hollow in Jade and Gold Top finishes. See above for a demo.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.