FX33 Buzz Box
FX33 Buzz Box (1994)
The FX33 Buzz Box was DOD's attempt to emulate the guitar sound of Melvins guitarist/singer King Buzzo (a.k.a. Buzz Osbourne; basically a ProCo Rat distortion driving a vintage MXR Blue Box) in a single pedal. Using the FX69 Grunge circuit in place of a Rat, the FX33 goes far beyond the unpredictability of a Blue Box. Although we have never seen ad copy to corroborate this claim, the FX33 was supposedly marketed with the tagline, "It's not broken, it's supposed to sound like that." The FX33 Buzz Box was released in early 1994 and advertised as early as mid-1994, and serial number data imply it was available until sometime in 1996 (although production of circuit boards may have ceased in 1995). Because of its limited production and subsequent popularity among noise artists, the FX33 now routinely sells for over $100 in the used marketplace.
- Controls: Heavy (distortion/octavized signal blend), Buzz (distortion gain), Saw (high e.q.), Thrust (overall output level)
- From the manual: "The FX33 Buzz Box is known as 'the mother of all distortion pedals.' Inspired by the legendary Melvins guitarist, King Buzzo, the FX33 takes its incredibly nasty distortion to new and dangerous depths by adding an octavizer. This octavizer takes the distortion signal and drops it down two octaves -- producing an out-of-control chainsaw growl -- and allows you to mix this with the regular distortion sound."
- Historical context: The Melvins are widely cited as the favorite band of a young Kurt Cobain. It is unclear when the FX33 was first developed, relative to Kurt's death in April 1994 and relative to the Dunlop reissue of the MXR Blue Box. However, given the success of the FX69 Grunge pedal, DOD management may have perceived that a pedal associated with the Melvins might likewise become desirable, even if King Buzzo never officially endorsed it.
- King Buzzo's reaction (Guitar World, February 1995): "I had nothing to do with it. I mean, does my guitar really sound that bad? ... The guys at DOD are kind of crazy; I have to give them credit for that. A guy there was always bugging me at shows about how we got the sound on the Eggnog record. I used this thing called a Blue Box, an octave divider from the early Seventies. So this guy says, 'I want to design a pedal; we'll call it the Buzz Box and get that sound out of it.' But it wasn't so much that he wanted to do an endorsement or anything. I think he just likes the sound of it. So he came to one of our shows and looked inside the Blue Box. He kind of duplicated it and combined it with the Grunge Pedal in a new pedal. I have to admire DOD for putting out something that insane. Yes, the Buzz Box is totally worthless. It sounds like a vacuum cleaner."
- Technical info:
- Notable IC chips: TC4013BP dual D-type flip-flop, three 4558-type op-amps
- Component-side circuitboard image: June 1994
- Related circuit: FX69 (loosely based)
- External links:
- @ ftp.dod.com - instruction manual (1994), .pdf format
- @ discofreq's FX site
- @ harmony-central.com
- @ noiseguide.com
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