Even though the Gibson Maestro Fuzz Tone featured in the Rolling Stones 1965 hit (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction had been introduced in 1962, the effect pedal had previously gained little traction in the marketplace. The chart success of "Satisfaction" convinced every guitarist that they needed a fuzz tone. Various manufacturers in the US and UK tooled up to produce them.
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Gary Hurst, a UK based amplifier tech, started to produce and market fuzz tones in 1965. One of his early accounts was the Musical Exchange in London. Hurst soon teamed with the Musical Exchange to produce pedals under the Sola Sound brand.
Anxious to enter the fuzz tone market, JMI entered into an agreement with the Musical Exchange to purchase Sola Sound fuzz pedals rebranded with the Vox "Tone Bender" name. A 1968 purchase order from JMI to the Musical Exchange for Tone Benders can be seen below.
Thomas Organ, the American distributor of Vox, chose to bypass Sola Sound. Thomas Organ had a close relationship with the Italian manufacturer JEN. The V828 Vox Tone Bender and many Vox organs for the US market were produced by JEN.
The two pedals shown on the top of this page are examples of the Thomas V828 Tone Bender produced by JEN. Some of these pedals were finished in black "crinkle coat" paint while others were adorned with gray hammertone.
The Sola Sound Tone Bender had a sand cast aluminum case. The JEN case was die cast aluminum. A steel base covered the bottom of the pedal. The pedal was powered by a 9V battery clipped to the inside bottom of the base.
The Tone Bender circuit was similar to the input stage of the Vox T.60 amplifier head. The JEN Tone Bender circuit included an SFT363 and an SFT337 germanium transistor, two capacitors and six resistors. The Sola Tone Bender circuit was similar but substituted a pair of OC76 germanium transistors for the SFT363 and SFT337.
One rotary control adjusted output level, a second adjusted the "attack" or intensity of the fuzz.