One of the lesser-known British Invasion-era fuzz boxes was the one that Sola Sound supplied to Dallas Music.1 Dallas sold a range of amplifiers and accessories during the 1960s under the ‘Rangemaster’ name, of which the most famous is the Rangemaster Treble Booster, but for a brief period in 1966, the Fuzzbug was also sold under Dallas’ brand.
In the same way that Sola Sound supplied fuzz boxes to companies such as Marshall, Vox & Rotosound, the Rangemaster Fuzzbug was also built with whatever type of fuzz circuit that Sola Sound happened to have had in production at the time. The earliest known surviving version of the Fuzzbug features a two-transistor ‘MK1.5’ Tone Bender circuit, and date codes on that pedal’s potentiometers prove that it was built later than May of 1966. Other surviving Fuzzbugs were built with the Tone Bender Professional MKII circuit, and these pedals can be dated to the period of mid-to-late 1966. (Photo credit: M. Honen)
A common assumption about the Fuzzbug is that, because of its link with the Dallas company, and because it shares the same basic electronic circuit, it must have somehow been a direct inspiration for the [Dallas] Arbiter Fuzz Face. Due to the use of a 500k Ω volume pot in the Fuzz Face, however, we can ascertain that Arbiter’s pedal was quite certainly inspired by a version of the ‘MK1.5’ Tone Bender that predates the known surviving Fuzzbugs by a fair margin. In addition to this, Dallas weren’t actually involved with the development of the Fuzz Face at all, because Dallas only formally merged with Arbiter in 1968,2 which was two years after the Fuzz Face was developed. (Photo credit: D. Main)
There is rumoured to have been a version of the Fuzzbug that wasn’t formally branded as a ‘Rangemaster’ pedal, and while there is a precedent for Sola Sound offering generic, unbranded, versions of their different fuzz boxes, no such Fuzzbug has resurfaced as of yet.
Anecdotal evidence from the original owner of a Rangemaster Fuzzbug reveals that some of the Fuzzbugs were actually sold alongside the Tone Bender, at Sola Sound’s own retail outlet, Macari’s Musical Exchange.3
- Guitarist, “Bend it like Beck can”, November 2009, p. 64
- Melody Maker, 20th April 1968, p. 4