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Decoding the Systech Harmonic Energizer pt3

Posted by Jim Black on 7/28/2017 to Bust Em Out

Last time we took a look at the TROPICAL FISH capacitors in my "Systech Harmonic Energizer" and had a quick look at the other components. No intrinsic mojo was located in the caps. My homework was to go off and find real data sheets on the TROPICAL FISH caps and learn more about the shelf life of capacitors in general. I usually do not recommend New Old Stock (NOS) caps. There is a shelf life for most of the capacitor technology.

Systech Harmonic EnergizerThis time we have a closer look at the components and create a bill of materials. When are create the Bill of Materials (BOM), we run into a wiring anomaly.

This starts our deep dig into this one of a kind effect made famous by Frank Zappa.

Decoding the Systech Harmonic Energizer pt2

Posted by Jim Black on 7/15/2017 to Bust Em Out

Last time we took a gut shot photo of the "Systech Harmonic Energizer" and had a quick look at the components. Nothing strange jumped out except we found some TROPICAL FISH capacitors. This time we have a closer look at the components. What exactly are TROPICAL FISH capacitors? Is there mojo in those fish caps?

Systech Harmonic EnergizerWe get ready to create a Bill of Materials and in doing so, we run into a wiring anomaly

This starts our deep dig into this one of a kind effect made famous by Frank Zappa.

Decoding the Systech Harmonic Energizer pt1

Posted by Jim Black on 7/1/2017 to Bust Em Out

We brought the "Systech Harmonic Energizer" to the Colorado Guitar Show and got so many comments on the pedal we decided to make a kit.

Up until now, RetroTone® has been releasing the standard fuzz boxes that every one expects to see. With the release of the Ampeg Scrambler clone, we decided to start walking on the wild side of the effects world.

Systech Harmonic Energizer

The Harmonic Energizer's claim to fame is that Frank Zappa used it on "Po-Jama People" on the "One Size Fits All" album. People often mistake Zappa's tone during this era as a cocked wah-wah pedal. This pedal is definitely in a category all its own.



Check it out as we explore this one of a kind effect made famous by a one of a kind Artist.

Colorsound Fuzz+Wah Take It Home - 10

Posted by Jim Black on 3/31/2016 to Bust Em Out

What a long road it has been to get this restoration done. Lots of twists and turns. Some very unexpected challenges. Everything is wired up and everything is working. All is well that ends well.

It is time to put this pedal through its paces and find out why certain folks prefer the Colorsound Wah over the Cry Baby. Then, I need to give it back to its owner, my buddy Greg.

Colorsound Fuzz+Wah Wire it up - 9

Posted by Jim Black on 3/11/2016 to Bust Em Out

We are on the final lap of the Colorsound Wah+Fuzz. Greg's baby turned into a major restoration and rebuild. A fair bit of analysis of the wiring revealed where most of the anomalies come from. I'm going to make some guesses about what I observed when I cracked this baby open. If you remember, I told you the wiring didn't match any of the schematics I was finding. Turns out there is a good reason.

When I took on this project, Greg and I talked about how he wanted the controls to work. Toe Switch---Engage Wah, Heal Switch---Engage Fuzz. We also thought that a adding swell (volume) feature would be cool. We never discussed if the wah is first in the chain or the fuzz is first in the chain. I never knew it, but, this who's first topic has fueled many a heated discussion.

Unwinding this puzzle allowed me to discover why this pedal sat around Greg's studio so long. We also learn a moral tale...

Colorsound Fuzz+Wah The Rabbit Hole - 8

Posted by Jim Black on 1/30/2016 to Bust Em Out
A recap of our progress so far is in order. We have traveled a lot of ground in the project and sometimes it is easy to loose track of the goal. A simple addition of an external 9VDC jack turned into a pot core inductor engineering and fabrication project. Not to mention, we still haven't addressed all the other wiring issues this pedal has. But, I digress. Check out this installment for the tools and methods used to fabricate the inductor we need to complete circuit repairs on Greg's Colorsound Fuzz+Wah.

Colorsound Wah+Fuzz Deep Dive - 7

Posted by Jim Black on 12/25/2015 to Bust Em Out

Our luck has changed. There are many resources for our hand wound pot core inductor for Greg's ColorSound Wah+Fuzz. Making our own inductor is not hard but it isn't easy either. We only need to define a few parameters in order to make a component selection. It doesn't look like it will be too expensive either. There is just one hitch. Read on to see how it all comes out...

Colorsound Wah+Fuzz New Plan - 6

Posted by Jim Black on 12/11/2015 to Bust Em Out

Disappointment permeates all things Wah+Fuzz here at RetroTone®. Our repair job on the inductor did not work so we are forced to seek another solution. Good thing we checked out all the options for inductors in Wah-Wah pedals. This article reviews where we are in the repair/rebuild process, the schematic of the color sound Wah+Fuzz and what is the most appropriate solution to get Greg's Wah+Fuzz road worthy.

Colorsound Wah+Fuzz Explore - 5

Posted by Jim Black on 11/27/2015 to Bust Em Out

This project has turned into an interesting exploration of the Wah-Wah and it's origins. While I was looking for a replacement inductor, I ran into many interesting articles and I eventually found the patent for the wah-wah. It looks like most of the wah pedals, past and present, are not only based on the original from Bradley J. Plunkett of Thomas Organ but are actually exact or near copies.

We'll talk more about the repair on the inductor in Greg's Colorsound Wah+Fuzz, the source material, the bewildering number of inductors available and some of the mojo surrounding the choices. And, the big surprise...

Colorsound Wah+Fuzz Inductor - 4

Posted by Jim Black on 11/13/2015 to Bust Em Out

The inductors in wah-wah pedals have much folklore and mojo associated with them. The Colorsound Wah+Fuzz is no exception. In fact, this pedal probably has the most mojo infused by mysterians in their belief in the supernatural inductor.

Our inductor is not in good shape. It may be salvageable with a careful soldering job. We'll take a side trip to explore some of the options for repair and examine technologies used in other wah pedals.

Read on to explore with me...