SOLA SOUND MK I TONE BENDER BY ian sherwen
the ghost with the fuzz
When we made the decision to make MKI Tone Benders again after 52 years we decided they had to be the best - so we worked with four MKI magicians - these ones were made by Ian Sherwen of Ghost FX
words by David Main
The Competition or Beat Instrumental MKI. Handled as such due to this graphic type being featured in the images for the Beat Instrumental competition, it was also the most commonly seen graphic type in the Musical Exchange advertisements of the day. This is true Black Country masterwork from the mind and soul of Mr. Sherwen. Full blown, full frequency, huge aggressive attitude delivered with immense proficiency. Delivering a massive canvas of sound The Ghost MKI is a perfect combination of the primal and the contemporary. The output levels here are the greatest of the four making it a superior companion for the modern day, though the artifacts and high end sizzle at maximum fuzz levels are old school to their very core. Ian's tuning approach here is impressive giving means to deliver low gain crunch tones at minimum drive settings with even a good degree of dynamic guitar interaction when operating at warmer operating temperatures.
Again like the Pigdog the construction style here is an clean and orderly presentation with a pleasing combination of more modern wiring techniques and the old timey style one would expect to see in a MKI. The transistor line-up comprises of a single CV7005 (military grade OC71) and 2 x CV7007 (military grade OC77), the military style selection being a smart move on Ian's part, really does help to keep things from going too AWOL when this thing is wide open. Capacitors are a mixture of Jupiter and ICEL Polyesters, Sprague Atom Electrolytic's. Resistors are mixture of NOS/New 1 watt and 0.5 watt Carbon comp/Carbon film types.
Music by Philip - pinstripedclips - If you love fuzz and you haven't subscribed to his YouTube channel - just do it now
This is a project that started in 2014. It has come to it’s fruition three years later. We knew if we were going to make Mk I Tone Benders again after nearly 53 years they had to be special. More than special in fact, they had to be in a different World to the clones and copies already on the market. So we started from the ground up .
After looking at our options for making the case we decided upon a new workshop we’d never used before. The guy was old school, he understood the technology used when the original cases were made, he still had the same machinery, he understood the metal and the way it was bent, he also supported Arsenal.
I took my original 65 MK I down to him and we dissected it . He made probably the most detailed drawings ever made of a Mk I case and we re-made it.
Some people would have had feet stuck on or just used an off-the-shelf punch to make the little domed indentations for the feet. No, we had a special tool made so they were perfect replicas of my original unit.
Then came the painting. We must have sprayed and painted 200 squares of metal gold before we realised that it was close but not perfect. To obtain the finish we have on these pedals, each coat has to be applied . . . well it’s a bit of a secret. Let’s just say the man that did it normally paints custom decals onto motorbikes – he’s an artist.
Getting the logos right was easy, as we have a friend called JV who just won’t let us make a mistake – its as if his purpose in life to make sure Sola Sound products are perfect graphically. We owe him a huge thank you.
We then approached four of the finest and experienced boutique builders in the UK to make the pedals. Each with their own take on the circuit. It has been a total pleasure working with them all and I hope the feelings mutual.
Part selection was down to the makers – our only instructions were to not cut any corners – this must be the best possible pedal.
Each MK I has an internal hologram with a non-repeatable number . Hopefully this will keep any fakes from popping up – there’s a little card in each box with the hologram number and serial number of each pedal. Steve and I have signed them – you can always throw them out if you don’t like them – ha !
Lastly, they’re in a velvet bag. You might think I’m daft going on about a bag but its a special bag . Again, not an off the shelf bag. My cousin Rosita who actually applied the logos to the original pedals in 1965 is a seamstress and made them for us – a nice little touch bringing the project full circle.
Even the cardboard box we put it in has been custom ordered.
Then Philip did the video clips – we are lucky people!
You know, sometimes I think we’re a bit crazy!!!
Thanks a million to everyone involved in this project.
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