Sola Sound MK I Tone Bender by Stu Castledine


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 Stu Castledine

Words by David Main . . .

The origin. An expertly crafted and meticulous replication of Stuart's own vintage Tone Bender MKI, which is likely one of the, if not thee, oldest known example of a metal bodied MKI in existence. An all together different beast to our other three MKIs. If you desire the primitive well this is it. Dark, ripping, raspy, very stylistically 1960's, the FZ-1A origins are very much in play here. Heavy bottomed and well rounded with a choppy almost percussive attack. Sincerely wonderful and inspiring tones to be had at lower gain settings, dense and chewy at maximum fuzz settings. A much dryer and less saturated tone than the aforementioned devices. Clean amp at volume, big reverb, fuzz tone heaven. Mr. Castledine seriously knows his shit. The skillful approach in all areas of this pedals creation affirms this tenfold.

The assembly here is 100% old school. Old timey all the way. For all intents and purposes this is a vintage Tone Bender visually and sonically. Construction differs in that Veroboard is used over the paper based phenoilc types (Paxolin, Tufnol, etc) and there is no battery door access. Stuart's original unit is made in this way so the replication follows suit. Three black glass OC75's deliver the goods along with Arcol carbon composition resistors and Vishay and Sprague capacitors.


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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