The Freakenbender is a collaboration between Rainger FX and Colorsound, to produce the newest, the latest official Tonebender!
It's a 1980s-style silicon Tonebender circuit, but at the highest point of the 'Drive' control, the pedal flips over to be a Dr Freakenstein Fuzz. The 'Volume' and the 'Tone' knobs also flip over to being Freakenstein controls, the Tone knob used for dialling in that sweet spot of massive middly edge... Like a cross between a wah wah and a super exaggerated phaser.
These two circuits are, as much as possible, exact Tonebender and Freakenstein circuits, checked out and approved by Anthony Macari - the Colorsound big cheese. The Tonebender is reverse engineered from the Tonebender I bought from his uncle in the early 1980s in the same shop in London's Charing Cross Road that Anthony now manages!
With my lovely Twin Reverb amp I used that pedal in a load of situations, both live and in the studio; producer Michael Beinhorn (RHCP, Soundgarden, Marilyn Manson) loved and recorded it. Plugged directly into the mixing desk - for maximum presence, edge and attitude - producer Stephen Lipson (Grace Jones, Jeff Beck, Johnny Marr, Pharrell Williams) was seriously into it.
BTW during the time when it was my go-to fuzz, I also had in my bag a ProCo Rat, Tech 21 Sans amp, Roger Mayer Voodoo-1 and Axis fuzz, a Big Muff, an MXR blue Box, a Boss Metal Zone and Distortion Feedbacker... Now, when using the Tonebender side of the Freakenbender, it's easy to see why so many hundreds of people have blatantly copied this circuit. It's one massive chunky peach!
The Freakenstein is the other side of the coin; it has an enormous low-end, but the focusable mid frequencies are a serious sonic weapon, guaranteed to stand out in any musical situation. It's a gated, full-on, modern fuzz.
So this all sounds like a sales pitch, I know! It's just all kinds of fun to use....DOWNSIDES
It's a pretty big enclosure.
It's kind of expensive!
The 'input' and 'output' sockets are the wrong way round... Hey - don't blame me! This is the protocol decided on by Colorsound way back in the day; they decided this (for some strange reason) was how the pedal world should - and would be, and waged war to make it so.... And they're still doing it!!
But I've been making pedals commercially for nearly ten years now, and they've been doing it for well over fifty - so what do I know?!DIFFICULTIES
In designing this pedal there were some really tricky things to sort! Getting it to flip without having to push a switch was important; it's got to be simple to use, and likewise you couldn't have a separate set of controls for each distortion circuit - they had to be dual-purpose.
Also, the Freakenstein circuit is INCREDIBLY loud! It uses a 555 chip, instead of regular diode-based overdrives, and feels more like you're working with a domestic appliance!!! You can easily light an LED off its output, probably run a food blender too... One result of this was that it leaks onto the Tonebender circuit, and getting rid of that.... was tough
! In the end what we had to do was turn off the 555 when it wasn't in use; luckily it responds well to being powered up and down, and the end result is pristine Tonebender goodness, then the pure evil aggression of the Freakenbender.
I can't tell you how much it means to me to be working with Colorsound on a Tonebender. The pedals' insides are made here at Rainger FX HQ in west London, and everyone here feels so proud to be making them.
It comes in an expression pedal version too - the Freakenstein 'Tone' knob adjustable while you play with your expression pedal.
They're only available through Macaris - shop or website http://www.macaris.co.uk/freakenbender-standard/p/p1847