The AnalogMan Sunface has always been a favourite among boutique Fuzz Face enthusiasts. It is well built, sounds amazing and, relative to the cost of an original vintage example, quite a bargain. There have been many forum threads popping up on the topic of transistor choice (among other options) lately, and it’s only heating up. With the return of the Red Dot NKT’s availability, the choice has become harder than ever…
To date, AnalogMan currently offers approximately 12 or so optional transistors in addition to the “Standard” Japanese Germanium 2SB175 (medium-high gain) available for fresh SunFace builds. A staggering amount, considering the importance fuzz fanatics place on having the “right” components inside their pedals, especially when it comes to the transistors. This stock option is anything but standard in the tone department, but with so many available transistors to “upgrade” to, it would ideal to match your transistor with your style and fuzz requirements. Low down dirty Blues that just hints at Fuzz? Lo-Gain Germanium. Biting raspy Fuzz for snarling 60’s Psychedelic Rock with a screaming edge to it? Hi-gain Silicon is your choice. Among the usual Germanium and Silicon camp lie many variations; we will delve deeper into these soon. The aim here is to prevent potential option anxiety SunFace purchasers face by so many available transistor options. Keep in mind that AnalogMike doesn’t seem to put out anything less than amazing, so there really are no bad transistor choices per se, just some better suited to certain styles than others.
We’ll take an in depth look at each transistor later. For now here is a quick reference chart with a few brief descriptions of each Germanium transistor and of their attributes, both bad and good. These have all been cross referenced with AnalogMike’s website, but more importantly, they have been thoroughly verified by actual use. In another post I will also list discrepancies, if any, from the AnalogMan descriptions, but for now here are some key observations. The key here is to use this as a guide, and your ears as the judges in the actual evaluation.
|Transistor:||Standard Japanese 2SB175 (Medium)||Standard Japanese 2SB171 (Low)||Red Dot NKT Newmarket
|Standard Germanium 2N USA||Vintage Low Gain|
|Gain:||Medium-high||Low||Varies, usually Medium (Low, Medium and High Available.)||Medium (available High Gain)||Low|
|Pros:||Cheap, all around usage, super smooth, warm||Cheap, all around usage, super smooth, balanced||CLASSIC Transistor,little to fault, can clean up fairly well (gain dependant) Fairly close to the NKT-275||Cheap, great standard choice, a bit of character,||Cheap, cleans-up well, (great actually)|
|Cons:||No grit (but not the point)||(Obviously) Won’t do High Gain||Priciest option (listed) Low Gain is Clear and Sweet But can’t do Scream of High Gain (and Vice Versa)
Noisier (Radio Stations)
|Not a lot of bark, particular example was a bit dark||(Obviously) not a lot of gain on tap|
|Usage:||Non-descript fuzz, great all-arounder||Smooth refined fuzz, fusion styled soloing sound||Classic Fuzz Tones, 60’s Pop and Psychedelic to Modern Shoe-Gazing||70’s Fuzz, sits a bit better in the mix than wooly transistors||Laid back tones, smokey blues, even non-fuzz overdrive tones|
|Transistor:||High Gain Germanium Transistors
-from Baldwin Organs
|1973 Mullard (UK) CV7005||White Dot NKT-275
|Red dot NKT-275
|Gain:||Medium-high||Low to Medium||Varies, usually Medium||Medium (available High Gain)||Low|
|Pros:||Cheap, all around usage, super smooth, warm||Cheap, all around usage, super smooth, balanced||CLASSIC Transistor,little to fault, can clean up fairly well (gain dependant)||Cheap, great standard choice, a bit of character,||Cheap, clean-up well, (great actually)|
|Cons:||Very smooth, No grit (but not the point)||(Obviously) Won’t do High Gain||Priciest option (listed)||Not a lot of Bark, particular example was a bit dark||(Obviously) not a lot of gain on tap|
|Usage:||Non-descript fuzz, not a defining tone as such, but fits well with many styles||Smooth refined fuzz, close to NKT275 so Classic Tones abound||Classic Fuzz Tones 60’s Pop to Psychedelic
*Found this to be higher gain than any others, but could just be the example in use.
|70’s Fuzz, sits a bit better in the mix than wooly transistors||Laid back tones, smokey blues, even non fuzz tones|