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The Tone Bender is one of the most influential pedals in the history of guitar music. In this exclusive extract from Level & Attack: The Untold Story Of The Tone Bender Fuzz, Simon Keeping charts the birth of this hugely important piece of guitar history…


It’s January 1965. As US teenagers send Surrey songstress Petula Clark to number one with the Terry Hatch-penned Downtown, a small shop in Denmark Street, London’s Tin Pan Alley (where the song was coincidentally composed) was about to become part of the ‘British Invasion’ in quite an unexpected way.

For many, music would never sound the same again. The legend has grown over the years and the names change, depending on whose version of the story you are listening to. But the facts remain. The sound musicians had been looking for was created in that tiny music shop, Macari’s Musical Exchange, and in five short years, their Tone Bender fuzz box was taken from the shop shelves to centre stage at Madison Square Gardens where the biggest rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet, Led Zeppelin, were playing a sold out show.

The Tonebender was born in 1965, the brainchild of Gary Hurst, who had worked alongside Dick Denney at Vox. Denny had been experimenting with fuzz a few years earlier.

On the face of it, this was a simple device which utilised fairly rudimentary electronics – a wooden box, containing transistors and a footswitch to turn it on, that would allow guitarists to achieve a distorted tone at lower volumes.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Guitar Magazine - May-18
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About Guitar Magazine

What do we think about the most talked-about guitar of the year? Find out in our May 2018 issue, on sale now. Inside, we sit down with Paul Reed Smith to talk out about the two-year design process that gave birth to the Silver Sky and we put John Mayer’s new PRS signature model through its paces in an in-depth 10-page review. The magazine also comes bundled with a FREE Joy Of FX magazine for every reader that includes reviews of Fender’s new-for-2018 stompbox line, new EarthQuaker Devices pedals, an interview with Way Huge pedal guru Jeorge Tripps and more. Back in the main mag, we get up close and personal with Eric Clapton’s £25,000 writing and recording acoustic, check out The Temperance Movement’s live gear, interview Steve Morse and review even more hot new guitars, amps and effects from Eastman, Blackstar, JHS Pedals, Lowden and plenty more besides. We also salute the genius of Freddie Tavares and you can enter our competition to WIN a drop-dead gorgeous Lake Placid Blue Fender American Original ‘60s Telecaster worth £1,659. The May 2018 issue of The Guitar Magazine is on sale in print and digital formats now. Essential reading for guitar addicts.