70’s Carlsbro Suzz Pedal

The Suzz Pedal was part of Carlsbro’s aluminium range. Released in the 70’s, they were guitar effects pedals encased in large aluminium outer shells and built like tanks.

They were extremely large pedals and have, over the years, become extremely collectible. Not only due to their unusual look, but their vintage sound and build quality.

This particular pedal has an Electro Harmonics Big Muff type distortion / overdrive sound. It’s not really a fuzz pedal, as the name would suggest.

It’s an incredibly simple pedal. Just two knobs, gain (volume / level) and sustain (amount of distortion).

It has no mains power and will only take a 9v battery which means removing two screws from a panel at the bottom every time you need to replace it.

It’s a great looking and sounding pedal.

Here’s what it sounds like on both guitar and bass. Please let me know what you think:

Here’s a link to a schematic:

http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/carlsbro-suzz.html?m=1

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Kay / Univox Effector Guitar

There’s something charming about looking back to a point in history when we thought we were onto something new and then, very quickly, realised we weren’t.

There’s little glimpses of these moments in time sprinkled all over the history of modern guitars and amps. Zero frets being one of them and these Kay / Univox Effector guitars, being another.

They were manufactured in the 60’s and, unbelievably, right through to the 80’s. They were sold via the Sears catalogue as an affordable home guitar with an added extra. Built in effects. It even has a headphone socket, so there’s no need for an amp. I imagine this guitar was a good choice for parents who wanted to encourage their children to learn to play but didn’t want to hear them play loudly through an amplifier.

They’re powered by a 9V battery and the volume knob actually acts as an on / off switch.

I’ve heard the built in effects described as “tone suckers”, and I understand why. The echo effect (it’s not an echo, it’s a tremolo), is very useable, however. It has an old school dub reggae vibe to it. It’s nice for playing more paired back, stripped down tracks and you can get an ambient feel from it.

The other effects are pretty much not worth even mentioning. They create harsh tones and doesn’t really provide anything useful, although the Whirl-wind effect can be fun for an auto wah style sound.

The truly useable effect, though, is the fuzz. It really sounds great for lo-fi punk rock riffs and high energy thrashing chords. But equally as great for noodling solos.

The Kay / Univox Effector is an interesting and rare piece of guitar history but it’s not difficult to understand why the built in effect technology didn’t take off in a big way.

It’s been nice to work on I’m pleased I had the opportunity to fix this one up as best as I could.

Hear the effects here and if you enjoy the video, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel:

1977 Peavey PA-200 Mixer Amp

There’s something about these 70’s solid state amps. They come from an era when watt ratings seemingly counted for little. They’re always far louder than they should be! It supposedly puts 120 watts into a 4 ohm cab but, I can tell you, this thing will take heads clean off shoulders when cranked.

It takes pedals extremely well and the spring reverb tank sounds incredible. Nice and old school.

This one is in super good condition. The best I’ve seen. The leather pads in the centre of the knobs are all present. Usually, they’ve long since fallen off due to the glue sucking.

Each channel has a gain (volume) knob, an effect knob (to blend in the reverb tank) and a Low and High knob. Set to 12 o’clock, the knobs are at zero. So, turn them left and you’re cutting a frequency, turn them right and you’re boosting. The amount of overall reverb is controlled by a knob to the right of the unit.

I became interested in these, as a lot of people did, after finding out the Greg Ginn, of Black Flag, used one.

PA amps make super cool guitar and bass heads. You can even split your signal and use more than one channel at a time. Great for experimenting.

Here’s a video of me playing guitar and bass through it. The dirt comes from a TC Electronic Mojo Mojo Overdrive Pedal.

If you enjoyed the vid, please do subscribe to THE ZERO FRET on YouTube. Thanks!

Travis Bean TB2000 Bass Guitar

So, I’ve been a Bob Weston fan since forever.. Like so many, I’ve pined after his killer bass tone for years.. I bought my first Kramer XKB-20 to see if I could get somewhere close to it.. And I did. But it wasn’t enough. The day after my wedding, I drove an 8 hour round trip to pick up a vintage Traynor TS-50B with matching 2×15.. Got even closer to the tone. But it still wasn’t quite there. I finally caved in and spent a dick ton of cash on a vintage Travis Bean TB2000 bass.. Et voila! There’s the famous tone. The grunt. The bark. The bite. All at my finger tips, whenever I choose to piss off my neighbours and crank up the Traynor in my two bedroom flat!


This thing is an absolute beast. Weighing in at a huge 12lbs, it sounds like thunder and plays like butter.


It’s mid 70’s – I’m not sure of the exact year. Serial #517. Apparently Travis Beans can be difficult to date. All original aside from the fretboard, which was removed and replaced with a new one by Kevin Burkett, who now owns Travis Bean.


It has a few small pick scrapes to the body but, for me, that only adds to the character. This bass has clearly been used and loved over the years. Well loved. In fact, it’s previous owners include Dominic from the post rock band, Mogwai, and Aluminium Axes Facebook page owner, Iain Quimby, who I purchased it from.



The neck design on Travis Bean guitars, is brilliant. It goes right the way through the body, increasing sustain and ensuring minimal neck dive. The quality of these things is mind blowing. It feels super well made, like it would withstand a nuclear blast.


The pickup resting right on the neck produces such a killer tone.



I think I can safely say that this is my “forever bass”.. At least until I get too old and decrepit to strap the beast round my neck and play it!

Here’s a scrappy Shellac bass cover I did using the TB2000 and my Traynor TS-50B:

HH Electronic VS-Musician Amp

In the late 60’s and 70’s, these amps were big business. Initially sparking interest among up and coming punk rock bands of the era, HH equipment eventually became a favourite of big name acts like Pink Floyd, T-Rex and The Buzzcocks.

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This particular model, the VS-Musician, offers a feature not seen on any of their other amps. VS, stands for “Valve-Sound”. And, for a solid state amp, it does emulate the warm sound of a glowing valve, very well. The clean sounds are so clear and crisp, I actually think I prefer these to any real valve amp. And when you crank the gain up, it really comes into its own.

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The green glow of the front panel always looks great on these things.

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One reason I bought this amp is because it came with the now super rare Valve Sound foot switch. Unfortunately, I no longer have the pedal.

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The VS-Musuician is a 100W 2×12 combo and it’s as loud as hell!

If you get the chance to pick one up for a good price, for the love of God, do it!

This is great amp is for sale for £250. Get in touch here to make it yours.