The Monolith Silicon Fuzz is an adaptation of the Lovetone Big Cheese, a versatile fuzz pedal released in 1995. The Big Cheese is perhaps Lovetone’s most famous pedal, with a jaw-dropping artist repertoire that includes The Edge, Jimmy Page, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Johnny Marr, J Mascis, Stephen Malkmus, Jeff Tweedy and Kevin Shields.
The Big Cheese is a hybrid of several different circuit topologies. An op-amp provides input buffering and output gain recovery, and a silicon transistor fuzz resembling a Fuzz Face or Tone Bender is sandwiched in the middle. This is followed by diode hard clipping and a Big Muff-style tone control.
In traditional Lovetone fashion, the Big Cheese also has a rotary control, allowing three different tone stack modes: tone bypass, scooped mids, and flat mids. There is also a fourth mode called “Cheese” that changes the bias on the transistor fuzz, delivering gated “amp death” tones similar to other circuits that use intentional misbiasing such as the Zvex Fuzz Factory or Cornish NG-3. The result is in a class of its own, an extremely versatile and unique drive machine that is deserving of the high praise it receives.
The Monolith is an exact adaptation of the Big Cheese except for the addition of an optional boost stage at the end to increase the maximum volume. The original can get well above unity gain at max volume, but by reconfiguring the output buffer as a gain boost, we can get a bit more out of it.
Special thanks to Ian (LaceSensor / Gigahearts FX), the DIY community’s resident Lovetone expert, for help verifying the Monolith prototype against an original Big Cheese for accuracy.