The Tethys Germanium Fuzz is an adaptation of the Baldwin-Burns Buzzaround, a germanium transistor fuzz first sold in 1966 and best known as Robert Fripp’s fuzz of choice in the late 1960s.
The Buzzaround is very similar to the third version of the Tone Bender (3-knob, often called the Mk. 3) and for that reason it’s often believed to have been a clone. However, the Buzzaround actually came earlier and the Mk. 3 was the derivative circuit, not releasing until 1967.
Despite persistent rumors that the Buzzaround was designed Gary Hurst (the inventor of the first two versions of the Tone Bender), it was discovered more recently that it was probably copied from an earlier effect called the Harmonic Generator from G. P. Electronics in Devon. No known examples of the Harmonic Generator survive to know for certain, but the control layout is the same and the advertising copy makes the similarities very clear.
The major difference between the Buzzaround and Tone Bender is the volume control, called Balance. This is actually a bias control on the third transistor and changes the tone throughout the travel, not just the signal level. Because of this, builders will generally add a true volume control in DIY Buzzaround implementations, which we’ve included here. You can use either of the controls or both in combination.
The two other notable differences from the Tone Bender Mk3 are in the gain and tone controls. The Buzzaround’s gain control is set up as a voltage divider (inter-stage volume control) rather than a variable resistor as in the Tone Bender, and the tone control is also voiced differently. These changes along with the Balance control make it a very different pedal, even though at first glance the schematics appear almost identical.