Of EH, Mosrite and Guild

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Of EH, Mosrite and Guild 

This month's article is unusual in that it is actually a history of a Guild effect.  Along the way, though, it became linked forever with Electro-Harmonix and even the Mosrite company.  So, without further ado, let's look at the EH Axis, the Mosrite Fuzzrite, and the pedal the links them all: the Guild Foxey Lady.

  We'll start at the beginning with the Mosrite Fuzzrite,  a very basic 2-knob fuzztone.  It was designed by Ed Sanner, originally of Mosrite and later of Rosac (Nu-Wah, Nu-Fuzz, etc).  Ed's original plan was to make a fuzz for a friend of his, steel player Leo LeBlanc.  Leo used a Maestro Fuzztone on his steel, but it wouldn't work on cold concrete floors.  When the transistors got too cold, they would shut down and refuse to pass any signal (if you don't believe that, try spraying the inside of one with freeze- spray while playing through it).  Semie Mosely liked the fuzz, so he put it into production.  It turned out to be a very good product for Mosrite, selling about 1000 units a month.  Mosely made about $10 profit from each unit, so it definitely kept him in Pop-Tarts for a while.

The layout had the two controls (Volume and Fuzz) at the upper end of the  pedal, the jacks on the sides, and a power switch on the lower left side.  Originally, it  was constructed of discrete components, but later an encapsulated circuit was used  that was made for them by Sprague.  Even later, it was made with discrete components once more, sometimes at Mosely's kitchen table.

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Around 1967,  Mosley came back from the NAMM show with an order from the Guild company to build Foxey Lady fuzztones for them.  Guild was a company that was well known for its guitars, but they just didn't want to go to the trouble of tooling up for fuzzbox production.  What Mosrite did for Guild was simply repackage the Fuzzrite by moving the controls and power switch to the top of the pedal, putting the power switch between the Volume and Fuzz controls.  They made approximately 1000 of these units for Guild until Mosrite suffered financial problems and went under for the first time.

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While we're on the subject, another interesting variation on the Fuzzrite was the ZB Custom fuzz, which was probably produced in the mid 70's.  At the time, Mosrite was sharing a building with ZB Custom, a manufacturer of steel guitars.  Ed Sanner believes that the ZB Custom fuzz was either made for them by Mosrite or was made by ZB Custom from units they found in the building after Mosrite's departure.  It is identical to the Fuzzrite except for the name.  Interestingly enough, I'd never heard of ZB Custom until one of these pedals came in for repair.  The next day, I ran across a ZB Custom pedal steel at a local music store.  Karma abounds!

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Back to Guild.  With Mosrite's demise they began casting about for a new manufacturer of the Foxey Lady and happened upon Mike Matthews.  Take a look at the photo below.  According to Mike Matthews, these are PRE-EH Foxey Ladys, which he had made by a company called Aul Instruments in 1967.  The circuit, which is extremely similar to the Mosrite Fuzzrite with hints of the later EH Axis, was designed by Bill Berko.  The unit is the same size and shape as the early triangle-knob pedals, but has a much heavier steel chassis.  Some may not have the Foxey Lady logo on the top.  These had been popping up sporadically over the years, but I finally got the dirt on them from Mike Matthews himself.

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When EH was formed in 1968 the Foxey Lady became a renamed version of their very first effect, the Axis fuzztone.  It had a 2 transistor circuit also designed by Bill Berko, a tech from 48th St. in NY.  The controls consisted of Volume and Fuzz, with a power switch located on the back of the Volume control.  An interesting feature in the construction is the use of a DPDT footswitch soldered directly to the circuit board.  Unlike later EH products, this greatly reduced the number of loose wires and made for sturdier construction.  Instead of being wired for true bypass, however, the switch was set up so that one side switched the output of the circuit while the other side switched power to the circuit on and off.  The same sort of switching arrangement was used in the Mosrite Fuzzrite and the Mosrite-made Guild Foxey Lady.  Neither pedal was made in huge quantities, but the Axis seems to be rarer of the two.   Mike says that the Axis was created to cash in on the big fuzztone craze of the 60's and estimates that only about 2000 - 3000 Axis and Foxey Lady pedals were manufactured before the introduction of the Big Muff Pi.  Currently a reproduction is being offered by RonSound.  You can see it here: RonSound Foxey Axis fuzz

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With the introduction their soon-to-be-legendary Big Muff Pi circuit, they changed the Foxey Ladys to use this design and discontinued production of both the 2-knob Foxey Lady and the Axis.   Again, these are identical to Big Muffs internally and are available in two versions:  a triangle-knob configuration which is equivalent to the earliest Big Muffs (series 1) and a straight-knob version equal to the series 2 Big Muff.  They continued with the production of the Foxey Lady until approximately the mid 70's.

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Finally, here are some Guild ads showing the 3 incarnations of the EH-made Foxey Lady.
Foxeyad1
Foxeyad2
Foxeyad3


It's possible that there are other variations on the Mosrite Fuzzrite just as there are on the Big Muff.  If anyone has a fuzz that they suspect may also fit in this story, please contact me.

Thanks to Pedalman for the photos of the Mosrite-made pedals and Kevin Macy for the gray Foxey Lady pic.