I’ve had my sights on the Analog.Man Astro Tone Fuzz and PigDog Mark III Juju Fuzz for a while now - both are made in small batches and in different colourways, and neither stays in stock for long - so you need to pounce when you see a suitable candidate available.
This last chapter of pedal acquisitions has been kind of serendipitous as shortly after I spotted and ordered a black edition Astro Tone, PigDog announced a new batch of 10 shiny black and gold Juju pedals. I had been holding out for one of the prettier LSD variant paisley pattern series to come back around again - but it all seemed to fit that both these wishlist target pedals of mine should come on the market as such so quickly one after the other - and in very similar livery.
I took delivery of the Astro Tone this last Monday, and the Juju Fuzz arrived just yesterday. Both are obviously my favourite compact enclosure size - with the Astro Tone being a 1590B type, and the Juju a very slightly larger 1590N1/125B enclosure format. Both have 3 identically labelled knobs (Volume | Tone | Fuzz) and top-mounted jacks, while the Astro Tone is a Silicon variety based on the 1960’s Sam Ash Fuzz Boxx / Astrotone Fuzz, and the Juju Fuzz is a fully Germanium loaded MKIII Tone Bender style variety - both of course sound incredible and each has a very distinct characters / personality. There’s obviously a significant difference in pricing here though.
This is available in 2 varieties - White and Black or Black and Gold - and obviously the latter is the prettier variant. The tone-making Transistors here are a pair of the Silicon Fairchild 2N3566 type - the earlier USA-made batch which is encoded '641' (week 41 of 1966) has long since run out, and there will come a time when the Singapore-made Fairchild 748 batch (week 48 of 1978) runs out too. My own pedal is of course of the 748 type and Mike Piera swears that the USA-made and Singapore-made Transistors are indistinguishable. He's also significant tuned the low-end range from the original pedal to give it more body and richness - it's just a gorgeous, versatile and well-behaved vintage style fuzz - which works right up through the gears. Joe 'Perky' Perking gives another masterclass demo above on just how good this pedal is!
With 3 transistors in the mix here, the Juju is significantly gainier than the above Astro Tone, and has a more saturated and biting character to it, but a lovely creamy smoothness and richness to it too. The transistors doing the work here are 2 x NOS Black Glass CV5712's (1964 military spec OC71 types), and 1 x NOS Black Glass OC75. I've been waiting patiently for these to come back into stock - Steve Williams usually makes these in batches of 10, and there have been a variety of different colurways - Red, Blue and multi-hued LSD Paisley Prints - which were/are possibly the most collectible of all. I find it serendipitous that I land a Black and Gold Juju so shortly after acquiring a very similarly themed Astro Tone fuzz. Note that the Astro Tone has a matt slightly textured powder-coated paint-job surface, while the Juju is shiny polished glossy automotive black really.
I really love both these pedals - I don't think it's a case of necessarily preferring one over the other - they are slightly different varieties after all, and while both are superbly versatile - they still very much seem to encourage different styles of playing.
Of course both Mike Piera and Steve Williams are fuzz pedal royalty, and I have included Steve in my UK gang of 3 'Fuzz Lords' alongside Stu Castledine and 'D*A*M' David Main. I actually had the opportunity to snag a PigDog Destruction Department MKIV Fuzz recently - before realising that it was in the oversized P1 enclosure that I really don't like - if you see pictures of the Juju next to the Destruction Department - the latter just looks uncomfortably huge. I hope Steve sees his way to releasing more compact enclosure types - as his pedals really are gold, and my preferred choice vs the other Fuzz Lords - with their slightly fustier enclosure designs!
As I've mentioned before, this is a buy quick and repent at leisure sort of scenario as the PigDog Juju's in particular are in very rare supply, and their prices seem to really inflate on the second-hand market. The Astro Tones are still relatively rare - but don't command quite so high a premium. It's those super rare 60's NOS Germanium Transistors which seem to define the longer-term pricing.
Which fuzzes have you acquired recently that you are particularly enjoying - with my own Fuzz Collection standing currently at 169 units I must surely be at the point of significant slow-down soon!