Author Topic: That "Spirit in the sky" tone  (Read 7939 times)

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mac

That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« on: August 12, 2009, 05:44:51 PM »
This will be my next project when I return home. I like those fat fuzz tones.
Need some advices. I did a search but nothing helpful, except that I have to go Ge, and possibly use low batts.

It is an interesting tone. When played softly it is just a regular fuzz, but after a limit it begins to saturate very hard.
It reminds me a finite phase transition. Something like a step curve.

Ideas are welcome.

mac



Renegadrian

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2009, 06:07:04 PM »
The first that come in my mind is the One Knob Fat Fuzz - Maybe not the Spirit in the Sky sound, but yeah it definitely nails Born to be Wild. As it is such an easy built with a bunch of parts, why not?! Have fun!!!
Done an' workin'=Too many to mention - Tube addict!

tiges_ tendres

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2009, 06:25:43 PM »
I think one of the main components was the fact this fuzz was running off something like 1.5 - 3 volts rather than a 9 volt

Can anyone confirm that? Can anyone really confirm anything with this circuit other than it sounds awesome on that one record? :)

Try a little tenderness.

Ripthorn

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2009, 07:41:40 PM »
I thought this was one of those songs where he put a slit in his speaker.  I could be wrong.  I would like to know how to do it.
Exact science is not an exact science

brett

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2009, 08:08:11 PM »
Hi
electronically, some of the ways to achieve this tone are to
(i) mis-bias the first transistor so that it is *just* off or just on.  ie. base-emitter voltage = 550 to 600 mV,
(ii) filter out the highs (and also filter the lows if you want the brassy "Satisfaction" tone).  e.g. use a low hFE transistor with emitter grounded as Q1, like the fuzzface, or bypass the last collector resistor, like the Axis Face,
(iii) avoid diode to ground clipping, and also diode feedback clipping unless you use a large feedback cap too.

Check out Doug Deeper's psychedelic fuzz (posted a few weeks ago).  It is probably more buzzy than you want, but you can modify it for fatter, farty bass.
cheers
Brett Robinson
Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. (Mao Zedong)

brett

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2009, 08:12:43 PM »
From Wikipedia:
Quote
"I actually played the lead guitar parts on Spirit, using a 61-62 SG Les Paul, a 68 Marshall Plexi 100w half stack and a home-made overdrive box in front of the Marshall. Regarding the 'beep beeps' as I call them, when the producer asked me to play some fills in between the verses, as a joke I said how about something spacey like this and I did the pickup switch/string bending thing. I saw him stand up in the control booth and he said "that's it! let's record that!" so we did. (There was no slide involved, just my fingers, and I used the bridge humbucker and the pickup switch). The fuzz part is Norman with a built-in overdrive circuit built into his Tele pickguard."
Brett Robinson
Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. (Mao Zedong)

brett

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2009, 08:20:06 PM »
From Dr Dan at the ampage forum:
Quote
I recently had the privilege to have communicated with Mr. Norman Greenbaum,the writer and guitarist of "Spirit in the Sky" and asked him what kind of fuzz he used,and he told me he didnt use a fuzz,the sound came from a modification that his road tech had done to his GUITAR internally.He said he had no idea what his tech had installed in it,as he no longer had the guitar.

From what I can see around the web, mis-biasing seems to be the key.  (One fellow describes a broken Phase 45 sounding right.)
Brett Robinson
Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. (Mao Zedong)

Quackzed

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 09:08:14 PM »
if you used say 50k pots or trimmers instead of the bias resistors on each transistor , you could explore a wide range of sputtery misbiassed sounds, you could also wire up an input cap blend pot and adjust the right amount of bass in, socket the transistors,socket the output cap and experiment. the fuzz is such a simple circuit, such a deceptively simple circuit.
,
nothing says forever like a solid block of liquid nails!!!

RedHouse

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2009, 10:24:13 PM »
This comes up every other year or so.

The intro licks which is what we are talking about, was a fuzz circuit built right into his Tele, here is a pic of Norman with the Tele, you can see the extra knobs and switches right under the neck pickup:



Norman say's a "friend" did the work, but that friend has never spoken publicly about it.
(he might have passed by now)

Note that Norman's website has changed considerably over the years, he used to have a quote posted there saying that it was indeed a fuzz circuit built into his guitar.

I have tried to find the fuzz-tone myself, came close but no cigar. Last time this notion came up I suggested we have a "find the Spirit fuzz" group-effort and see if we can for once put this thing into the DIY "bag".... never happens.

It's one of those unique sounds, right up there with Stones "Satisfaction" (which we know was a Maestro)

I think my problem is I keep experimenting with the same ol transistors. I bet Norman's fuzz was a Germanium based low voltage, mis-biased, work of accidental art.
 
Ok so true it's only 1 song out of the entire history of mankind, but it's such a cool fuzztone, we should put our heads together and find it.
(I'm in)
« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 10:44:52 PM by RedHouse »

doitle

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2009, 03:38:26 AM »
I posted a little bit ago about my LPB-1 booster build and how I added a second pot to it for the... collector resistor. Normally it is 10K but I found as I increased it the tone got nastier and nastier and finally at about 50K your high range was completely gone but the low notes were like glitch fuzzy. Now that I think about it... it sounds a lot like spirit in the sky! I'll try to get a clip of it up tomorrow. If any of you have a LPB-1 on a breadboard handy though switch out Rc for a 50K and see how crazy it sounds. I went all the way up to a 500K there but it sounded just attrocious and was unusable because of the weird popping glitchiness.

ayayay!

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2009, 10:05:58 AM »
The people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living.

doitle

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2009, 01:50:16 AM »
I got around to recording a little something. I can't play Spirit in the Sky but I can sorta flub along the super fuzzy chord there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ssgs6nHbjI

If you want to just skip to the part it's at 3:49




mac

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2009, 03:33:11 PM »
I´ve experimented with 1.5v - 3v with no success. But I biased circuits at half vcc...

My best guess is that mis-biasing is the key, as brett noted. NOt quite sure if sag control or dead battery can make that effect.

What I like of that tone is that is very sensitive to picking. Making a circuit bassy is easy, but with that sensitivity...
It is like the signal level turns a Ge transistor on (or off) very fast and hard above some point, and possibly driving a second Ge transistor.

mac




brett

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2009, 08:17:33 PM »
Hi again
thinking about it some more, I feel Mac is right.  I sounds like a mis-biased Ge transistor (for buzz) driving another Ge transistor (for fuzz).  Given the extra knobs on his guitar, it seems likely that he had control over the gain (ie fuzz). 
I feel that the circuit was probably powered at 1.5 or 3 V, especially since it was inside his Tele.  PP3 batteries had low capacity and a very short life back then.
You could probably make the base voltage on Q1 quite low.  In fact, it may be biased more by leakage current than a base-collector resistor (like the Maestro FZ "Satisfaction" fuzz).
With a little more work (a few proposed schematics and a few prototypes), we should be able to get quite close.
Brett Robinson
Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. (Mao Zedong)

mac

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2009, 03:33:06 AM »
I started with a simple circuit, 1.5v, two 2n1114 Ge very low leakage with a 4k7 collector resistor to Vcc, emiter to gnd, and two 100k in series from C to B, a 1uf cap from the junction of both 100k's to gnd, 4.7uf input and output cap, 1uf and a 10k from Q1 C to Q2 B.
Farty, cleans up very well with the guitar volume... I did not cranked my amp yet because of the neighbours, but I bet it can drive the speaker hard. I believe one key to this tone is the speaker, maybe a cut one?

Another good candidate is a fuzz face with bias tweaked for 1.5v, and higher input, output and pot bypass caps.
Also a Bass Booster with some fuzz in it. I have a circuit in mind, a single Ge with a twin-T neg feedback tuned low.

I'm going to experiment more and report back.

mac





Nasse

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2009, 04:25:44 AM »
You can always build my "easter egg" project, if everything else fails. Pity it is not really stompbox size....

mac

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2009, 12:40:29 AM »
And it does not fit inside a telecaster.

I don't have a kazoo but I have some thin and large pumpkins...

mac

skumberg

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2009, 03:59:20 PM »
Hello,

Just wanted to share my ideas for spirit in the sky fuzz. I've got the song on my spotify list and just couldn't get it out of my head. :icon_idea: So I was messing with my standard fuzz face with silicon at maybe 200hfe and misbiased it to get some the nasty sounds, about 0.6-2V on Q2 collector. Also to add the clean for light picking I added a 4700pf cap between base of Q2 and wiper of volume pot. To balance the clean the fuzz volume must be turned back a bit. The fuzzpot must also be turned back some. To adjust the clean vs fuzz use the volume on your guitar and tweak the other knobs.

I think I'm very close on the sound. Might need some more blaaaööörggghh while retaining the clean sound. So all you need is an extra cap in your ff for Spirit in the sky. Put it on a switch.
I found good use of the basscontrol on my g&l legacy to tweak the sound since its the lower frequency that will push the Q2 to conduct.
/////////
Nicklas

mac

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2009, 11:57:58 PM »
I'll try your mods!
I was experimenting with a FF like circuit with no feedback resistor, just leakage bias for q1, and at 1.5v.
I also want to purchase cheap speaker and cut it.

mac

doctorzylo

Re: That "Spirit in the sky" tone
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2009, 02:30:23 AM »
Hi, I've been following this thread for awhile & I've got a 1.5V fuzz that I bought at Olsen Electronics in Chicago
in about 1968/9?   It was very fuzzy, but usable through a wah in the heel-down position.  The board is pretty small
(1"x2"), so I built it into my crybaby & there it stayed for the next 35 years.  Today I found, in a box, a second
fuzz that I bought at the same time & am posting a few pics:  http://s581.photobucket.com/albums/ss256/doctorzylo/

Hope this sheds some light.  It is a Herald Fuzz Master AM-44A   Sorry for the fuzzy photos.