- Published: 30 September 2018 30 September 2018
We recently added a 1979 Sola / Colorsound Supa Tonebender to our collection of testing pedals. The Supa Tonebender circuit is unrelated to any of the regular Tonebender circuits. It is actually a Big Muff Pi with a couple of mods. The main mod is that the first set of clipping diodes was left out. It’s thick and fuzzy, one of our favorite versions of the Big Muff Pi.
We wanted to compare it to a Supa Pi module we built to our standard spec for that configuration. We didn’t add any options.
How does our module compare to the original? Quite well, thank you! Our normal test includes A/B testing at the extreme settings of all the controls. In the extreme settings, we can’t tell them apart when we A/B them. Saying that another way, the controls all have the same range of effect, from low to high (Volume, Tone, Sustain). However, there are slight differences in the potentiometers. If you want to match settings between the original pedal and our module, you can match them but the knobs may be on slightly different settings. The base tone and the nature of the fuzz are as close to the same as two original pedals are likely to be.
Actually, our Supa Pi module sounds just a little bit better to us than the original, since it costs a few hundred dollars less! The original pedal only takes battery power. The battery clip has already been replaced, and needs to be replaced again because it is shorting out. Our original also has scratchy pots that cut in and out and need to be replaced. We tried cleaning them, but they are worn. Once set, they work fine, but it’s a little tricky to adjust them. If we replace them, the value of the pedal would probably drop considerably, even though it would sound better. Of course, that isn’t an issue with the new pots on our module. If, years from now, they are worn down like the ones on our original, we would simply unplug them and swap them for new ones – no problem! The old Sola / Colorsound pedals are also large and take up quite a bit of space – not very pedal board friendly. And it has some surface rust marring the chrome finish and the knobs are a bit beaten up.
In the end, we paid several hundred dollars for an original 1979 Supa Tonebender. It is bulky, rusty, and only takes battery power. It needs a new battery clip and pots replaced. That wouldn’t cost us much to do, but we’d would lose a considerable amount in resale value if we did it. Or for about one third the cost we could get a brand new Supa Pi module that sounds the same. Easy choice.