This is a vintage 1966 John Hornby Skewes Zonk Machine fuzz effects pedal. This first production variety fuzz box is extremely rare, and vintage pedal enthusiasts have long coveted both the original Zonk and its successor, the Zonk II. The Zonk was based upon the Sola Sound MK I Tone Bender circuit. Featuring (3) PNP Texas Instruments 2G308 germanium transistors, this very interesting variety is more like a Sola Sound MKII Tone Bender than a MKI. Designed to be used in conjunction with the JHS Treble Booster unit (very similar to a Dallas Rangemaster), the Zonk Machine actually sounds absolutely mind-blowing when used by itself. Describing this pedal as rare would be a careless statement, because the scarcity of this effects unit is so extreme, chances are you could look every day online for the rest of your life, and never see another.
The rolled steel casing with a blue Hammerite finish is very reminiscent in design to the gold MK I Tone Bender: with two basic controls on top, and the input and output next to one another on the back, the straight-forward aesthetic is a reflection of the absolute perfect simplicity of the circuit within. It is loud, robust, full-range, and complementary with most any rig. It is sweet, subtle, and sings with sustain. Perhaps the most musical quality is the natural envelope articulated with every note. Completely inspirational to play through, The Zonk Machine offers endless enjoyment, and tone otherwise unavailable via a reissue, clone, or kit.
The trio of transistors are dated “527 (mid-’65), 529 (mid-’65), 607 (early-’66),” which puts a completion date sometime circa mid-’66.