The legendary Tone Bender needs no introduction, being one of the original fuzz distortion guitar pedals from the mid-60’s and adopted by such legendary guitarists as Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Mick Ronson, and countless other guitar players over the years. It has come in many iterations and has spawned countless clones and variations. The Tone Bender was also one of the original “proto-fuzz” pedals before Hendrix came along to popularize the Arbiter Fuzz Face.
But as trends come and go in the world of guitar pedals, some guitar greats have continued to use Tone Bender pedals to shape their signature sound. Jimmy Page used his original Tone Bender all the way until it died during the Walking Into Clarksdale sessions. And guitarists still chasing down those classic tones have paid outrageous prices to get their hands on original vintage units.
Various companies and DIY pedal builders are still producing and in some cases improving upon the original Tone Bender designs. One such Tone Bender replica of interest is the Hungry Bender from Tone Hungry Effects. This hot-rodded modified version of the classic 70’s MKIII Tone Bender is hand-made to demanding specifications with low noise metal film caps and metal film resistors. The pedal also uses NOS MP38A and A129 Germanium transistors that are carefully tested for sound quality to achieve its unique overdrive and fuzz tones. Is it the best “Tone Bender” fuzz pedal? You’ll find out in our Tone Hungry Effects Hunger Bender review. Let’s run down the features and satiate the hunger.
24k variegate gold leaf finish.
High quality low-noise metal film caps and metal film resistors.
NOS MP38A (Russian Military Spec) and A129 Germanium transistors, carefully selected for the best sound quality.
Control knobs for Level, Tone, and Attack.
Internal Bias adjustment trim pot.
True Bypass switching for letting your signal pass unaffected when disengaged.
Powered by 9-volt battery or 9VDC power adapter.
Visit Tone Hungry Effects for more info about the Hungry Bender.
Sound & Performance:
I plugged the Hunger Bender into a clean amp and dialed the knobs to noon. With my trusty Strat in hand I kicked on the pedal to whet my appetite for tone.
The Hunger Bender produces thick, full-sounding tone that has plenty of depth and is full of warm Germanium flavor. The original MKIII (and pretty much nearly anything “Tone Bender”) used a trio of Germanium transistors to create its warm, fuzzy tone. Thanks to a pair of NOS Russian MP38A’s and a single A129, the Hunger Bender delivers a massive Germanium-infused sound that Germanium junkies will appreciate. While tone hounds love arguing over the merits of their favorite Germanium transistors, spending some time with the Hunger Bender will surely convince any Germanium connoisseur that Tone Hungry Effects got it right and achieved a great sound with the combination of their chosen components.
I really like how the pedal responds when rolling back the guitar’s volume knob. The sound maintains that Germanium Tone Bender-esque character while retaining a hint of sizzle that fluctuates with your picking dynamics. It also sounds as if the signal is being parallel processed, clean and dirty at once for a subtle effect that’s useful for expressive, dynamic playing.
The Attack control offers mild distortion adjustments from fully counter-clockwise to noon, maintaining a mildly overdriven tone throughout. It’s when you starting pushing the knob past noon that its effect on your gain level becomes more apparent. Maxing out the Attack control delivers a more dramatic increase in distortion for a searing fuzz distortion lead sound that still retains definition and clarity when playing chords. The distortion isn’t over-the-top, yet it will provide plenty of dirt for most needs. And the Hunger Bender responds well in front of an already dirty amp for a mean lead boost.
I am particularly fond of how the Tone knob adjusts the sound of this pedal. While many pedals offer hi-cut tone knobs, the Hunger Bender’s Tone control offers more versatility for shaping your sound. With Tone settings around noon, the Hunger Bender retains a balanced sound. Pulling the knob to around 10 o’clock and below rolls of the high end a bit, and pushing it up to around 2 o’clock and beyond reduces the low end response. This will allow you achieve searing treble boosts and thick bass-heavy sounds from a single control. And of course you can attenuate your guitar’s tone controls to further shape your sound.
All-in-all the Tone Hungry Effects Hunger Bender is a pretty stellar take on the Tone Bender legacy, and I look forward to seeing what pedals this builder releases next. Let’s see the final result.
The Tone Hungry Effects Hunger Bender is a great rendition of the archetypal Tone Bender design. This pedal covers a wide range of classic overdriven fuzz tones and will satisfy the appetites of those seeking some old-school tone-bending distortion. This pedal is a real treasure, looking the part with its 24k gold flaked finish and featuring an attention to detail fitting for a boutique pedal made one-by-one by hand. If you’re looking for the best “Tone Bender” fuzz pedal and appreciate fine artisan craftsmanship, definitely check out the Tone Hungry Effects Hunger Bender.
That concludes our Tone Hungry Effects Hunger Bender review. Thanks for reading.