different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights



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different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby smallsnd/bigsnd » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:33 am

i copied some posts from this thread - viewtopic.php?f=178&t=30228&start=15 - to give this information it's own deserved thread.

chillerthanmost wrote:Oh yes, rule they do.
How do I fuzz?
The only way to fuzz!
With three TAFM's side to side :idk:
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smallsnd/bigsnd wrote:wow 3 very different versions too! nice.


chillerthanmost wrote:I played all three side by side for a few hours on bass and guitar. They all sounded entirely different from each other. Loved all three, two more than the other. Neat fucking pedal all around :thumb:


smallsnd/bigsnd wrote:i'm curious which one you loved the least? maybe i can shed some insight as to why that may be!


chillerthanmost wrote:Okay. Well, let me start by saying that all three sounded great and can pass off as superb pedals by anyone who has them. The TAFM has turned into one of my favorite fuzz pedals. In short, the custom Aztec finish one was my least favorite of the three, given the same settings on all three pedals. Let me talk about why I liked the other ones first.

Old Pinky (#420. V3.7), having more feedback/noise (though I haven't adjusted the internal trim pots), was winner on guitar. It had the most amount of gain, it sounded big and juicy on the low mids, and it was just a HUGE fucking sound all around. Even the feedback was huge sounding, which I dig on guitar. Even at full gain on both the input and fuzz, it never lost it's creamy, warm, sweet fuzzy goodness. Stayed warm all across the board.
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Mr. Green (#612. V5.2) sounded almost identical but with a bit less gain and less feedback/noise, which makes it a keeper for me on bass. It actually sounded the best of the three, all around, and as is, with no internal adjusting needed. Which is good because it has that funky trim pot I haven't seen before. Being that it had a bit less gain, it sounded a bit warmer to me, but just by a hair. Bass notes were more articulate all around, and specially more on the low notes. Tight, big, creamy, and even the most "vintage" sounding of the bunch (could be the same as just the warmest).
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And as I said, Aztec finish (#7001. V6) was my least favorite of the bunch. It did not sound bad, it just sounded different. On guitar it sounded colder and more shrill on the gain, and scooped and thinner on the low mids. I don't know much but I would probably point it to the germanium trannies not being fully broken in, shy of pushing the sweetness out? The two older ones just sounded much warmer, much thicker on the low mids, and creamier on the gain. This one, although had the same characteristics as the others, was just a bit too cold in comparison. Now, it does mean that it cuts through much more than the others. It has a bit more of a pronounced upper end that will slice through more than the other two. Some people might want/need that. But, to me, it was a bit too "modern" sounding for lack of a better term.
On bass, I don't know why, but it had MORE low end coming out of it than the other two. So much, that it was a bit too woofy and loose. Even a bit dark, in a way. I thought maybe it was set to "unbuffered" on the dip switches but when opened I was surprised to see it on the "buffered" setting. Now, my bass amp has A LOT of low end. So much that it can sometimes get a bit open and lost. But the other two pedals kept the low end in tact and spat out a nicer overall output. While this one was not helping retain the low end, instead making it a bit more loose coming out of the speakers. If the low end in my amp was a bit tighter, it might have made a worlds difference. Maybe even if I was playing droned out open low notes it might have worked, and I'm sure there are a lot looking for that. But again, it just didn't compare to the other two.
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(Also, this was given the SAME settings on all three pedals. For all I know I could have just adjusted the knobs and I would be saying something else. I figured I'd try to keep it unbiased towards each pedal, though.)


I am by no means a professional musician, nor do I do pedal reviews (though it seems like fun, maybe I'll do more). And in no way am I discouraging the purchase of a new model of a TAFM as even the new one sounded better than a lot of other pedals I've tried out. And maybe there is a perfectly good explanation as to why the differences. I ended up keeping the two older ones and I don't see them going anywhere anytime soon. I can't wait to get more of your pedals, Brian.

:hello: Tony


smallsnd/bigsnd wrote:cool. those are great rundowns on the 3 and i really appreciate them!

keeping the knobs in the same positions for all 3 will definitely produce different tones overall so there is that distinction. i wonder if you change #3 to un-buffered what your opinion of it would be compared to the other 2? would you indulge me? the buffering will definitely make it seem "colder" and more shrill since it has a lot more high end that is lost when un-buffered.


chillerthanmost wrote:Ah, fortunately for both of us (yet unfortunately for this conversation), this is such a hot pedal that it sold before I even posted it up for sale/trade, haha. I had posted that I had a third/spare TAFM and a line started to form. The pedal is now on it's way to the new owner, whom I've told about the dip switches. Maybe I'll ask him what he thinks after flipping them. I was also told by the previous owner that it was picked up through BASSEFX.com and somewhat advertised as a "Bass tuned" TAFM. I looked it up and couldn't find anything. Any idea? Could it be the reason why there was more low end with this pedal than the other two? Another thing I remember is that I had this pedal next in line from a buffered High Pass Filter (HPF-Pre Series 3). I didn't think to realize if maybe it just didn't like being in front of a buffered pedal, which could be why the low end kinda went all over the place. Though, the others didn't do the same.

Regardless, I'm beyond stoked for the two that I kept, and even though they sound similar, they definitely have a voice of their own. Such a neat fucking pedal, man. The PINK tafm also sounded great with my Fuck OD after it (on guitar). I just picked up a Mini on the bst that I'm looking forward to throwing on my guitar board as well.

I work at a high school which means I'm on SPRING BREAK! I might write up a more detailed review on my tumblr of the tafm, fuck od, and mini, to kill some time. I'll link you through Twitter if it interest you at all. I might babble on and on... and on and on.


chillerthanmost wrote:I'd definitely say they all had similar characteristics and the same overall feel. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like a night and day difference between them. I failed to mention that I play out of shit that is pretty transparent and clean (Sound City 100 loud and clean through an EVM12L loaded 2x12), so anything coming through my rig is sounding exactly as I'm putting into it. Which let's me hear slight differences in eq's and tones compared to other rigs that flavor a lot post effect board. For instance, the difference between them was not as noticeable on bass, where I play an old Univox UX1501 through a flatback 8x10, which regardless of effects, still sounds like a tube amp through an 8x10 + the effect.

Now I need a way to fit this green horizontal pedal, comfortably, on my small pedaltrain mini :erm:
Hope it doesn't come down to rehousing or trading for vertical unit of the same version :whateva:


sanfordandsonny wrote:Thanks to texting chillerthanmost I was on point when this hit the b/s/t
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I loves it more than the rosé leaf one that was mid #300's
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby smallsnd/bigsnd » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:49 am

i'll add the main differences between older versions and the current version:

- the oldest versions (4-knob) did not have the same input gain stage and thus have MUCH lower gains in general and are a lot muddier.

- all of the 5 knob versions up to the current vertical layout used PNP germaniums and a charge pump voltage inverter, whereas the newer ones use NPN germaniums and do not have the inverter circuit. the pros/cons are while the PNPs are more available, cheaper and easier to find with higher gains, the charge pump does have the potential to bleed HF noise into the signal path, especially when dealing with the amount of amplification happening in the pedal.

- newer versions do have the mid-point shifted down in frequency so when toggling the mid switch there's a big difference between settings.

- newer versions do not have any trimpots whatsoever - people obviously have the tendency to tweak trims even though sometimes it makes the pedal sound like ass... i now measure those critical resistances for each pedal - it takes me a few extra minutes but it's worth it for consistency's sake.

- some biasing and filtering changed from version to version, but always based around the particular transistors i was using and other circuit considerations to try and keep things as true to the "original" sound as i could.

- switchable buffer added to newer versions which helps the cleans stay much cleaner while adding some more high end to the fuzz. the overall response and "feel" of the fuzz is changed slightly, but not drastically.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby smallsnd/bigsnd » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:00 am

also, i'll add that i have 5 different versions here at the shop (which i had written down and now can't find...) i think they were v 1.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1 and 6.3 (current). there were more versions than that actually since i fucked up the numbering at some point. :whateva:

i tested them all together on a board with a fender twin at a pretty loud volume (>100db) and i can honestly say that the differences between all of them are negligible at best and can be mitigated by some knob gentle knob tweaking. at lower volumes, some of the differences are more apparent (overall thickness, EQ'ing, etc) but none are necessarily better or worse in my opinion... the ones that sound the most significantly different are:

v1.2 (4-knob) which can get very clean (on the fuzz channel) but with a max fuzz at only around a 1/4-1/2 turn on the other versions.
v6.3 (current) with the buffer on there is a slightly different feel and the overall tone is more cutting at the expense of sounding just slightly "colder" (read as: more highs). with the buffer off it matches the other versions though.

these are just my humble opinions of course and as chillerthanmost did, some people will find more differences between them than others. also, i was only testing the particular versions i had on hand so there may be some oddballs in the wild! the main goal has been to strive for more consistency, which i think i have achieved with the latest version... :hug:
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby kbit » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:03 pm

I don't have anything to add right now, but thank you for compiling all of this. Interesting read. I still have to mess around with the buffer in mine and see what it's like otherwise.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby MSUsousaphone » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:51 pm

Oooooooooooooooph. Makes me regret selling the guy I had even more. To do some testing of my own. Ah well. Onward to my future TAFM I go.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby guitarslinger21 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:31 pm

I only sold the Lumberjack because I needed some cash, and I had another TAFM.

I've had 3, and the Lumberjack sounded freakin awesome.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby behndy » Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:24 am

the Pink Shine one you did for me, i have no idea what version it is, but i clicked with that one right away where the one before i learned to like, but never as much as the Pinkie.

cool read. thannnnnnnnnks.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby jwar » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:45 am

The Pink one is great Ben! :) I've noticed some pretty drastic differences in the TAFM's I've owned. It's been a pedal I've sold and bought the most I think. Can't escape it's sexiness. LOL I always miss it. The OG one was awesome though. I dig the shit out of it.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby MSUsousaphone » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:11 am

I've had my exploration into things that just flat out obliterate. Destroy shit. I sold my TAFM and went on that awesome soul crushing fuzzstortion journey. And those things sounded so damn cool in my comp headphones....or with my bass at home......but once I tried them with a band I realized they were way too much. The TAFM is just the right amount of gnarliness before getting into realms that a guy playing with three other guys/gals should never tread.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby hazelwould » Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:28 pm

I had one a horizontal rubber stamp grey one. And it was a bit muddy for me. I don't remember the gain being unusually low. Did sound great with my friends bass though.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby smallsnd/bigsnd » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:45 pm

hazelwould wrote:I had one a horizontal rubber stamp grey one. And it was a bit muddy for me. I don't remember the gain being unusually low. Did sound great with my friends bass though.


horizontal wasn't the lower gain version- those were the oldest ones that were vertical with only 4 knobs and 1 toggle.
for sure the older versions could definitely get muddy with guitar but like you said, great on bass! that's why i added the buffer (though maybe i should make it external?) - so that it could cut through a bit more on guitar and have less mud/more presence - another attempt at making it a little more versatile.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby jwar » Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:09 pm

The one thing I will say is the current version I have is synthy sounding but almost too thin at times. I can adjust my bass pre though and it solves the problem, or the clean blend. But damn it I hate fucking clean blends. :) Other than that it's awesome.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby MaxMaps » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:37 pm

I owed that Pink origional one too.

Regreted selling it, Loved the sound, full and fucking balls out awesome.

The last version that I got, I dont know what it was but I really did not bond with it well. I think it was the clean blend. Also felt like something was missing from the origional pink version and the last current on I got.
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby smallsnd/bigsnd » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:45 pm

MaxMaps wrote:I owed that Pink origional one too.

Regreted selling it, Loved the sound, full and fucking balls out awesome.

The last version that I got, I dont know what it was but I really did not bond with it well. I think it was the clean blend. Also felt like something was missing from the origional pink version and the last current on I got.


was it too "clean"? perhaps you were hearing the difference the buffer makes?
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Re: different TAFM versions - thoughts and insights

Postby MaxMaps » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:39 pm

smallsnd/bigsnd wrote:
MaxMaps wrote:I owed that Pink origional one too.

Regreted selling it, Loved the sound, full and fucking balls out awesome.

The last version that I got, I dont know what it was but I really did not bond with it well. I think it was the clean blend. Also felt like something was missing from the origional pink version and the last current on I got.


was it too "clean"? perhaps you were hearing the difference the buffer makes?


That might be it, felt like something was missing between the v1 and the v6. Maybe I am no longer becoming a fan of clean blended sounds because I may be braching out into different instruments.

Too clean may not best describe the sound I was hearing. Prehaps it was a more velcro like sound as apposed to a fat sound.

I really should be keeping pedals from now on :hello:
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