The Beardface Special Edition

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Probably the one Vorp FX pedal that truly qualifies as "boutique". The Beardface Special Edition is the nerdy/classy/luxury version of the Beardface. It uses essentially the same circuit as the regular Beardface, but contains some rare new old stock components such as a "metal can" version of the LM714 opamp and Tungsram Germanium diodes. It also has higher-quality Tantalum or Polyester Mylar capacitors. On the outside, the Special Edition is identified by its cream coloured knobs and the metal bezel for the LED.

The result is a pedal that retains the basic character of the Beardface, yet does sound different. In symmetrical clipping mode, it has a creamier tone that can go into fuzz territory, whareas in asymmetrical clipping mode it offers a powerful punch with a full, warm, organic sound and an exceptional richness in overtones. As with the original Beardface, no battery operation is provided and a standard center negative 9V PC power adapter is required.


The Beardface quickly became one of my favourite Distortion pedals, and when I got hold of a bunch of Hungarian Germanium diodes and was told that these were quite rare and supposed to sound awesome as clipping diodes, the idea for a special edition of the Beardface was born. Thinking about other components that I could use to make this pedal more special, using Tantalum rather than electrolytic capacitors was an obvious choice, and seeing that some of the original Guyatone Zoom Boxes used "metal can" opamps, I set out looking for some of those as well. For the enclosure design, I was first thinking of a different colour, but unless I did the whole spray job myself, I couldn't really find anything that looked more special than the red enclosure I was already using, so I stuck with it and only used different colour knobs. The bi-colour LED to indicate the clipping status was something I had used in the first Double Dodo, and I thought it was a nice "premium" touch to use it here as well.

The result has made me very happy, so much that I first intended to keep the first Beardface SE and not sell it. However, then came the urge to tinker around with that circuit a little more, and...


Beardface Special Edition Variations


Beardface Special Edition no. 1, serial number BRDF004SE. The original "special edition" Beardface, my personal unit, not for sale. Essentially a regular Beardface with Germanium diodes and NOS and high-quality components, which give it a different sound character. Uses an Intersil CA741 "metal can" opamp. A bi-colour LED indicates the clipping mode (yellow=symm, green=asym). Symmetrical clipping is Ge/Ge, asymmetrical clipping is Si/Ge. White DC-in jack. Splendid sound.

IMG_2977.jpgBeardface Special Edition no. 2, serial number BRDF005SE. Uses an ST Micrelectronics LM741CH "metal can" opamp, and the same NOS diodes and Tantalum capacitors as the first SE. Two additional switches: DECOMP gives a more open, less compressed sound, and BASS adds some subtle low end. Symmetrical clipping is Si/Si, asymmetrical clipping is Si/Ge. Simple yellow LED and standard black DC-in jack.


Beardface Special Edition no. 3, serial number BRDF009SE, uses the same opamp and NOS components as no. 2, but goes back to the simpler layout with just one toggle switch.