Fuzz Review: Frantone Bassweet V1

Manufacturer: Frantone Electronics
Model: Bassweet Germanium Transistorized Fuzztone
MSRP/Paid: $345/$96
New/Used/Loan: Used
Battery: Yes
Power Supply: Yes
Size: Aprox. 4.75″ Wide x 3.5″ Tall x 2.25″ Deep (jacks/knobs etc included)
Available from:Direct/Dealers

From the maker:

Description:
How Sweet It Is!

Brother to the legendary Frantone pedal The Sweet, this germanium transistorized bass monster kicks out an impenetrable wall of low end that will devastate all those present.  The Bassweet has all of the endless sustain, compression, and tone you would find in The Sweet with a wildly expanded bass contour and enhanced controllability.  How much bass does the Bassweet deliver?  Try one yourself!

All new Frantone effects come with full signal bypass and status light!

Each one of The Bassweet fuzztones is hand-made in
the USA by Frantone and features:

  • Tough cast aluminum case
  • Deep Purple Epoxy Enamel finish
  • True bypass switching
  • Yellow indicator LED
  • Steel LED bezel
  • Switchcraft jacks
  • Custom White Bakelite knobs
  • Hard mounted PCB
  • External power jack
  • All teflon hook-up wire
  • Really cute clear feet

Initial thoughts:

I’ve owned a Frantone pedal previously during my first bout with fuzzy addiction, before I recognized the problem and started this web site. The Low-Tone Classic Fuzz was a very solid contender at that time, but I was looking for something a little bit more extreme (in a time before I realized you could own more than one fuzz pedal). I’ve been curious about the Bassweet ever since, but never motivated enough to actually buy one. An opportunity to lay hands on a fully functional, but slightly ugly used one came up and I figured it was time to give it a go.

When I opened up the box, my first though was ‘oh hell, what have I done’, because not only was the paint a bit smeared in places, but the pedal was still covered in whatever sticky goo was causing the problem! Ah, the perils of buying used items online! The first thing I did was break down the pedal and make sure everything looked ok and the insides weren’t in a similar state of gooage. Much to my relief everything seemed ok, and I went about the task of cleaning up this bad-boy as much as possible. She will never win any beauty contests, but this ol’ girl won’t stick to the palm of your hand any more when you pick her up. Mission one accomplished! Time to plug it in!

Video Overview

Samples

Positions for Testing(in o’clocks):

  1. Sustain:3, Tone:3, Volume:3
  2. Sustain:9, Tone:9, Volume:3
  3. Sustain:10, Tone:12, Volume:3

Note: Headphones or good speakers required. Bass samples!

P Bass

Position Sample
1 1
2
3
1 2
2
3
1 3
2
3
Mix

Active J

Position Sample
3 1
2
3

Fretless

Position Sample
3 1
2
3

Short 5

Position Sample
3 1
1.5
2
3

Construction and cosmetic concerns:

The amount of external abuse that this pedal has taken seems pretty substantial. Beyond the layer of goo that I scrapped off of it, there are also some chips and dings on the corners. It is a testament to either blind luck or quality of the construction that it is still functions perfectly and I’m willing to bet the latter.

The insides are clean and well laid out. Nice little touches like a side-mounted wire clip keep the battery cable from floating around when unattached and a foam and plastic shielded area for battery compartmentalization is much better than many of the ‘wedge it in and hope it all stays’ attitude we often see from small-run pedal makers. The PCB is directly soldiered to the activation switch, but has a little floating room (and the underside is cushioned with foam). I think you would have to crush the box to hurt it.

The “True Bypass” method used in all Frantone pedals is a little different then the Hardwire bypass we see in most boutique builds these days.

Frantone effects use a unique active true bypass audio switching circuit that is designed to stay in bypass mode if the applied power is less than 7 volts. The LED can light with as little as 3 volts supplied, so it may remain lit in this case. The benefit of this circuit is that if your battery or power supply falls bellow operational levels while playing the audio chain is not interrupted. There is nothing worse during a performance than stomping on a pedal and getting your signal muted!

This ‘Relay True Bypass’ basically uses a small current for switching instead of physical connections. This has the added benefit described above, but at the expense of significantly increased power (see eats batteries) and a bit more cost. Otherwise it responses just like hardwire switching (both in pros and cons). This was all news to me too, so I figured I would share!

Conclusion:

This is a well made, pedal with a bit of a niche sound. The bottom end is just huge and blooms like the dark rose whispering evil and crushing souls. That said, the pedal is extremely compressed and lacks mids. This means it will likely have a hard time cutting through a mix and allowing a bass to really stand-out amongst some angry guitars. It doesn’t have a ton of flexibility and is pretty expensive, so you better like it for the sound it produces… a lot. The germanium tones are pretty sweet and someone doing solo recording or finding themselves in a band with a lot of sonic room will probably enjoy it quite a bit.

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment or let me know

Note: A rating of 5 = acceptable and should considered a ‘good’ basic score

Sound Category: Huge Low End, Blooming, Rich
Versatility: 4
Sound: 6
Value: 3
Overall: 6

4 thoughts on “Fuzz Review: Frantone Bassweet V1

  1. Actually from now on, I’m going to record the intro with whatever pedal is being demo’d/review. Someone suggested it on youtube and I thought it was a good (fun) idea.

  2. Well, honest truth on that is… it’s the bass. That bass sounds amazing with almost anything you toss at it.

    I e-mailed Fran from Frantone and she indicated to me that I have an older revision of the circuit. I’m going to send it off to her for a bit of rehab. I’ll be adding a large section to this review after I get it back.

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