FX13 Gonkulator Modulator
Both cosmetic variants of the FX13, from early (left) and late 1996
The FX13 Gonkulator was a ring modulator designed for use with electric guitar. Its circuit combines DOD's Grunge distortion in parallel with a ring modulator (center frequency = 500 Hz). It is well-known as the effect heard in the song "Glass" by Incubus, and for having perhaps the least-intuitive control names of any DOD effects pedal. Two cosmetic variants were made, with the second (more rare?) version featuring the "real" control names above the knobs. The FX13 Gonkulator debuted at Winter NAMM 1996, but only remained in production until about 1997. Because of its limited production and subsequent popularity among noise artists, the FX13 now routinely sells for over $100 in the used marketplace.
- Controls: Suck (distortion output level), Smear (ring modulator output level), Gunk (distortion gain), Heave (overall output level)
- From the manual: "The FX13 Gonkulator/Modulator is a ring modulator and distortion effect in one. The ring modulation or "SMEAR" adds gonk-like tones to your guitar's sound. With the SUCK and SMEAR knobs you can create a multitude of bizarre distortion sounds that will not only enhance your solos, but will keep the audiences wondering." (image of manual and box)
- Sample settings (scanned from the user manual)
- Historical context: According to its manual, the FX13 was inspired by a local (Salt Lake City) band called Dale and the Deadheads, who were featured on Dr. Demento's radio show. The designer of the FX13, DOD engineer Jason Lamb, was a punk rock guitarist who also designed the FX69 and FX76. In the broader context, the New York alternative/noise band Sonic Youth had headlined the 1995 Lollapalooza festival the previous year, and a ring modulator featured prominently in their song "The Diamond Sea" (from their album Washing Machine, released in September 1995). While the FX13 cannot be used to emulate "The Diamond Sea," so-called "alternative" rock was arguably at its peak, and perhaps the FX13 was green-lighted in that context. Unbeknownst to DOD, the "alternative nation" was soon to decline, followed by the ascension of so-called "nu metal", and the FX13 became the first of the "final series" of DOD pedals to be discontinued.
- "Gonculator"? The word "gonculator" was first coined in an episode of Hogan's Heroes ("Klink vs. the Gonculator", 1968) as a the name of a fake electronic device used by Col. Hogan and his fellow POWs to fool Col. Wilhelm Klink, the commandant of Stalag 13. Over the next few decades, the word was adopted by computer geek-types as jargon to denote their least favorite piece of hardware, and its spelling changed to "gonkulator". It is unclear exactly when the modern definition of "gonkulator" came into being, relative to the introduction of the FX13. However, given the FX13's overall sonic obnoxiousness and the names DOD's employees gave to the FX13's controls, we cannot argue with such a pithy defintion.
- Technical info:
- Notable IC chips: MC1496P balanced modulator/demodulator chip, three 4558-type op-amps
- Trim pots: one (possibly controlling the center frequency?), but we do not recommend messing with trim pots
- Component-side circuitboard images: April 1996 Oct. 1996
- Related circuit: FX69 (loosely based)
- External links:
- @ DigiTech.com
- @ discofreq's FX site
- @ harmonycentral.com (via archive.org)
- @ harmony-central.com (via archive.org)
- @ noiseguide.com
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