The original DeArmond Thunderbolt is a rare and expensive collector's item. The schematic is nowhere to be found, and to create the Reuss Silver Balloon, I teamed up with an electronics engineer to make a complete tracing and reverse engineering of a vintage original pedal from 1979. It's been a long process, stretching over two years.
Electronically it's an accurate clone of the original circuit. My goal was recreating it. Not improving or 'updating' this legendary piece of gear - except, I must admit, I wired it for true bypass switching and gave it a pair of indicator LEDs. The only real difference between the Silver Balloon and the Thunderbolt is the shape and size of the enclosure. The old DeArmond Thunderbolt was a huge monster of a pedal. I put the circuit in a standard wah enclosure. It gives a bit of a different feel from the original, but most importantly, the sound is there. Exactly.
And it really is something else. Quite a sweet and 'juicy' sounding wah tone with a smooth high-end and a wonderful low-end growl, which is nothing like a normal wah sound.
Like the Thunderbolt, the Silver Balloon features a switchable 'distortion mode', which adds a subtle distortion to the sound. The trade-off is a slightly reduced output level in 'distortion mode'.
Most notably the original DeArmond Thunderbolt have been used by The Flaming Lips and Mogwai. Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai is currently using the Reuss Silver Balloon in his live-rig.
The Silver Balloon is packaged in a the generic white cardboard box that comes with the enclosures, I buy to make these, and the boxes are all a bit scruffy looking. The batch is simply too small to justify manufacturing a dedicated 'Reuss' box, sorry. On the upside, this fact is reflected in the price.
- All clips features my friend Fzat playing a Fender Jazzmaster through his 1980s 100W Marshall Super Lead amp
You can download the Silver Balloon manual here
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