When I got started in the DIY pedal hobby the switches that were available were the Carling DPDT. These were about $9 but didn’t allow for easily wiring an LED and true bypass. Small Bear Electronics started offering a 3PDT switch labeled “Fulltone”. These switches were $13 if I recall.
I suspect that Fulltone really wanted to offer true bypass pedals with an LED and had them made for that purpose. Since demand was nonexistent they probably had to order enough to make the manufacturing worthwhile. I guess Steve Daniels at Small Bear got in touch and gave Fulltone an outlet for excess switches.
I bought two of these around 2000. I’m usually trying to build things cheap as possible so I only bought two. Small Bear was the only place I know of that had these switches at the time. I guess they were popular and Steve Daniels was able to get his own line on the switches because soon after the blue version that everyone is using today became available and the prices started coming down. These days the cost is $2.50 to $5.00 and there are several versions of the switch to choose from.
This Fulltone switch is a little different from the blue version. First it’s labeled Fulltone. Second the body of the switch is made from a harder Bakelite where the blue switches seem to be made of a softer plastic. Fulltone still sells these switches for $16. Here’s what they say about the switch:
15 years ago I designed and started manufacturing the best 3PDT switch money can buy. I did it because the available 3PDTs sucked… badly.
Both the Blue ones, and the Black ones.
The rest of the world has copied the look of my 3PDT, but they have not copied the construction or quality!
- All others use a plastic body… plastic and heat don’t mix. Apply some heat while soldering wires and the terminals come loose resulting in either immediate or eventual FAILURE.Mine is Bakelite, it doesn’t melt.
- All other switches use a plastic internal plunger! Plastic flexes, especially if there is a 200-lb person with army boots on top of it. The plunger collapses and pops right out of its socket.Buh bye switch. My plunger is made out of metal.
Before I started making my own I used the very same as everyone else, and spent many hours a day replacing failed footswitches. Now I’m free and life is good.
Sounds like it’s different on the inside! Seems like if you want a better 3PDT you can get it but it will cost you. I’m not sure that at $16 you’ll sway anyone from those blue switches for $3.50 a piece. Not too mention there’s another super premium switch out there for $15.40. More to come on this switch. For myself I’m not making products that need to live up to quality and durability claims so I’m still making things cheap as possible for now.
I couldn’t find a spec sheet for this switch. It might be more sturdy but it’s hard to say what that might add to the life expectancy. I doubt it would last 4 to 5 times the life expectancy of the cheaper blue switches makes it hard to justify the cost. That said of it did last that much longer it might be worth it.