Black Cat Custom MKI Americano


The Black Cat Custom MKI Americano was our first Black Cat Custom offering. It began as a special request from a customer to build a MKI Tone Bender replica. Since there were probably a few other people who might also be interested in having one, we thought we might as well make five.

It seemed that there were already a few very good builders doing the point-to-point MKI thing at that time, so we wanted to come up with an angle that would really distinguish ours from the rest. And since Black Cat Pedals is very much an American brand, we had the idea of making an all American version of the MKI – Black Cat Custom MKI Americano.

So rather than using foreign-made components, we made a deliberate point of using all AMERICAN components:

  • New Old Stock 1960s Texas Instruments 2N404 transistors
  • Sozo and (USA) Sprague caps
  • NOS carbon comp resistors
  • Switchcraft jacks and Carling switch
  • Custom handmade steel enclosure

We also used red and white cloth wire to go with the blue of the Sozo caps. And for a final touch, the three legs of each transistor are dressed with red, white and blue wire.

The MKI Americano was a huge hit and sold out immediately. Due to the many requests we were receiving, we decided to do a second run of ten for our email subscribers, which sold as quickly as the first run. As the requests continued, yet another run seemed inevitable.

Before we began building the third run, we were asked to refrain from using the name “Tone Bender” in our products by the owners of the trademark. So we removed the words from the graphic of the MKI Americano Series 3. Other than the omission of the Tone Bender name, the MKI Americano is made the way as it’s always been made.

Made in the U.S.A.Made in the U.S.A.

  • Hi Guys! I won your MKI Americano on eBay in March and I just had to write to tell you that this is the best damn fuzz I have EVER PLAYED!!!!! This pedal is made so right you guys should be charging DAM prices for them. Never in my 17 years of playing and 4 years of buying VERY expensive boutique gear have I ever had so much joy playing music through a single device! It plays nice with all my guitars – 1998 Fender Strat Eric Clapton with Fralins, 1975 Stock Fender Telecaster, Gibson LP 1958 VOS, Jackson SL-3 etc. I think you guys get the idea. It loves my Mesa Stiletto 2×12 combo and my Marshall 1987x MKII. It works with everything I plug into it/it into. Great work! I have owned the (“insert name”) here stuff, and I can honestly say this pedal is Number One. Could you please please please please please please please please I’M REALLY BEGGIN’ HERE GUYS!!!! Build me another one as a backup? DID I SAY PRETTY PLEASE!!!!??? Lots of love, John V
    The pedal does have that MKI killer sound, dynamics and overtones; the way the notes bloom out after that are hit and raise to the distortion level, I love it! Great build and solid pedal! Thanks, Mark H
    Tom, I just got my MKI Americano and all I can say is WOW! It has far exceeded my expectations. This is probably the most difficult circuit (as I’m sure you guys know) to get right and you guys nailed it! I have 4 other MKI builds, which are all great pedals, but yours is the most authentic sounding. I think a lot of builders try too hard to make this circuit sound pretty and IMO the primitive sound is what I love about it. I was really hoping this pedal would sound more Yardbirds era Beck, sizzle, spit and all, and I got exactly that. Excellent! I am really surprised you guys got so close using American components, but I guess they are not as important as the builder’s skill and ears. Anyway, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to get this incredible pedal, and I will definitely be doing business with you in the future as my finances permit. Thank you Tom and all at the shop for a really fantastic build, I will certainly enjoy it! Mike B
    The MKI arrived bright and early last week. I have to tell ya that I was in heaven over the weekend, bro. My God it’s just brilliant, Tom! Absolutely brilliant! You guys hit this thing right outta the ballpark. With a Les Paul and the volume rolled back to around 7 it’s so tastefully lethal. It’s the 1st time I’ve ever turned on a pedal, fuzz or otherwise, and heard the sounds I’ve always heard on all my favorite records. I know you’re prolly thinking that it’s just the honeymoon period. But after playing for almost 32 years Tom I don’t have honeymoons anymore. At this stage of the game it only takes me a few minutes to know whether or not I’m going to like a circuit or not. And after not even a minute I knew the Americano was going to be special for me. I just love it Tom. And I wanted ya to know. So that’s all amigo. I just wanted to let you know that your hard work is appreciated. And that I love my MKI a metric ton. Thanks for the awesome circuit, and the lovely craftsmanship too. Peace Always, Charlie R
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