Thomas Goldsmith, "Country Guitars" in: Tony Bacon (ed.) Fuzz and Feedback,Backbeat Books, 2000, p.58But back to the beginning. Country music had survived the body blow dealt out by Elvis and rock 'n roll by developing the smooth, widely palatable Nashville Sound. In the studios of Nashville, this meant that a small cast of musical movers and shakers kept wildly busy, sometimes recording for as long as 15 hours a day. "We could do four sessions a day: 10am, 2pm, 6pm and 10pm," recalls the great session guitarist Harold Bradley, referring to the standardized times for three-hour sessions. "If you were booked solid for four sessions, they'd say, "We'll start at 1.30 in the morning'. They demanded it!" Bradley laughs. "The artists would say "We're not gonna cut it without you guys."
The pressure was intense to come up with great performances every time. The need for new and distinctive sounds meant players and producers were constantly on the lookout for new tools and techniques. In one famous incident the recordeing crew at Music Row's renowned Quonset Hut studio got creative when a malfunctioning pre-amp in the recording console produced a wild, evenly distorted sound. Making use of the sound was session great Grady Martin, who produced the famed distortion-powered solo on six-string bass for Marty Robbins' 1961 hit "Don't Worry." As that record puzzled and captivated listeners in the pop and country fields, the fuzztone era was under way. "Later when I found out what it was, I set about trying to develop that sound using transistors," recalls veteran engineer Glenn Snoddy. "We fooled around with it and got the sound like we wanted. I drove up to Chicago and presented it to Mr. Berlin, the boss at the Gibson company, and he heard that it was something different. So they agreed to take it and put it out as a commercial product." The result was the first off-the-shelf fuzzbox, the Gibson Maestro.
You can check whole parts of this book in the Google reader, but the above link I put seems to be dead.
As far as I've learnt so far, these early Langevin consoles had no fixed preamp in them. You had a choice among several preamps that would all fit. A halfway decent Langevin console nowadays sells for anything between $5-8k
Know I at least discovered where zachie got the basics for the Neve-story.