Month: December 2015

List of DIY Guitar Pedal PCB Manufacturers

After building a 2 in 1 overdrive, I’ve got interested in building more pedals, so here’s a few of the PCBs manufacturers I’ve found. Please let me know if you have more to add.

Title Description
BYOC The classic kit shop
Aion Electronics Large selection of PCBs with detailed analysis and history
Fuzz Dog UK based, large selection of PCBs and kits
Delyk PCBs Unique selection of PCBs including an effects tester
General Guitar Gadgets Huge number of PCBs
Musik Ding German based site
Arcadia Electronics Good selection of PCBs with board mounted jacks and footswitch
Muzique A few boost/drive PCBs
Jeds Peds Another UK based company
MadBean Pedals Another great site
Tayda Electronics
Rully Wow
GuitarPCB.com
MusicPCB.com
JMK PCBs
1776 Effets
Pedal Parts and Kits
Lectric FX

Mid Boost/Cut Overdrive

I had the idea that it might be more useful to have an overdrive with a contour control rather than a traditional tone control on it. I found this mid boost/cut circuit and added an overdrive section to it. It’s no the best sounding overdrive in the world, but here’s the schematic and a quick demo.

Mid-Drive

Volume Pedal Ideas

Just a couple of volume pedal ideas I had; To modify something like the Hotone volume/wah, and instead of having it manually switchable between a wah and volume, to use the built in footswitch to determine what mode its in.

1) The first idea I had was to have a volume pedal with a built in footswitch (like a wah). When you use the volume pedal normally its between 0 and unity gain. When you click the footswitch a boost is engaged.

2) The second idea I had was to have a volume pedal/expression pedal in one. It would have in/out jacks for the signal, then and additional TRS jack for expression. When you click the footswitch the pedal changes to become an expression pedal (and the audio signal just goes straight through).

9V 5-10W DIY Guitar Amp (PAM8610 Class D Amplifier Board)

I’ve been wondering about tinkering with a guitar amplifier that runs of a 9V power supply for a while now. I tired a Diago Little Smasher which was loud and great for distorted tones, but not quite loud enough, or enough bass for clean. There are some cheap preassembled boards on eBay using the PAM8610 chip, they rated 10W, but this is probably only at 12V into 4ohm. I got a couple and these are the results:

Summary:
Red board:
– More expensive
– More bass
– Treble roll off
– Quieter (but can be as loud with a boost/preamp before it)
– Smallest enclosure probably a 1590LB

Black board
– Cheaper
– More hum
– Less bass
– More Treble
– Louder (without preamp)
– Smaller, would fit in 1590H enclosure to make a tiny but loud amp!

Overall I think I liked the tone of the red board more, but I’ll probably put both in some projects.

Aldi Crofton Cast Iron Enamel Cookware

I’ve been looking for some non aluminium/non ptfe frying pans for a while. I’ve found stainless steel stick too much, and it’s too hard to keep them seasoned all the time. I also tried ceramic coated stainless steel, but these were expensive and still didn’t last that long.

Eventually realised it’s worth paying for cast iron enamel cookware, but this is normally really pricey. However this week Aldi have their 2015 range of cast iron enamel cookware on special. I ended up getting the 28cm frying pan, 24cm frying pan, 28cm wok and 30cm shallow casserole to add to my two Le Creuset casserole dishes. While the quality is never going to be on par with Le Creuset, they still feel very solid, have stainless steel riveted handles that stay cool, and a decent thickness of enamel.

Cooked with them today, and the surface doesn’t stick too much with some oil. They’re also a little lighter than other cast iron cookware, which is maybe why they’re cheaper. It does make them slightly easier to handle, although their still noticeably heavier than stainless steel or aluminium cookware.

Overall very pleased, and I think they’re worth the money. They should certainly last longer than the ceramic or other nonstick pans I’ve used in the past.

Boutique vs Chinese Made Pedals And Everything In Between

Another one of those contentious topics that seem to have strong supporters on both sides. I can’t change what most people think, but it helps me to just get my ideas out somewhere. Here are a few random ones:

  • Are boutique pedals that much better than mass produced pedals (whether made in the west or in the far east)? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that the price isn’t justified. Labour costs are more in the west, as well as more stringent environmental practices.
  • So is it just ethics and there’s no difference in tone? I would say no to this too. There will be some differences. The amount you pay for a product made in America is also going towards skilled designers that spend more time tweaking a pedal till it sounds good. This not only includes the circuit, but the layout of the PCB, which can affect things too. Some boutique companies also individually test components to find the ones within really tight tolerances.
  • Which should I buy then? Buy what you can afford, support people doing new designs, because part of the cost of the pedal isn’t just the components, but the time taken to design it, which fewer people will do if their designs just get made for cheap in China. Finally think about how a company is treating it’s employees or the environment. There are some places in China where electronics waste is just being dumped, hurting people there, but eventually all of us as it gets into the food chain.
  • Are there any people doing unique designs in China? J. Wong who has worked with many of the well known Chinese brands now has his own pedals with Tone City. Some of these seem to be unique designs. JOYO too seem to have moved on from just copying other designs to some more unique products in recent years.

True Bypass vs Buffered Bypass

Much has been written about this, it seemed that there was a preference for true bypass. This has slowly shifted towards believing buffered bypass results in less “tone suck”. You still see people on forums simply saying one is always better, but it is of course more complicated than that, and you may want one of the other depending on the situation. Here’s my list of reasons why.

Reasons for true bypass:

  • You may want true bypass if the pedal has a bad buffer in it. This seems to have been the problem with lots of BOSS pedals in the 80s and 90s, which is probably why the true bypass fad started.
  • You may want true bypass if you’re putting the pedal before a fuzz or other germanium vintage vintage pedal. These pedals sound classic when they’re working with your pickups impedance, not with the impedance of the output of a buffer.
  • You may want true bypass (or at least analog bypass/dry through) if you have a digital pedal, and find that you don’t like the sound/feel of your signal going through the digital converters.

Reasons for buffered bypass:

  • If you have a good buffer, you may get less loss of high end through long cable runs / multiple pedals.
  • If you have a time based effect like delay or reverb and you want “trails”, the effect to continue till fade out after you turn it off.
  • For things like long press or tap tempo in a single switch (although this is possible with relay true bypass as well).
  • You can have switching with things like MIDI or other remote options (again possible with a relay too).

True single coil and true humbucker in one

It’s been one of my little tone quests to fine a humbucker which has a truly good single coil sound when split. An Idea I had recently though was to combine a true single and a single coil-sized humbucker in one, so that instead of a splitting a humbucker, you’re simply switching between two different pickups in one enclosure. These could have a nickel cover for more of a classic look.

You could even have the single coils as hum cancelling single coils, so that in both modes there is no hum, another problem with conventional coil splitting. I saw this working with something like a Seymour Duncan STK-4 and Lil’ 59, or a Dimarzio Area 67 and Pro Track. Dimarzio did something similar to this with their discontiuned “multibucker” pickups, but that was more like two different humbuckers in one, and the Dimarzio Area series have progressed how good a hum cancelling single coil can sound since then.

I’ve submitted this as an idea to Seymour Duncan’s SDRL:
http://sdrl.seymourduncan.com/comment.php?id=121

dimarzio seymourducan

Update:
I just discovered that Ammoon (a Chinese manufacturer) makes a pickup like this. True single coil and humbucker in one:

As do Warman guitars with their G Rail:
https://www.warmanguitars.co.uk/product/warman-g-rail-hybrid-pickup/