Working at Pedal Finder and being around everything pedal, day in and day out, really starts to get your mind into new spaces. Sure, prior to getting into Pedal Finder, I was a fan of effects pedals. I thought I understood the basic tones and I had my favorite boxes. But then, I started to sift through builder after builder, finding new ones I never knew about and discovering the larger differences between tones I’d always thought were basically the same. Every day here I find something new. And that’s the best thing about Pedal Finder. Exploring and discovering new tones based on your own personal preferences.
During my time here, I’ve also come to learn a bit more about what goes on inside the boxes we love to obsess about. I’m by no means a competent small electronics repairman, but I understand the basic components inside common effects units better than I did a few years ago. However, in an effort to learn more about the how and the whys of guitar effects, I finally broke down and ordered a kit of my own to put together.
From my research on the internet, forums and friends, I discovered that tackling a basic fuzz circuit seemed like a good first attempt. It’s not hard to find DIY pedal kits on the internet. Some of the more popular places I found were over at General Guitar Gadgets, Build Your Own Clone and Mammoth Electronics. These places all carry a wide array of circuits. I ended up ordering a Germanium Fuzz Face Clone. It just arrived and I’ve only begun to peek at the pieces inside. More on that at another time.
In my research, I found that the first real step in DIY Pedal Building is to create a pseudo Beavis Board work station to make all that ‘learning’ easier. If you haven’t ever seen one, a Beavis Board is a compilation of breadboards, inputs and outputs specifically designed to make building and testing pedals less time consuming and more predictable. It allows you to prototype the pedal outside the enclosure to make sure it works the way you want it to, before you cram it all inside a box. The Beavis Board is no longer in production and DIYers have instead turned to making their own. I imagine that every effects studio and successful commercial builder has their own Beavis-like boards that they use to get through the proto-process.
In fact, up above is a picture that the folks at Pigtronix posted of the setup they use to test out pedals outside the box. From the picture you can see the 9 volt dangling off the end, with the snap on pots and 1/4 inch jacks loosely attached. In the center of all that is some kind of circuit certain to make us all drool. It’s an exciting picture and a fun glimpse into what makes guitar effects so easy to obsess over. Because at the end of the day pedal building is part science, part magic and when you begin to understand even a fraction of either you become part scientist, part magician. And, seriously, who could pass up on that!
Let us know about your beavis-like boards, your projects, your failures and your successes.