The birth of a DIY guitar FX pedal

So I recently decided I’d try my hand at building my own guitar pedal. It went pretty well and I’m really impressed with it. It...

So I recently decided I’d try my hand at building my own guitar pedal. It went pretty well and I’m really impressed with it. It really is as amazing-sounding and versatile as they claim. Flippin’ amazing!

It’s based on the vintage TS-808 Tubescreamer for it’s main overdrive circuit but has incorporated many tons of the mods that people made to them back in the day. 

For those interested in how it sounds. Check out this youtube review by Gearmanndude (is it Jack Black? — who knows?!)…

For those of you who don’t care too much for sound but can’t resist a good ol’ DIY project and want to buy one and have a crack at it check the BYOC website.

There are a few things I love about this pedal. It’s just so darn customisable. For instance:

  • The IC is socketted and the kit comes with 2 ICs:
    • A Burr Brown OPA2134 for a real boutique tone
    • A JRC4558D for the authentic TS-808 tone
  • A second boost channel that can either be build silicon-based or MOSFET-based

  • 3-way clipping switch for the main OD channel:
    • Silicon clipping
    • LED clipping
    • No clipping - let you sweet-ass valve amp do all the hard work :)
  • 3-way EQ switch for full, fat, or normal tone

    They even use trimpots in the circuitry for the tone-critical components rather than standard resistors so you can tweak the parameters for the TS circuit

  • It’s true-bypass — for all those who like to keep their tone pure ;)

So… let the journey commence.

Ah yes, every project must start with the standard stock-check!

Trimester #1 — PCB population

Trimester #2 — Enclosure mounting and 3PDT wiring

Trimester #3  — It comes alive…. mwahahahaa

Conclusions

After all this did it work? Well, no.

Well, kind of. It worked but only with the 9V battery and not the mains so a bit of debugging and I fixed it.

So basically - after much burning of fingers and inhalation of solder fumes I know have this pedal! I have to say it is amazing and is kinda making me a little upset about how much I may have spent on it’s neighbour whom it’s now putting to shame. Whole hartedly recommend doing this for anyone who satisfies the following criteria.

  • You actually want a sweet boutique pedal but can’t cough up big $$

  • You can get your hands on a decent soldering iron, snips & FLUX(!)

  • You have some patience and some vague competence

All in all, it’s been a fun experience and one that I will definitely try again.

Blackpool-born & Cambridge-based. Full-time hacker & Part-time consumer of Dr. Pepper.

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