Ampeg Sub-Blaster Octave Pedal Rehouse

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by burl0029, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Here it is; my beloved Sub-Blaster. Sounds sweet and looks cool.


    I added an absurdly bright blue LED a few years ago. I'm finally getting around to rehousing it as it's crazy heavy and way too big for the pcb that's inside.

    First a comparison for size. You can see the discrepancy in footprint as well as weight.

    • Ampeg box: 2 lbs 9 oz. – 6.75" x 4.5"

    • Hammond 1590MBK box: 7 oz. – 4.75" x 3.94"

    The 1590M (the extra BK just stands for black finish) is a cool enclosure in that it's just a bit wider than the very common BB size boxes. This was necessary as the pcb is just a hair too wide for the BB boxes.
  2. Here you can see I've already removed the pots.


    They were attached to the board with long metal legs (similar to really old EHX pedals). I clipped the legs off so I can reuse the pots in a tighter space near the top of the box.

    With some very careful measuring and eyeballing, I picked the best location for the jacks to come out of the new box and drilled the holes.


    This pedal uses one of the very common rectangular power jacks, so I drilled a hole just slightly smaller than the rectangle and used a round file to expand it and then a finer triangular file to flatten the edges. The picture makes them look a bit wonky, but they are actually quite flat. The jack doesn't poke all the way through, so I colored the exposed edges black with a sharpie. If I was feeling more industrious I would have used a bit of flat black paint, but I didn't really care enough last night as it was getting late. I could still touch it up at whatever point in the future.

    And now we're up to date. Next I'll be drilling the surface holes for the pots, switch and LED.
  3. lowendgenerator


    Mar 26, 2006
    Cool! At first, I was like, who the hell is "Badwe"? Oops.

  4. I finished up my pedal yesterday (mostly). The only thing I'm waiting on is knobs. You'll see why in a bit.

    Next I drilled the top holes. That went very well with the exception of the last LED hole (left-most of the three grouped together in the middle). Despite using a pilot hole, that one drifted a bit. Fortunately it's not a problem with the design I'm using. More to come on that.


    After a bit of fitting, I confirmed my suspicions that the pots would not fit directly over the top of the jacks. Thankfully, though, I was able to chop and sand them a bit to lower the edges and gain enough clearance for the pots.

  5. Next I installed and wired the pots and LEDs.


    Then I added the foot switch, LED power wire and attached the pot wires to the board.


    And here's a shot with the board installed. That's the red power wire for the LED coming through the standoff hole in the PCB. There's just enough room in there to slide a battery under the board, but I'll never use one, so I just took the battery snap out. It was attached to the board with a nice little plastic clip rather than soldered on, so it would be a quick job to reattach it if I want to in the future.

    For those who are curious, the "missing" chunk of the PCB was attached to the bottom of the original footswitch. The switch and the plastic clip that the ribbon cable attached to were soldered to that mini-PCB. It was a standard DPDT switch and had to be replaced with a 3PDT when I added the LED originally.

  6. Next I did a bit of testing, but it wasn't working quite right. I was getting a crackling sound from the pots and then they quit working completely. I'm not sure what I did to them, but they ended up needing to be replaced. A quick swap for some new pots did the trick and I was back in business.
  7. And here's the final result (sans knobs). The original pots were skinny little knurled split-shaft ones and the new pots are 1/4" solid shaft. I'll need to get some new knobs with set screws. You'll notice the giant washers around the pots; the original case had a silver color as a background for the small pointer on the knobs and I liked the look. It helped set the knobs off from the black case. Depending on what I get for knobs, these may or may not stay.

    Also check out the Ampeg logo over the LEDs. I bought a tiny little metal logo on ebay (I think they were from the Portabass heads). I attached a small bolt to the back of the logo with JB Weld and threaded it into the hole between the LEDs. The LEDs back-light the logo, which is visible enough in normal light and looks really cool in a darker setting. The back of the logo is fairly shiny, but I put a piece of aluminum tape on the back to make it as reflective as possible. You can see at this angle that I also put a small piece of aluminum tape right in between the LEDs to add a little reflective surface to the pedal enclosure.


    And here's a shot with the lights out.


    Overall I'm quite pleased with the result. I'll be sure to post some more pics when I get some knobs on there. I'm waiting to make a big parts order for some other projects I have going.
  8. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    Why the re-house? That a beautiful original case.
  9. Two reasons: I gain enough room to put another small pedal on my board and I shave over two pounds off the weight of my board. The original case is steel whereas the new box is aluminum.
  10. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    cool now you need a custom name like

    Bottled Ass or Super Booty Doody :)
    or Big Black Box thingy ma bob or BBBTMB for short

    and ummm yah can I have your old badwe case...
  11. I stared at this one for a long time before I finally figured it out. I guess owning the pedal and looking at it frequently caused me to never see the upside down name as other letters.
  12. I'll be keeping it just in case. Maybe I'll [gasp] actually sell the pedal at some point and the case would go with it. Or maybe I'll reuse it for something else. I tend to hoard parts like this. They always seem to come in handy at the most random times.
  13. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    yah dude oh snap the light the light

    wheres the knobs MXR Jazz bass style knobs yah yah

    (edit) ah wait the original knobs would look good too
  14. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    VERY cool. i love rehouses that fix weird huge enclosure issues.

  15. Nice. How does it sound? I didn't even know Ampeg did effects.
  16. chicago_mike


    Oct 9, 2007
    Chicago - LA - Rome
    Endorsing Artist : Genz Benz
    I built a clone last year and its one of my fav octave pedals. Even etched the enclosure.

    Added tone controls to both the clean and octave path.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ampeg's effects never sold. They've caught on as cult classics over the years but weren't well appreciated in their day. The Scrambler's their most known pedal.
  18. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    heyyyyy! THERE'S the guy!
  19. Like JimmyM said, they didn't do much. Mine was an ebay special. It was already discontinued when I bought it years ago.

    I think it sounds great. The octave down is the most natural sounding I've heard from a pedal. And by natural I mean it sounds the most like a fretted note. Despite having only the two volume controls, it's quite versatile. I'll post some sound clips when I get a chance. We're taking the kids to the zoo.
  20. I've contemplated doing this myself. What did you use for the tone controls?