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Building your own effects

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by degroove, Mar 12, 2003.


  1. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    First, I need some reassurance!

    I have No electrical experience whatsoever. I have been reading books on guitar electronics, visiting sites about electric theory, and bought myself a multimeter.

    I ordered a book called Electronics by Harry Kybett.

    I will next get a soldering iron. What other tools will I need?

    My questions to Do-it-yourselfers - is this seemingly technical task doable if I am willing to learn about how this stuff works?

    Are effects very complicated?
    And
    What are good ones to start with. I know of Aaron's DIY page.Lots of good stuff.
     
  2. bassackwards

    bassackwards Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    OREGON
    http://www.paia.com
    They have kits and a good book on how to build them. I made the Bass Fuzz and it works real good and was pretty easy to make.
     
  3. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    WAYY COOL. ABout $30 for the Bass Fuzz.

    How did it sound? Would you recommend the book
    Electronic Projects for Musicians Book?

    Thanks :bassist:
     
  4. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    I started off just building effects for myself, then word got round and it's almost become a mini home industry.
    Finished a "fuzz face" clone for a gu***rist yesterday,delivered it to him at a rehearsal last night.
    Sounded incredible!
    Go for it, you'll get a lot of satisfaction from it.
    You are lucky being in the U.S. - you can get ready made printed circuit boards from various websites. - I have to make them myself!
    :eek:
    www.lazyfinger.com is good for pcb artwork and layouts.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I remember there used to be a UK magazine called "Electronics and Music Maker" and when I was much younger and poorer it seemed like a really good idea to get a soldering iron and make stuff - I tried several of their projects.

    So, I spent ages on these projects and never got one to work - I ended up spending loads of money on these, which would have paid many times over for the cheap effects pedals, which I never managed to complete - in fact, I could have bought them "used" for a fraction of what I spent!! :D
     
  6. bassackwards

    bassackwards Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    OREGON
    It sounds really good. I've still never got around to mounting it in the housing I made for it, that's the only reason I don't use it frequently. The circuit is very similar to an Ibanez Tube Screamer, so it would be easy to mod to your own specifications later on when you get more into it. I'll try to post some samples of it within a couple days. I made a pretty cool enclosure for it that says "Hairy Bottom by Ghetto-Sonic Industries", I just have to get around to mounting it. I finally got a true-bypass switch for it, so I'll get around to it any day now. I do recomend the book by Craig Anderton that PAiA sells. It really helped me and is a good reading/reference for anyone who wants to know the basics of electronics. The hardest part for some is the actual soldering. I've been soldering since I was 10 years old, so it wasn't a problem for me, but I've seen some people give up just because they couldn't solder acurately and they get frustrated. So, if you don't have much soldering experience, you might want to practice a little. It's really worth it though and it's definitely a good learning experience, on any account. I couldn't believe it when I plugged it all in and it worked great on the first time and actually sounded good!
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - if you've been soldering for 10 years !!

    I think this was my problem - I still have a project that cost loads of money and never worked - it was a device that connected up to 10 pitch/voltage analogue synths to your home computer.

    I showed it to somebody who knws about this and he mentioed how my soldering wasn't up to much - dry joints or something - but I practiced for ages!!

    Not 10 years though..... ;)
     
  8. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Any recommendations on how to practice the art of soldering? Other than trial and error on my projects;)

    Oh - my girlfriends dad repairs old radios and knows how to solder. Is it useful for someone to teach you rather than reading and trying.
     
  9. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    Yep,
    Good soldering skills are essential, not only to prevent "dry" joints but also some components don't like too much heat!
    I worked for Marshall for a couple of years when I left school (MANY years ago) it taught me a lot!
    My best advice is start with something really simple like a small pre amp or 2 transistor "Fuzz".
    Like Bass playing, the only way to improve your soldering is to practice!
    One tip though, ALWAYS make sure that what you are soldering to is clean,grease free and shiny(no oxide!) you will be amazed at what a difference it will make.

    And here is a useful link:
    http://www.aaroncake.net/electronics/solder.htm
     
  10. bassackwards

    bassackwards Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    OREGON
    I agree. The hardest part of the bass fuzz I made was soldering the IC chip. Mine even had an adapter made out of another piece of PC board that I had to solder onto it first and then solder the whole thing on the main PC board. If I had not had previous soldering experience, I doubt if it would have turned out so well. My previous soldering was limited to old-fashioned radio kits and various RadioShack projects that I did when I was a kid. The Bass Fuzz was the first time I'd mounted an IC chip. They can be tricky because you don't want to get them hot, you definitely have to use a heat sink and work quickly, yet acurately. So I guess my point is, I agree that a 2-transistor fuzz (ala Fuzz Face) is the best to start with. Then, you can just put it into a shiny-painted little Hammond-enclosure and stencil a name like "Cream Wizard" on it and charge a guitar player 180.oo for it :D . I never like the way a Fuzz-Face circuit sounds on bass. Oh yeah Bruce, I think you got a little ahead of yourself. That's a complicated project to start with. It's good that you can read those type of schematics, but soldering is an art unto itself!
     
  11. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    And here's something to get you going ....

    Change the input cap from 1.0 uf to 3.3 uf and it sounds great on bass!
     
  12. bassackwards

    bassackwards Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    OREGON
    HEY!!! They stole my schematic for the "Cream Wizard"!!!
    :D









    Seriously, that's a really good, easy to understand one to start with and practice your soldering skills. If you use Germanium transistors, careful not to heat those little sonsabiches up! Germanium is temperature sensitve.
     
  13. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Is there a "rule of thumb" for modding guitar schematics to bass?

    For instance, you mentioned increasing the input cap to make it sound good on bass.

    What changes affect the frequency at which the effect will work?
     
  14. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    In general, increasing the value of the input cap has the effect of cutting the upper frequency response = mo ' bass!
     
  15. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Cool. Thanks!

    <scribbling down notes furiously>

    :cool:
     
  16. degroove

    degroove

    Jun 5, 2002
    Wilmington, DE
    Low Pass Filter as another option - Sweet!

    You guys are incredibly helpful!

    :)