Tools for building effects pedals

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Seten, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. Seten


    Jun 8, 2014
    Columbus, Ohio
    E.g. soldering iron and similar. What kind would you recommend, and what else do I need to go with the soldering iron?
  2. iggy


    Jan 3, 2006
    soldering iron, solder lead, transistors, capacitors, transducers, transvestites and brains:)
  3. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    TB is a great forum (I've been reading and posting here for 12 years tomorrow, wow!) but I really believe a dedicated DIY forum is a better resource for DIY topics. DIYStompboxes is a massive treasure-trove of information, and the people there are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Quick tip though, the search there is limited so instead try searching Google like this:

    soldering station recommendations

    Lots of great discussions come up and I recommend reading those to get the full scoop. Depending on how many pedals you plan to build/how much you want to spend, perhaps take a look at this:

    Anything cheaper is going to be all over the place with temperature, take a long time to heat up and be uncomfortable to hold for long periods. Obviously you can go way more expensive but I don't think the difference between that Aoyue and something fancier is going to be noticeable until further down the line if you develop other preferences.
    Seten likes this.
  4. jwr


    Jun 28, 2010
    Overland Park, KS
    I would stress this point. A GOOD SOLDERING IRON. Don't cheap out on one because it is literally the most important thing you can buy.

    A multimeter is a must
    Solder and solder sucker (seriously)

    Many, many things.

    Also check this thread as well
    gregmon79 and nshuman like this.
  5. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
    A good soldering iron is essential. I have ordered two of the Xytronic LF-389D (60W) $52, two LF-369D (45W) $49 stations and I am happy with all of them.


    Xytronic is a Japanese company and the tips are just as good as some of the high end units I have worked with over the years from Hakko and Weller. These Xytronics hold the tip temperature very constant. For the few extra dollars that the 60W LF-389D cost over the 45W... I would get the 60W. 60W is better for when you have to solder to larger heat sinks, like connecting ground wires to pot shells, because it has the power to hold the temperature. The only draw back that I can see with these units is that the iron is hardwired to the base, but I have an older analog Xytronic that I have used constantly since 2007 without any issues.

    Also, use the brass shaving tip cleaner with any solder iron you end up with. It will greatly extend the tip life.

    Darkglass and nshuman like this.
  6. LEDs so that you can tell if the darn thing is on or off ;)
  7. Kamatori


    Jan 20, 2012
    If you're designing your own circuits, breadboards, a function generator, a power supply, and an oscilloscope would come in very handy.

    If you're using someone elses design along with a parts list and a PCB, a soldering station and accessories is needed. Keep in mind any chassis work.

    If you're using a parts list, a circuit diagram, and a blank circuit board, a breadboard and lots of wire would be a good idea.
  8. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Knowledge, the best tool ever fashioned.

    For example:

  9. Raf Seibert

    Raf Seibert

    Dec 16, 2013
    In a recent thread, there was a link to a series of videos by a very experienced pedal maker giving details of what equipment is needed, where to buy it, and how to use it.

    There is a wealth of great information here. Watch all the videos, and take notes!

  10. One of the better pedal forums -
  11. nshuman


    Sep 4, 2012
    Hakko has also had some very aggressive sales in 2014 on their more recent entry unit (FX-888D). Check out their online dealers like

    You can get some pretty great deals sometimes.
  12. Seten


    Jun 8, 2014
    Columbus, Ohio
    Thanks to everyone! I'll be off for Christmas today but when I get back I'll check out everything you all mentioned :)
  13. friendlybass


    Jul 19, 2012
    Drill press! For milling the boxes.
  14. nshuman


    Sep 4, 2012
    Dremel also if you will be etching your own PCBs.
  15. Seten


    Jun 8, 2014
    Columbus, Ohio
    Sorry for the late question, but I plan to start on simple premade pedal kits, and then go on to a parts list/circuit diagram, and then start to build my own circuits. What exactly is a breadboard, and where can I get one?
  16. boomertech

    boomertech Frank Appleton Commercial User

    Apr 8, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Designer/Owner of FEA Labs
  17. Darkglass

    Darkglass Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 10, 2008
    Helsinki, Finland
    Douglas Castro, Founder:
    We use those as well!
    Seten and boomertech like this.
  18. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    I highly recommend a STEP DRILL for drilling enclosures.
  19. P-oddz


    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    I watched through these videos just yesterday - very informative if you've got some time to sit down and watch them (and don't mind the ums and uhs)

    If you click back to the YouTube link of the video - there is a whole series and you can see a what this guy uses.

  20. Corey Y

    Corey Y Guest

    Jun 3, 2010
    I actually don't even build pedals anymore, I was never much good at it, but I have a friend who is great at it and I've watched him and talked to him about it A LOT. Besides all the parts and such, here's what I've learned from him about what's useful for pedal building:

    - Variable heat soldering iron (with stand)
    - Hands free clamp (usually two alligator clips on a base, cheap and very useful)
    - Some sort of desoldering equipment (braid, sucker bulb, whatever)
    - Power drill with stepped metal cutting bits (for drilling enclosures)
    - A decent, simple multi-bit hand screwdriver (the type that have a big and small philips and flat head usually is fine)
    - Wire stripper/cutter
    - long tweezers or small needle nose pliers.
    - Some sort of non-flammable mat (cutting mats work nicely), so you don't ruin your dining room table or desk.

    There's some more, but mostly it breaks down to household stuff (sponge or paper towels to wet for cleaning the soldering iron, a printer for making decals, stuff like that). I'm sure you could get much more involved, if you're doing decals, etching your own circuit boards, painting enclosures and those types of thing. The hands free clamps seem the most useful to me, I saw a lot of awkwardness before those were on hand.