Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
In part one I had just begun dabbling with building guitar pedals. Since then I've built my TS808 clone, my DOD 250 clone, and I've also fallen out of love with my LPB-1 Boost clone. I did build the board for another boost circuit, but haven't put it into a housing yet. Since all of that I've also built a MXR Distortion Plus as well as a Marshall Guv'nor clone, with my final officially planned build being a compressor pedal.
I've genuinely had a great time building pedals. I've learned a lot about building pedals and how to fix my own mistakes. As time has passed I find myself worrying less about all the little details and just focusing on putting the parts in the right places and getting it all soldered up. I also find myself building pedals with a bit of a theme. You see, some of my favorite guitarists are Randy Rhoads, Gary Moore, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Yngwie Malmsteen. If you look at the pedals I've built you'll see they reflect pedals famously used by those guitarists. Was this intentional? Yes.
As I said earlier my final planned build is a compressor pedal and a few alternative boards to see if they make the pedals sound cleaner, or better. I will preserve the original boards as parts of my progress in the hobby of guitar pedal building. I have tons of parts left over, so I'm sure I'll find something else I want to build and get back to it, but for now I'm satisfied with what I've built, it's just a matter of making it all work together. Heck, I might even build a Wah pedal. Actually, I really might do that.
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Since I've owned my DOD YJM 308 for so long it began to make me wonder what an original grey DOD 250 sounded like in comparison. Now you can listen to all the youtube videos you want but it's not the same as having them side by side in your personal possession to compare. Since I wouldn't even know where to begin to find one to even borrow I decided I would try my hand at building a clone. I fully understand a clone isn't going to sound exactly like the original, but it should get me somewhere close.
The standard process begins with me looking through layouts online to find one I feel the most comfortable building. Next comes searching for all the parts to put the thing together, followed by cutting down the board and adding the parts, etc. etc. The day came when everything was done. I plugged the pedal in and.. silence. Nothing but pure, low-grade hum and absolutely nothing more. Since the bypass worked I knew it wasn't wired up completely wrong. After checking over it a few times I decided it was best to tear the build all the way back down to the board and test every single component. One at a time.
Since my work station is outside I had a few incidents while testing and rebuilding. First there was a gust of wind that blew some of the parts off the table I work on, losing them forever. Secondly, and this is how the pedal got its name, while doing some soldering I heard a rather loud thud on my table. When I looked up to see what it was, there was a large black wasp with a dead green caterpillar. Omen or miracle? Who knows, but as the original 250 was grey and the clipping on this is rather sharp, like a sting, I figured I would name my build the Grey Wasp.
I have no clue what a real DOD 250 is going to sound like, but after I finally got this thing to work I was rather impressed with how it sounded more or less like the 308. My firm belief is the 308 was focused on helping fans of Yngwie get his tone through a single pedal, instead of being just another 250 pedal clone. If someone really wanted Yngwie's tone they would already own a 250, wouldn't they? Anyhow, since the Grey Wasp does sound fairly similar to the 308, I'll assume that means it sounds fairly close to a grey 250, and I'm ok with that.
|Gutshot: She isn't pretty.|
Friday, August 21, 2020
I can vividly remember having a viral illness in 2004, to the point I felt if I wasn't knocking on death's door it was only because I was too weak to knock. In my illness induced state I was looking for something to watch on television to help get my mind off all the aches and pains, between episodes of being violently ill. It wasn't until I landed on my local PBS that I found something that even remotely caught my interest: A Program About Unusual Buildings and Other Roadside Stuff. As I was still making trips back and forth to the bathroom I couldn't watch it all, but the parts I did catch were very interesting.
Years later I remembered that documentary and decided to try and find it in its entirety. Oddly enough PBS was going to be showing a re-airing of the program later in the week. I waited impatiently each and every day until I could finally watch it completely, without the being violently ill stuff. In its entirety the program kept me entertained, even the bits I had seen previously. At the end of the program I remember PBS doing their donate to get this program on DVD pitch, at least I think it was DVD, but I also believe they were offering more documentaries from Rick Sebak. This brought my my attention the hot dog documentary, the flea market documentary, the amusement park documentary and so many more.
What I believe sets Rick Sebak apart is the flow of the documentaries, his voice and the fun way things are presented and, well.. documented. There is always something to see, the shots never hang too long on something, but it doesn't flash by either. You get a chance to engage your eyes on the subject and study the whole scene while being informed of what's going on.
I've held a short-lived conversation with the man himself over twitter about my belief his documentaries are blu-ray and even Netflix worthy. I understand they are primarily made for his local PBS station, but I do enjoy his documentaries to the point I will occasionally drop a few titles randomly in a conversation. I couldn't do that with a History Channel documentary about storming the beaches at Normandy, but I can about amusement parks, hot dogs, oddly shaped buildings, flea markets, great pies, great bakeries, great breakfasts and tons of other feel-good subjects that are well documented by Rick Sebak.
I know these documentaries have helped me get through rough times in the past. They always feel like something to brighten your day, or put a little sunshine in your rain soaked afternoon. I wish I had access to all of his documentaries but it seems PBS has kept a tight lock on them. There are many others I haven't seen such as the cemetery special. Some can be found online, while others can't. I'm hoping soon to see them popping up, officially, online so that they are all available for everyone to enjoy his work.
Now the year is 2020 and things have moved on quite a bit. Other than wiring the project was done, but I just simply can not get over that hole in the center. Yeah, I hate it too, believe me. I had high hopes for this one, but it's that damn hole in the center. Sure I could plug it up, but I just don't think it would ever look right. So what am I suppose to do now? Well I've already made an A/B pedal. It's not the A/B/Y I wanted, but it's something I built myself, it's functional and it will get me close enough to where I wanted to be, all in an extremely small form factor. Not only did I scrap the original project, this article right here has been in draft form for over three years. Don't believe me? Take a look.
|And that's just the last modified date,|
not when I originally started.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
The next thing I needed to do was find the easiest pedal to build and see if my parts bin had what I needed. After some research I found the Bazz Fuss seemed to be the easiest guitar pedal to build, and my parts bin had pretty much everything I needed, except not the exact same transistor. After throwing the pedal together I tested it out and even though I actually despise Fuzz as an effect I was pretty impressed. After tossing the thing into an old Sucrets tin I decided to call my creation "Fuzzy Throat".
While fiddling with my Fuzzy Throat pedal I somehow managed to ruin the diode, which turned it into essentially a boost pedal. Before I replaced the diode I played around with it as it was and decided it was time for me to build my first boost pedal. The circuit I ended up settling on was a clone of the Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 pedal. Four resistors, two capacitors and a transistor all put together from the layout I found online and I somehow managed to build an amazing boost that could lower the volume, boost the volume as well as throw my amp into overdrive. Again, I used transistors I had laying around, but the pedal works and I made sure to use sockets so I could swap out transistors.
Although I live with many things in my life I wished I had done, or done earlier, at least I finally managed to build some guitar pedals for myself. I'm also extremely glad that I fixed my Kalamazoo so I could test these pedals through a genuine tube amp. With the world being paused momentarily while we sort through many hardships in the year 2020, I'm glad I finally took the time to try something I had always wanted to do. Now that it's finally started I hope that it doesn't stop any time soon, and I hope this also opens the door to completing other things in my life I've left blowing in the breeze.
|Two different Bazz Fuss builds.|
Note the use of completely different parts
to see what sounded best.
Recently I purchased some 1590b style enclosures from Amazon (my first attempts at using real enclosures to house my pedals) and I'm actually quite happy with the results. I had previously purchased a 1590a style enclosure, but since I couldn't build a circuit small enough to fit inside comfortably I decided to just turn it into an A/B line selector. At this point I've created two fuzz pedals, although I'm not finished tinkering with the way I build and modify the circuits so I can get the most out of them, as well as two EHX LPB-1 boost clones and the aforementioned A/B line selector. Once I create a fuzz circuit that I like I will use my final 1590b enclosure for that.
|From Left to Right: A/B Line Selector, EHX LPB-1 Clones|
with blue and orange LED, Joy Fuzzer (play on Joy Buzzer)
and finally Fuzzy Throat.
Sunday, June 7, 2020
I knew I wanted quality wood and a close match in color, so that meant nearly every Squier on the market at that time was out of the question. Internet research lead me to RondoMusic.com where I found the SX SST57, an alder bodied guitar that was available in what the site listed as a vintage white. Reviews for this guitar seemed extremely favorable and for $100 I almost couldn't turn it down. On the site, the contrast between the white pickguard (triple ply too!) and the so called vintage white was exactly what I was looking for. It looked as close to Yngwie's buttercream as you could possibly get. What arrived was a dented, slightly piss yellow mixed with pure white colored strat with a neck more orange than an Oompa Loompa's dick.
After sitting down with it for a while I didn't really hate the guitar, but there were quite a few problems with it that needed addressed before this guitar would become anything near what I envisioned. However, the more I played it the more I liked it and the more frustrated I became due to the color being completely wrong. The idea of having to repaint it, swap out the neck and replacing all the electronics actually turned me off to the point I used that to rationalize leaving it the way it was. I had grown to love this guitar for what it was, as it was. It's not a top notch Stratocaster by any means but I've since played both Squier and MIM Fender strats that didn't feel as good as the SST57.
Ten years have passed and I recently acquired a Squier neck with the CBS headstock, which I felt would breathe new life into the YJM on a Budget. Sadly, a huge gap in the neck pocket is just too big for me to use anything other than the original neck. That has officially sealed the fate of this guitar. Instead of using this as my YJM clone I'll just be upgrading parts and trying to make this thing a good, cheap strat clone. Sometimes, when the light hits it just right, the paint does seem to be more yellow than it was all those years ago but still not enough to change my mind. I did swap out the bridge for an official Fender PW-29 but the zinc block made the guitar sound way too thin compared to the smaller steel block it originally had. There is also a noticeable gap between the Fender trem and the body, which the original one covered. I like the look of the official trem, but not the tone of the zinc block or the huge gap it won't hide.
|Squier neck on SX body.|
That gap is far too big to make it work
For now Operation Yngwie on a Budget has been put on hold. I've thought about finding a candy apple red strat body to pair with the Squier neck, as well as using the PW-29 tremolo, to make a clone of the lesser desired CAR Yngwie Signature model. With some DiMarzio HS3s and the right electronics I think it would make a suitable clone for myself. I may even dabble in scalloping the Squier neck, but all those are just plans right now as I focus more on dialing in the SST57 to be a good stratocaster clone.
Another investment I bothered to dabble in was comic books. While not a comic book reader myself I had heard much the same thing about comic books as I did about sports cards. For a very brief time I purchased them in large packs sold by Toys R Us to flesh out some semblance of a collection. I even bought those little bags to keep them all in and bought some cheap, dollar store backing to keep them from creasing in the bags. Like I said that was a very brief endeavor as I soon sold all my comic books off to a friend who originally inspired me to start collecting them in the first place. From what I remember I may have made $5 profit selling these to my friend, if that.
The one thing I did collect that no one ever really saw coming was video games. Now I'm not going to lie and say I saw the trend coming, because I didn't. I sold and traded away games I didn't play for games I would play more often, even if they were for a 10 year old system. So I just kept the games that appealed to me and most of them are still with me to this day, over 20 years later. As a kid I remember buying games from other kids who were more than happy to fork over NES games for super cheap because they thought they were junk and just taking up space in their closet. I, however, was overjoyed to be playing any video game whatsoever.
I think the view on video games at the time was that they were a fad and not something that would become the mainstay they are today. Video game consoles came and the old ones were pushed aside or thrown in the trash. Nobody knew, nobody cared. Moreover look at consoles that failed like the NES top loader that was sold in small quantities because the SNES was already out and not many people wanted to go backwards in technology. Or even the Virtual Boy, which failed altogether just based on itself. Nobody knew the failures of the past would be so highly desirable in the future.
I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self and tell myself that video games are going to be worth a lot of money, and they're an even more fun hobby than sports cards. Trade off those sports cards in the peak of their value and invest that money toward video games, because by the time you're in your late 30's your closet will have a lot of worthless sports cards because you sat too long on the egg and it never hatched.