An important part of picking another effects pedal to build, for me, is always audio research. I listen to online reviews of the genuine pedal over and over again so I get an idea of what it should sound like once I've built my clone circuit. Most of the time a pedal circuit sounds close enough to what I was aiming for, but when a pedal build doesn't turn out the way I was hoping, I turn to the layout website comments to seek answers. My latest build came about because I was super impressed with the Silver Jubilee model in my brother's Marshall Code 100H he let me borrow. I know the Marshall Code has to go back eventually, but I still want to have that sound available, so I figured building a pedal to sound like that would be my best option.
The circuit in question is the Lovepedal Jubilee, and the issue I'm having seems to be a widespread complaint for not just this particular layout, but every layout cloning the circuit. On initial testing the pedal sounded fantastic, but I fear that was clouded in the fog of excitement that rolls through my mind when a pedal build works the first time. After playing it more, and testing it with various guitars, I noticed there is a muddiness that detracts from the overall clarity that I don't remember being a part of the reviews I had seen. This issue was exacerbated by the fact I built the pedal many months after having listened to any of the reviews, therefore voiding any recollection of whether this was how the genuine pedal sounded or not.
At this point I had a few choices, I could either leave the pedal as it was and just deal with it, or I could do a handful of suggested mods to make the pedal, what most people who have built it seem to find, more useful. I actually chose to revisit the audio research stage and see if the genuine pedal sounded like my clone. Now these are youtube videos of people playing the real pedal, and what I do is wear one headphone while playing my homemade circuit set to the same settings they use, to see what differences I can detect. Clearly this isn't 100% scientific, but it's a good enough reference. It only took one video for me to detect the muddiness that I was hearing in my circuit from the genuine pedal. So what do I do now?
Well I continued my audio research, and I also continued to hear the same muddiness from the genuine pedal in other reviews. Then I found a video from Anderton's, from six years ago, where they were testing the Lovepedal JTM and Jubilee. During the review Mick is playing a Fender Custom Shop Michael Landau 1963 Signature Strat and declares: "A bit more bottom coming out of this strat, which is weird, or maybe it's just a bit muddier.", while playing the Lovepedal JTM, but when the pedal is turned off the strat rings like a bell. Again, this isn't exact science, but my assumption is that, to an extent, Lovepedal's amps in a box style pedals may just be inherently muddy. The same occurred in another review comparing the Purple Plexi to the Jubilee, where both of these pedals lacked a bit of clarity, but oddly enough the Jubilee was less muddy than the Purple Plexi.
For a final time I will admit this is not scientific, this is not written in stone, this is just the way I personally test my pedals alongside pedals I do not own and can not A/B in person. So let's assume I am right, and the genuine Lovepedal Jubilee is muddy and lacking a bit of clarity, what should I do with the clone circuit I've built? Should I leave it as is to emulate the genuine pedal, or should I modify it to what everyone else who has built one seems to think is a more pleasing version? Well, when I decided to build a pedal after the audio research stage, that's really the ideal result I'm after, for better or worse. The genuine pedal isn't bad, nor is the clone circuit I've built, it simply is what it is.
Now, let's assume I'm wrong and the compression of youtube, my headphones, and the lack of frequency reception within my old ears are giving me a false sense of what this pedal should be. If I were able to A/B them in person and find out my clone sounds like a speaker in a lake compared to the genuine pedal, what would I do then? Well, maybe then I would consider the mods to see where that might get me, but I doubt it would be that drastic of a change from review video to A/B them in person. I could be wrong about that as well.
For myself, the point is I want what I hear from the review videos, and that's what I tend to aim for. Naturally a lot of my pedals are built using liberal substitutions as I don't always have the exact part on hand to build that circuit, so sometimes good enough is truly good enough. I know I've tested many different transistors in different pedals, to give myself a more pleasing sound, but generally they still tend to sound around about the same as what I heard in the audio reviews I used to inspire the build in the first place. I think the final test will be testing this pedal against the Marshall Code's Silver Jubilee to see if I can match the pedal with the amp. I might be completely wrong on all fronts, but if I can still dial in something that sounds good using the pedal as it is, that's all that matters. I aimed to build what I heard from the handful of reviews I watched, and having rewatched them now and compared it to what I built I believe I've achieved what I set out to do.
After testing the pedal against the Marshall Code, granted this is modelling vs pedal, they don't sound exactly the same, but I could dial in them close enough and find what I like. The pedal has more treble and is still a bit more muddy than the amp, but I still believe that may just be the nature of the pedal circuit. If I could stage one complaint it would be the noise that comes from the pedal circuit, but it is high gain. Overall I think if I were to fix or modify this pedal in any way it would be to reduce the background noise. Final verdict: The circuit, although a bit muddy, is still very useable and sounds fantastic, to me at least. My build will stay the way it was built.