A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I bought a bunch of parts to make a few pedals. Well, I’ve been working on them sporadically and I’m pretty much done. I built 2 Lovepedal COT50 clones, a Marshall Bluesbreaker, a couple of Fuzz Face clones, and I’m still waiting on a PCB for a treble booster.
I’m pretty happy with the COT50. I built one for me and one for a friend and former student of mine who is moving to Singapore. I gave it to him last weekend and he seems to like it so far. I put a volume control at the end of the circuit, because it’s pretty much worthless without one. I used to have an original about a year ago, and it only has one knob to control the gain. It’s kinda like having an amp without a master volume control. The higher the gain, the louder it gets. It was impossible to get unity volume with the rest of the pedals on my board, so I got rid of it even though I liked the overall tone. The volume control makes all the difference in the world.
I have my COT50 boxed up with the Bluesbreaker that I made. I didn’t really set out to do it like this, but I ran out of enclosures, so I just put them together. They actually work pretty well together. I have the COT50 running into the Bluesbreaker, and when they’re both on the COT gives the BB a bit of a push. The BB is vaguely tube screamerish, but I like it a lot more than a TS. It doesn’t really have the mid-hump, but it is somewhat compressed (which is not necessarily a bad thing). The Analogman King of Tone is based on the BB design, and a lot of his modifications have been reverse-engineered and published on various diy pedal forums. I did several of these mods, and I like the results. It has less gain now, but it’s clearer and less compressed than the original. I still prefer the Timmy for low gain overdrive, but the BB gives me a different flavor.
I was less successful with the fuzzes. I built a four knob fuzz on a GGG PCB, and I just can’t get it to sound right. It sounds more like a harsh overdrive than a fuzz. I’m guessing that it’s the transistors. I should probably experiment with some different ones, but I just don’t feel like it. The other fuzz that I built was on a PCB that Maury gave me. He uses it to build The Peach that he sells over at RAILhead Effects. It works great for him, but I couldn’t get it to sound right. Again, I’m guessing that it’s the transistors. I don’t know – maybe I’m just not a fuzz guy.
I tried building a Rangemaster (treble booster clone) a few weeks ago on perfboard. I got it together and checked my work and everything looked ok. I wired it up and it didn’t work. I couldn’t find any mistakes, so I decided to just order a PCB and start over. General Guitar Gadgets was sold out, so I ordered one from Tonepad.com. I had never ordered from them before, but their boards look pretty good, so I gave it a shot. I ordered on Feb. 19th and I got an email on the 25th saying that my order was “being processed and [would ship] soon.” I’m not sure why it took 6 days to respond to my order, but whatever. On March 4th I still hadn’t seen anything, so I shot them an email that simply said “define soon.” They responded yesterday, letting me know that it had (finally) shipped. I’ll believe it when I see it. It was only $11 after shipping, so it’s not a huge deal or anything, but I will never order from Tonepad again. I paid some dude on the internet $20 to etch 2 PCBs for me and he had them to me in like a week and a half.
I have gotten a lot better at putting these pedals together. My first builds were embarrassingly messy inside, but they have gotten cleaner with each attempt. They’re not pro level or anything, but I’m happy with them. Now I just need to learn to do something with the exterior.