Introduction: Boss FS-6 Clone: Build Your Own

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: Build Your Own

This is an explanation of how to create your own Boss FS-6 footswitch.

Most Roland guitar amplifiers and many Boss effect pedals require a footswitch in order to be used to their full potential. However, the only branded product is the Boss FS-6 (or FS-5). This is a fine product; high quality, sturdy and very useful. The FS pedals have 2 major drawbacks. The first is that they are expensive. The second, and to me the most important, is that they are HUGE!

This first became an issue for me when I got my Boss RC-3 Loop Station (shout-out to my beautiful wife Angela for the awesome Christmas present). In order to make the most of this looper you need a double footswitch. On a pedalboard, the FS-6 takes up 2 times the space of the Loop Station itself. Well, that dog just don't hunt.

So, I began doing some research, and some shopping, and decided to go my own way. Here is how I did it...

Step 1: Boss FS-6 Clone: Materials

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: Materials

Here is what you will need:

From MammothElectronics.com:
1. 2 DPDT Momentary switches #800-1001, $3.90 ea.
2. 2 SPDT Shorty Toggle switches #800-1008, $1.78 ea.
3. 2 Shorty Toggle switch covers #, $801-T2-0001, $0.30 ea.
4. 1 1/4 in. stereo jack #610-1001, $0.70
5. 1 Enclosure #500-1000, $9.07, with choice of color

From Ace Hardware (if you are bothering to read this article, you likely have these things in your garage):
1. Quality soldering iron
2. Red & Black wire
3. Wire clippers
4. I also highly recommend springing for a soldering station. If you are into this kind of thing you will get your money's worth over time.


Step 2: Boss FS-6 Clone: the Plan

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: the Plan

This is the schematic for the footswitch we are going to build.

The basics:
You need the footswitches to be DPDT (Double-pole, Double-throw) and the toggle to be SPST (on-off-on). This allows the footswitch to be switched between 'normally open' or 'normally closed'. My RC-3 Loop Station needs 'normally closed', but since we are trying to make a solid clone, we want it to be able to switch like the FS-6.

The FS-6 itself uses sliding switches, which are elegant, but ultimately very challenging to execute neatly in a home workroom, so it's toggles for us. Be sure you buy the short toggles so they are not in the way when you step on the footswitch.

You also need the DPDT switch to be momentary, meaning that it doesn't latch when you press it. It opens, sends the signal, then closes again. Here we can not match the FS-6. The original Boss can be switched to be latching or non-latching.

Final note on the switches: I recommend the x-wing style soldering lugs for the switch. It gets pretty tight inside the enclosure, so you will need a low profile.

Next, we need a 1\4 in. stereo jack, also called TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) in order to accommodate 2 switches. You can also use this footswitch for a device that only has one lead. In that case, only the switch wired to the tip will be active.

Finally, you need your enclosure. If you are unable to download the real schematic from this site, you should be able to copy over the dimensions and details to some graph paper, or use Visio like I did. I bought my enclosure from MammothElectronics.com, where you can order them already painted. Awesome.

Step 3: Boss FS-6 Clone: Soldering Switches and Toggles

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: Soldering Switches and Toggles

Alright, let's get busy.

1. Cut wires
a. 2 x 2.5 in. red
b. 2 x 2.5 in. black
c. 2 x 5 in. red
d. 2 x 5 in. black

2. Solder
a. small red to top of switch and top of toggle
b. small black to bottom of switch and bottom of toggle
c. long black to middle of toggle
d. long red to middle of switch

Step 4: Boss FS-6 Clone: Soldering the Stereo (TRS) Jack

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: Soldering the Stereo (TRS) Jack

Now we will complete this circuit with the stereo jack.

1. Solder
a. wrap the end of the two black wires together
b. solder black wires to the Sleeve lug (ground)
c. solder red wire 1 to the Tip lug
d. solder red wire 2 to the Ring lug

Step 5: Boss FS-6 Clone: the Enclosure

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: the Enclosure

This is the cool part that everyone will see, so be careful.

First, tape your template to the enclosure with some masking tape. Take your time to make sure it is on perfectly straight. Cover the whole paper with the tape to prevent scratching with your drill.

Drill the holes:
1. Switch holes - 1/2 in. bit
2. Toggle holes - 7/32 in. bit
3. Jack hole - 1/4 in. bit

Don't get crazy with the drill. Use a fast, but controllable speed. Make sure your bit is centered on the schematic. Start slow to make a small dent to guide you in for the big finish. Take it easy. If you botch it here, you will be unhappy, and if you think like me, will soon be ordering up a new enclosure to try again.

Once the holes are drilled, use an air canister and blow out any metal shards. Then remove the tape, and blow out any left over shards. Don't wipe, you don't want to scratch that finish now after having been so careful with the drill.

Step 6: Boss FS-6 Clone: Assemble

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: Assemble

Now we put it all together.

Take a close look at the space you have. Plan it out by bending the wires around neatly before actually installing in the enclosure. When you are set, install and tighten down the nuts. Make sure you have the washers in the right place, or you might short out your circuit.

Once installed, have another look at your wires. Arrange them so they are out of the way of each other, and so they look pretty. When you are satisfied, attach the bottom panel and screw it home.

Step 7: Boss FS-6 Clone: Finish

Picture of Boss FS-6 Clone: Finish

Congratulations! You have just created a very stylish, compact and functional, dual momentary, normal open/normal closed, Boss FS-6 Clone, footswitch!

I hope you had fun with this project. I did. Now, plug in and go Rock & Roll.

Comments

hobbyguitar (author)2015-04-18

Great write up! only issue i ran into... my drill bits were too small on 1/4" and 7/32" so had to use the next size up but all works great. tip: saved a few dollars by buying the unpainted enclosure and no worries scratching it. Fun project took me about 3 hrs. Thanks again.

hobbyguitar (author)hobbyguitar2015-04-18

Ps. Use it on a Roland ac-33 amp to switch looper.

cyrusbrooks (author)hobbyguitar2017-09-05

I only hesitated to start this project because I might have an amp problem. I have a Roland AC-33 and have a Berhinger FS112 pedal. It works with Boss VE-5 switching the loop on and off. But it doesn't work with the AC-33. I can't understand. I heard maybe it was "polarity" problem and it didn't have a polarity switch so I used a TRS female to RCA female and reversed RCA male to TRS male to switch polarity. And even made a TRS cable which reversed the tip and ring. But in the end, none of them worked. A mono TS cable and sustain pedal can switch on the record/overdub/play function, but I can't get any pedal to switch the stop/clear functions. Only pressing the button on the amp itself with my finger. So I wonder if there is a problem with my amp or should I buy Boss FS-6? I prefer a lighter pedal for street performance. How do I find out what's wrong before I start this project?

palum (author)cyrusbrooks2017-10-16

Technically it is very easy. I have the same problem with the two devices. But I have a working solution with two fs-5u and a Y-cable. So it was easy to find the reason. The behringer is a NO-switch (Normally Open). But the AC-33 needs a NC-switch (Normally Closed). Fs-5u has the toggle switch (polarity) to change this feature. I hope it is possible to modify the behringer in this way.

Chrisf301 (author)cyrusbrooks2017-09-28

did you ever figure this out? I have a similar M-Audio thing that won't work with a Roland GR-30 that also uses these, the 6 or two 5's with a try splitter to connect them. Thanks

bvtin (author)2017-08-19

Just a question : What is the difference between the FS-5L and this FS-6 ? Is it possible to use it with an old OD-2r ? thanks a lot

Chrisf301 (author)bvtin2017-09-28

The 5L means it has a latching switch. On click off. These are u or unlatching meaning momentary on or off.

Schtephe (author)2017-09-05

Am I missing the power supply here? FS6 required its own battery no?

Schtephe (author)Schtephe2017-09-05

Not necessary without LEDs???

bvtin (author)2017-08-19

Hello, I own an old OD-2r pedal. The manual said it needs a FS-5L (wich seems to be more simple) .

is it possible to use this FS-6 with it ?

Thanks a lot

jrk373 (author)bvtin2017-08-19

The short answer is, I don't know. However, it's a pretty basic circuit? I suspect that it would. To know for sure, I would take your pedal to you local guitar shop and try it out. Maybe mine usually has the FS-6 in stock, and most will let you try stuff out like the...

bvtin (author)jrk3732017-08-19

Ok, I'll try. Thanks again for your answer

UpiW (author)2017-06-25

Many posters have asked what the two small toggle switches do?

It looks like the toggle when in one position will be using the open-when-pressed mode of the momentary foot switch; when in the other it uses the close-when-pressed mode of the foot switch

I take it that the RC-3 will require (and can only respond to) the closed-when-pressed mode.

The open-when pressed mode is perhaps usable by other devices?

JacksonG13 (author)2017-04-25

is it possible to make this without the toggle switches as im making it in a smaller enclosure and i dont need to use the switches

cheers

jrk373 (author)JacksonG132017-04-25

I think so. It would no longer be switchable, so maybe a little less versatile, but I think it should work. Never tried it though, so can't say for sure.

WilliamF168 made it! (author)2017-04-19

Waiting on my stereo cable, but I'm a little hesitant because of the slightly opaque instruction "Make sure you have the washers in the right place, or you might short out your circuit." What is the "right place"?

jrk373 (author)WilliamF1682017-04-20

It has been a while, but, I think the switches I used had a plastic and a metal washer. Plastic goes between the switch and the underside of the enclosure. Then the metal went on the top side of the enclosure. Finally the nut screwed on to hold the whole thing together.

JessD25 (author)2017-03-14

Awesome thanks! Great project. One thing, according to the schematic although you can use a DPDT momentary footswitch, wouldn't that be redundant? All the circuit needs to work properly is a SPDT footswitch. You only need one pole to match the switch's single pole.

angelus04 made it! (author)2017-01-09

Thank you so much! made this, was loads of fun and works like a dream.

KenT82 made it! (author)2016-12-06

Took me about 3 hours to make and it works perfectly. Thanks!

ombucman made it! (author)2016-11-25

It cost me 1/4 of the original pedal plus 2-3 hours of handy-work. It was an easy project, but just as valuable.

jrk373 (author)ombucman2016-11-25

Awesome! I'm so glad this instructable is still getting used!

UpiW (author)2016-10-19

Can anyone give some clear instructions on how to use the FS-6 Clone to control the RC-3? I have managed to do 3 or so things:

1. Switch 1 allows me to change channel up and down

2. Switch 2 allows me to

a. stop play/record

b. set the tempo and start the rythmn

c. clear the entire track when stopped

Is it possible to do any more than this?

jrk373 (author)UpiW2016-11-01

hello,

To my knowledge, that is all that the foot switch does, at least as it pertains to the RC-3. I haven't had any opportunity to try it on anything else. Thanks for leaving comments!

Mr Wormwood (author)UpiW2016-11-01

I have this same question. I am waiting on shipment of the parts, but I am curious to what exactly the capabilities of the stomp box are and what configuration the switches and toggles need to be in to do the different things beforehand so that if there are problems, I can troubleshoot properly.

mikija (author)2016-01-03

I tried to build something similar, but before, I tested how the FS-6 is working with my DR-3 rhythm machine. Well, not exactly as I expected. The left switch starts the rhythm, but does not stop it and the right one does not toggle through all the patterns, onlsy some of them.

I checked the DR-3 Manual and found that one or two FS-5U can be used with this device, and not FS-6.

I wonder what should I change in order to make DIY version of FS-5U (x2, with two separate outputs and short toggle switches). An advice will be appreciate.

Thanks.

UpiW (author)mikija2016-10-19

Many of the FS-5U and FS-6 reviews claim that the FS-6 is simple two FS-5Us joined together

zhalien (author)2016-07-09

Thanks for the instructable. I'm wondering if anyone can assist. I've wired my pedal up correctly (as far as I can tell), and it does not work (so something's not right).

The switches have LEDS in them, so perhaps that's causing issues.

Here is how it does function.
Plug into loop pedal.
Switches "on"? LEDs on. Switches "off"? LEDS off. - 4 pics showing both on, both off and one where one's on and the other is off.

When I activate the relevant pedal, the led will go off (if it is on), or on (if it is off).

When plugged into a delay pedal that take a single pedal only, the LHS led will only come on (the RHS one does not), so I assume the wiring's correct there).

I've attached a high rex pic of the wiring including a close up of the switch.

In the meantime, I'm going to build a double foot switch without the toggles.

Parts:


"6Pins DPDT Momentary Stomp Foot Switch for Guitar AC 250V/2A 125V/4A DW"

"12V 20A Car Carbon Fiber Cover Blue LED Toggle Switch Light Racing SPST Sales HB"

"6.5mm Stereo Fitting Audio Jack Connector Socket"

PatrizioF made it! (author)2016-06-17

Hi from Italy, just finished and tried, it works great!!!! Thanks ciao!!

PatrizioF made it! (author)2016-06-17

Hi from Italy, just finished and tried, it works great!!!! Thanks ciao!!

emc1888 (author)2016-06-08

Hi just built the pedal and my toggles are switching channels. Not really spark savvy so could somone please help and also tell me what the toggle switches are for in the circuit. Lost here. Thanks in advance

ml_jolly (author)2016-04-19

I made it using an old Vox switch box that I had laying around ... just switched the switches (to momentary non-latching) ... didn't worry about the toggles, just had to make sure they were both wired to "normally closed" so they would work with the RC3 and they do. THANKS

KaiS17 (author)2016-03-29

Anyone have any idea how to add LEDs to this circuit? I'm going to be using latching switches, so it shouldn't be a problem (always set my FS-6 to "latch" mode anyway). I've built this circuit before, and it works great! I cannot figure out how to add LEDs though...

RalfS13 (author)2016-03-01

I Made It, and it does the job !! works like a charm with my Boss RC30.

Cost : about 35€ (shipping in) and no extra battery needed

Dazbea made it! (author)2015-10-07

Nice work! I just needed the one switch to toggle between jc clean and effects on a roland cube amp but thought I may as well go the whole hog in case I get a looping station down the track. Thanks heaps for posting.
I mounted the switches on the same am side as the output jack to avoid my clumsy feet.

Dazbea (author)Dazbea2015-10-07

For any Aussies out there, these foot switches were surprisingly hard to find.
Rs online, element14 and jay car didn't have them.
Use pedalpartsaustralia.com they were extremely cheap and fast friendly service. Enclosure purchased here also.

ChristopherG69 (author)Dazbea2016-02-09

Thanks Dazbea, you are a legend mate! Just ordered bits from pedalpartsaustralia.com to make a two switchy unit for some RC-2 looping (not even going to bother with NO NC switches, just the stompy bits)

pedalpartsaustralia.com are one third to one quarter of Jaycar's prices. I'm skint at the moment, so much appreciated for the tip. Cheers.

Dazbea (author)ChristopherG692016-02-09

Yeah man, they are awesome. I have used them again for a fuzz box I am building at the moment, they are out of stock of some of the enclosures at the moment, they are waiting on supplies from China.
I wanna build a Wah next with the enclosure they have. Cheap as chips.

jrk373 (author)Dazbea2015-10-07

Nicely executed! I love the blue wires. Most people won't see them, but you know they are there. I'm so glad this post is helping people out.

Dazbea (author)jrk3732015-10-07

Hey Thanks,
the gauge was a little big for purpose to be honest, it was just some spare I had lying around. Does the job though :)
Thanks again for posting, great project.

andreab108 made it! (author)2016-02-09

A bit anonymous but working! Great!

Thanks a lot

BenM90 (author)2016-01-16

Great instructions, mate, thanks. Must have done something wrong though. On my AC33, one switch works as rec/play/overdub and the other has no effect at all. Any ideas?

jrk373 (author)BenM902016-01-16

When I first built it, I found I had the toggles backward. Maybe just try different positions with toggles?

aidian made it! (author)2015-12-27

I made a tiny one button version for my turbo distortion to switch between mode 1 and 2. Works perfectly! Only downside is that I cannot see if it's on mode 1 and 2 now, but maybe I'll add a LED later on which resolves that.

Kgischel (author)2015-11-15

Do you think itd be possible to do this with 8 switches? I use a boss rc-505 that allows up to 8 control pedals but only has 1 control pedal output so the most i can get is 4 and thats using two fs-6 with a y-cable. Something like this with 8 switches would help me control many perameters of my looper

LokL made it! (author)2015-11-14

I made a petit version in palm size and it works well!

jrk373 (author)LokL2015-11-14

Nice!

rogerpease (author)2015-09-19

Very cool project

As long as you have the DPDT foot switches you could use the extra pole to switch an LED to indicate "on". The LEDs could be powered by a 9V battery inside the box. If/when the battery goes dead the switches will still work, of course. Don't forget to use a suitable limiting resistor in series with each LED. If you use DPDT mini-toggles you can even get the on indication to coincide with either position of the foot switch. Hmm, this is getting complicated-er... :-)

DanielG112 (author)rogerpease2015-09-27

Im new to making pedals but id like to add the led to this could you explain which poles to put the led on and how to tell what kind of resistor i'll need

mara_147 (author)2015-09-06

Great tutorial! Do you think it will also work with a Boss RC-1?
Thanks!!