With today's economy, most quality guitar effect pedals are over $100, it's very rarely that you find a good pedal for under a $100, especially if it is made in the USA. There is a much cheaper alternative though, you just have to have some basic technological skills. Building your own pedal is fairly simple and much cheaper than buying one that is already built. There are countless kits out there for you favorite pedal, whether you want a TS style pedal, Fuzz pedal, Chorus, or a Klon style overdrive. The pedal i am going to show you how to build is an Octave Fuzz Pedal (Think Hendrix, Jack White, or Kenny Wayne Shepherds "Blue On Black").
*WARNING- This has a lot of steps, so be ready!
Step 1: Get the Right Supplies
You're going to need the proper supplies for building the pedal. I used parts from the Build Your Own Clone Octave Fuzz Pedal Kit. (www.byocelectronics.com)
For the electronic components
1- 22k ohm
1- 150pf ceramic disc
1- .001uf/1n film
1- 0.1uf/100n film
2- 33uf alunimum electrolytic
2- 1n34a germanium diodes
1- TMO22 1.725:1 audio transformers
Step 2: Tools You'll Need
- Soldering Iron
- Needle Nose Pliers (for holding small wires and such)
- Safe surface to place soldering iron
- Safety Glasses
- Some good music or a radio show about guitars because why wouldn't you want to listen to two grown men talk about guitars for 3 hours (www.thepickupradio.com)
Step 3: Part A: Getting Your Circuit Board Set Up
There are multiple parts to setting up the circuit board. You'll need to solder all of the electronic parts to the circuit board. I'll break it down so that every step shows you where to put each individual component.
Step 4: Part a Step 1: Adding Resistors
The first thing is to add the Resistors to the circuit board. The resistor values are labeled on the circuit board. Solder the labeled resistor to its place on the circuit board. The easiest way to do this is look at the materials list. The colors that correspond to the value will make finding the right resistor easy.
Step 5: Part a Step 2: Adding the Diodes
The 1N4001 diode is black with a silver stripe. The Germanium diode will be clear with a green stripe. On the circuit board, the diode solder pads are square on the top side and circular on the bottom side. (if you are looking at it where the cut out section is on the bottom). The striped end of the diode should be soldered into the square side of the solder pad.
Step 6: Part a Step 3: Adding Film and Disc Capacitors
The film and Ceramic Disc are not polarized so you can put them on the Circuit Board either way.
The 1n Film Capacitor is circled in green and the 100n Film Capacitor is circled in red.
The disk capacitor is circled in yellow
Step 7: Part a Step 4: Add the Transistors
On the circuit board the terminals for the transistors are shaped for which way the transistor should face, the flat of the transistor should face the flat side of the circuit board.
The MPS6521 Transistors are circled in red
The MPS6523 Transistor is circled in white
Step 8: Part a Step 5: Add the The Electrolytic Capacitors
The electrolyric capacitors are polarized. The positive side, which is the longer leg, go into the square port on the circuit board.
The ports are labeled on what value of capacitor should be soldered.
The 100uF Capacitors are circled in red and the 33uF in blue.
Step 9: Part a Step 6: Add the Transformer
The transformer has two sides. The Primary and Secondary sides. They are both labeled. The Primary side on the circuit board is labeled with a "P". Insert the primary side of the transformer into the primary part of the circuit board.
Step 10: Part a Step 7: Solder the Battery Snap
This is the last step of Part A. There are two sets of holes that are used for soldering the battery snap in. The first set is the stress relief holes. With these you just feed the wire in from the underside of the board then solder them into the top of the solder holes.
Step 11: Part B: Assembly
This is the less fun part of the build. Things get frustrating between fitting the parts into the box for the pedal and soldering components into tight places now that your circuit board is populated. This will require patience,
Step 12: Part B Step 1: Add the DC Power Jack
This step is optional. However if you don't feel like spending money on 9 Volt batteries. this step is definitely worth while. You'll need to cut three small pieces of wire and strip the ends so that they can be soldered into the circuit board and the terminals on the jack. The fat flat terminal is the negative side which will obviously be soldered to the negative port in the circuit board. The other two smaller terminals, which are parallel to each other, are positive. These two terminals will connect to the positive ports in the circuit board. To get the wire connected to the terminals on the jack strip the end and put it through the hole. Fold the stripped bit of wire over onto the terminal and solder it down. Tug on the wire after the solder cools just to make sure that it's down tight and wont come undone.
Step 13: Part B Step 2: Getting the Pots, Switch, and LED On
This is the one part of the project where i messed up. On the circuit board there are the positive and negative ports where you have to later on put the in and out jacks to connect the pedal to your amp and guitar. These are placed right next to where the ports for the Volume and Intensity pots are. ****DO NOT PUT ACCIDENTALLY SOLDER YOUR INTENSITY POT INTO THE POSITIVE PORT FOR THE INPUT JACK. It's a pain to remove the pot from three soldered ports. Also do not spend 6 hours inhaling solder fumes in an enclosed room and expect to have good results of doing this when you're falling asleep on yourself.
Step 14: Getting the Pots, Switch, and LED On
Alright so actually getting into the part of getting the pots and switch on, flip your circuit board over so that the underside (where you've done all your soldering) is facing up. Put the pots, LED's, and switch into thhe cirtcuit board. These components will be soldered onto the top side of the board. However, don't solder until you have everything lined up correctly and inserted through the box for the pedal. Screw down your components so they are secure when you go to solder. Keep everything straight and even. You may have to hold the circuit board to keep it straight.
The LED is circled in green on the picture and the Switch is circled in Red. These are just guides to where the components should be soldered
Step 15: Part B Step 3: Input and Output Jacks
With the holes for the input and output jacks facing you, insert the output jack on the RIGHT SIDE IF ITS FACING YOU, or left if you're looking at it from the top. Insert the input jack to the opposite side. The Input Jack will have 3 terminals to solder onto and the output will have two terminals. Solder three small pieces of wire to the terminals of the input jack. The two terminals pointing outwards should be pointed outwards and facing you when you are doing the soldering. It makes sense looking at it because they have to face correctly to connect to the ports on the circuit board. Solder them to the three circled locations on the circuit board.
Step 16: Output Jack Soldering
You'll only need to connect one wire to the output jack. Solder the wire to the right terminal and connect it to the "out" port on the circuit board.
Step 17: Part B Step 4: Soldering the On/Off Switch
There is really no other way to go about this except finding the instructions and following them. This step is a pain because you are doing a lot of tight soldering, stripping of small wires, and burning your hands. So be ready.
The picture shows how to connect different terminals of the switch to the ports labelled on the circuit board.
1) Make sure you heat up the terminals on the switch before you connect the wire. The wire has no chance of bonding to the terminal if you don't pre heat up the terminal.
2) Don't use stranded wire or you will have a stroke out of frustration. Try to find thin solid wire so you don't risk the chance of freaking out because you cannot get the wire through the terminal.
3) Use helping hands (real people or the tool). Holding the switch with bare hands and doing all this soldering will result in discomfort from the heat on your fingers.
4) Seriously, heat up the terminal before you solder (just hold the soldering iron on it for a little while).
Step 18: Part B Step 5: Put This Bad Boy Together
This is the only part of the process where i didn't hurt myself, and didn't get frustrated. You just have to make sure you have all your nuts and washers organized for what component they go to.
Just push the switched and pots up through the top then push your jacks out to their corresponding holes on the back. Screw your washers and nuts onto the switches and jacks and your knobs onto the pots. Put a 9Volt battery inside on the snap, screw the back plate on and BAM you're done. Now go play some Hendrix covers.