Guitar FX by the DoomMeister





Introduction: Guitar FX by the DoomMeister

Hand built FX don't have to cost the earth, DoomMeister builds his own.

I don't think that I can add any greatly illuminating Instructables on building guitar FX pedals as there is more than enough very high quality sites out there with both step by step instructions and ready to cook PCB layouts. That's how most of my pedals were constructed. I may however at some point post some general thoughts on the process and also document my pedal board power supply.

So here are some of the pedals the DoomMeister has made both for his own enjoyment and for friends.

Edit - Some links to the best homebrew pedal sites



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    just had a thought while looking at this
    if u find a basic effect pedle then u could just take it apart and place it in ur newly made cage for it

    those are definitely the nicest looking home made pedals/stomp boxes that I've ever seen...makes me wish I could solder. do you happen to know anything about DIY loop pedals? I'm in a 2 member band and the ability to loop a keyboard or bass would make our sound a lot more full, and if at all possible I'd like not to spend $200+. so far the only DIY version I've come upon was a lo-fi looper using the equivalent of a yak-bak. I was also wondering if anyone knew how how to control live looping software (ableton live?) via a foot switch. again, awesome slideshow and if you ever do decide to make an instructable about DIY pedals it'd be most appreciated. it's always nice to see step by step photos rather than PCB layouts.

    7 replies

    Thanks for the flattering comments. I have never built a loop pedal, to be fair I don't think that it is possible to easily build a digital looper. You will notice that all off the FX in the slide show are analogue (i prefer a classic sound) this means that they are built from easy to source discrete components. A fully fledged looper would need to be digital, and just the startup cost would blow your $200. For short loops I use a Marshall digital delay with a Tap tempo switch (which cost less than £50) although you may find it limited with only 4 second of delay. On the other hand many people have modified tape recorders to produce a WEM/Watkins copycat like echo or loop. Just google homemade tape echo. I can only recommend rolling your own FX, learning to solder is not a great hassle there (like any manual skill once you learn, practice turns it into muscle memory) are many good howto guides on the net. The most difficult step in building a pedal like this is etching and drilling the PCB and even that is not so difficult. I will add a list of useful links to the slide show I think.


    dude for a digital loop... I was thinking of hacking my sansa mp3 player... it has microphone input (which could be further hacked to allow for other types of input, 3.5mm jack, etc).. 2gb storage... and 3.5mm output.... all that really needs to be done is a bit of firmware hacking... and possibly minor physical alterations (depending on how far you want to go of course) could this work?... I've been searching but no one seems to see how cool they are... I'm a bit of a noob programmer (little bit of VB and HTML... nothing special) ... so if you know anything mate let me know yer? cheers

    In my opinion (sorry if this a bit blunt) If your are as you say noob (remember though everyone is a noob once) programmer I would say this would be quite a stretch, it would be much quicker start from scratch. If you were a L33t hax0r it would still be not the best approach, but perhaps do-able. Dependent on the model you could write a plug-in for rockboxthat might add a basic functionality. However due to the limitations of the hardware and form factor I would say that it could never amount to much more than a toy. BTY I have a E280v1 (Rockboxed) and know how sweet they are.

    If you truly want build a custom looper I would start of like this ADC<Micro controller (custom firmware, the fun bit)<Buffer memory<Micro controller<DAC. It probably is quite possible however I would think it be much quicker (even if you have to save up for 6 months) and easier to lash out 250 squid on a Jam Man or Line 6 unit. Not as satisfying I grant you but would end up with a road worthy bit of kit and a lot of free time to make some other killer bit of kit.

    i built a simple distortion pedal last month based on site called instructables,it works it sounds good, for me well its good,when i play blues,because it sounds good when you play a blues to that simple distortion,but when i plug it this morning the sounds is different its like thinner distortion,its getting fading,but the the components was new,the chip its using a LM386 CHIP WITH A .01 CERAMIC CAPACITOR ON INPUT, IN THE OUTPUT ITS USING 220 UF ELECTROLYTIC CAP,WITH 4 DIODES 1N4148, IN A RESISTOR 47K AND A 100K between the diodes, ALL of these was new,for me its sounds good,the battery is okey,what is the problem, is this kind of distortion have a life so short, i was expecting it will serve for years,is these home made pedals have a short life span just one month, its waste of disappointed,maybe its lack power filter what is the problem??i cant figure it out. i need an advice,you guys are only the one i could lend some help because you are a professional builder. thank you.

    Firstly I am not a professional pedal builder, I do try and make my pedals look professionally done however.

    Your distortion pedal there are two things that spring to mind, I am sure that you have checked your work and there are no dry (solder) joints present. I will answer to be polite but really your question should be to the maker of the first instructable which I think was this one.

    1) Sorry if this sound obvious, but have you tried a new battery. Old batteries often change the sound of a distortion pedal. This is due to the increased self resistance as much as the lower voltage.

    2) That the design of the pedal is not a great one. The LM386 chip is one chip power amp not an op amp which is really what you want (a 741 chip or 4558), It will distort an amp for sure but can also put out enough level to power a speaker in its own right. I would suggest that you find a datasheet for the chip and put a 10 micro farad capacitor (30v or so) in series with a 2 k Log pot between pins 1 and 8 to give you a gain control.
    The circuit in the instructable seems a less advanced version of this.

    3) Try a different circuit I would suggest a similarly simple such as this.

    I have generally found home built FX to be as reliable as any shop bought one and have the added advantage that you can tweak them to sound even better.

    do you have a schematic for that power supply for pedals?

    to trigger ableton you could use a usb controller like the things you see with the colored bottons they plug in to your computer and you can program it to trigger defferent sounds.

    i am a beginner in this electronics thing and i can't figure out how to attach a 3 lug dc plug to the circuit, i know that one of the lugs is for battery and the other two are for wall power but i don't know how it should be connected

    1 reply

    By three lug dc plug I assume you mean something like a 2.1mm type dc socket. There are plenty of sites that can show you how this should be done, but this is how I do it. Using the continuity setting on your multi-meter find which pin is connected to the centre pin of the socket. I have labeled this 1 in the photo attached. Connect this pin to the ground of the circuit, the screen of one of the input/output jacks will do if you don't have a spare pad on the circuit board. Test the continuity of the two remaining pins, when no plug is inserted there should be continuity between these pins. Now insert a plug into the socket, test which pin has continuity with the outer sleeve of the plug. This pin will be the positive inlet from the DC adaptor and should be connected to the +ve connection on the circuit, and possibly the ON/OFF led if you have included one. The remaining pin should now have no continuity with any of the other pins when a plug is inserted into the socket. We will connect the positive side of the battery clip to this pin. By using this pin the battery is disconnected from the circuit when a DC plug is inserted. Finally connect the negative side of the battery to the ring connection of your input jack (this is why you should use a stereo jack for at least the input), this will disconnect the battery when no jack is in the socket. Please note this is how to wire a centre negative socket, this configuration is suitable for most pedals and is the normal way of doing it. However some pedals, PNP fuzz boxes for instance work better centre positive. ALSO CHECK THE POLARITY OF YOUR DC ADAPTOR BEFORE YOU BEGIN.


    I have just posted a short instuctable, showing how I finish most of my cases. it can be found here

    On the whole these are mainly std cases from Hammond (eddystone in the UK) and the like, its the finish that takes the time You can get the alumminium die cast boxes fromthe below links

    The finish on most of my stomp boxes is just car spray (celloulose/acrylic) with a good sanding and clear finish. The lables are waterslide transfers printed on an inkjet, you can get special paper for this. One of the TS808's has an etched finish , there should be some good tutorials on the web, if not this site.


    ware did you get the case on the ts808?