Introduction: Inexpensive Guitar Amp Footswitch

I love playing the guitar and change the sound with pedals effects. Distortion, fuzz, wah-wah and other, are great to create incredible sounds.

I recently retrofitted an old Laney amp that had a (very nice !) built-in overdrive channel. I was looking for a way to turn the effect on and off easily during the play. This can be done with an external footswitch, but the genuine parts are expensive, and in my case, hard to find.

In this Instructable, we'll see how to build one with a simple halogen lamp footswitch. It's easy, not expensive and works great !

Step 1: Material List

Ok, we will need :

• a 6.35 male mono jack connector
• two wire cable, about 2 meters. (you may want to salvage an old jack cable... it will work)
• an lamp footswitch (DIY hardware store)

I got the jack from my local electronics store, the cable was in my stock. Only the footswitch was bought in a store. I had to choose from a nice range of colours.

You will also need screwdrivers, soldering iron (and soldering skills) and a multimeter.

Step 2: Build It ! Footswitch Side

• Expose the cable copper on about one centimetre.
• Cut the external protection on about 2 more centimetres.
• Open the footswitch.
• Twist the naked copper wire and introduce it into the two sides of the footswitch. The internal structure may vary with yours, of course.
• Screw the cable in place. It should not move at all. Once done, close the footswitch.

Step 3: Build It. Jack Side

Ok, open the jack connector.

Again, expose the cable. You don't need to have a lot of naked copper. 6 mm is enough.
Watch out, first put the external jack protection on the cable before doing anything !!

Ok, to sold the cable on the jack, I usually put a bit of lead on the jack first, then I heat it again and put the cable.

Do this carefully for the other wire. They should not be in contact. The order doesn't matter.

You may want to add a little amount of electrical tape or heat shrink tube to make sure that both wires will not be in contact.

Close the jack. You are done !

Step 4: First Test

With an multimeter in resistor mode, test if the footswitch works correctly. You should have 0 ohms and infinity for each position. If not, check the connections.

Step 5: Let's ROCK !!

Ok, time to rock !

• Set up your amp and plug in the footswitch. My connectors are on the front side of the amp, they are on the back side sometimes.
• Turn the overdrive channel on (I need to turn a potentiometer on my amp, sometimes it's a switch button).
• Plug your guitar and turn the amp on.
• Start playing, you should be on the clear channel. Push the footswitch, it should rocks !

My amp have two footswitch connectors, one for the distortion, one for the reverberation channel. If you want to try the reverb, remember to turn on the button on (or potentiometer) before.The idea is to turn on the effect on the amp, the footswitch will activate him on demand.

This footswitch is great and inexpensive. You may find everything to build it in your house (don't take the kitchen halogen lamp switch...). The only con is that the switch is too light and moves easily. I'll try to add mass to make him heavier.

Step 6: Wait ! My Amp Is Different !!

Ok, on some amps, the two footswitches (overdrive and reverb) are on the same jack. I have an other amp like this. The wiring is different, you will need a three wire cable, a stereo jack, and two footswitches. The wiring is like this :

But I don't know if this will work for ALL amps... Try it at your own risks, or do internet researches first !

Thanks for reading !!


seamster made it!(author)2014-08-14

Nice project, thanks for sharing!

About This Instructable




Bio: French engineer in robotics. I love Arduino projects / coding / guitar / various electronics. Oh, I like cooking also ! PS : English is not my main language, please ... More »
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