Picture of Passive Overdrive Pedal - That's right, NO batteries!
This is my first instructable, so please be kind. I found an instructable a while ago that spoke of a passive overdrive - black ice. This can be bought for extortionate prices, but somebody found out that it was only really worth about £1.20 (that's about $2!) The company were making a 1400% profit!

It has got better, however, with a slightly more complex circuit and various ways to wire it. I don't know how they do it (I don't know a great deal about electronics), but I have found a way to make it into a pedal with true bypass. Yes, TRUE BYPASS! (the ones on the black ice website don't have true bypass)

I wired the original black ice, but you can use JoeBeau's rectifier with a different way of wiring it. I have got a theory on how to wire it like this, but I haven't tried it, so please correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.

I got help from:

this guy
this website
Let's get started!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

- soldering iron and solder
- drill
- wire cutters, pliers etc - whatever you can use to help (e.g, I used a screwdriver to bend the leads and from the diodes around lugs)
- marker pen (for decoration!)


- project box
- DPDT switch
- 250k pot (I'm not sure whether I used linear or audio taper and I can't be bothered to check - it doesn't really matter)
- 2 x 1/4 inch output jacks
- 2 or 4 x 1N5818 Schottky diodes (I forgot to thank this guy for which diode to use - I wasn't going to keep buying diodes until I found a good one!)
- some wire

les_bert made it!2 months ago

I have little trouble to get the componets, so i made it with the stuff to have, i don't use a switch and only one shottky, but if a put de pot before de shottky, doesn't work, so I try without de pot, and works but without the regulation of distortion, the pots wroks double, change a litle bit de tone and de distortion, this the schem to I use.
1 pot B220k, one 1N5817, 2 jacks, cable and soldering.

THANKS is so funny made this easy things.

Diagrama Over Passive.jpg
les_bert les_bert2 months ago

This circuit have a problem, only work on my guitar to have only one coil and only one pot (volumen); when I try with other guitar with volumen and tone pots, doesn't work ....... weird.

will this work for metal?

SzabolcsK4 months ago

For all of you guys, this not an overdrive!! Overdrive pedal is a pedal which boosts your signal to overdrive the amplifier. This one is a simple diode clipping circuit. Some overdrive pedals include the diode clipping stage too, but without the boost it's not an overdrive.

marrymay7 months ago

It's so excellent! Like this so much!! I read a post about tube overdrive pedal, those pedals are just awesome and I want to build one tube overdrive pedal without batteries!! haha...

marrymay7 months ago

It's so excellent! Like this so much!! I read a post about tube overdrive pedal, those pedals are just awesome and I want to build one tube overdrive pedal without batteries!! haha...

I'll be building one soon! Excited! :)
Tagduino1 year ago
I tried this using two 1n4742a 12v Zener diodes, and as far as I can tell, it doesn't change the sound much. So I tried disconnecting the diodes. And the signal still passed through without a change in the sound. Just wondering if anyone might know what's going on:P
Could I potentially run a 9v in this mix?
So has anyone figured out if the full wave rectifier (as said above) works?

I think I'll try it and see if it does, but I can't decide. Is it just more distortion?
deadlyraven2 years ago
can you add another schematic image, some people dont understand electronics very well... like me.. jojo.. please :( ??
JoeBeau2 years ago
Hey, very nice job. It's pretty funny that you did this, because I ended up doing the same thing for one of my friends.

You'll find very quickly that some things are just cheaper to build than buy; I just finished a Fuzz-Face pedal (original circuit as used by Jimi Hendrix) using pre-world war 2 transistors for 50 bucks, which is third of the mass-produced model
burnok1002 years ago
so Punk Rock !!!! thanks for the scheme-matics...!
badams23 years ago
Needs video for demonstration of sound!
cool idea! I don't really understand what an overdrive pedal is supposed to do. can you explain?
JJ Grunge (author)  amandaghassaei3 years ago
An overdrive is a type of distortion - it changes the signal by clipping the waves and produces a more gritty sound. Overdrive is the mildest type of distortion. This sound is integral to the various genres of rock.
is the rectifier used to do the clipping? won't this double the frequency of the wave?
JJ Grunge (author)  amandaghassaei3 years ago
I don't know for sure, and I got that method from JoeBeau's Instructable anyway.

I don't think so because a speaker has an electromagnet which has a changing polarity according to the AC signal. If there is no negative, the speaker won't move in that direction and so you would get a doubled frequency that is half the volume if anything.

I think that the circuit bleeds out certain parts of the signal to the ground lead, therefore clipping it - similar to a tone pot on a guitar.

I'm not certain about this - it's just my theory.
Cool overdrive and a nice instructable, your theory is right on the spot, schottky barrier diodes have the property to limit voltage, or to pass through voltages higher than the limit, depending on either it is forward or backward biased. I'm goingto build one of these probably tomorrow and I'm looking into it.
randofo3 years ago
This is a nice simple trick. How does it sound?
JJ Grunge (author)  randofo3 years ago
It's a warmer sort of overdrive. It isn't very aggressive, but it's noticeable.
I LOVE your crappy graphics! I have a GT-8 effects processor, but I might have to build this just for the heck of it :D