Amp Footswitch

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A Bay Area native interested in electronics, mechanics, and robotics, and automobiles. Formerly ...

Intro: Amp Footswitch

When I play guitar, I often switch between clean and overdrive, and I sometimes need to turn chorus on and off.  The problem here is that the buttons on my amp are about 1/4" squares, smack dab in between the knobs.  When I don't want to reach down to change settings, sometimes I can manage to use my toe to push the buttons, but often times I end up messing with the knobs accidentally.
While looking at my amp's manual, I saw that the label for the footswitch jack designated the functions of the TRS (Tip-Ring-Sleeve, or stereo) plug that would plug into the jack.  It was then that I had the idea that I should make a footswitch instead of buying one, just like any self-respecting geek would do.
By making my own footswitch, I was able to save a ton of money.  Most dual-button footswitches run somewhere around $50 or so, yet I was able to make mine for under $10.

Step 1: Parts and Materials

The parts are pretty straightforward, but can be changed depending of what you already have.

Parts:
- 2 Push On/Push Off buttons*
- a 1/4" Male Stereo plug (I prefer solder-type)
- a cable of some sort with at least 3 conductors**
- an enclosure that will fit the switches
- you may need some hookup wire, but it's unlikely

*I have heard of amps that require a momentary switch instead of a push on/push off type.  You can check what you need by touching the wires for the switch together and seeing what happens.
**I used an old RCA audio cable, which has 2 conductors in each wire, then I soldered one from each together forming a common ground

Tools:
- Wire strippers
- Soldering iron & solder
- Drill with bits to match your buttons

Step 2: Pre-mounting Prep

With the buttons I got, you have to mount them before you solder.  Because of this, I prepared everything else before soldering the buttons.  The first thing you need to do it drill 3 holes in your box:  2 for the buttons and 1 for the cable to come out the back side.
Next,  solder the male stereo plug.  I snipped the connectors off the RCA cable, stripped the wires inside, and prepped them by tinning them with solder.  Because I had 4 individual wires and I only needed 3, I soldered both the outer ground wires to the ground lug on the male plug.  Then one of the insulated, colored wires went to each the "left" and "right" lugs on the plug.
Do the same prep work to the other end of the cable, but leave everything separate for the next step, then put the cable through the hole you made in your enclosure.

Step 3: Soldering & Mounting the Buttons

Now the time has come to mount the buttons and get this  finished up.  Put the buttons through the holes you've made and tighten them down with the hardware they came with.  Then pull the cable through its hole and get ready to solder some buttons.  From the RCA cable, one "channel" (like the left or right) will go to each switch.  In effect, each button is connected to one of the signal lines (the left or right from the plug) and common ground.

Step 4: Finish It Up

At this point you should be able to close up your enclosure and test your new footswitch on your amp.  Mine worked the first time.  If yours doesn't, make sure you have it wired correctly.  Each switch should be connected to common ground (the sleeve of the plug) and either the left or right channel (the ring or tip of the plug).  Have fun and happy channel switching!

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    17 Discussions

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    Arjay AlexisO

    1 year ago

    is it possible to make an on/off remote switch for a peavey 112 bandit amp with this? I just want a switch that toggles the clean and lead channel.

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    vaughnels

    2 years ago

    Thx for the instructions, made 3 foot switches for my roland cube 40xl using normally closed momentary switches. Works great.

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    PetervdPol

    3 years ago on Introduction

    Does anyone know how to do this with a GLX G-65-r amp? A simple mono jack + switch didn't work. The manual mentiones a stereo plug plus the option to switch off the effects.....

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    wowbluesky

    4 years ago

    Where do you get the buttons?

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    Xedier

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi! Would this kind of footswitch work with my Behringer V-ampire if I used momentary switches instead of the on/off type? It only has to switch between presets. Thank you!

    1 reply
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    rbleeXedier

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You really need to do some research.

    Foot switches range from the very simple (e.g. Fender Mustang 1, with just a latching SPST switch) to stuff like the Roland Cubes (trigger on the falling edge of a square pulse) through to stuff like Line 6, which is probably going to be a real pain.

    All you need should be in the manual, which you should find online, if you haven't got one.

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    te101

    5 years ago

    wich input would u use for the cable?

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    lowkey30

    7 years ago on Introduction

    this is really funny for me because I found a commercially made switch setup at a yardsale and bought it for $1 so I could hack it to get the switches out of it for other projects!

    By tinning the wires, you coat them with a layer of solder. That way, when you're ready to solder two wires or components together, you simply have to heat up the joint between them and the solder will flow in to fill the gap. Hope this helps :)

    Nice job. I built basically the exact same thing (from Fender's specifications) except I used DPDT footswitches designed for stompboxes, so they're super heavy duty units. Might be a good upgrade.

    2 replies

    Good idea! Funny thing is, right after I made this, I got a new little 5W travel amp for my birthday that is better than the one I made the footswitch for, so I really won't be using the footswitch much anymore. It's an upgrade I will definitely consider if I start using this on a regular basis, though. How much does each switch cost?

    They were $4 each at a local store. Combined with a die-cast aluminum enclosure and the total cost was around $20. Picture: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v321/mattthegamer463/Guitar%20Pedals/DSC01510Medium.jpg