Update: Here are the results from our own build of a fuzz pedal. Come check out the pictures and hear a sound clip.
Lately I’ve been looking into a few do-it-yourself projects that might be a good starting point for someone who is trying to build some of their own gear. So what are the options? I’m pretty sure building my own guitar is a little beyond my 8th grade shop class education. I looked into a couple of package kits for building my own amp but fear of electrocution is a strong deterrent. How about building an Fuzz pedal? I did a some research on the web and found a few options for the beginner DIY’er out there who wants to construct their own fuzz pedal. Full story…
I started with probably the most popular and well known guitar effects website – GEOFX.com or The Guitar Effects Oriented Web page. GEOFX contains probably the largest online repository of schematics and How-To’s on guitar effects building (as well as tube amps), repair and maintenance. Unfortunately it’s a little intimating to the uninitiated. However it does have interesting articles, like one that explains the technology of the Fuzz Face pedal. The site was created by R.G. Keen who is “recognized as one of the founding fathers of the boutique effects and amplifier industry.” GEOFX is great place to start just to get your curiosity piqued and if you stick with building your own gear, it’s likely to become an invaluable resource.
The second site I came across was BYOC (Build Your Own Clone) which sells guitar effects kits online. BYOC has over 25 guitar effects kits that come with everything you need to build your own guitar pedal, including the metal enclosure, the a ready-to-solder circuit board and all the required transistors, caps and diodes. All you need to supply are your own tools and BYOC has a great little video explaining which tools you’ll need for the project. They even have a helpful discussion board that can help you if you get stuck or have problems. The E.S.V. Fuzz seemed likes a good starting point for the beginner.
The next site we checked out was Fuzz Central, a DIY guitar effects site focused mainly on fuzz effects. Fuzz Central contains the schematics to about 17 different projects. They even have a project for the Ross Compressor – one of the first compressors and now made famous by legions of Phish fans. Fuzz Central is similar to GEOFX in that it contains the instructions and schematics but you have to procure your parts from elsewhere.
So where do you get parts for building your own fuzz pedal? Small Bear Electronics seems to be one of the proprietors of choice among the DIY effects websites out there. Small Bear supports projects from GEOFX, Tonepad, General Guitar Gadgets, Runoffgroove.com, GuitarTone.net, AMZfx and DIYStompboxes.com. Small Bear also has some of his own projects listed on his site as well including the Tweak-O, a fuzz pedal designed for beginners. There are also big name parts suppliers like Radio Shack, Mouser Electronics or Jameco but we like the small business guy.
In the end we found there are ton of resources online to help you build your pedal. I think that BYOC is one of the best for a beginner like me since I can get the entire kit altogether in a package and then I can try and build it myself. However with a price point of $95 plus shipping for a kit it makes you wonder why you don’t just go out and buy pre-built version. Oh yeah, we like the process of building the fuzz pedal ourselves.
Here’s a video of guy that built the E.S.V. Fuzz from BYOC:
Have any of you out there built your own effects? If so what kind have you built? What do you recommend for beginners that are interested in starting a project?