I designed this PCB for Tim Escobedo’s Ugly Face and had it manufactured at PCBWay. I used Eagle PCB to design the board. The process was not hard with a little research.
I started by finding the PCBWay Eagle DRU file. This tells design rules that PCBWay will accept. This includes the minimum trace size and space between traces. I found .dru file here.
Next I designed my board. I used the auto-router to create a two sided board. Before running the auto-router I loaded the PCBWay Eagle dru.
Next I needed to export Gerber files that PCBWay requires. I’m using Eagle v9. I found a post here with instructions on how to do this. It’s about three steps. Not hard to.
From there I uploaded my files, waited for them to process and placed my order.
The cost was $5 for 10 boards which was very cheap shipping from China was more expensive. They offer several shipping options that range from $12 USPS to $20 DHL. Using DHL the cost was $25 for 10 boards (I received 11) which is $2.5 per board. Not a bad price.
The boards were great quality. The first run came out perfect. Usually the mistakes are my fault. I was on my game and got everything right the first try with this one!
Ugly Face is a racus squarewave guitar synth oscillator disguised as a fuzz pedal.
Originally created by Tim Escobedo on his Circuit Snippets web page, it’s become a DIY classic. The ideas here are great and inventive there are a lot of building blocks. Out of all of these the Ugly Face leaps out at your like a rabid warthog.
Notes: Solder parts to boards without the LED or pots. Drill your box with the guide at the end of this document. Fit the pots and LED in the board without soldering. Mount the pots into the enclosure with the nuts and washers. Then fit the LED through the hole. Now solder the legs of the pots and LEDs.
NOTE! I found an issue with the ground connection on the output side. It’s not connected to the group plane! Otherwise everything works.
Here is another 22/7 build. It’s a Big Muff variation. This unique circuit replaces the transistor stages of the classic Big Muff with CMOS inverters. It’s a unique flavor of Muff. CMOS inverters have their own unique flavor of distortion and have been used in many classic pedals like: Craig Anderton’s Tube Sound Fuzz, Way Huge Red Llama, Blackstone Appliances MOSFet Overdrive.
The 22/7 was created by the unstoppable genius over at RunOffGroove.com. They have a lot great stompbox designs and great information, be sure to check out their site.
Build your own
I designed the PCB and created a project over at OSH Park. Check out my build Docs to read more about the circuit and learn how to make your own! The PCB is designed with the the pots, switch and LED mounted to the board for ease of assembly.
For this build I used a powder coated enclosure and milled the labels and logo through the powder coating with a desktop mill. This process works for me and I can do everything myself at home with no chemicals and little set up and clean up. I want to give UV printing a try in the future, I’ve seen a lot great results! I’ll be writing a blog post about it in the future.
What’s it sound like?
Sounds a lot like a Big Muff but with its own character. The hex inverters have their own flavor but the strong clipping inherent in the Big Muff architecture dominates the sound giving it the characteristic Big Muff sound. I suspect you hear hex inverters as the last inverter is overdriven by the rest of the circuit. I’d say you get the classic Big Muff clipping sound but you don’t get the over saturated sound you can get with a Big Muff when the input is too hot or the sustain high.
The 22/7 has a switch that changes the range of tone control through three different ranges. This changes the range and sweep of the tone control to match other big muff models. There is a Classic option which is described as an average tone model of classic Big Muff models. A Flat option which creates a flat tone response removing the mid scoop of the classic mode, this is a well known mod. Last is the Scoop mode which creates a deeper mid scoop, I compare this to the sound of the original Way Huge Swollen Pickle.
I like the last mode on its own, but the flat mode sounds better with the band. writing this in 2021 I’m spending all of my time playing at home so all the modes sound great!
This has been my favorite Big Muff of late! It’s got a good sound and the tone control hits a very usable range.
The goal of this project was to build three Haunting Mids, keep one and sell the other two, hopefully coming out ahead!
This post covers the original Haunting Mids Fuzz. Note! This is not the JHS pedal with the same name.
What is Haunting Mids?
Haunting Mids is a Big Muff variant. Besides careful choice of resistors, capacitors, and diodes the biggest change to the circuit is dropping the tone stack and the output buffer. This offers the sound of a Big Muff but with more hair and volume. It’s really loud. You hear the raw distortion from from the two clipping sections unfiltered.
In the original the Sustain control is meant to be an internal trim pot, set and forget. With only the volume control on the outside of the box. I decided to put the sustain control on the outside of the box for convenience.
The original is a must have for people who like single knob boxes!
I found this PCB for Haunting Mids while searching for DIY projects on OSH Park.
It’s a well laid out PCB for a 1590A sized box. I ordered three of these and built them successfully. This board works well I would recommend it. The switch is mounted to the board which saves trouble wiring.
A little History
The Haunting Mids Fuzz was developed around 2005 by a group of DIY pedal fans who set up a private forum, which I’m guessing was dedicated to the development of the Haunting Mids circuit. I say “guess” because I was never a member though I had heard of the forum.
Not sure when but the Haunting Mids forum died and went away. Go figure, an anti social site is going to have growth issues. That said there is something pleasant about discussions with a small group of like minded individuals rather than everyone and their friends and family.
It seems that Haunting Mids has gone through a couple iterations. The board linked above is labeled v3. You can search Haunting Mids and you’ll find several versions. To my knowledge all versions are based around the Big Muff sans tone and output buffer.
At some point JHS made a commercial pedal with the same name. I’m not sure why they did this. I suspect it was joke, or some sort dig at the original Haunting Mids group, or they just wanted to get a media boost by piggybacking on the name. I wish they hadn’t done this since it makes researching the circuit more difficult.
What’s it sound like?
Sounds like a big muff! It also has its own character like all of the other Big Muff variants, which the world of pedals is full of. But the two cascaded clipping sections guarantees you get the classic Big Muff character. Without the tone stack you hear the clipping section raw and unfiltered! It like a big muff with all the hair and grit.
This demo compares five different DIY Muff variants. Haunting Mids is in the center.
Here’s is another demo of the Haunting Mids:
I built three of these. The parts were were all easy to find. You can get everything at Tayda. I chose to build mine with two knobs and put the Sustain/Gain control on the outside of the box.
I like having the sustain/gain control but the range is not that usable, or maybe there is some less useful range. With the gain up all the way there is too much gain. On reflection I see the reasoning behind making this control an internal set and forget option. I think I might go this route for future builds!
The PCBs from OSH Park are designed for a 1590A enclosure. I decided to build two in 1590B enclosures because I like these better than the small A sized boxes. I did build one in an A sized box.
This is a pretty cheap box to build. None of the parts are expensive or hard to find. You can source everything from Tayda and order boards from OSH Park.
Ordering the boards from OSH Park requires that you buy three boards but the cost is $14.85 which is about $5 a board. Making the board the most expensive part unless you get a fancy enclosure. The overall cost was about $25 for all the parts to build a single box.
I built three and managed to sell two on Reverb. I kept the last for myself. They sat on Revered for a month or two but eventually sold for $220 (both) not including tax and shipping. Reverb took their cut which left me: $202.50. I spent roughly $75 to build all three so I cleared $127.50.
I love Boss pedals, they are bomb proof, have a great form factor, work well, and look great. They don’t make a couple effects that I like. For example you can’t get a Big Muff in Boss. I had the idea to rehouse some effects in Boss enclosures. Here is the Boss Muff.
I couldn’t find empty Boss enclosures for sale anywhere so I had to recycle. Boss pedals keep a good resale. It’s hard to find these for less than $40. Often used Boss pedals go for $100 or more. I didn’t want to pay $40 for an enclosure but I wasn’t going to pay $100, especially for something I might want to keep.
After some research on Reverb I found the Boss DS-1 was cheapest. Typically they go for ~$40. The historical prices show sales a range of $25 to $45. Reverb says the estimated price is $25 to $35.
Note! New Boss DS-1 and Boss SD-1 go for about $50. If you have a discount or see a sale it might be good to buy a new pedal since places like Sweetwater offer free shipping.
Watch the shipping! People will ask $15 on average which is really high for something where the asking price is $40. Typically I can mail a pedal for $6 to $10 USPS.
The enclosure and parts
The enclosure is great, it’s pretty spacious, pre-drilled, and it comes with some usable parts. It’s even partially pre-wired!
It comes with jacks, LED, battery clip, a momentary SPST switch, knobs, and some pots. It also comes with a DC power jack but, this was mounted to the original PCB, there will be nothing to anchor it to when I replace the board so I couldn’t use it.
The Jacks are useable and the wiring can be repurposed. There’s nothing special about these jacks. It is interesting the way they fit the enclosure. You don’t need hold them from the inside when you tighten the nut.
The LED is mounted to a small board. I used the LED and board. I just replaced the wires because I needed a little more length. The LED is a typical red 3mm type. Nothing special here.
I usually don’t use a battery but, since the clip was there and partially wired it was easier to just keep it! I wired up the battery snap for this build.
I went with a relay switching system, more on this below, the existing switch worked well for this! I left the existing switch in place along with the wires.
The pots from the DS-1 were B100k, B100k, and B20k. Since I was building a Big Muff I needed 3 x 100k pots. I kept two of the original pots and replaced the 20k pot with a A100k pot. The two B100k pots were 16mm and B20k was a 9mm pot with pins at 90 degrees. It looks like you could fit 3 x 16mm pots but I didn’t test this theory and just brought another 9mm pot.
All of the pots had a small PCB with a ribbon cable running to the main PCB. I used these small boards and the existing ribbon cables.
Note! The ribbon cables use thin solid core wires. These seem like they would break easily but Boss glues both ends to their respective boards with some kind of industrial glue, maybe epoxy. I took their lead and glued the end of the ribbon cable to the PCB with some gorilla glue. The glue anchors the end of the wire where it’s prone to breaking.
They did the same with the DC jack, this type of jack is prone separating from the board on other pedals, I’ve fixed a few of these in the past. Not on Boss pedal! The jack is soldered then glued to the board! I’m surprised other manufacturers haven’t caught on to this.
I reamed the enclosure to fit a standard DC jack. I used a couple of those plastic washer to keep the jack from extending too far out of the enclosure.
The knobs are nothing special. They use splined knobs rather than knobs with a set screw. I kept the pots so I kept the knobs. I had to get a new knob for the replaced 9mm pot since I couldn’t get a 9mm pot with a splined shaft or at least a 9mm pot with 90 degree pins with a splined shaft.
Boss uses an electronic switching system paired with a buffered bypass. Seems like you could use this some how. This might be a future project…
For this project I decided on something I could more easily understand. I went with a relay switching system. This is an electronic DPDT that includes a circuit that also handles the LED. The system uses a Microcontroller that tracks the SPST, powers the LED and switches the relay.
I went with the Madbean pedals Softie system. It has some good features. It is also true bypass. The effect path through the relay is essentially a wire connection all the way through. A nice feature of the Softie is if the power goes off it switches to bypass. The relay has an estimated failure of 100k clicks so it should outlast a stomp switch.
I chose the Softie 2 board. Madbean offers three PCB versions 1, 2, and 3. The Softie 2 is made for 1590B sized boxes. I thought this would good but I wasn’t thinking in 3D. This board mounts parts on both sides which makes it taller even though the footprint is smaller than the other boards. I still made it work but, a wider flatter board, with all the parts on one side, would work better in this enclosure.
The Softie works well. Assembly is easy. Some of the parts you’ll need to order from Mouser so it won’t be as cheap as a 3PDT switch. Wiring is easy. Overall I’d recommend this for other projects.
Used Boss DS-1
Madbean Rabbit Hole PCB
Madbean Softie PCB
Cost estimate to build a Big Muff in a Boss enclosure
But What about the finish?
I didn’t paint the enclosure. This would have added a lot of time, cost, and effort to the project. Admittedly it would have looked far more amazing when it was finally finished. I was not super excited to try and peel off that rubber pad on the foot switch and glue it back on. You might be able to mask this. Also sanding the enclosure did not inspire me.
I think I might just slap a label on this to remind me what’s in the box. As it is the existing labels: Tone, Level, and Dist work for the Big Muff. Though the arrangement is not what I would have done. The small center knob is Level. Intuitively I reach for the upper left when I want to adjust the Volume. Sounds!
Here is a short video clip of a stock Boss DS-1 next to the Boss Muff. I built the Boss Muff to the spec of a Green Russian Big Muff. Not sure if I made a mistake or if it’s the nature of the green Russian but it has lots of bass. This would be great for bass.
So was it worth it? The whole process was easier than I thought it would be. The cost was higher than building other projects but not as high as I thought it might be. Reusing parts from the DS-1 saved on costs for pots, jacks and knobs which are some of the more expensive parts.
I could have shaved the costs down if I could have traded for a Boss pedal or watched Reverb for a couple weeks looking for a deal. I just bought the cheapest DS-1 I saw and paid the asking price. Besides waiting for a $25 DS-1 to show up on Reverb and then see $15 shipping is a little anticlimactic.
Overall the experience was informative. I think I enjoy having the rehoused Big Muff. I’ll probably use this pedal. The process revealed some of the tech used by Boss in their pedals. I’m definitely going to do a follow up…
Check out this Make Guitar Podcast where we talk about building the Boss Muff:
Haunting Mids is a Big Muff variant. In a nutshell it’s the input buffer, and first two clipping stages from the regular Big Muff circuit. It drops the tone control and the output buffer of the original circuit. There are a few other changes in part values but the the circuit is otherwise the same.
Haunting Mids Fuzz is not to be confused with JHS pedals Haunting Mids which is a completely different circuit that came later.
I created this PCB layout from version 3 of the original Haunting Mids. I made small change by moving the sustain/gain control to the outside of the box. The original circuit used an internal trim pot with only the volume accessible from the outside.
The PCB was designed in Eagle PCB. You can order boards from OSH Park for fairly cheap but you must order three. You can order boards here:
this should be a pretty easy build. Without the tone control and output buffer there are fewer parts than the original Big Muff. Pots and LED are mounted to the board. And most of the off board connections are lined up along the bottom of the board for easy wiring.
The parts are standard and easy to find. You should be able to order all of the parts at Tayda.
LED Red 3MM
LED Red 3MM
The circuit shows BC337 transistors but these don’t seem to be so special. You should be able to replace these with just about any NPN device. The usual suspects 2N3904 and 2N5088, or maybe 2N5089 if you want more gain.
The diodes are the same. You can probably experiment with anything for diodes in this circuit. The choices here are interesting definitely try them. But if don’t have these parts or can’t get them use what you have!
I always get into something for a while, then need to take a break. There are a few hobbies I always seem to come back to. Pedal making is one of these!
I dug out a few of the boards I started before the last break, and ordered a few more. Sat around soldering the last couple days and here we are!
Here are three PedalPCB Parentheses Fuzz. I made a few of these before and they sound really great. This is a clone of the EQD Life pedal with a couple mods. If you’re looking for one I’m going to sell these when they are done. Currently I’m wringing on parts. That mini four position switch is hard to get. Seems like PedalPCB is the only place that has these.
First are three Fuzz Factory boards. Next are three Haunting Mids Fuzz. This is the first version of a PCB i designed. I’ll post a project for this once I’ve tested it. First on the bottom row are two Nobels Overdrives. These are AionFX Andromeda PCBs. Next is a left over Vulcan, and last is a Big Muff board from Madbean. I’m going to build this using the green Russian spec.
This is the second version of the UBE Screamer board. This version fixes a mistake with the reverse polarity diode. I’m calling this ready for public consumption and will add it to the OSH Park projects pages soon.
The enclosure is grounded through the jacks. The bottom cover though doesn’t make an electrical connection to the main enclosure body due to the powder coat. I used a drill bit to remove the powder coat inside the count sink recess, this allows the screw to make contact with the back cover for full shielding.