Boss Muff

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.

The Boss Muff is a Green Russian Big Muff in DS-1 enclosure

Sourcing enclosures

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.

Check out historical sales on Reverb here: Boss DS-1 Distortion (Silver Label) 1994 – 2021

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.

This is the donor DS-1 for ~$40 from Reverb.

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 contents of the DS-1 and the replacement boards.

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.

Pots from the original DS-1 mounted to the new PCB with the original ribbon cable.

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.

Switching

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.

Madbean Softie (left) and Rabbithole (right) PCBs

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.

Cost estimate

ItemCost
Used Boss DS-1$40
Madbean Rabbit Hole PCB$6
Madbean Softie PCB$4
Relay 80-EC2-4.5NU$2
Other parts$5
total estimate$57
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.

Conclusion

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 project

What’s Haunting Mids?

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.

this video compares 5 Big Muff Variants, Haunting Mids in is in the Middle


Another demo of the Haunting Mids



PCBs

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:

https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/Wu8UpzQE

Build

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.

Capacitors
C1220n
C2470p
C3150n
C4150n
C5470p
C6470n
C7150n
C8470p
C9470n
C10220n
C1147µ
Pots
VOLUME A100k
SUSTAINA100k
Diodes
D11n4001
D2 LED Red 3MM
D3 LED Red 3MM
D41n4742
D51n4742
D6 LED
Transistors
Q1BC337
Q2BC337
Q3BC337
Resistors
R133k
R282k
R3120r
R4470k
R518k
R61k
R78k2
R856k
R9100r
R10470k
R1110k
R128k2
R1382k
R14120r
R15470k
R1618k
R17RLED


Haunting Mids Fuzz schematic


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!

Wiring

Work in progress

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!

PedalPCB Parentheses Fuzz

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.

assorted PCBs in progress

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.

22/7 on OSH Park

Built and test this second version of the 22/7 by RunOffGroove.com. Sounds good. This is a great alternative for Big Muff fans. The OSHPark project is public and verified. Check it out on my projects page.

22/7 is a Big Muff built around CMOS inverters in place of the transistors used in the traditional BMP circuit. The CMOS inverters have a tube like sound when over driven.

Capacitors
C1        100µ
C2                   33n
C3            100n
C4             220p
C5               150p
C6                150p
C7             100n
C8              100n
C9                  3n3
C10                6n8
C11                 10n
C12                10n
C13               100n
C14               150p
C15     100n
Diodes
D1-4    1N914
D5              1N5817
D6           LED
IC
IC1       CD4049UBE
Resistors
R1      100K
R2                 470
R3       1M
R4       1K
R5      33K
R6       1M
R7        33K
R8       1M
R9        39K
R10         27K
R11                  1M
R12      1M
R13               330K
R14           100K
R15         RLED
Switch
RANGEON OFF ON 
Pots
SUSTAIN A100K 16MM 
TONE    B100K 16MM
VOLUME   A100K 16MM
Parts

Wiring

If you don’t want to build your own this one is for sale on Reverb.

UBE Screamer PCB v1.1

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.

Partslist

Capacitors
C1      10n
C2      2n2
C3        470n
C4       100n
C5        1n5
C6        150p
C7         100n
C8       100n
C9        100n
C10       100u
Diodes
D1        1n4148
D2         1n4148
D3         1n5817
D4             LED
IC
IC1      CD4049UBE
Resistors
R1       1M 1M
R2         470k
R3          470k
R4        100k
R5          100k
R6        10k
R7        1m
R8       10k
R9        100k
R10       100k
R11       100k
R12       220k
R13      Rx  (see note)
R14       330
R15         RLED
Pots
TONE   B500k 16MM      
VOL      B100k 16MM    
GAIN    B500k 16MM

Wiring

Build your own! Check out my OSH Park projects page. Or buy this one at my Reverb shop.

UBE Screamer by RunOffGroove

This UBE Screamer by RunOffGroove.com is a unique twist on the venerable Ibanez Tube Screamer TS-808. It replaces the op-amps and transistor stages with a single hex inverter using an inverter in place of each op-amp and transistor. This has a great sound that stands up to all of the other overdrives. Read more about it over at RunOffGroove.com

Well worth the effort, build it yourself! I’ve created a public project at OSH Park. Order boards and follow the build docs.

Ugly Face on OSH Park

Just published the Ugly Face v 1.1 to OSH Park. Built and tested, it works well! This is classic DIY project, it’s almost a rite of passage for new DIY stomp box enthusiasts.

The Ugly Face is more of a synthesizer than fuzz pedal. It produces square output from the input guitar signal. You can imagine the internal oscillator running whenever the input signal reaches a threshold. This gives you frequencies above or below the input frequency at the output. The Ugly Face also adds an envelope control to animate the oscillator frequency. The sound is surprisingly more musical than a lot of other “harsh” distortions.

Order some boards at OSH Park and follow the build docs below to make your own.

Guitar thing

This finely crafted guitar body was made from plywood with a mildly figured masonite top. The construction is much like the Danelectro guitars from the early sixties. The body shape is a Gibson Melody Maker, the neck and bridge are from a Fender Telecaster. The pickup arrangement and wiring will use three pickups and a five position switch like a Fender Stratocaster.

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