Templates from Ponoko

I just got these templates from Ponoko.
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Tube Steak build

Tube Steak build was originally published on Super-Freq

More OSH Park PCBs

These are some more PCBs from OSH Park. There is an IC Big Muff, Tube Steak, and a Woolly Mammoth.

The Tube Steak I created from a schematic posted by Charlie Barth at Moosapotamus.net. Tube Steak Fuzz is a cross between the Tube Sound Fuzz, and Way Huge Fat Sandwich. Here’s a link to Charlie’s article read it for yourself: Tube Steak Fuzz.

The IC Big Muff also called the op-amp Big Muff was a version of the Big Muff that used two op-amps in place of the four transistors used in the classic Big Muff Design. Here is a link to more information in the op-amp Big Muff.

The Woolly Mammoth is a PCB design that I made as a clone of the ZVex Woolly Mammoth. I really like the sound of this one. Designed as a fuzz for bass, it sounds good with guitar also. The design is based on the Fuzz Face.


Zeke Bass distortion

Completed clone of the Ezekiel 25:17 Bass Distortion by D*A*M. I built this with PCBs from OSH Park, see my previous post.


Osh Park PCBs

IMG_1158.JPGI just received this order from OSH Park. I order four boards. You are required to buy three copies of each board you order. The cost is $5 per square inch for 2 layer boards (with 3 copies of your board included in that price). Which is not bad, if the boards are small it’s a deal. For example, the SHO was $3.20 for three boards! The Fuzz Factory boards, were $7.75 for three, still a good deal. The Haunting Mids boards were just under $5 each, and the Zeke Bass Distortion was about $8.50 each.

Of course getting boards for designs that people upload with little info can be chancey. There should be more options on the site to comment, and mark boards as verified. Looks like not all projects are shared. User decide to share a project. Hopefully people make an order and test it before sharing.

The quality of the boards is great. A couple things I noticed. There is no solder mask. The pads are gold plated, which is nice. I find the solder mask easier to solder with. Look at the first image. You can see the backside of each of the four boards. Notice the board in the upper right. The pads are fairly small. I think, this is the default pad size in Eagle PCB. It’s not easy to solder, It’s not super difficult either. The two on the left have a more generous pad size. This size makes for a better soldering experience.

I’ll post again when build these boards…

For reference here are some links to the boards I ordered here:











Royal Jelly Buzz #2

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SG Jr kit

this was built from précis ion guitars kit. I made a few small modifications.

The finish is a wipe on wax from wudtone. This looks really good and was very easy to apply, required no special equipment, and, best of all, no toxic fumes! You could apply this stuff in your living room, seriously. It was very easy to do. The cost was not cheap, though not bad for a single guitar.

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Hello kitty Stratocaster

This is a great little guitar. It’s essentially Squire stratocaster with a San rio license.

The body is basswood and the neck is maple. It’s got a single humbucker and volume control.


I got this on Craigslist for $50. Not a bad deal. I think it was actually a very good deal. Everything worked but the guitar did not play so great. You can’t even buy all of the parts for $50, at that price you have to expect to put something in yourself.



I took the neck off and gave it a fret level. One of the frets was sticking up. So I glued that down with a little super glue.


This was the first time I had leveled frets. So the $50 guitar was a good place to start. I got the neck as flat as I could get it. Taped up the fret board. I used Shapie to color the frets. Then ran the leveling beam across the frets. I sanded the frets down until I could see some ink being removed from all of them.

Then I made a new nut. This was also a first time. I started with a plastic blank. It had some grooves but, these needed to be deepened and the rest of the nut needed to be shaped.


This turned out well after some trial and error. At one point the nut seemed to be adjusted well but, the high e string exhibited a sitar like ring. In the end I fixed this by lowering the string tree to increase the break angle of the e and b string over the nut.

After the fret level I could lower the action considerably. The guitar was playing pretty good. At this point the height adjustment screws in bridge sadle of the low e string were sticking out and digging into my palm. I took them out and cut two threads off the bottom of each with some big wire cutters.


The I filed the ends smooth. I could have cut another one or two threads off as about one thread was still sticking out the top. But it didn’t bother me so I decided to leave well enough alone.




Last I adjusted the bridge height and set the intonation.

Do NOS parts make a difference?

I just read this article, you should too, read it and come back.

I feel there is something to sound created by parts made from different materials and techniques. I also feel in the world guitar audio, the word “tone” is used in so many different ways it’s essentially meaningless. Beyond “sounds good” the word tone can mean anything. Just knowing what something is influences your opinions, and subjective experience. I’d really like to submit this person to a blind A/B test and see if they can really tell the difference between wire with a different types of PVC coating.


Anyone that has read Freakonomics, or listened to their podcasts, will understand that the value of something is often effected by irrational behavior. The belief that something is better, is often determined by the cost not quality. There are many ways to convince people that something costs more, make it with hard to obtain parts for example. Read this Feakonomics study on the price wines.

Do these older parts sound better? They might, or they might not. Of course if you tell someone that they are listening to a 1965 Marhsall, they expect it to sound great. The real trick is to not tell them and let them make up their own minds. I encourage every musician out there to decide what sounds by ask themselves if they like it, regardless of whether it was played by Jim Hendrix, on a 1959 Fender Stratocaster through a 1965 Marhall JCM 45/100.

Building electronic stuff, many people have many ideas about the various sounds of caps and resistors. Joe Gore, performed a very ingenious test. Which showed that the audible difference between various caps is mostly inaudible. Read about here

SF Guitar works, a guitar shop in San Francisco that I highly recommend, did an informal guitar cable test. Read about it here. This is an illusion based industry that makes millions and employs thousands.

I applaud the idea of creating vintage gear from left over parts, or trying to recreate something that isn’t made anymore as closely as possible. There’s a lot to learn, homage is great. I also applaud the idea of making things, using old things as a springboard or evolution. This is what is great about DIY stomp boxes builders.

Getting lost in world of wire with different coatings and claiming to be able to hear the difference in sound, makes me very skeptical.

Bass Overdrive – build

I recently built the Bass Overdrive from GuitarPCB.com. Here are some pictures and notes following the process. I ordered these last week, and the package was mailed the next day and arrived quickly. Everything was packaged well, and it ben cam with a guitar pick!

I have a lot of parts on hand, so I didn’t place any special orders. This project looked to use very standard and readily available parts. I figured I’d have everything. As it turned out, there were a couple things I didn’t have. So i had to make a few substitutions. I made some notes about the substitutions I used below.


This is a high quality PCB with plated through holes. You don’t need to use much solder. Just a little touch at each connection.

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Solder resistors

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Solder caps

Notes, used 47uf for c5. I didn’t have enough 22µf caps on hand. This shouldn’t make much difference here. A larger cap incases the gain on lower frequencies. The stock value of 22µf is large enough to cover the entire range of bass guitar.
Box caps from futurelec
Others from mammoth if I recall.
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Solder transistors

Note: I used some sockets here. I always do this on the first build of anything. Also good for experimentation.
Mil max sockets are my favorite. Got these from mammoth. I cut three, three pin lengths.
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Solder trimmers

The PCB has a nice set up with holes for different types of trimmers nice. I used parts I had on hand nothing special ordered. I didn’t have 3 x 5k trimmers so, I used a 10k for TR1 this is fine though, it might be a little harder to adjust.
Not sure where these trimmers came from. Either a grab bag from RS or futurelec.
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Solder pots

These pots mount to the board. They need to sit just above the board, with some space. I use another PCB between the board and pots when soldering to get a good space.
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I didn’t have B100k pot with legs so I made one. Soldered some wire to the lugs. Then added some heat shrink tubing to stiffen it a bit.
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Before soldering the pots I check to make sure that no off board wiring will happen under the pots. In this case not, so I solder the pots now. Double check the values to make sure the right pot is in the right spot.
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Add wiring

Cut some 4 to 5 inch lengths of wire I have a bunch of this solid core wire that I’m trying to use up. The length is not important. If you make the length as long as the box you are going to use you can be reasonable sure the wire will reach where it needs to go inside the box when you need to make these connections.
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Trim the legs bend them straight. Get the spacing to match the sockets. make sure the height won’t leave these sticking out, above the rim of the box. Q1-2 are MPFA102, while Q3 is 2N5457. Don’t mix these up! Though, in this circuit, it might still work. You might event want to experiment with different transistors in different stages. For the first test it’s probably a good idea to stick with the stock values.
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Before boxing things up it’s probably a good idea to test. It’s easier to investigate and fix problems with everything out of the box. I have a test rig with two jacks and a switch. This is wired up like a stomp box, with three wires: in, out and ground.
The holes in the front can hold pots if they are lose. In this case the pots are attached to the PCB.
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I use this Heath Zenith power supply for testing. There’s a red and white wire that end in a couple alligator clips.
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I use this amp on my desk for testing. It says Webcor on the front, it’s and old tube PA. I got it at a swap meet a couple years ago. It’s got a volume knob on the front. Someone modified it by adding a 1/4″ jack on the back. Sound okay.
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Test rig wired up

Using a solder less breadboard I connect the effect to the test rig. Don’t forget to connect ground!
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The test guitar

I’m using Squire Sub-Sonic, it’s a baritone guitar. I have it tuned to low B. I usually play guitar. Should be good for testing a bass overdrive. If everything works we’ll break out the bass.
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RS multimeter

This is a multimeter I bought from RS fifteen years ago. Still works just fine. Set the multimeter to 20v. Time to test and set the bias for the transistors.
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It’s hard to take these pictures when you need both hands. Use the panavise as a camera stand.
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Take a measurement from each transistor from the leg closest to the trimmer and GND. I use the volume pot, the leg closest to the center of the board for GND this is was easiest  to touch with the probe.
First test too low at first. Turn the trimmer and measure again until we get close to 5V.
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Bias to 4.95v
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Bias up close to 5v. This first trimmer is a 10k I didn’t have enough 5k trimmers so used a 10k it was a little touchy but managed to get it pretty close.
After biasing all three transistors close to 5V. Turn on the amp and test things out.
No sound hmmm. After some thought I check the wiring. Looking closely at the in and out markings on the PCB. There are two wires for each. One is for ground the other is the hot or signal. Quick consultation of the wiring diagram, showed I had the out put leads reversed. Swap these and we have sweet overdrive.
The sound is not “hairy” definitely and over drive rather than fuzz or distortion. I’ll go out on a limb with my inexpert opinion, and say that the over drive sound emphasizes the second harmonic.

Time to box it up

This box came from mammoth electronics/4site. I like these boxes the screws are much better than some of the other 1590B knock I offs, though I suppose this is probably a knock off the Hammond. These screws really make these boxes the best choice in my opinion.
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Tape the drill guide on to the box. Make sure to leave a little room for the corner posts inside the box. I just eyeball it. You could break out a ruler and calipers. I’ll put the dc jack next to the switch on the right. I like to put these on top but I was afraid it get afould of the LED since that is top center.
I put a couple marks where I want to drill jacks and switch, see the small black dots.
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I drill starter holes with a smaller bit. Then step up to larger bits. I should really invest in one of these stepped drill bits. I hear these work well and save the time of swapping bits.
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Some times the holes are a little off, or a little too small. For this I have a round file and reamer I keep on had for small adjustments.
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After drilling

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I didn’t have one of those plastic bezels for the LED, I decided to just have the bare LED poking through the hole. This will work well since the LED is mounted to the board directly below the hole. I drilled the hole small and reamed the hole until the LED just fit. I had to adjust the holes a little with the reamer since I don’t have exact bits for each size pot, switch and jack. The reamer lets me get a good fit for each.

Test fit everything in the box

Time to test fit everything into the box. I’m going to use this Fulltone 3DTP switch. I got this switch in 2000 back then it cost $13 and this was the only one. No you can get these all over for less than $3. Back in the “old days” you had to jump through a few hoops to have true bypass and an LED. This switch was the easiest, though most costly method. I think Fulltone wanted these, and couldn’t get them. So he had them custom made. I guess Steve Daniels from Small Bear Electronics finagled a deal with Fulltone to sell these.
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Everything fits nicely. Plenty of room for the battery.
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Rubber stamps and ink

Now that everything works, and fits in box, time to fix up the box before putting it all together.
First I ash the box off in the sink with some dish soap and sponge.
I always buy a new stamp for a new pedal. I use Stazon ink. This is permanent ink that goes onto any surface seems to be pretty durable. You could scratch it off or sand it off, but doesn’t come off easily. If you put a clear coat over it to make it really durable. I have some pedals I made with just the ink, and they show less wear than painted pedals. It’s quick and easy no spray cans and little clean up. I haven’t tried it yet on a powepder coated box. I like these unfinished boxes they are cheaper, and have an industrial esthetic that I like. I do have an orange powder coated box for a future project.
You really need two sets of the letters to be able to spell things like Fuzz. I have two sets of the small letters and only one set of the larger letters. I should have bought two of the larger. The letters were cheap on amazon.
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Fit the LED without solder

To get the right height fit the LED without soldering. I’m using a regular LED make sure the cathode positive pin is in center hold, and the shorter negative anode is on the right.
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Add the jacks and switch

I build up the box, everything is hand tight, something might go wrong and I’ll need to take things apart, or I might need to move things around. I leave the switch out for now. This makes it easier to solder the DC jack.
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First solder the battery jack. I solder the red wire to the DC jack leaving enough wire to have room to the pull the battery out of the compartment when changing. I run the wire below the other jacks. I measure it and trim a little off to a good length.
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Next solder the black wire from the battery jack. I run this wire on the same route, and make sure it has about the same length. Solder to the ring lug on the input jack.
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Next solder the ground wire from the PCB to the dc jack ground tab. In retrospect I feel I should have ran it under the input jack.
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Now the ground wire from the PCB to the output jack. I route this one under the input jack, and tuck in out the way, I like this better. Neat and clean.
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Solder the input ground. I wrapped this under the jack and around. +9v wire from the PCB goes under the input jack also.
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Next install the switch. And solder the short wire
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Next add three short wires to S4-6. It’s not too difficult to solder them from the top is you leave a small amount of bare wire above the board, just enough to touch it with the tip of the iron.
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S4-6 and the in and out solder to the switch. I bent these wires so they ran in a bundle across the center. I’ll tie them together with a zip tie later to keep things neat. Notice the wires from the PCB input and output go to the upper corners on the switch.
Add the final wires to the tip lug of the input and output jacks.
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Tighten down all of the nuts. Caution, do not tighten the dc jack too tight, this type strips or breaks easily. Be sure to hold the item on the inside of the box while tightening so the it doesn’t shift. Careful with the wrench on the outside so not to scratch the finish.
Add some knobs.
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I always like to make two of everything. If something goes wrong with one I can compare. I can give the extra away to a friend, trade it, bring it to the musicians electronics swap, or sell it on ebay. These two are each a little different. On the left I flipped the PCB upside down. You can see this changed the position of the Volume and Drive knobs and moved the LED to a different spot.


Tonebender Professional MKII. Had a wrench-related accident that caused a huge scratch that I tried to cover up. I figured it wasn’t bad enough or worth the time to redo the whole paint.

Added an input limiter knob, “Attack” and “Level” I marked as “Fuzz” and “Volume” without even thinking.

I like the style of this one. 

SG jr


The Cherry Twins (fraternal).

61 Les Paul Junior / 68 SG Special

okay I have a thing for The Who. I love the simplicity of the SG jr! one pick up and wraparound bridge tail piece. For some reason Pete plays a Strat these days, or at least this is what I’ve seen in pictures. Nothing wrong with Strats, The Who/Pete Townshen wth Strat on the other hand is completely uninteresting.

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