Boss Tonebender how about a Buzzbender?

We’ll call this the BZ-1. What got me started on these Boss rehousings was seeing the Boss Tone Bender TB-2w going for 3k on Reverb.com. These were super cool pedals but not worth more than than the list price of $350. I understand the idea of scarcity and knew there were only 3000 made, but I wasn’t going pay even $350 for a fuzz pedal. So I figured I could make one!

The Burns Buzzaround

If you’re curious about the Burns Buzzaround and how it relates to the Tone Bender check out here articles:

Building the BZ-1

There is always a solution when you can make your own! Since it was hard to get a two knob Boss enclosure, I decided to go with a three knob Tonebender variation. There are a couple to choose from. In the end I decided to go with the Madbean Pasty Face which is a clone of the Burns Buzzaround which is variant of the three transistor Tonebender family. I had read some good reviews of the Buzzaround and hadn’t built one before which made it more attractive.

Getting started

I started with a used Boss DS-1 from Reverb.com. Used these seem to go for about $40. I ordered a board from Madbean and I had most of the other parts on hand. The DS-1 comes with a lot of parts that can be reused: switch, LED, jacks, and the enclosure itself. I pulled everything out and except the jacks. I left all of the original wiring in place since I can reuse it.

The LED is mounted to a small PCB along with two wires. These wires were too short to reach the far side of the enclosure where the switching board will be so I replaced them with longer wires.

I built the Pasty Face circuit board first. I left the transistors off since these need some special selection. The build is pretty easy there are only a handful of parts and there is plenty of space to work.

Since I’m putting this into a Boss enclosure the pots will be mounted off board. I cut a piece of strip board to mount the pots to. This was tight fit using 16mm pots but just makes it. Then I soldered some strips of ribbon cable to the this board and then to the main PCB. I made the ribbon cable a generous length since to allow me to pull the PCB out without having to also remove the pots.

Boss uses an electronic switching and the enclosure is nice the way it is. I wanted the switching to work as it was without adding a 3PDT switch. To do this I used a MadBean Softie PCB. This is a relay switching system that works with a Microcontroller. The microcontroller is triggered by the original Boss SPST switch. The relay is a DPDT that handles true bypass switching, while the microcontroller handles the LED.

This system works pretty well and offers a couple advantages. The relay has a failure rate of 100k cycles which beats the 30k cycles of those blue 3PDT switches. Also, if power is lost, the relay switches to bypass. Overall I’d say this relay switching works well and is easy to install. The downside would that the cost is higher than the mechanical switch, and the parts are harder to get, I had to order relays from Mouser.com.

Choosing Transistors

The circuit uses three germanium transistors. With these old circuits there was a lot of variation with some Devices sounding better than others. I found this great thread with some suggestions about the gain and leakage for each of the transistors:

https://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?topic=98022.0

All pedal questions seem to lead to answers at DIYStompboxes.com. Great site and community, I highly recommend you check it out.

I have bag of germanium transistors. I got these from eBay and other sources and have been pulling parts from it for a while. What’s left are parts with less desirable values at this point. Luckily the thread above recommends lower gain devices for Q1 and Q2 and I have plenty of these!

In this circuit the first two transistors are setup in a Darlington pair. You can think of the two together as a single transistor with an hfe that is the product of the two. For example if both transistors had an hfe of 10 the pair in this configuration would act like a transistor an hfe of 100. This also multiplies the leakage of the two transistors. Which can increase noise.

Seems like the best choice here is low leakage, and low hfe/gain. Two transistors with an hfe of 50 would be considered low gain but in this configuration as a pair they would have gain of 2500!

Q3 seems like where all of the distortion/fuzz magic happens. From what I read in the thread above a higher gain, hfe 100+, is better here.

I identified three transistors that I thought would be suitable. I soldered some sockets into the board and auditioned the transistors with the back of the box open.

Everything was sounding pretty fuzzy good, so I removed the sockets and soldered the transistors to the board. I left about an inch of leg since I’d need to bend them over to fit everything into the enclosure with the back on. I wrapped the legs and the transistor body (not shown) in heat shrink tubing to make sure nothing shorted when I closed up the box.

What’s it sound like?

Sounds a lot like all those other 60s fuzz pedals but with its own character. The sound is thick and fuzzy. The tone control has a useful range. The sustain control goes from a muffled to tight buzz. Sort of like fuzzy bumblebee to swarm of wasps.

Boss Tonebender how about a Buzzbender? was originally published on Super-Freq

Boss Tonebender how about a Buzzbender?

We’ll call this the BZ-1. What got me started on these Boss rehousings was seeing the Boss Tone Bender TB-2w going for 3k on Reverb.com. These were super cool pedals but not worth more than than the list price of $350. I understand the idea of scarcity and knew there were only 3000 made, but I wasn’t going pay even $350 for a fuzz pedal. So I figured I could make one!

The Burns Buzzaround

If you’re curious about the Burns Buzzaround and how it relates to the Tone Bender check out here articles:

Building the BZ-1

There is always a solution when you can make your own! Since it was hard to get a two knob Boss enclosure, I decided to go with a three knob Tonebender variation. There are a couple to choose from. In the end I decided to go with the Madbean Pasty Face which is a clone of the Burns Buzzaround which is variant of the three transistor Tonebender family. I had read some good reviews of the Buzzaround and hadn’t built one before which made it more attractive.

Getting started


I started with a used Boss DS-1 from Reverb.com. Used these seem to go for about $40. I ordered a board from Madbean and I had most of the other parts on hand. The DS-1 comes with a lot of parts that can be reused: switch, LED, jacks, and the enclosure itself. I pulled everything out and except the jacks. I left all of the original wiring in place since I can reuse it.


The LED is mounted to a small PCB along with two wires. These wires were too short to reach the far side of the enclosure where the switching board will be so I replaced them with longer wires.

I built the Pasty Face circuit board first. I left the transistors off since these need some special selection. The build is pretty easy there are only a handful of parts and there is plenty of space to work.

Since I’m putting this into a Boss enclosure the pots will be mounted off board. I cut a piece of strip board to mount the pots to. This was tight fit using 16mm pots but just makes it. Then I soldered some strips of ribbon cable to the this board and then to the main PCB. I made the ribbon cable a generous length since to allow me to pull the PCB out without having to also remove the pots.


Boss uses an electronic switching and the enclosure is nice the way it is. I wanted the switching to work as it was without adding a 3PDT switch. To do this I used a MadBean Softie PCB. This is a relay switching system that works with a Microcontroller. The microcontroller is triggered by the original Boss SPST switch. The relay is a DPDT that handles true bypass switching, while the microcontroller handles the LED.

This system works pretty well and offers a couple advantages. The relay has a failure rate of 100k cycles which beats the 30k cycles of those blue 3PDT switches. Also, if power is lost, the relay switches to bypass. Overall I’d say this relay switching works well and is easy to install. The downside would that the cost is higher than the mechanical switch, and the parts are harder to get, I had to order relays from Mouser.com.

Choosing Transistors

The circuit uses three germanium transistors. With these old circuits there was a lot of variation with some Devices sounding better than others. I found this great thread with some suggestions about the gain and leakage for each of the transistors:

https://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?topic=98022.0

All pedal questions seem to lead to answers at DIYStompboxes.com. Great site and community, I highly recommend you check it out.

I have bag of germanium transistors. I got these from eBay and other sources and have been pulling parts from it for a while. What’s left are parts with less desirable values at this point. Luckily the thread above recommends lower gain devices for Q1 and Q2 and I have plenty of these!

In this circuit the first two transistors are setup in a Darlington pair. You can think of the two together as a single transistor with an hfe that is the product of the two. For example if both transistors had an hfe of 10 the pair in this configuration would act like a transistor an hfe of 100. This also multiplies the leakage of the two transistors. Which can increase noise.

Seems like the best choice here is low leakage, and low hfe/gain. Two transistors with an hfe of 50 would be considered low gain but in this configuration as a pair they would have gain of 2500!

Q3 seems like where all of the distortion/fuzz magic happens. From what I read in the thread above a higher gain, hfe 100+, is better here.

I identified three transistors that I thought would be suitable. I soldered some sockets into the board and auditioned the transistors with the back of the box open.

Everything was sounding pretty fuzzy good, so I removed the sockets and soldered the transistors to the board. I left about an inch of leg since I’d need to bend them over to fit everything into the enclosure with the back on. I wrapped the legs and the transistor body (not shown) in heat shrink tubing to make sure nothing shorted when I closed up the box.

What’s it sound like?

Sounds a lot like all those other 60s fuzz pedals but with its own character. The sound is thick and fuzzy. The tone control has a useful range. The sustain control goes from a muffled to tight buzz. Sort of like fuzzy bumblebee to swarm of wasps.

Parentheses Fuzz #5

I think this is #5 I’m losing count. These are so much fun to play the world needs a couple more! I used matte black sand textured enclosure. Which give this a good industrial vibe.

This is a pretty easy build for what you get. The board is a good size and parts are comfortably spaced. All of the pots are mounted to the board making wiring easy. The switches require some work but the pads are well organized.

The only down side is finding FETs and Ge diodes. Luckily D1 and D2 can be replaced by just about any type of type. D7, D8, and D9 could also be any type but Ge will have a noticeable sound to them. Ge diodes here will have a particular sound, not better or worse. If you’re looking for “that” sound you might stick with Ge for these. Otherwise test out any type of diode and use your ears to decide what sounds good here.

The main distortion circuit is based on the LM308 op-amp which are hard to get and can cost $5 or more, that’s a lot for an op-amp. Luckily the part is not critical. You can a few replacements. I used an OP07 which was $0.50 at Tayda.

The PF5102 FETs are hard to get. I used J112 from Tayda successfully.

And, it sounds amazing! This might be for sale check my for sale page.

Parentheses Fuzz #5 was originally published on Super-Freq

Parentheses Fuzz #5

I think this is #5 I’m losing count. These are so much fun to play the world needs a couple more! I used matte black sand textured enclosure. Which give this a good industrial vibe.

This is a pretty easy build for what you get. The board is a good size and parts are comfortably spaced. All of the pots are mounted to the board making wiring easy. The switches require some work but the pads are well organized.

The only down side is finding FETs and Ge diodes. Luckily D1 and D2 can be replaced by just about any type of type. D7, D8, and D9 could also be any type but Ge will have a noticeable sound to them. Ge diodes here will have a particular sound, not better or worse. If you’re looking for “that” sound you might stick with Ge for these. Otherwise test out any type of diode and use your ears to decide what sounds good here.

The main distortion circuit is based on the LM308 op-amp which are hard to get and can cost $5 or more, that’s a lot for an op-amp. Luckily the part is not critical. You can a few replacements. I used an OP07 which was $0.50 at Tayda.

The PF5102 FETs are hard to get. I used J112 from Tayda successfully.

And, it sounds amazing! This might be for sale check my for sale page.

RunOffGroove 22/7 Build

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.

Build post here for parts and PCB: http://www.super-freq.com/22-7-on-osh-park/

Build Process

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.

Haunting Mids Reflection

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.

https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/JtR27cHU

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:

Build

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.

Costs

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.

Factory of FUZZ (fuzz factory clone)

I’m always looking for the cheapest way to build pedals. I found these boards on OSH Park.com. Besides being a service for prototyping boards it’s also an open source repository of projects uploaded by the community. A board uploaded to OSH Park marked public can be ordered by anyone. The search function is not so great but it is searchable. I spent a day searching OSH Park for stompbox projects and found more than a few things that look worth building.

The OSH Park standard service is $5 per square inch with the requirement that you order three boards, and shipping is free. This usually cheaper than ordering boards from vendors but there is no support. One of the projects I found was a this Fuzz Factory. It looked well laid out and the cost was $7.75 for 3 boards, about $2.50 per board, which was pretty reasonable.

Order some of these boards here: https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/xaBILSTV. Check out my projects page for links to some OSH Park boards I designed. I have documentation here on my site.

With no build Docs you’re on your own. The Fuzz Factory is not a complex pedal and the schematic is readily available. Some OSH Park projects will link to documentation and other do not. This is a good way to level up your skills!

Getting Started

The Fuzz Factory is not a hard pedal to clone. The toughest part is wiring the pots. Getting a board where the pots mount directly to the board is a great help. Here three of the five pots mount to the board and two require off board wiring which makes a pretty easy build.

The Fuzz Factory has only a handful of parts. I soldered everything except the pots and the two germanium transistors. You’ll want to test a few transistors if you’re using germanium to get some that sound best. That said really everything even silicon can sound good in this circuit.

The Enclosure

For the enclosure I used a black powder coat 1590B from Tayda. For the logo and labels I milled the box using a desktop mill. The powder coat is removed to reveal the design. I created the design in Sketch on the computer exported some SVG files and loaded these into the mill.

Switching

I decided to try out a relay switching system. This uses a soft touch momentary SPST switch and some circuitry. I used boards from DIYGuitarPedals.com. Their system uses some discreet logic and a relay to handle switching and the status LED.

The PCB is designed to fit a 1590B or larger enclosure. It requires a few parts which are mostly easily available. The relay is available through Mouser. Erik over at DIYGuitarPedals was generous enough to send me two boards and the relays, thanks again Erik! Check out their web site and their YouTube channel.

The system uses a relay which is an electromechanical switch in a little box. The switch in this case is the RY9W-K. It’s a DPDT but rather than being engaged by a button or lever it’s engaging by an electrical voltage applied to a control pin.

In the picture below you can see the relay has 8 pins. The 6 pins on the left are the switching connections, each row is one switch, the center is the common connection that bridge to the outer connections depending on the state of the switch. Hey those six pins on the left are just like the pins on a regular DPDT switch-. The two pins on the right are the control and ground.


The board, relay, SPST switch, and other parts make up a single assembly that replace the 3PDT switches typically used for guitar pedals. You can see it neatly fits the lower bout of the 1590B enclosure.


Here is what the whole system looks like assembled. This is complete and could be dropped into any pedal replacing the standard blue 3PDT.

How does it work?

Unlike many relay systems that rely on a micro controllers this circuit uses only discreet logic. There are pros and cons to each. Using a micro controller requires some extra circuitry since the Micro Controller runs on 5v. They can be proprietary since someone has to write the software that runs the system. Using a Micro controller you can fit all the logic into an 8 pin DIP and add new features or up date the existing code. Using discreet logic your system can run on 9v, might have fewer parts, and won’t suffer from software bugs.

This system relies on the 4011 quad NAND gate to handle the switching logic. Check out this video for a more in-depth explanation of the switching logic.

Assembling the NAND Bypass board is pretty easy. Easier than making the Fuzz Factory board. It’s got very few parts and there is plenty of room to work. If you wanted to give this type of switching a try this would be a good place to start.

Building and wiring the Fuzz Face

The board mounts the three 10k pots and will accept 9mm or 16mm pots. If you are trying to fit this into a 1590B box in portrait orientation you’ll need to use 9mm pots! The two 5k pots are mounted off board. You could also build this in portrait with all 16mm pots.

I mounted the pots in the enclosure then soldered them to the board to make sure they were perpendicular to the enclosure.

I had some ribbon cable salvaged from an old computer. I used this to wire the off board 5k pots. The board marks the pins 1 and 3. Pin 1 also has a square pad. I used 16mm pots with pins that stick out perpendicular to the shaft. I cut a couple pieces strip board to interface the wires and the pots. This made for some nice clean wiring.

The bottom of the PCB is pretty close the corners of the enclosure. I’ll have to be careful it doesn’t short out there! This was a test fit. I needed to mark the positioning for the power, input and output jacks, then disassemble everything and drill these.

Once I got everything drilled I added some wires and reassembled everything. I realized I needed to move the two pots in the second row inboard a millimeter or two. You can see I had to file the holes a little.

I also installed the switching board. I stuck a little piece of wood to the side of the switch to brace it against the back of the enclosure. There was no way to brace the switch when tightening the nut.


You may have noticed the two germanium transistors are missing. Since these are notoriously inconsistent I decided I wanted to audition a few before selecting which would be used for this project. I have a bag of 40 I’ll test and measure these to find suitable pairs.

I have this TC1 Multi-function Tester. This cost about $17 on eBay. Well worth the money. It tests resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, and more. It will tell you all of the most useful information. It will also differentiate NPN, PNP, JFET, and MOSFET devices, and tell which pin is the base, collector, emitter, gate, source, or drain. Super handy.

Germanium transistors have a high degree of variation. Their hfe and leakage is very inconsistent across devices with the same part number. There is a lot of debate about what hfe values work best for different circuits. Some people like to judge by the numbers others like to use their ears. I’m going to go with a hybrid approach use the numbers to get in the ballpark and then audition by ear.

I measured all of the Germanium transistors in the parts bin, marked each with a number and made a spreadsheet of all the values I measured with the TC1.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10O7FYfs_f0x301CYvcvC7pWFFp8Ld2-e3oANXK-AOtc

This is a Fuzz Factory I built using a board from AionFX, it has a few extra knobs. I used sockets for the transistors. I figure I can plug some transistors into this to hear how they sound before soldering them into the new Fuzz Factories.

Here I wired up everything in the box. The NAND Bypass board is well laid out and labeled making wiring easy. Input and output jacks go to the input “In Jack” and “Out Jack” and the input and output from the PCB go to the “To PCB Input” and “To PCB Output”. It’s paint by numbers really!

At this point I gave it a test. I the LED worked, and bypass was working. So we’re goo to go. The last step is finding and installing some Ge transistors.

Tested some transistors in the green fuzz factory and decided on 1 and 9 from the spreadsheet. They had numbers that seemed to be the right range and sounded good.

Taco Fry Fuzz #1

The first us out of the way time to audition a couple more transistors and make the second box.

Tested a few more transistors and decided on #60 for Q2 70 hfe, and #21 for Q3 190 hfe. These sound good and we’re very close to the values for the first pedal. Which should make these sound very close.

What does it sound like?

The Fuzz factory is a highly variable fuzz. The sounds range from standard distortion to fuzz into high gain. It’s possible to dial in gated fuzz and zipper sounds. Not all of it useful in many cases. It’s all fun and inspiring.

Boss DRV-1981

This is a clone of the 1981 Inventions DRV rehoused in a Boss DS-1 enclosure. I used the PedalPCB Informant PCB and the MadBean Softie for this project.

The “Boss” DRV-1981

Why?

Good question! I suppose I saw the ridiculous prices people were paying for the Boss Tone Benders that had come out recently and thought I could just make my own. While I was exploring the idea it seemed it was easiest to three knob Boss enclosures. The cheapest pedals seemed to be the DS-1, SD-1, and the BD-1. So building a three knob was the best option. There are many three knob pedals out there. Big Muff, Tube Screamer etc.

I got a little sidetracked and built a Big Muff in a DS-1 enclosure first, see my post here. The second build was this 1981 DRV. I have a board for a three knob Tone Bender and am planning to work on that next.

The process The process was pretty straight forward.

The Boss enclosure is pretty roomy. Figure you can fit anything that might fit 125B sized box into a Boss enclosure. The donor pedal comes with LED, Jacks, much of the wiring already. No need to drill or install these things.

One thing that needs some work is the power jack. The power jack is mounted to the original DS-1 PCB in my build there was no place to mount this. To solve this I used one of those standard DC jacks with a nut. I needed to ream the enclosure to allow it to fit. I added a couple spare washers so the jack didn’t extend too far out of the enclosure.

Switching

Switching is an area that needed some thought. Boss uses an electronic switching system. The system uses a couple JFET transistors to route the signal either through the effect or from the input to the output. Another part of the circuit turns this off or on. There is also buffer.

A side effect of this system is that your signal is always passing through some electronic components unlike true bypass where the signal is essentially traveling through a wire from the input to the output when the effect is bypassed. I’ve never heard any complaints about The Boss bypass. Another potential problem is the signal is lost when power is lost, even when the effect is bypassed.

I used the MadBean Softie which uses a micro controller and an electronic relay. The relay is an electromechanical switch. It’s a DPDT switch that is activated by an electronic signal. This offers a couple advantages. First, it works with the existing switch in the Boss enclosure. Second, when in bypass it acts as true bypass, the signal is essentially traveling through a wire from input to output when in bypass. Third, if power is lost the relay switches to its default state which bypasses the effect. Last, the relay has a failure rate of 100k cycles so it should outlast a mechanical 3PDT switch, which typically has a failure rate of 30k to 50k cycles.

It isn’t all upside. The cost of the Softie PCB was $4 and you’d need an SPDT monetary switch which is another $2.50. That’s $6.50 compared to $2.50 for one of those standard blue 3PDT switches. In this case the Boss enclosure came witch an SPST.

I thought the Softie worked well. Madbean makes three versions of this board for different sized enclosures. I chose the smallest version that was meant to fit 1590B enclosures. I think I could choose a one of the other boards for the Boss enclosure. The reason the board I chose has a small footprint but mounts parts on both sides of the board making it taller than other boards, which makes it a tighter fit than it would appear.

The Informant/DRV needed three A100K pots. The DS-1 has two B100k and a B20K pot. I could have tried the B100K pots. Since I needed to replace on of the pots I replaced them all.

I used some of those 9- degree PCB mounted pots, two 16mm and one 9mm. I cut a piece of strip board and mounted the post to this. Then ran the wiring from the Strip board to the PCB.

I color coded the wires by the PIN number of the pots to make it easy to get them matched up to the correct holes on the PCB. I just did it alphabetical to make it easy to remember: Brown, Gray, Orange. Notice the center pot is backwards,

Cost

The cost of this project was higher than a typical pedal but not as bad as i was expecting. The cost of the donor DS-1 was the biggest expense. The DS-1 was $40 and it replaces about $10 of other parts. So this was roughly about $30 more than your typical pedal build.

Item Cost
Informant PCB $8
Softie PCB $4
Used DS-1 $40
TC1044 $2
Other parts $6
Total (estimate) $60
DRV-1981 costs estimated

The total cost was about $60 which was not that bad, or at least than I thought it might be when I started. The pedal is pretty solid and works well.

What’s it sound like?

Hopefully like the 1981 Inventions pedal. I haven’t tried one of the originals but this sounds similar to the demos I’ve seen on YouTube. Its a really driven sound with a tight low end. It has a very 80s sound.

The drive control starts at distorted and goes quickly to high gain. I find it sounds best to turn up the Cut control as you increase the gain to “shave” some of the “hair” off as gain increases.

For myself I like the lower range of the Drive control. Everything past 25% (9 o’clock) sounds very similar. I’d like to play with Drive and gain in the future. This might be replacing the Drive pot with a 50k pot, or possibly changing some of the other components to get a more useful feel for this control.