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.
The Ugly Face has an interesting set of options. The Threshold knob has to be the most interesting though least useful. Last year I thought I’d add a tone control in it’s place. I wanted to build an Ugly Face and keep it in 1590B sized box. This format makes it hard to fit more than 4 Knobs. I decided to drop the Threshold and replace it with a Big Muff style tone control.
This was a pretty easy project, I already had a PCB and all of the parts on hand. The PCB I had did not have any space for the tone control. The Big Muff tone control requires, besides the pot, fours parts, two resistors and two capacitors. I remembered seeing an article on the Big Muff tone control over at Beavis Audio research where they mentioned soldering all of the parts on to the pot. I thought about this but decided against it. I have been using and planned to use these 12MM pots. Which seemed too small. Plus the box was going to be a little crowded and didn’t want to risk the parts shorting against something.
[picture of 12mm pot]
I decided to mount the tone control on a tiny piece of perfboard.Using small multilayer ceramic caps would make the whole thing fit easily.
[image of perf layout.]
Last was to run the output of the Ugly Face into the tone control before going to the volume.
I built an Ugly Face last week and took some pictures. This uses the Ugly face PCB I made and the typical DIY stompbox parts. I used the alpha 12mm pots in a B sized box. The more common 16mm pots would also work.
I’ve been fascinated by the Stompboxology and Stompbox Cookbook projects for a long time. I’ve only built a few and many of the ideas are hit and miss. The concepts presented are compelling none the less.
The Distort-o-matic VI for example, uses a very off the wall concept. The input signal is imposed on a 40k carrier wave. The carrier is a square wave generated by a 555. This signal is then fed to a high frequency transducer. The device has a high frequency receiver to pick up the signal from the transducer. The high frequency signal is filtered to leave the original input signal. Who thought of this? And what was going through their mind at time? This is so nutty!
Not sure what it will sound like. Figure you have to built it and find out. This is where we get to the hit and miss quality of the Stompboxology projects. Stay tuned for some sound samples…
I ordered all the parts to build this thing a long time ago and never got around to building it till now. Joe had the idea that we should explore the 555 and find some new things to do with it. So I dug the Stompbox Cookbook and found the Distort-o-matic VI. I etched up two boards and drilled them.