This is a clone of the Earth Quaker Devices Life. Which is a great octave fuzz.
The foot switches left to right are: Boost, Octave, Bypass,
The knobs left to right: Boost, Distortion, Filter, Volume, Octave. The center top knob is a four position switch that chooses the clipping type.
The circuit uses an octave similar to the Green Ringer info a ProCo Rat like distortion circuit built around a single op-amp followed by clipping diodes to ground. The center top knob chooses one of four clipping diode arrangements.
Parentheses Fuzz is a PCB from PedalPCB that is a clone of the Earth Quaker Devices Life pedal, with some mods. Originally designed as a sort of signature pedal for the Band Sunn o))).
What does it sound like?
This thing sounds lightly. It has a distortion, boost, and a switchable octave. The distortion is great, the boost works well, and the octave sounds pretty good for an analog octave effect. The controls provide volume, distortion, tone, boost, and a switchable option for the diode clipping.
What’s in the box?
Internally the pedal is based around the ProCo Rat circuit. The Octave section is similar to the Dan Armstrong Green Ringer, and the boost uses a BS170 MOST al a the ZVex Super Hard On. Not sure how they can up with the design. I wonder if Sunn o))) plugged all of these pedals together and asked EQD to make something that sounded the same or if these were just building blocks?
This is one of the more expensive projects to make. The PCB from PedalPCB is great, it’s works well, the layout is good, the pots and switch are mounted on the board. But it is also large and costs $18. That makes it the most expensive piece of the whole project by a large margin.
It is also requires 1590XX or larger enclosure. These run about $13. This and the board alone cost as much building a Big Muff in a 1950B enclosure. It also requires three switches 5 pots, and hard to get mini rotary switch. Overall I calculated the costs at about $65! Which is pretty high for a DIY project.
Besides the big ticket items some of the smaller parts are more costly and hard to get.
Switches 3PDT x 3
4PDT mini switch
PF5102 x 3
$3 x 3
4PDT rotary switch
$1 x 2
$0.50 x 4
$0.50 x 6
here’s a code break down of significant parts.
Here is a cost break down of significant parts. There is jacks, caps, resistors, and shipping.
What about the LM308?
These are hard to get and cost about $5 a piece. Personally I dont think the choice of op-amp will affect the sound of this circuit. All of the clipping happens after the op-amp, and then there’s the analog octave. Maybe my ears have been to too many loud rock shows, I can’t hear the difference. I had some suitable single op-amps on hand so used one of those.
Let’s talk about those transistors
The circuit uses a few transistors: PF5102, 2N5087, 2N5089, and BS170. Most of these are easy to get and I had them on hand. The PF5102 is FET and these are getting hard to find these days. Tayda had these stocked at the time I was building but they were about $1 each which is pretty high for a single transistor. Some research on the PedalPCB form found some alternative part numbers that were suggested as working. These included:
Be sure to check the pin out on any of these they may not be the same!
And the diodes
There are a few diodes of different types used here. Two of the diodes are used in the octave circuit D1 and D2. These are listed as GE, they might do better if matched. I read a few suggestions people had good results using 1N5817 diodes here.
The rest of the diodes D3-9 are used for clipping to ground and these could really be any type. Feel free to experiment and use what have on hand for these.
The last diode D100 is used for power supply reversed polarity protection and should be a 1N5817.
I built three of these. The build process was made easy by the great job PedalPCB did on the board. The off board wiring is significant due to the three 3PDT switches, each of these has 9 connections. The wiring is not difficult since the box is so large.
Of the three I kept one pedal and sold the other two on Reverb with an asking price of $200. I got $200 for one and took an offer of $165 on the other. After the Reverb fees I’m keeping 92.3% minus another $0.50. So I got roughly: $336.50. I spent roughly $195! So that left me with about: $141.50. I also have Parentheses Fuzz for my trouble. There is a possibility to cut some costs here but that also takes time energy and some up front investment. I’m just doing this as hobby.
I started the work in November 2020 and sold the second pedal in February 2021. Which wasn’t too bad on turnaround time. I have a few pedals on Reverb that I listed before starting building these that are still on Reverb.
So over all it was worth the efforts but I don’t think I’m going to quit my day job any time soon. I don’t think this is going to pay the rent but it’s not just losing money either. On the contrary it’s financing the next project!
I got three boards from Pedal PCB. This is a pretty good project. It cost a bit more than the usual 1590B sized projects. It works well and sounds great. I’m keeping one and selling the other two on Reverb as a way to support my hobby. Check this out on my Reverb shop.
Here’s another Life clone. I’d say this is really an evolution of the Life pedal. It has the octave as a switchable option. The octave comes before the fuzz section and is mixed with the input buffer. Makes for a good heavy sound.
John Hollis Titan boost/octave. This is an op amp input pre amp/booster into a transformer. The transformer is 1k/20k and can output 30v from a 9v battery. The switch inserts a diode bridge for an octave effect.
The sound of the boost warm and clear. The octave effect is pretty good and different from other transformer based effects since the input signal is clean rather than a fuzz tone.
Wired up this ampeg scrambler board I’ve had for a while. I’ve been trying to finish up all of the unfinished projects from the last few years.
Fired up first test. I used MPSA13 transistors. I got the PCB from John Lyons on DIYStompboxes. It’s the tone pad layout. The layout is set up for different transistor pin arrangements. The MPSA13s were working well, I was thinking to try some others before boxing this up.
Here’s an updated version of the octave fuzz. Q1 and Q2 set up a basic NPN Fuzz Face type circuit. While Q3 acts as a phase splitter. Q4 and Q5 act as a frequency doubler each side being fed an inverted signal from Q3.
So far the Fuzz section is working on the breadboard. The octave section is not working at the moment. I suspect the bias is off. Note the voltage around Q3. The collector and emitter voltages should be close to 4.5V. So far they are pretty far off.