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.

Parentheses Fuzz postmortem

What is it

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?

Costs

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.

  • 1590xx enclosure
  • Switches 3PDT x 3
  • 4PDT mini switch
  • PF5102 x 3
  • 1N34a
  • PCB
partcosttotal
1590XX$13$13
3PDT Switches$3 x 3$9
4PDT rotary switch$4$4
PF5102$1 x 2$2
1N34a$0.50 x 4$2
PCB$18$18
knobs$0.50 x 6$3
total$51
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.

  • LM308
  • OP07
  • CA3130

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:

  • J112
  • J113
  • 2N5457
  • 2N5458
  • BF244

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.

Results

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!