Project: Fuzz

Has it really been 5 months since I posted a completed effect pedal build? Holy cow. Time to end that.

I present to you my latest build, a fuzz pedal:

A couple of things about this one.

1. This is my first active build in a 1590a enclosure. I had done a few pickup simulators a couple of years ago. I also built three utility boxes (2x buffer, 1x power conditioner) in 1590a-sized boxes back in March. As for actual active effects capable of bypass, this is my first.

2. This is the “proof of concept” for the new (to me) finishing technique I am developing. It is not as simple as you would think. As you can see, it involves glitter and epoxy, but I am discovering that certain techniques and materials provide the best results. Obviously, the finish on this one is not perfect. There are a few air bubbles, and a few areas of thin glitter. I have a ton of new ideas on how to improve the process and results, and will be sharing them as I test them.

3. The circuit isn’t anything unique or special. It is basically an Axis Face, minus the “smooth” control. When I tested on my breadboard, I wasn’t a big fan of the super low gain of the PN2369A and BD139. I ended up using a BC107 for Q1 and a BC109 for Q2. The HFE is 165 for Q1, and 283 for Q2. It sounds good.

5. There are two 3mm white LEDs mounted to the switch, consuming 6mA total. They make the sparkle areas glow nicely when the effect is engaged. No popping.

6. The knobs are not knobs at all. They are screw protectors, made by Crown Bolt and purchased at Home Depot for next to nothing. There is a black cover pressed on to the potentiometer shaft, and a white cover slipped over the black one. I like it.

Here are the project files for this build. Included is the ExpressPCB/ExpressSCH files, and a PDF toner transfer. Note that there are two PCB files– one has curved traces, the other does not. Your choice, I suppose. Note: This is not an easy build. The board is very tight, the pots require filing to get them to fit, and 1590a enclosures present challenges that are probably best avoided for novice builders.

Project Files [ZIP]

As always, if anyone builds one of these, I would love to see the final results.

More to come!

Fender Starcaster Pedals are Boss Clones

They’re junk, right? Not quite.

The Fender Starcaster pedals are actually near-clones of Boss pedals. I know because I have personally traced two of them, and built cross-reference guides for anyone wishing to modify their pedals.

I noticed that people have been accessing my cross-reference charts recently. Unfortunately, they are stored in a random spot on my other website. In the interest of consolidating the information I have shared, I am removing them from their original location, and putting them here.

Without further delay:

Cross-reference chart: Fender Starcaster Distortion vs Boss MT-2 Metal Zone

Cross-reference chart: Fender Starcaster Chorus to Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble (Analog)

It is worth noting that these effects are not true bypass. They are, however, setup using this bypass. It is easily upgraded with a standard 3PDT switch, and I highly recommend doing this so as to avoid signal bleed when in bypass.

That is all.