Time to make Sawdust – The first time I tried to create some Toanz

Firstly I must apologise, this post is many months late. I tried my hand at creating a pedal many months ago now. A house move has meant that all of my tools and electrical components have been in storage. 

I felt that I wanted to understand guitar pedals more and the best way to do this would be to have a go at making one myself. I stupidly went into this with very little knowledge and next to none of the tools that I needed for the job. 

Lets just say it took more than a few articles and YouTube videos before I had a faint grasp of what I needed to do.

I didn’t want to dive straight into the deep end with this and decided to buy a pre made PCB from eBay. I purchased a few different PCBs. A couple of fuzz pedals, distortion pedals and buffers. The buffers I can incorporate into the distortion/overdrive pedals. This is what a lot of pedal manufacturers do now anyway as it helps to preserve the signal over long signal paths. The buffers are very simple, only compromising of a few components, put if I was going to put them within distortion pedals this would be more complicated, so I decided to save this for later on. The fuzz pedals were a sort of middle ground, not too complicated, not as complicated as the distortion/buffer combo, and not as simple as the buffer on its own. 

I set up a rudimentary work station on the dining room table with the little tools that I had. Before this I set up I had created a spreadsheet with the components I needed for the 3 different circuits. This meant I could cross check which components I could buy for more than one circuit and those which I needed just a couple of for one circuit. I had already bought multiple PCBs of each kind, therefore I needed multiples of most of the resistors and other small components. This was not a problem as most of them are sold in multiples of 5 or 10. 

I have done a small amount of soldering in the past at school, but I would not say that I am very good, although I most certainly improved as the project went along. I made a few mistakes along the way and the first pedal was certainly messier than the second. But they both work. Infact due to my new found confidence whilst working on the second one I tried to make the internals neater. This resulted in me shorting the circuit when I caught one of the wires with the soldering iron, without realising. It was an easy enough fix, but it was one of those, problems that I couldnt see an immediate answer for. It was only due to being able to look at the first one that worked correctly first time that I could see the mistake I had made. 

So, what are the pedals like. Loud. Noisey, simple, not particularly useful but fantastic all the same. Most probably because I made them with my own fair hands. Yes I didn’t create the circuit, or print it myself. and yes I still don’t really have much of a clue as to what I’m actually doing. In all honesty this was more akin to an airfix model or a jigsaw than a scratch built scale model. But I learnt a lot throughout the process, and certainly know the areas in which I could improve. 

Once the man cave is somewhat complete, I will set up a desk with a good light source that I can use for soldering on a more permanent basis. It also helps that I now have a cordless drill rather than the hand drill shown in the images below. These first two were very crude, but I quite like the aesthetic. I went for a similar look to the Acapulco Gold from Earthquaker Devices. One large knob and one foot switch. I wanted to do top mounted jacks but space would not allow this with the cheap jacks that I used. I didn’t have the means to paint the pedals so the first one is unfinished. The second I covered in fabric. I’m not convinced this was a good idea, but at least I have tried it out. 

I have come out of this project with enough confidence that should I want/need an ABY switch, or a buffer I would not buy one, but simply make one myself. I have enough components to do this and all of the tools that I could need. Heck I might even try creating a finished product one of these days.

Anyway enjoy the pictures. I will write a separate post reviewing the BMF in due course. 

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