Showing posts with label Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips. Show all posts

Debugging DIY guitar effects

Rule #1 in guitar pedal building is: "It NEVER works at the first attempt"

So you will have to learn quite quickly what to do when one of your wonderful DIY guitar pedal is not functional. Fortunately, beginners or tired experts often make the same very common mistakes.

Debugging guitar effects

In this article, I made a small list of things to check when your pedal does not work, from the most common to the least common errors. This is of course not an exhaustive list, but it includes a set of common problems and errors that you will surely encounter one day.

Here is my small troubleshooting guide.

Enclosure art: how to make good looking DIY pedals

One of the nicest parts of making guitar pedals is having a personalized design. However, it is quite hard to make good looking guitar pedals.

Here are a few techniques to make guitar enclosures pretty! You can of course combine these techniques to get the best looking pedal possible!

I will present you a lot of techniques, from the most basic ones to the most professional looking ones.


1. Bare aluminum enclosure

It is the simplest way to do: just let the enclosure in bare aluminum.

Please don't do that.
DIY guitar pedal bare aluminum
Bare aluminum enclosure guitar pedals simply do not look good. They really look like something cheap and dirty that you have done quickly in your garage, whereas you have probably spent a lot of hours on it!

It can be nice for prototyping though, you can improve the design later on if you are satisfied with the result. (practically speaking, it is very rare to improve the design... and I like good looking prototypes so not for me!)
  Pros
  • A circuit in a box is better than a circuit without a box... 
  • Cheap
  • Quickest possible method

  Cons
  • Not really good looking
  • Do not really reflect your hard work and dedication

Relay Bypass: final code

After the crowdfunding campaign, I decided to update the relay bypass code.

Indeed, this first version was nice, but one main drawback that was feedbacked to me is that the switch was activated on release, which was not always very intuitive or easy to handle. Moreover, I wanted to add a "temporary" bypass option in the Montagne Tremolo.

Montange Tremolo Relay Bypass

In this post, I am going to explain a bit the new code and to show you how I did it.

If you have not read my post about Relay Bypass, I highly recommend you to read it before reading this post. All the basics of microcontrollers are presented there.

  Tip! The full code is available on Github. With the relayonpress.c and header.h files, you will have everything needed to code or burn chips.

If you already have a GitHub account, you can Star the project for updates, or Fork it to modify it and make your own Relay Bypass code.

Lets go!

Hakko FX888D: a $100 high quality soldering station

Let's face it: your good old soldering iron is not always the best pal to work with.

I had some troubles with mine: no support to put it when I busy doing something else than soldering, which can be quite dangerous if it falls or burn something. Moreover, the power cord was quite short and not very flexible, so it was not always easy to find a good "spot" for it in order to be perfectly comfortable. Finally, it takes a long time before getting hot enough to solder, and 30W is sometimes a bit low to solder big potentiometer or jack legs.

So I decided to invest a bit in a soldering station.

After reading a lot on the web, I have found this little gem: the Hakko FX888D, a Japanese soldering station that you can find for $96 on Amazon

Here is mine:
Hakko FX888D

14 electronics suppliers for guitar effects (with pros and cons)

Finding good electronics suppliers is a key issue when building guitar effects professionally. Indeed, they play a huge role in traceability and quality of the components (where the components come from and what they are exactly), and also the price of these components. Sometimes, they can also add delays if they are bad with handling orders and shipping it quickly.

Goods electronics suppliers are the root cause of a good build quality for a pedal builder.

With my crowdfunding project, I have an intermediary position. I cannot order directly from manufacturers (because I would have to order thousands of units at least), but I can order from electronics wholesalers!

Already 95% of the components have been ordered, and I already received quite a lot of parts! Here is a picture of the switches I got this morning (more pictures will follow in a next post):




Create your own pedal company: good or bad idea?

If you already have made a few pedals yourself, you surely have thought about selling them or at least build some of them for other people. Create your own guitar pedal brand seems like a good idea on paper, however there are many pitfalls.... Lets talk about it!

Disclaimer: I make effects myself, and this post is not intended to "kill competitors" (with my 30 pedals a year...)! On the contrary, I think it is way better to be transparent and to talk about it: this is only my opinion, and feel free to express yours in the comments section :)

It is a complex matter that is not always easy to discuss peacefully because of money, and there are many different opinions on the subject. It is also the source of really long yet exciting threads on DIY forums (check this one!). The simplest option for me is to discuss it from my point of view as a builder. Thus, I will talk about Coda Effects, and well, just once will not hurt, about me, and give you some tips if you want to jump in it!

Early 2013, I started to show interest in guitar pedal building: after opening a Fuzz Face, I was quite astonished by the simplicity of the circuit (there is almost nothing in there!), and I realized that building guitar effects might be simpler that I thought.

Fuzz Face inside