My first almost-home-made fuzz effect pedal

First of all I apologise for my english but I thought that this way is the best one to be read from more readers as possible.

So, the goal was to have a Fuzz for my bass guitar: a Fender Jazz clone made by Kasuga in late ’70.

As soon as I realized that Big Muff was the best one, I’ve started searching over eBay for a good bargain. The best price I’ve found was around 80 euros plus shipping. Too much for me and basically for a single occasion.

Than the spark: Big Muff is an early ’60 effect pedal and so, it can’t be so difficult to find a schema and build a clone. So, my research over the web started in a bang.

The fist ours passed finding customization of the most famous effect pedals. Than, out of the blue, I’ve started finding an entire world of schema, easy circuits, customizations and so on.

The very first useful web site was this one:

http://www.home-wrecker.com/bazz.html

Here I found a really very easy schema to build. Not quite a number of components, easy schema… and evolutions was present too.

Let’s begin.

First of all, I’ve bought almost all the components to be able to build all of the three version listed on the web site. Unfortunately where I live, some component wasn’t in the store so I had to buy the equivalent version.

Going on….the first attempt to build the pedal was a complete fail! No sound, any noise: nothing of nothing. I made a rush to build the effect so…that was the minimum the I could expect.

The second attempt was more clear in soldering and building the whole but…the result was the same. Nothing. So I started spending ours and ours surfing the internet to find out what the schema was trying to tell me…and that I wasn’t able to make out.

And so, ours by ours, day by day, I decided to buy once more a brand new copy of the whole pieces… This because off I was afraid to have bought some wrong component (and that was quite true…and was a customer fault).

I realized that a proto-building version was needed so, I left the board and I started soldering components in the air…

Even this try was a fail. Because of this I’ve dismantled everything once more and tried again. This time the pedal works even with a huge amount of noise.

But….let’s move on to the real work with some data more.

This is the schema I used for my pedal. The schema and the idea belongs to the author runoffgroove. com

Now, the first problem I meet was the jack. One for the input signal and one for the output. On the left we’ve got the input while on the right we’ve got the output.

Symbols for the jack are different. On the left we see a stereo jack while on the left there’s a mono jack… But…why stereo for the input signal? Bass and guitar produce a mono signal. Only my friend Daniele Pintaldi explained to me and now I’m going to do the same for you.

This is a stereo connector and it is positioned at the beginning of the pedal.  The jack owns three lugs. You can find in the picture an upper lug, a middle and a lower one.
Check for your connector and identify each lug with what is connected.

One must look like a simple ring with a lug: that’s the ring and it must be connected to the ground.

Another one is one of the two stereo signal and the lug should face against a middle long wing. This lug must be connected to the negative of the battery. Because off you are interrupting the negative signal between this and the ring signal. Doing so you are using the male jack as a power switch. Once you’ll put the line in in the jack it will bind the ring to the 9v battery closing the circuit and leaving the power flow in the circuit.

The last lug must be connected to the first capacitor (the value depends on the schema you’re following).

For the output signal you don’t need a switch any more so, a mono jack is enough.

Now, the capacitor sold to me the first time wasn’t polarized so I could be free to solder it as  I preferred but….by the way the pedal wasn’t working I decided to buy a new, polarized one.

So I bought a new 4,7 uf polarized one with the  negative soldered to the positive signal coming out from the input jack.

The next step is the transistor. Basically I hadn’t been able to find the one of the right value so I’ve bought an equivalent. Searching over the web a big doubt comes up to me: my transistor is a CBE or a EBC? It makes really the difference so, once you got your transistor, look at the part number and search over the internet for the data sheet so you’ll be able to solder it the right way.

Another issue found looking in this forum: http://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?topic=77196.msg632837

Looking at it I found that there was a problem related to the verse of the diode. I’ll show you later how I’ve soldered on my board but, basically, if you solder the wrong way, flip-flop it and the sound will start immediately.

The last trouble I’ve felt in was related to the pot at the end of the circuit, one step before the output jack.

This component owns three lugs: one goes to the ground and two lugs break the line signal to increase or decrease the volume level.

I’ve bought a linear pot but I think that a logarithmic should works better. By the way, all you have to do is solder the thread coming from the last capacitor to one of the external lug of the pot. The central one must be soldered to the positive phase of the output jack. The third one lug must be soldered to the ground.

Now you should have your board working almost properly. Try to find “your” sound changing the value of the resistor located next to the positive of the 9V battery, the input capacitor, the diode (try leds of different colours, for instance).

For my pedals, my friend Daniele, used a trimmer to play around resistor value from 10000 to 22000 hom and we found that 22000 was almost the better value for a great fat and fuzzed sound.

Next time I’ll post some photo of my board. I’m looking forward to get my items from Germany… a pedal box and a 3DTP which is a footswitch able to make my pedal a true by pass effect.

See you next time.

D.

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