Ruby Amp Build

Ruby Amp: Finished Cab without GrillOne of the things I have been wanting to do almost since I got an electric guitar – over ten years ago – is to build some of my own effects pedals. I decided earlier this summer (2012) that I am actually going to do that, by golly, and not just true bypass mods and control switchboxes like I’ve done in the past. Real analog effects circuits this time.

Then I realized that I wanted a way to test things at my electronics bench without lugging my mega-ton 112 combo up and down two flights of stairs and decided I needed a practice amp first. I could buy one of those, I guess, but I want to build stuff – why not that, too? And I managed to do it for practically free. Continue reading



Behold, shiney giver of electrons! This is one of those projects that had been kicking around in the back of the cranium for a while and came together all at once, mostly by accident. First, in the summer (of ’05) my cousin’s laptop power brick was deemed useless for it’s intended purpose when it caught fire because the ground wire frayed totally and made sparks. I was commissioned to get rid of said power brick. And the following Spring (’06) I took a metalworking class and was required to make a box. Perfecto chronologium. (No, that’s not actual latin for “good timing”.) Continue reading

My Mr. Clean

I ran across the idea (and the schematic) over on a page that seems not to exist anymore, and which was run by a guy named Mike Torchia. (Here’s the link, as long as that still exists.)

Anyway, I often have needed to switch quickly from a good drive to a lighter distortion and rolling down the volume knob on my guitar is a nusiance – never mind imprecise – and this thing essentially does the same thing with a stomp switch. Here’s the schematic (from Mike’s page):

The capacitor across the pot allows higher frequencies to continue making your sound sparkle instead of loosing all that treble, like when you turn down the volume knob on the guitar.  I have mine turned down a lot to give a lighter drive instead of my normal distortion and it’s a little finicky to set, but I think I may have used a linear taper pot instead of log taper. Ues log tapers for audio, folks!

RolyControl – Or, Using An SDE-1000 Rack Delay As A Stompbox

RolyControl is a hack to control the defeat, hold, and tap-tempo, and preset functions of the Roland SDE-1000 rack delay unit. (Great unit.) I built this out of the stomp switches from my Peavey Amp, a box, miscellaneous wire/plugs/jacks, a couple more stomp switches bought from Antique Electronic Supply, some Velcro, the ubiquitous plexiglass, rubber feet, and some wood. The two switches on the Peavey part simply function as Defeat and Hold; the other two control either preset switching or the tap-tempo feature, depending. (Bear with me here a moment, a couple pictures would help but I haven’t got them yet.)

On the back of the Delay unit there are two 1/4″ jacks, one for a preset switching switch (labeled ‘Preset’), and one for a tap-tempo switch (labeled ‘Playmate’, I think). If you have a switch (momentary) connected to only one, that one works great but you can’t access the other. But if you plug them both in weird things happen. I eventually figured out, after a bit trial and error, that with a jack plugged into both you can use one or the other by latching closed (‘shorting’) the switch of the one you don’t want.

So, one could simply make a box for each, with a momentary switch and a latching one, so the momentary switch does what you’d think it would and the other one defeats it and lets you use the other function. That, however, is entirely too convoluted (even for me), because in order to switch functions you have to latch one and unlatch the other, and if you either latch or unlatch both at the same time headaches ensue. (Got all that?)

(Click for full-size)

So naturally, you use one momentary switch to do the function you want and a latching one to select which function the momentary switch will do. Right? Of course right. The basic idea is that you have a latching DPDT switch that, in one position, connects the momentary switch to one jack and shorts the other one. And then when pressed, it reverses the jack connections. The concept is roughly similar to the StompMuter, but a bit different in execution. It works pretty nicely.

That’s two switches. The other two (the one’s that think they’re supposed to be Peavey Amp channel/reverb switches) control Defeat and Hold. Need pictures.

Just to comment on the switches  – I bought the El Cheapo $5 ones (from the link above) and they hold up all right. They don’t have as nice a feel and work OK for general use, but they’re definitely not heavy-duty and may get funky after a couple years of good use.

Boss ManMode Hack

My ManMode hack is pretty simple and, well, hackish, but it works, and Plexiglass and rubber have a sort of elegance all their own. (My personal opinion, of course.) The Boss ME-33 has a ‘Manual’ mode button to allow you to manually control the different effects with the stomp switches, more like a bunch of stomp-boxes instead of banks of patches.


This is pretty cool, except for the fact that to access this mode you have to poke this little blue rubber button with your finger, which involves bending over and taking your hands off of your guitar, which is not as good as stomping on something. Continue reading