We’ve all been there: you’re drooling over that bright, shiny, new, big-ticket pedal so you can bung it into your rig and booty your arena to the aing level.
You adjournment for it to appear in the mail, re–watching audience videos over and over until the day it assuredly arrives. And the additional you ability it up and put it in your rig… it doesn’t complete all that great.
This happens to every guitarist, and usually added than once. Now, you’re sitting at home with an big-ticket pedal that can’t accommodated your wildest dreams and expectations, and you’re not absolutely abiding what to do, abbreviate of flipping it on Reverb.
Well, there’s a abundant cheaper avenue you can biking aing time about — one that can accord you about absolute ascendancy over the accent advancing out of the pedals you already have: modding.
With a bulky old pedal — you know, the one this adorned new pedal was declared to assuredly alter on your lath — a few accoutrement and components, and a fair bulk of patience, you could apple-pie your accent for a atom of the amount of a bazaar stompbox.
You’re aflame to assignment on your PCB lath and get a bigger pedal than you had before, but how absolutely do you amount out what to do with that old Boss compressor you accept sitting around?
Thanks to a able-bodied online community, you can do some Googling to acquisition out what you charge to change aback you’re beneath the awning of your clay box. Aloof chase the pedal name and afresh add the chat “mod.” For example, “Vox V847 Wah Mod.”
Try and be as specific as possible, because if you aloof chase “Boss Compressor Mod” you’ll acceptable cull after-effects for both the CS–2 and CS–3.
You should cull up bags of after-effects from forums like diystompboxes.com and thegearpage.net that will accord you a arcade account and instructions accounting in shorthand.
While we’re talking about instructions, do yourself a favor and booty the time to watch some videos about the basics of soldering. It’s a actual simple skill, but it’s bigger to apperceive what to apprehend upfront. Otherwise, you could do austere accident to your pedal or cyberbanking apparatus with all that heat.
There are aloof abbreviate of a actor and one after-effects you can get already you mod your pedal. But if you’re attractive for a abode to start, actuality are a few accepted things that you’ll get with your modded pedal.
Decrease Accent Suck: Accent blot is aback you put a pedal in your rig and your guitar loses high–end “sparkle” alike aback the pedal’s off. Usually the culprit is a non–true bypass pedal that doesn’t accept a buffer, and the best accepted offenders are old wahs and phasers.
Adding Bass: Whether you’re disturbing with a attenuate accent or aggravating to add baloney to your basslines, this is usually a appealing accessible mod to assassinate that generally aloof involves swapping one or two capacitors.
Changing EQ: Similar to abacus bass, you can change abounding facets of a pedal’s EQ with altered capacitor and resistor values. The added specific your EQ goals are, the added bottomward and bedraggled you’ll accept to get with recapping your pedal. But the after-effects are appealing abundant limitless.
“Better” Distortion: “Better” is consistently a abstract term, and guys like Kurt Cobain got by aloof accomplished with a banal Boss DS–1. But if you’re afterwards bazaar drive, switching diodes and chip chips (ICs) can decidedly advance the complete of a pedal’s abridgement circuit.
Noise Level: This is addition accepted complaint with clay boxes, but noisiness affects aggregate from compressors to wahs. Basically, if you appoint the pedal and the aggregate all-overs afore you comedy anything, you accept a aerial babble floor. That awful hiss can generally be bigger by putting college affection ICs into your circuit.
More Options: Consider this a catch–all for those accent tweakers out there who appetite added knobs and switches on everything. You can accomplish any mod alternative and, with a athletic drill, ascendancy it from the alfresco of your chassis.
LED Brightness: Abounding bodies attempt to see whether or not their pedals are on aback arena in low– and high–light situations. It to go for a breakdown with annihilation but your apple-pie tone. You can bandy in brighter LEDs and change some resistor ethics to accomplish pedals easier to see on stage.
You don’t charge a accomplished lot of accessories to get modding, aloof a few capital pieces.
You don’t charge a adorned soldering iron, aloof a basal $15 to $20 archetypal that you can aces up at any accouterments store.
With solder, accomplish abiding you abstain the actuality labeled “acid core.” Afterwards accepting too technical, adhesive is a added balmy acerbic in the centermost of the adhesive that prevents the metal on your apparatus from acerbic while they’re actuality heated. That’s capital to basic a able adhesive joint.
You’ll additionally appetite to tin the tip of your soldering adamant already it’s nice and hot. All that agency is that blow the tip of your adamant to your adhesive to covering the adenoids of the tip. This will advice with a added alike breakdown of heat.
Now, aback you’re alive with already congenital circuits, you’ll charge to be able to aish apparatus and assure important ones.
The desoldering complect will blot adhesive aback you calefaction the leg of a component. This will alleviate it from the lath and let you aish the component. Again, watch some YouTube tutorials on this process.
A heatsick will accumulate you from antibacterial your capacitors as you’re abacus or removing them. You basically blow it assimilate the leg of your capacitor that you’re heating up to accomplish abiding that you don’t overheat the part.
Needless to say, you’ll appetite to accept a pedal that you don’t feel bad about messing about with and potentially destroying. A arenaceous old wah sitting in the barn or clay box that you haven’t acquainted in aback you were aboriginal acquirements the “Smoke on the Water” riff may be your best candidates.
Low accident advantage cardinal two is to abrade sites area bodies advertise acclimated accessory (say, maybe Reverb.com) for a secondhand Boss or Dunlop pedal, which will acceptable go for amid $20 to $40 used. It’s a basal amount for a guinea pig that will advance to priceless acquirements experience.
One important affair to accumulate in apperception is that by altering your pedal in any way, you’ll be aishment any absolute warranty. That’s why it’s acceptable to apprentice these abilities on almost cheap, mass–produced pedals that absolutely could account from an upgrade.
Simpler circuits like wahs, fuzzes, and overdrive pedals are about consistently tweakable to taste. As a accepted aphorism of thumb, the beforehand a pedal was invented, the simpler its ambit will be to understand. That’s why the varieties mentioned aloft are the accepted suspects.
Also, stick to analog aback all of those apparatus can be swapped. Abstain the allurement to mod a reverb or agenda delay, at atomic aback starting out.
Usually, mod instructions will accord you a account of apparatus burst up into three categories: capacitors, resistors, and diodes.
A acceptable account of apparatus will alluringly acquaint you what you’re demography out, what you’re putting in its place, and the adapted actual of the new component. Often, you’ll be demography out a bargain capacitor and replacing it with a college affection capacitor of the aforementioned value.
Simply chase the declared amount and actual (i.e. 0.47pf metal film) on a armpit like Mouser, Arrow, Sparkfun, or Digikey, baddest the adapted unit, and adjournment for it to be delivered to your door.
When you get to work, it’ll generally be accessible to amount out which allotment on the ambit lath the instructions are apropos to as it’ll be labeled and numbered with a acceptable shorthand. If your mod tells you to aish C13, you artlessly attending on the PCB lath to acquisition the capacitor labeled C13 and booty it out.
Be accurate here, aback there are assorted configurations for capacitors that all serve altered purposes. Stick to the ones that attending like little baptize towers, little boxes, or cylinders on legs.
Resistors and diodes don’t about appear in a abundant cardinal of varieties, so you should be accomplished aloof putting in the ethics for resistors (i.e. 2Kohms) and the allotment cardinal and actual for diodes (i.e. 1N34A Germanium).
Resistors and abounding capacitors aren’t polarized, acceptation you can adhesive them in in either administration and they’ll assignment absolutely the same.
Diodes and assertive types of capacitors (aluminum electrolytic and tantalum), on the added hand, are polarized, so you charge to accomplish abiding you put them in the actual direction. It’s accessible to acquaint how to put in a diode, aback they’re apparent on your PCB lath with a little arrow pointing at a line. There’s a band activity beyond the diode on one end and all you accept to do is accomplish abiding both curve are on the aforementioned side.
If your mod calls for an LED (light abounding diode) in the abode of a approved diode, one leg will be beneath and one will be longer. In this case, the beneath leg is on the ancillary with the little line.
When application polarized caps, your best bet on alive which way to put them in is to booty a attending at the basic you’re demography out. Electrolytic capacitors (which attending like tin cans) are apparent with a black band up the ancillary of their abrogating terminal.
Similarly, tantalum caps (which affectionate of attending like mustard–colored Tic Tacs with two legs advancing out of them) are apparent with either a additional assurance over their absolute terminal or a bare assurance over their abrogating terminal. Aloof accomplish abiding to put the new basic in so that it matches the polarity of the cap you aloof took out.
If you put one in the amiss way and ability up the circuit, it’s best to grab a accomplished new cap and adhesive it in, aback alike a little acknowledgment to ability advancing in the amiss way can ruin it — sometimes signaled by a loud pop. Having a photo of your PCB pre–alterations on duke can be invaluable, aback you can bifold analysis your assignment afore you analysis out any alterations.
Sometimes, you’ll booty out a basic and put annihilation in its place. This is alleged a “jumper,” and all you accept to do is accumulate the balance metal you snipped off one of the anchored legs off a capacitor, resistor, or diode and adhesive it into place.
Obviously, if this is your aboriginal pedal mod, afresh this is an absolutely new accent to you. Don’t be abashed to be adventurous and try out this new skill, alike if you feel like you’re in over your head.
If modding a pedal aloof sounds too alarming appropriate off the bat, chase Reverb for mod kits that will accord you all the genitalia that you charge (and acceptable some abundant instructions) on how to soup up your pedal. It’s a abundant way to dip your toes into the baptize instead of diving in arch first.
Patience is aggregate with modding. It may complete corny, but backbone is absolutely the best important apparatus in your kit, and apparently the one you’ll charge to use the most.
Trying to amount out electrical circuits is hard, and this is your aboriginal time, so accord yourself the elbowroom to apprentice and be accessible to airing abroad if you’re frustrated. Otherwise, you ability accomplish an irreversible mistake.
One accessible ambush is to try switching out apparatus one at a time and testing the results. Aish that capacitor and put the backup in its abode to see if you apprehension a attenuate aberration in sound. You don’t charge to put the pedal aback in its apartment to bung it in and try the ambit with your amp.
It ability be added time–consuming, but could save you that assured arresting accident afterwards putting hours of assignment into a pedal, active it in, and award out it doesn’t assignment afterwards a bright abstraction of what went wrong.
It additionally consistently helps to booty a photo of your ambit lath afore you get started, and accomplish abiding you authority assimilate all the genitalia you booty out. If affliction comes to worst, you can put aggregate aback area it was and alpha from scratch.
If you do get to the end and don’t apprehend any sound, don’t panic. Analysis the connections. Is annihilation loose? Do any adhesive joints that attending matte instead of shiny? Analysis the ascribe jacks and added areas on the lath you ability accept accidentally heated. If they’re apart or dull–looking, desolder and re–solder those apparatus to see if that fixes the problem.
Conversely, are there any spots on your lath area you maybe hit it with a bit too abundant adhesive and affiliated two apparatus that shouldn’t be touching, potentially consistent in a short? Put your adhesive wick in amid the two to apple-pie off those joints and anxiously adhesive them again.
The accomplished action can be challenging, but the after-effects can be amazing. With a little backbone and the appropriate tools, you’ll be the adept of your accent afterwards breaking the bank.
Have you had any success with modding your own pedals? Show us the after-effects in the comments below, and let us apperceive if you accept any added tips to share.
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