Things I Make

I build guitar pedals and sometimes other things as a hobby. On rare occasions, something here might be for sale, and I sometimes build things by commission. Most of the time I don’t build clones of anything, but I build plenty of projects that I did not design on printed circuit boards. I tend to post demos on my youtube channel, but this is mostly just pictures of cute artwork to look at.

My Designs/Hacks

I’ve moved these to their own section because they were getting lost in the mounds of builds below.

For all of these designs, I’ve included links to the schematics and layouts (usually perfboard, but I include etch images when I have them) for DIYers who want to build their own. Or if you prefer, I can build you one with custom artwork. (There is also a list of PCBs currently available for some projects on that same page.) I am also available for contractual work designing analog guitar pedal circuits and PCBs. (References are available upon request.)

Fallstaff Boost, a rangemaster (treble booster) derivative. It has an input stage to make it play nice with other pedals, and an innovative color knob that changes the distortion character and treble content. Total boost is somewhere north of 20dB.  Here’s the build document. PCBs are available directly from me for this project (just send me an e-mail).

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Click here for an order form.

Clipper Ship 2Clipper Ship Overdrive. This is a dirty boost cascaded into a FET-based booster (a tweaked version of R.G. Keen’s “SRPP,” based on the AMZ Mini Booster). The gain control goes from clean to fuzzy, but the pedal always cleans up with your guitar’s volume, making it a very open and touch sensitive dirt pedal. And the boost stage has gobs of output to push your amp into its own overdrive. A “stupidly wonderful tone control” allows for treble boost clockwise and treble cut counterclockwise. This build used a Russian germanium transistor for the dirt side and germanium diodes.  The overall character is kind of Vox-y. PCBs are available directly from me for this project (just send me an e-mail). The build document for the PCB is HERE (etch layout included).

NEW DEMO 12/16/12

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Click here for an order form.

Blue Warbler Envelope Vibe. This circuit has been revised and is also now available with one (1590A) or two (1590B) stages! Better LFO control (including slower speeds), a better tremolo mode without any volume drops, and a simpler envelope control.

I created the original version of this design for’s Turkey Day Competition. It’s an nice watery optical vibe that reacts to your playing, and it even has a bonus tremolo mode (the tremolo won’t replace a good dedicated tremolo, but it’s kind of fun). Despite the simplicity of the controls, there is a huge variety of settings. Watch the demo that shows all the ins and outs below. Check out the build document for a schematic, perfboard and etch layout, and an extensive “how it works” write-up detailing all parts of the circuit. There is also a PCB project from JKM PCBs with a slightly modified version of this design.

Version 1 demo click here.

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Click here for an order form.

 Bearhug Compressor. This is a tonally transparent, ultra-quiet, tiny, and easy-to-build compressor. It occupies some middle ground between the ultra-subtle compressors like the Flatline/Afterlife and Orange Squeezer and super squishy compressors like the Ross. The comp knob ranges from almost no compression to “you can tell it’s working.” The S/L toggle switches between a short decay for subtle peak limiting and a long decay for a mild “duck and swell” sustainer effect, as well as changing the overall amount of compression available. The Bearhug also makes a good lead boost. Here’s the schematic and the perfboard layout. (updated 7/22/13). And a PCB is now available from 1776 Effects!

Version 1 demo with full circuit walkthrough here.

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Click here for an order form.

Hamlet DelayHamlet Delay and Preamp. My take on a PT2399 delay paired with a transparent preamp with some optional boost. Tails, tons of headroom (with no PT2399 distortion ever), and a internal trim for the repeats tone to go from bright digital to tape-like to analog. The prototype unit shown was built for my friend Joseph Scala, who used it on several tracks for his 2013 February Album Writing Month project. Here’s the build doc from the short-run PCB project — it also includes the perfboard layout and etch image. JMK PCBs has also released an awesome version with integrated tap tempo (from the TAPTATION) and external tone control!

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Click here for an order form.

Cardinal trem #1Cardinal Harmonic Tremolo. This is an optical version of the harmonic tremolo effect found on certain Fender amps 1960-1964. It’s an unusual, and beautiful, combination of mild filtering and amplitude modulation. This build has a waveform control and a switch to go between harmonic and normal tremolo modes, and a “bright” mode in the middle that sounds more like a vibe. My schematic is HERE. A perfboard layout for the IC-based LFO version is HERE. And a perfboard layout for the 1590A build using a phase shift oscillator is HERE. 1776 Effects has released a fantastic PCB for this design, which you can get here.

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Click here for an order form.

Mossy Sloth Fuzz #1Mossy Sloth Fuzzy OD. This is a transistor-based Fuzz/OD hybrid with some unusual topology meant to take advantage of the asymmetrical clipping created by MOSFETs when used as diodes in various arrangements. The resulting distortion is complex and a little unusual. Though it’s called a fuzz and it can add some warm buzz to your chords and riffage, it has strong midrange content and can do some spanky overdrive. The Bass control can be used to clear up the signal or simply ensure that the effect cuts through the mix. Like all of my dirt pedal designs, it also provides a mighty boost to push your amp into its own breakup, and much attention has been given to smooth volume knob cleanup. Here’s a build document with the schematic and layouts. Disclaimer: This is not a super high-gain fuzz monster, but it will gobble up a boost and turn into one, and even compress and sag like a tube amp!

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Click here for an order form.

Snow Day ODPolar Bear Overdrive (aka Snow Day Overdrive). This is a FET- and MOSFET-based amp simulation overdrive running on 18V that includes a switchable miniature compressor circuit and soft clipping in a “power tube” section. It has bits of several projects in it; and the really special thing about it (the mini compressor) isn’t something I created (though I wish I had). It goes from glassy “almost” cleans to either open or slightly compressed edge of breakup that feels very similar to one of my favorite amps, up to a medium gain compressed sound. It has lots of harmonics without sounding overly clipped, and a very wide dynamic range. The art on this one (my personal prototype build) was inspired by (and in some cases borrows images from) the Calvin & Hobbes comics. Here are the other panels: in, out, top, bottom. Here’s the schematic, and the perfboard layout is in the library. I’m honored that Madbean Pedals has chosen to do a PCB run for this project, to be released in November. Besides the video demo below, I made an audio-only demo straight into a recording interface — no EQ, no amp or speaker simulation, no effects. I recommend listening to that to hear the compression effect, because that will not be as audible on YouTube.

Want it, but don’t want to build your own? Sit tight, it will be available soon!

Swamp Comp bog of eternal stench1Swamp Comp/Fuzz. This was a design I created with help from bassist (and fellow DIY builder) JR Hevron, who won my 2015 “PIF” thread on Madbean’s forum. It’s a FET compressor blended with a couple BMP-style distortion stages, modified for bass. The treble control is pretty neat in that it cuts more treble from the fuzz than from the clean signal, which helps balance things, and the volume level of the distortion stays comparable to the clean signal while blending. I’ll post the schematic once it has final approval from JR, and if the project becomes available anywhere, I’ll update this with a link.

Modified Community Projects and My Versions of Vintage Pedals

Once again, I find that some projects are getting buried in the mountains of builds below! These are projects that I didn’t create but rather modified from other DIY projects, or they are my take on a vintage project that I think is notable enough in some way to deserve a build even if you’ve made a similar version of the project in the past. I modify many of the projects I build, so this is by no means exhaustive, and you may find other modified circuits you like below and in my perfboard library!

Orhan FuzzOrphan Fuzz. This is a hybrid of the germanium Orpheum and Mosrite fuzzes (closer to the Orpheum), with a couple extra tricks. It has an input switch to go from a smaller input cap to mimic the response of the Mosrite and the normal Orpheum value or for the small input cap with a “pad” to lower the input gain a bit for playing with humbuckers and keep things from getting out of hand. Inside there’s a bias trimpot for the second transistor (I’ve slightly overbiased it for just a little sag). Here’s the layout. And an etch mask for you etchers. I did a short PCB run for this. The documentation for that includes a redrawn schematic. The color didn’t come out well in the photo: It’s a mix of blue, white, and green, and more speckled than really shows up.

Rust Bunny

Rust Bunny. My take on the Sam Ash Fuzzstainer MK ??, based on the schematic traced by Jerms. Lots of history of this one over at Tone Machines, so big thanks (and props) to them for the work. I modernized the circuit, redid the layout (the original layout was … well, let’s just say it looked like it was sneezed into existence, and fiddled with some other stuff to get more usable range out of the controls. The layouts are in my perfboard library (includes etch masks for 1590A or 1590B builds). Tagboard Effects did a vero layout of my version of this fuzz as well. I didn’t redraw the schematic; my adjustments were pretty minor, so you can use Jerms’s schematic.

BearbenderThe Last Bearbender. A Tonebender MKII variant with a mix of FET, germanium, and silicon transistors. The layout and an etch mask are in my perfboard library. Note that the topology of the layout allows this to be built with any kind of transistor in Q1, which can lead to very different sorts of fuzz sounds. I used a FET in Q1 for mine, and a very low gain silicon (hfe ~60) transistor for Q3. I also added a bass control between the first and second gain stages, which I find to be quite useful in taming the fuzz and altering its texture.

Crying Time. This is simplified version of Rob Henry’s Light Wah, with just the LFO portion. I added a wave shape switch, and I found that the sawtooth wave really makes it sound more like you’re playing with your feet! You can check out the schematic and learn how to build one here. My layout for this is in my perfboard library.

Mini pedals

My favorites! In roughly the order they were built.

The Li’l Teapot, a rangemaster treble booster with a tone control.  Afterlife, an optical comp from a Madbean circuit board. A really excellent sounding pedal.

Cave Dweller, a nifty little delay on a Madbean PCB, with art inspired by Die Unendliche Geschichte. Thistledown, a silicon fuzz face on a Madbean PCB. Petit Louis, yet another Madbean project. It sounds a lot like an old tweed or marshall.

Clementine Squeeze, an orange squeezer made to fit in a 1590A. I built this one freehand on perfboard. Baby Bactrian, “almost a Red Llama” (there is one part different because I didn’t have the right component value), Mr. Huge’s legendary overdrive circuit based on the Anderton Tube Sound Fuzz. This one is also built on perf board. For the art, I wanted to have cute, bright, primary colors arranged in a way that  called to mind South America. Mini Tone King amp switch, for my Imperial. Part of my continuing quest to never use a larger enclosure than absolutely necessary for anything.

Madbean Fat Pants, a pedalization of the Echoplex’s preamp. Makes a wonderful boost or just adds heft. TremEAlo, Runoff Groove’s modified EA tremolo, with a couple substitutions and shrunken to fit in a 1590A (the original layout was almost small enough, so this was easy). The rate pot works backward because it’s easier to fine tune it and I didn’t have a reverse-taper miniature pot. Nature Dweller, a Madbean Cave Dweller modded to be a little brighter.

Clipper Ship

Clipper Ship #1 This was my first build of the Clipper Ship. Ghost Note, another Afterlife, this time with a sensitivity knob. The Sens knob can give back some of the dynamics at high sustain settings, or make it even more squished. Capucino Fuzz. Who’s an English major with two thumbs who can’t spell? This guy. A miniature Harmonic Percolator clone, an extremely rare fuzz box. Madbean has a schematic for both a “stock” version and a trace of the version Steve Albini used in a video. I compromised between the two. The switch goes between the stock 1N695s clipping diodes (“Even”), which are pretty rare, and OA126s (“Odd”), which are also really rare. The “Odd” side is more like an overdrive, and the “Even” side is like a buzzy box full of angry bees. This immediately became one of my favorite fuzzes. It’s touch sensitive, versatile, and sounds great.

Pewser. Pew pew pew pew! Madbean’s Smoothie board, a Phase 45 made to fit in a 1590A. I added a mix pot, which controls the wet/dry mix. I generally find phasers to be too extreme otherwise. The art wasn’t really my idea, it’s from a shirt that Lexa has, right down to the “Pew pew pew pew pew!” French Press, built for my friend Micheal Friedman. Another 3-knob Afterlife, same as the Ghost Note with a couple parts changed to suit his playing. He asked for art inspired by van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night. The art wraps around the sides. Another Fatpants, also for Michael Friedman. I was looking through some van Gogh paintings that had to do with food and came across “Four Meager Onions” — so I mimicked the painting a little, added some sunflowers, and put my recipe for onion soup on the side panels. The silver knobs looked like stock pots.

“Te” overdrive, a Zen Drive variant squeezed into a 1590A. After a lot of dissatisfaction with the sound of the original circuit (I found it too dark, and I didn’t like the way it behaved with the guitar’s volume), I added an input buffer and adjusted a few values. It keeps the sweet sound of the MOSFET clipping of the original, but I can dial it in more to my tastes. Still does that little “chirp” sound, too! The art is the hanji for “Te,” which means “power” or “virtue” in Taoism. There’s a slight yin/yang symbol thing going on in the art, and a certain Taoist bear in the “ink smudge.” A layout for this project is in my perfboard library. Shoot the Moon — mini edition! A perfboard build of CultureJam/Effdub’s tremolo based on the Tremulus Lune (see the full-sized build using his original board below). The knobs and some moons painted on the side of the enclosure glow in the dark. I’m not sure when I’d ever be playing anywhere that it’s dark enough to observe this, but I did it for fun! Feel free to e-mail me for the perfboard layout if you’re interested in building one. Little Buzzy Fuzz, a hybrid buzzaround. I used a super low gain silicon transistor in one position and flipped the distortion diode around because it seemed to “focus” the fuzz better. I’m really surprised by the shades of tones you can get out of this; it’s a very versatile fuzz box. Also I’m really pleased with the art, even though the paint wrinkled a little when some clearcoat came out too fast.

Thistledown Ge

Thistledown Ge. This is a Germanium fuzz face with boosted output and an increased midrange focus. It uses really low-gain germanium transistors and has a pregain trimpot inside. Crying Time (see above) and Little Ducky: The Little Ducky is a slightly reworked Nurse Quacky, a nice simple envelope filter. Fun together and apart!

 Shetland Klony #3

Shetland Klony, aka Dwarvish Centaur. 1590A kl*nes. The first is on a prototype PCB layout by JimmyBjj and built to the “My Little Klony” specs (shifts the overall frequency response a little more to the treble side). It was designed to be true bypass, but I converted it to buffered, which I think is backward from how these things normally go … The second is built completely stock, right down to using “boring” 1N34A diodes, and has a kilt, because I can’t believe I forgot to add it in the first one. The third is stock except for some OA1160s, which sounded too good not to use. Here’s a link to Jimmy’s order page if you want to build your own, but be sure to read both of my build reports so you know what you’re getting into.

Compressor party 2012! Copper Crush: A stock Lovesqueeze clone. I don’t normally do straight up clones, but I couldn’t really find anything I wanted to change in this one that didn’t upset the circuit. So I built it as intended. It’s a good clean compressor, but extremely mild. Lemon Zester Comp: Another Orange Squeezer, this time with the gain mod. It boosts the signal strength to trigger the compression harder. It’s a fantastic mod originally suggested by Mark Hammer (though I used very different values than he prescribed). FETa Salad Squeeze: The Circuit Salad (Ray Ring) opto-FET compressor. Ray billed it as an “improved orange squeezer,” and, though it has some of the squeezer’s character and principles, it’s very much its own thing. I did some additional simplification to his simplified version and worked out some good parts substitutions for the rarer components he used; then recently he simplified his design even further and I replaced the  PCB with his final version. You can see my layout and discussion here.

Mini Cosmopolitan (Screwdriver clone). Again, I don’t normally clone circuits, but it would be really tough to improve on a Skreddy design. The Ge transistor is a Russian MP38A. The input gain is hardwired at max, and the treble is a trimpot since I usually set it near max and leave it. Clementine #2, yet another orange squeezer, this time with a “perfect” bias knob, like the Hartman Compressor. Rather than simply replacing the internal trimpot, it is set up to work only within the very small “good” biasing range, going between the squishiest and most open settings at opposite ends of the pot’s travel. Beehive (That SUPRO Jive), a miniature Honey Bee clone with asymmetric distortion.

Engineer's Thumb - mini #2Supreaux deux

Two mini Engineer’s Thumb compressors. The first was built for Michael Friedman, who challenged me to get it into a mini box. A far cry from my first build, which was almost too big for a standard box! I ended up with two boards, so I boxed one up with art that actually has to do with Sherlock Holmes, the same art that’s on the first one I made. (Michael specifically requested the yin-yang art.) Supeux Deux,  Runoff Groove’s Supro 16T amp sim, squeezed into a 1590A with a charge pump onboard. Very nice sounding circuit. [This is spelled differently from Runoff Groove’s because (a) it’s funnier and (b) I didn’t have enough space on the shield.] Suproman!

Blue warbler miniTiny tri-vibeMini cardinal

Blue Warbler #3, now in a mini version. :) The art wraps around the sides just like in #1. I had a lot of trouble getting the full circuit into such a small case, but it sounds good and works just like its big brothers. Runoff Groove Tri-Vibe, in a 1590A. Incredibly challenging build and frustrating to box up. The first one I built (the “Warbler” below) sounds a little better to me, but it’s still one of the best modulation circuits on the planet in my opinion. Mini Cardinal Harmonic Tremolo, a version of my Cardinal tremolo with a bias-modulated LFO so it could fit in a 1590A. The IC-based version sounds much better, but this is good for subtle sounds in a limited speed range. Plus it’s cute!

Mini Russian Muff gutsTea and CrumpetsBearhug 2

Fuzzy Weekend 2013! Pushestij Zelonij Pirog. It’s a muff in a 1590A. On perfboard with full-sized parts. Yup, it can be done. Green Russian values, but slightly lower gain transistors for a bit more raggedness (I’m going for the sound in my friend Keith’s real GR Big Muff Pi). the script says Fuzzy Green Pie, and there are stink lines coming from the green pie. This was the artwork in which I discovered that I don’t actually know how to print in Cyrlic, because I ended up writing a few letters in cursive. Here’s the layout if anyone else wants to give it a shot. Tea and Crumpets. My build of Alex Frias’s Boss T-bone Trumpet Fuzz. This pedal has a few interesting quirks: It does octaving with the voltage sagged, but also does a 5th drop down on the decay of a note in some settings. It also has something that could be a feature or a bug, which is that in certain highly sagged settings with the input maxed out you get a low-frequency carrier wave that does ring modulation. Utter insanity in three simple knobs. Here’s the layout. Beware that this requires a lot of auditing transistors to get it to sound right. A Bearhug of Very Little Brain. This is a Bearhug v2.0 that I built specifically to go on my pedalboard. I entered in into Madbean’s July 2013 contest, too. Lots of wrap-around art.

Peanuts to SpaceSingularityLIttle Penguin Fuzz

…Peanuts to Space. This is a 1590A reverb, on perfboard, using the Belton Brick. I’ve never measured so much in my life. The layout is in my perfboard library if you feel like taking what is one of the ultimate 1590A challenges. Singularity. Madbean’s Zero Point Micro. Nice PT2399 with modulation in a small package. Little Penguin Fuzz. A single knob (volume) germanium fuzz face-based fuzz for a customer. Seems simple, but there are a bunch of controls inside the little box: pregain (with a switch to change how it works), input bass trim, adjustable bias, and output bass cutoff frequency switch (to go between the Meyer mod and the original Fuzz Face). I didn’t redraw a layout for this or anything, I just kind of freehanded it.

Bearhug Ver 2 #5Ship in a Bottle FuzzShip in a Bottle closeup

Another Bearhug. Not exactly a customer build, but not for me either! I will update this if it gets used for what I made it for. :) Ship in a Bottle fuzz. Here’s something really unique — a fuzz made with all glass components. The resistors, capacitors, diodes, and transistors are all in glass packages. It took me forever to get my hands on the parts necessary to make this. It sounds all right, too. The schematic and layout are in my perfboard library.

Tears of a Klone

Tears of a Klone for a customer. Another micro klone, probably the last one of these I’ll do since it was my last Apis PCB. Thanks again to Jimmy for the PCB design.

Normal sized pedals

Shoot the Moon, a tremolo (designed by CultureJam/Effdub) based on the Tremulus Lune. This one sounds great. Mr. Whitesides reworked the audio path for a really sweet but transparent sound (the pedal can be used as a boost), and made some adjustments to the LFO section to get the maximum versatility with only four knobs. The LFO and audio path are also physically separated on the board to ensure completely silent operation.  Green Cheese Fuzz, a one-off Lunar Module clone I made for a friend.
“A Light Fuzzy Quiche, Comrade,” a Whisker Biscuit from one of Effdub/Culturejam’s boards. It sounds like a Big Muff. The artwork is inspired by the Bone graphic novels. I’ll be making a bunch of them. Main Squeeze, an orange squeezer clone. If I could go back, I would have put the bias knob (the black one) on the inside and just had the volume. Update 8/13/12: I did just that, and replaced the external bias with a decay control. It’s very nice — it alters the overall compression, sustain, and tone and creates some subtle bloom effects on extreme settings. The art is by my wife, Lexa Hartman. It’s on my pedalboard all the time. Wahcabot (need to take a better picture), a DOD Envelope Filter clone, also with art by Lexa.
Goldbrick OD, a Klone using the GuitarPCB board. (It sounds “just okay” for the curious.) The Engineer’s Thumb, a feed-forward compressor designed by MerlinB. I got the design from DIYStompboxes, and built it on perf board from the schematic. It’s was easily the most complicated thing I had tried to build on perfboard at the time I made it, and it was a real challenge to fit it into this size box without using a PCB. The artwork features the scientific principal of a hydrolic press and a pile of counterfiet coins (the subject of the Sherlock Holmes story the name is derived from). I tried to make the press look just a little like a finger or a hand. All the paints are metallic colors. Mutton Chop Booster, Madbean’s Rump Roast with a germanium transistor in one of the gain stages. The Rump Roast is a pedal port of the preamp section of the Dr. Z Carmen Ghia amp (i.e., it’s a pedal with a sound and circuit architecture based on that of the amp). I built this for my friend Keith.
Warbler Vibe, a shrunken pefboard build (that is, the original layout was meant for a larger case and I edited it into a smaller layout) of Runoff Groove’s Tri-Vibe. Very beautiful sounding effect; I especially like the “whirl” setting. This was even more complicated than the Engineer’s Thumb (about 12 hours start to finish, including some troubleshooting), and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t take on a project like this again without an etched circuit board. Sea Change Trem, a modified Modified EA trem (the Runoff Groove project). My friend Keith really likes the symmetry knob on the Tremulus Lune, but prefers a smooth tremolo. So I worked out a way to add some swamp fine-tuning to the classic design. It’s not perfect, but the counterclockwise setting adds some subtle ramp and squarewavishness, while the far counter clockwise setting adds some subtle smooth loping. The center position is “normal.”
Fomorii Delay. The board is another Effdub design (though at its heart, it’s based on the Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay), with a few mods — I changed the delay time settings a bit, brightened the repeats, and shoved it in a 1590B (it’s meant to go in a larger enclosure), because why use a sensible sized enclosure if I don’t have to? It has a switch that warps the pitch of the repeats—that is, it’s manual modulation. Pretty cool little circuit. The Fomorii were the sea gods of Irish mythology, frequently described as “violent and misshapen,” which describes what the warp button does pretty well. My Little Klony, a Centaur built on perfboard using Madbean’s “Sunking” schematic. This was a pretty big challenge for a perfboard project, since there are so many parts. I like the sound of this one much more than the Goldbrick above. It’s a couple parts off of being a true clone — mainly a couple capacitor changes so I could get a little more treble. The diodes are socketted, but I again have OA126s in it, which makes the gain side a little louder and cleaner.
Cosmopolitan, an almost-stock Skreddy Screwdriver, again from the Madbean schematic. I had made a few changes to get more treble before I realized that I had a wrong part elsewhere in the circuit. Oh well! It still gets pretty warm sounding. I used a Russian germanium transistor, but like the Lunar Module, the circuit is practically bulletproof, so even though I tested 20+ transistors in it, I feel like you could plus almost anything in there and it’ll sound good. Skreddy engineers really great stuff. If I could afford the real things, I’d buy them to support him. He’s one of the good guys, always up front and honest about what he makes and doesn’t BS his customers. Stealth Bomber, another true bypass Centaur, on the Chimeara board made by Grind Customs. My friend Keith gave me a pre-drilled three-knob enclosure, and I had the board, so you see I had to put in in here … This one has an intentionally mismached pair of OA1160 diodes. The drive sound is unusually pretty. Quadrovibe, an optical vibrato/tremolo, one of Madbean’s discontinued projects. It uses a lamp and LDR to get a nice univibe-ish sound. Basic math jokes alert.
The Mouse that Roared (Mousefet Overdrive), based most immediately on the Madbean “Mysterioso Jr,” which is derived from the Blackstone Effectors Mosfet Overdrive. On the orignal pedal, the second switch just changes between two drive and volume settings, even though most people thought it was a second “channel” of some sort. Madbean reworked it to be a single channel and moved the boost control, which was a trim pot in the original, outside, and added a mids boost switch. I put the mids boost on a footswitch, and then added a knob to control the character and level of the mids boost. A simple change that makes it functionally different from either pedal it’s based on. Another Engineer’s Thumb, built stock this time (I had reduced the compression in the earlier one) on a much better and more compact perfboard layout.

Madbean Kingslayer, a heavily modified Kl*n Centaur. It has two hard clipping options (symmetric and assymetric) and a diode lift on one switch and an “OD” setting that adds soft clipping on the other switch; I decided to go with an asymmetrical setup involving MOSFETs for that. I had some fun with the diodes and used a mix of NOS Germanium from Russia and continental Europe from my collection at home. I posted a full build report on the Madbean forum. Rub-A-Dub Reverb. 1776 Effect’s outstanding implementation of the Belton Brick. I used the long brick. The decay is beautiful and shimmery, with slight modulation. Hugely impressed by this, and it’s quite different from (and sounds great in concert with) the reverb on my amp. Check out the lyrics on the side. :) Tre — Treeeeh — Square Wave Amplitude Modulator (Stutter Trem), a CultureJam board designed by a friend of his. I built it with the shunt mod, so it’s a complete on-off sound. Joe Scala used it on the song “You Were Right” on his February Album Writing Month record. He also used my old telecaster. I love that record, it’s amazing and I still can’t believe it was written and recorded in 28 days while he was working full time, running 10 miles a day, and still playing with my band.

AzabacheMoss Press

Blue Warbler Envelope Vibrato #2 (“Bird on a Wire” art). Built for Joshua McClarren for a charity auction on Madbean. Azabache, Runoff Groove’s brilliant Fender Amp sim. The modes are tweed, blonde, black, and silver. Moss Press, Ray Ring’s MOSFET compressor. This is a brilliant design! The attack has a really pleasant little bit of “pop,” the decay is flawless and natural, and it has a ton of compression available. Although it has some perceived treble loss (and therefore I consider it one step behind the Engineer’s Thumb, for example), performance-wise it’s one of the best I’ve encountered.

Blue Warbler #4Hamlet #2

Blue Warbler #4, with custom art, for Angelo. Hamlet Delay #2, for William, with custom art copied by hand from an old line drawing he found and an infinite repeats switch added.

Cardinal tap tempoA Light Fuzzy Quiche #2

Tap Tempo Cardinal Harmonic Tremolo. A TAPLFO implementation of my harmonic tremolo design. This replaced the original Cardinal Tremolo I made, the MusicPCB Tap Tempo Tremolo project (below). A Light Fuzzy Quiche #2. (Also from the Fuzzy Weekend 2013) Another Whisker Biscuit on CultureJam’s PCB, this time with a ! switch. Way back when I made the first one, I made a serious error in one of the capacitor values, which resulted in a totally insane mids boost (rather than the typical mid scoop of a muff). I “fixed” the first Quiche, but I might just have to add the switch to that one as well. The tone stack in this approximates the green Russian big muff’s. More Bone inspired art. A rat creature can dream …

Bearhug (Monsqueeze)Hamlet TTCardinal trem #1

Cardinal Tremolo #1. This was my prototype, which I still have. I moved it down here because I liked the art on #4 better and decided to make that the “official” art. Another Bearhug, this time for a customer, with art referencing the Zappa-Nesmith interview on the Monkees. The customer did a fantastic mock-up of the art, I just did my best to duplicate it. Tap Tempo Hamlet. A version of my Hamlet delay and preamp using the TapTation chip, for a customer in Norway. He wanted a blue case, so I picked the only scene involving water … poor Ophelia!

MLF driveBearhug CampCardinal dlx #5

MLF Drive — I didn’t actually build this one, but I supervised its creation! My buddy Mike (MLF are his initials) asked me for a soldering lesson, and I thought it would be more fun to help him build a whole pedal. It’s a simple class A germanium boost, and it ended up sounding pretty good. Bearhug Camp (not a typo). Commissioned by my friend Keith as a present for his nephew, who is a boyscout. This is why you hang up your food! Cardinal Deluxe — All four pots and a 4-mode rotary! Also the first time I’ve used the vibe mode in a build. For a customer in Texas.

Blue Warbler #7Duo VibeGrease Gun

Blue Warbler #7 –For a customer in Costa Rica, who wanted a red case with simple graphics. :) I was really pleased with how the bird came out on this one, definitely one of the best I’ve done. Duo Vibe — Culture Jam’s PCB contribution to the Function-Fx fundraiser. It’s an optical phaser/vibe/filter. Cool little circuit based on the Wobbletron, but more extreme than e.g. the Blue Warbler. The filter mode is the unique thing about it. Not totally happy with the knobs, but nothing else was working well. Grease Gun — Madbean’s PCB contribution to the Function-Fx fundraiser. I made a few changes, and used OA126 diodes and a germanium transistor in the second stage, but as these don’t make a big difference in sound (I did it just for the “coolness”), I put some jokes on the outside about germanium. For a guy who builds so much with Ge, I sure am cynical about it!

Extremely naughty fishSupreaux Deux (Zach A)

Naughty Fish. Madbean’s even-more-shrunken Mutron III. Of course, it’s more fun with extra controls, so I added not just the external volume but decay and attack controls. This one was a major, major pain to box up, but it sounds really great. Another Supreaux Deux, for Zach. This time with the “bottom” switch. It looks nicer in presence; again, I can’t really get silver paint to show up looking right. He asked for really simple art with a yellow lightning bolt.

Bigger Pedals

Tremulus Lune, a supremely tweakable tremolo. The symmetry knob is unique to this tremolo; it allows you to fine-tune the ramp of the wave. It sounds very swampy in the right settings. Cardinal Tremolo, a Tap Tempo Tremolo project from MusicPCB. Also tons of tweakabilty: eight different wave forms, and tempo divisions, as well as a wave shape knob that goes from very smooth to full stutter. This one is on my pedalboard all the time.

The Amazing Half Octagon, a Madbean Low Rider (based on the Peal Octaver), a 4-octave (two down, one up, and clean) all analog pedal. It’s glitchy and a little fuzzy on the upper octave, but the tracking is actually quite good. It sounds very synthy, especially with a fuzz in front. Multiplex Echo Machine, Josh McClarren’s (1776 Effects) brilliant design and the best sounding PT2399 delay I’ve ever played. It mimics some of the characteristics of three tape delays (Binson, Roland Re-201, and Echoplex) and has a really cool detune feature for an interesting take on modulation.

Joshua Tree Echo

Madbean’s Nautilus, a modernized Mutron III. An awesome filter effect. Joshua Tree Echo, built for Chris Stelloh of Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray. It’s a 1776 Multiplex (with tails and an oscillaltion switch instead of true bypass and a detune switch), with a Rub-a-Dub reverb and Fatpants in the same box. Here’s a build report that describes all the mods.

Mythic OverdriveThe Dez-Rrt - Mosno's Pedal

Mythical Overdrive. My BYOC PIFmas present, a klone build from a kit. Some unusual clipping options in this one. The Dez-RT, a three in one for my friend Mosno. He’s from Sudan originally and wanted the Sudanese flag as the art. Left to right it’s a Hamlet delay, Clipper Ship OD, and a Blue Warbler.

Zero Point SDXNautilus - 'deep sea'

Zero Point Semi-Deluxe. Madbean’s Zero Point Module. Massive project. I put both modulation controls on one knob, sort of Memory Man-like. I love the Analog setting on this. Another Nautilus, for a customer in France. All metallic paints on flat black. Classy!

Cosmo Tremolo

Cosmo Tremolo, a stereo tap tempo tremolo based in part on the Cardinal using essentially every feature of the TAPLFO. It has TRS or dual mono inputs, Sync in and out, Expression pedal input selectable between the Rate and Multiplier (he wanted the multiplier instead of depth, otherwise I would have used a 3PDT toggle instead of a rotary … the multiplier is a pain), and even a switch to do Harmonic and Vibe (per the Cardinal)! Here’s a clip of what it sounds like in stereo.

Something's FSHYThunderbird

Something’s FSHY! An FSH-1 clone on Madbean’s Sharkfin board. This is a notorious project, but Madbean’s documentation made it a very smooth build. I did some stuff to it (I used an LM13700 instead of two 3080 chips for less noise, modded it to buffered bypass using its own input buffer, and made a couple adjustments to work better with single coils and increase the volume), but it’s mostly stock. I was super pleased with the art on this one. Runoff Groove’s Thunderbird, their 100W Marshall emulator … with op amps! Craziness. I did a video demo of it here.

Perfboard Layouts

I’ve posted my entire perfboard layout library publicly here. This contains all my 1590A layouts, all my original designs, a handful of the larger pedal layouts, and even some etch transfers based on the layouts.


The Don Quixotecaster. Assembling this was a ton of frustration; I’m unlikely to make another guitar for a long time. Getting a telecaster-shaped body with a Stratocaster-style bridge routing was tough. The pickups are a Vintage Strat set made by Michael Reilander in Canada, with individual switches for each pickup. The red switch is the Sancho Panza switch. It doesn’t do anything on its own, and most of the time it’s useless, but sometimes it makes things a little fatter.


Sakura woodchipper - Front of cabinet

Although I swore I’d never do it, I built an amp. This is Sakura. You can read about it over here on the blog. Based on the tweed champ with several modernizations and tone controls, in a 1×12 cabinet built by my dad.

7 responses

  1. jon,

    wonderful playing, demos, peds …. pls let me know if you are interested in building ANY clones for me. tnx, L.H.

    of particular interest are:
    1. Azabache
    2. Supreaux D. (or some variation of your devising)
    3. Hamlet Delay
    4. Bearhug Compressor (or BH v.2)
    5. Main Squeeze (with your external decay control)

    1. hi, Larry, thanks. I’ll e-mail you in a couple days here … I’m not building during February. Too many recording projects going on for the next couple weeks. I’ll be back up and running in March.

  2. What a great blog, man.
    Why did you choose Fallstaff for the name of the boost? Are you living near Fallstaff Manor Court by any chance in Baltimore?


    1. Hey, neat, there’s a Fallstaff Manor in Baltimore? I just chose the name because I like the character (especially Robert Nye’s portrayal in the book “Fallstaff”). :)

  3. michael friedman | Reply

    wheres the milf driver? are you ashamed of us??

    1. Well … I didn’t make it, you did! But I’ll put the picture up, of course.

      1. Michael Friedman

        Under your steady hand and guidance. A thousand thanks.

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