What's a nice first-time DIY guitar pedal I can build for myself?
December 29, 2017 3:25 PM   Subscribe

I've recently started guitar lessons and it occurred to me that I have all kinds of components and tools around from when I used to tinker with Arduinos and Rasberry Pi stuff. I've probably got most of what I need to build a pedal of some kind. So what's a useful pedal to start with, and can anyone point me to a source of reliable schematics?
posted by pipeski to Technology (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A simple two transistor fuzzbox or overdrive pedal is probably the best jumping off point. Do you know how to solder? There are also numerous kits... if you're comfortable stuffing a circuit board, that might be easier than building something up totally from scratch using proto board or tag strips.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 3:52 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

A fuzzbox! The first significant transistorised effects pedal, a pretty simple circuit, and tweakable.
posted by holgate at 3:53 PM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Guitar FX Layouts is a great resource for schematics. Boost pedals are a good choice for a first build because of their low parts count. Also the Bazz Fuss!
posted by cazoo at 4:23 PM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The "simple fuzzbox" referenced above would most likely be a clone of a Fuzz Face, and there are tons of schematics & variations out there.

Various DIY web resources I've collected over the years:

Tagboard Effects

AMZ muzique.com


DIY stompboxes.com (a forum with tons of schematics & discussions about builds)

freestompboxes.org (another forum)

various schematics from diystompboxes


home-wrecker articles & schematics

Then there are a whole pile of sites that sell complete or partial kits, and/or parts, and/or also have various schematics - no time to list them at the moment, but for example Officially Licensed Circuits (OLC.com) sells either complete kits or just pre-printed circuit boards for a lot of the pedals from runoffgroove.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:41 PM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Back in the day I built a fuzzbox from this book, etching and stuffing the circuit board myself. It's 1970s-era tech, all analog and solid state.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:31 PM on December 29, 2017

Kurt Ballou (guitarist for Converge and top-notch producer) has the coolest business card in the entire world--it's a PCB that you can build into a pretty gnarly distortion pedal. The cards are sold cheaply through Deathwish and Small Bear Electronics sells a kit of all the parts you need to put it together.
posted by sinfony at 3:19 PM on December 30, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks all. soundguy99, your list has been really useful. Tagboard Effects is ideal at the moment as I have a stack of stripboard lying about and a good number of components. I also found this guide [pdf] to footswitch wiring, which also provides incrementally better ways to ground a bypass. The site also has a big selection of schematics.
posted by pipeski at 2:58 PM on December 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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