Enter The HD500X

Line 6 HD500X TopLine 6 HD500X Rear

I’m a couple weeks in with my new Line 6 HD500X, and I’m loving it. My band The Drop Daddies has a gig on Friday, and it’ll be the first with the new Blackstar Stage 60 and new pedal board.  So I’m getting up to speed building new presets for songs, and getting used to a whole new world at my feet.

I’ve retired the old pedal board, along with the Zoom G3X, the loop switcher and a bunch of pedals I won’t be needing anymore! And I’ve built a much simpler new pedal board, which I’ll describe in the next post.

But first, here are a few critical decisions and discoveries that I’ve made along the way with the HD500X:

Read the rest of this entry

The Talk Box and the Gong

Rocktron Banshee 2 TalkboxAt a recent rehearsal with The Drop Daddies, my buddy Ian made an amusing and insightful comment…

Last year, I added a Rocktron Banshee talkbox to my pedal board, so that I could nail the intro to Sweet Emotion, and the solo in Weezer’s Beverly Hills.  Yes, it does that sound, and it does it well.

But over the last year, the guys have heard me increasingly frustrated at what a pain in the ass it is to set the thing up (thread the plastic tube up the mic stand, plug in the giant AC adapter), and clean out the spit after the gig.

All that hassle, just for a couple novelty moments during the set.  At rehearsal the other day, our drummer Ian came out with this gem:

I see. So, the talk box is the guitarist’s equivalent of the gong.  Except you can’t even light it on fire…

Ba dum bum. 🙂 Exactly!  I think it’s time to get this thing off my pedal board!

Led Zep's Flaming Gong

Alternative Pedal Enclosures from Rixen

Rixen Pedal EnclosuresIn pedal building, we almost exclusively see the Hammond-style diecast aluminum enclosures.  You know their names- the ubiquitous 1590B (aka 1290NS) and its plus-size cousin the 125B.  Then there’s the larger 1590BB, and the tiny and temperamental 1590A.     What these all have in common is the simple generic rectangular shape.

Rixen Chorus ExampleBut what if you’re a fan of the spring-loaded foot-pedal enclosures made famous by the BOSS and Ibanez pedals? 

Typically, the only way for DIY pedal builders to achieve that look was to buy an old pedal and gut it- but then you’re stuck with the original pedal’s drilling layout. 

 

Now there’s a new option- I just came across these new enclosures from Rixen Pedals.

Read the rest of this entry

When is 9V not 9V?

Measuring Korg 9V power supplyAnswer:  when it’s 13V! 

As I mentioned previously, my pedal board’s power supply died, so I’ve been temporarily using an old Korg 9V power supply.

I’ve been getting some hum from Ryan’s Fulltone Fat-Boost, and finally decided to do some sleuthing to figure out why.

Fortunately, before I even cracked open the Fat-Boost, I hooked up a multimeter to measure the voltage output of the Korg supply, and it turns out that this little guy is really putting out 13V, not 9V.    Well, that’s annoying.   Is it mislabeled, or just over-compensating for something?

Measuring 1 Spot 9V power supplySo, I decided to pick up the relatively inexpensive and well-reviewed Visual Sound 1 Spot.    Quoting from the FAQ:   “The voltage output is fully regulated.  It’s at least as quiet as the PedalPower, maybe even quieter.”

Measuring the 1 Spot with the multimeter, I see this one is putting out 9.5V.  I’m guessing 5.7% over is within normal tolerance for a 9V supply.

Better yet, no more hum on that Fat-Boost.

Note to future self, don’t trust power supply labels!

Update: Several people asked how the power supplies behaved under load, so…

Read the rest of this entry

Pedal Power Fiasco

Drop Daddies Rehearsal at Annex 2013-03-15 The night before my St Patrick’s Day gig with the Drop Daddies, we were setting up at a rehearsal space for a last minute practice.  I powered up my gear, and none of my pedals were working!

After a bit of trial and error, it was clear that my ancient SKB PS-25 pedalboard power supply had finally keeled over.  I never use batteries, but fortunately a couple of the pedals had old 9V batteries still in them, so it was enough to scrape by for the rehearsal.

Pedals want DC negative-polarityThe following morning, just a few hours before the gig, I went through my box of old guitar gear to try to find a replacement 9V DC negative-tip power supply.  

Hey, here’s the power supply for my Digitech Jamman Delay which I’m not currently using in my live rig.   It says 9V, 1.3A.  Strange, it doesn’t show a polarity, but it’s a power supply for a guitar pedal, and the plug barrel fits, so it must be good, right?  What could possibly go wrong?

Read the rest of this entry

Waterslide Decals

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

In this final installment on finishing your own guitar effects pedals, I demonstrate how to print and apply the waterslide decal to the pedal, and apply a durable clear finish.   In previous videos, I showed how to model, drill, and paint the enclosure, and design and prepare the artwork and labels in GIMP.

I use clear waterslide decal paper, and print on my inkjet Canon Pro9000mkII.  After printing, and waiting a while to ensure the ink is dry, I spray on a few coats of Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear acrylic to protect the ink during the soak.  Then, after the clearcoat dries for 30 minutes or so, I trim the paper to final dimensions and soak the paper in warm water.  When the decal starts to move freely from its backing, I wet the surface of the enclosure and slide the decal directly onto it.   I iron out the bubbles with wet fingers, and adjust the decal into its final position, being careful not to stretch the decal.

Read the rest of this entry

Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork

Completed Under Pressure Compressor Artwork

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

The next step in finishing up the pedal that we’ve modeled, drilled and painted previously, is to prepare the artwork and labels.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to compose your pedal artwork in GIMP, the free GNU Image Manipulation Program.  I’m using GIMP 2.8.2 on Windows, but it also runs on Mac and Linux.

I start with an overview of my Under Pressure compressor and Speed Racer Overdrive artwork, and then show how to compose your own pedal artwork from scratch.

I cover the basics of project setup, layout, working with the rulers and guidelines, the graphics and text editing and selection tools, sourcing artwork and fonts, retouching and removing blemishes, extracting components from a larger image, layer compositing with masks, and more.

Here are some of the resources shown in this video:

Read the rest of this entry

Finishing the Enclosure

Spraying Pedal EnclosureHere’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

In previous posts, we modeled the enclosure in Sketchup, drilled it, and now we’re ready for paint and artwork.  In this video, I talk about options for finishing the enclosure, and choices for art and labels.  Then I demonstrate surface prep, priming and painting, in preparation for the waterslide decals.


Some of the resources shown in this video:

Drilling the Enclosure

Drilled 125B EnclosureHere’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup, Modeling a 125B Guitar Pedal Enclosure
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming and Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

Now that we’ve modeled the enclosure and printed a drilling template, we’re ready to jump out of Sketchup and into the real world.

In this video, I’ll be demonstrating how to accurately drill the holes in a diecast aluminum 125B guitar pedal enclosure, preparing to install the electronics.  I’m using the drilling template we printed in part 2.  The pedal I’m building is a modified Ross compressor, using a printed circuit board purchased from GuitarPCB.

Funny, I just noticed while reviewing the final video edit that I was saying “barrel” instead of “bezel” for the LED bezel.  I guess I was channeling my inner Cooper.

Some of the resources used in this video:

Sketch Me Up!

125 Enclosure Model

Here’s the table of contents for the whole DIY pedal building series:

  1. Intro to DIY Pedal Building
  2. Beginner’s Course in Sketchup
  3. Drilling a 125B Guitar Effects Pedal Enclosure
  4. Pedal Enclosure Finishing: Surface Prep, Priming, Painting
  5. Using GIMP to Create Pedal Artwork
  6. Printing and Applying Waterslide Decal to Pedal Enclosure

This is part 2 of my new series on building guitar effects pedals.

This part of the project ended up being far more grandiose than I originally intended.  I started out planning to just show how to model this diecast aluminum 125B guitar pedal enclosure, to make sure my PCB and components would fit properly inside.   But by the time I was done with it, it was essentially a complete beginner’s how-to course for Google Sketchup.  (Note, Sketchup is now part of Trimble instead of Google).

To give you an idea of how long this took for me to complete, I started filming the intro and the Sketchup tutorial videos in June of 2011.  Over the last year, in the time-spaces between the rest of life, I’ve been gradually editing, revising, extending, and composing music for the project.

In this tutorial, I start out with the absolute basics, and gradually pick up the pace, progressing to more and more advanced topics.  I divided the video up into 5 sections, but kept them all together in one 55-minute video.  In my previous multi-part videos, I had to split them into multiple YouTube clips, due to the YouTube length restrictions, but now that they’ve relaxed those for my account- I hope it’ll be better having it all in one video.

Here is the Sketchup file that I used in the tutorial if you’re interested: Download sketchup file.

Each section assumes a familiarity with the previous section topics.  Here’s the table of contents:

Read the rest of this entry

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »