Published On: Tue, Mar 10th, 2009

Guitar effects pedal: Build your own pedal | Instructions

See how to build your own effects pedal with a smooth or Gritty sound. Use our in-depth guide to building your own pedal without resorting to expert attention

The tools you need
As well as the stuff in pic 1 we recommend a 15W hobby iron and leaded solder (we’d recommend working with a fan close by or near an open window). The drill bits will need a driver: we used a standard household two-speed drill in a stand. The cone cutter is available from good hardware stores or tool suppliers, and is recommended for all our kits. Use it at the drill’s low speed setting, and take care not to widen holes too fast – check against the components at least twice.
The kit (pic 2) contains everything you need except solder, which for legal reasons you need to buy yourself. You’ll need to do a bit of basic preparation of some parts, namely cutting the pot shafts to the required 9mm length with a hacksaw, or cropping them with the cutters usually found on the blunt-nosed pliers. Check the kit parts list for missing components before beginning work, although we take great trouble to keep this to a minimum.

Case preparation

Cut out the supplied drilling template and tape it squarely to the diecast box, leaving the wrapping in place (pic 3). Use a hammer and a sharp nail or centre punch to mark all the drilling centres through the small + signs. The jack centres are directly in line with the ‘side port’ flags, halfway down the sides of the box at the 30mm marker, and in line with the footswitch port (pic 5). Now unwrap the box and set aside its cover and fixing screws, then pilot out all the drilling centres with a 3mm drill. Then widen out all the holes as follows: LED 6.5mm; toggle switch 6.5mm; control pots 6.5mm, then to 10mm using a stepped or cone cutter; jacks and footswitch 6.5mm, then to 12mm with a stepped or cone cutter. A pillar-drill or drill-stand is best, as it needs to be carefully, progressively done.

Painting and lettering

With the box drilled, wet a clean piece of cloth or paper towel with methylated spirit, wipe down the box and cover, then dry them with another piece to remove the film of grease. For our prototype we used dark blue hammer-finish paint (pic 8), applied with a small brush, but you may prefer a smoother car-body spray. If you use a brush, be sure to mask the ports from the inside with sticky tape to prevent untidy runs inside the box. We have a special brush for this – thinners to clean it afterwards cost more than the paint, and it’s easier to store the brush in a half-jar of water until you need it again.

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