So...point me where to start in diy pedal building/modding

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by mojazzmo, May 12, 2011.

  1. mojazzmo

    mojazzmo Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    Vancouver, B.C.
    So I'm ready to take the first few steps to building and modding my own pedals. Not as a business or anything, just for my own use and to try and get better tones that I want to hear. I will probably start with a BYOC pedal kit to start and get my feet wet and take it from there. This is where I need some direction. Can anyone give me some tips on the following:

    • any good pedal building books that cover the basics of electronics, if not what about a just a good book on electronics
    • best place to buy supplies especially a breadboard etc...
    • best website or forum for diy pedaL building
    • suggestions for a the basic supply set up like soldering kit, multimeter etc...
    • anything else I have missed?
    I'm a newbie at pedal building I have just done basic soldering of cables and installing pick ups etc...I know it will be a long, slow learning curve but I have lots of patience.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. mcdes

    mcdes Member of no importance Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2007
    New Zealand I think that's it.
  3. jgribble57

    jgribble57 Member

    May 8, 2011
    I would recommend starting with a relatively easy kit. The biggest advantage is you will arrive much more quickly at a finished project which will motivate you to continue learning how to do more complicated things....

    My first kit was from byoc ( Their forum is excellent. www.generalguitargadgets also sells kits and at a slightly cheaper price.

    I think the best choice though is the kits at mammothelectronics. These include pcbs from and have lots of options to choose from including finished cases and unique knobs. Their store also sells numerous parts.

    After completing the byoc kit I moved on to getting pcbs from and ordered the parts seperately. This proved to be quite fun and somewhat cheaper than ordering a kit. The service there is amazing and they have a great selection to choose from including some parts. Barry is a great guy and will take care of you. He's online a lot and good at answering questions and helping with projects (uh, with advice not actually soldering for you...). They have a good support forum there as well. If you don't want to start with a kit I'd highly recommend going this route.
  4. jkokura

    jkokura Member

    Sep 2, 2009
    Other options for PCBs include Madbean Pedals which also has a great forum with a support system for beginners. Sites to buy parts from include my favorite, Smallbear Electronics and Pedal Parts Plus. Places for learning include Beavis Audio, AMZ effects, and GeoFex.

  5. amz-fx

    amz-fx Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2005
  6. dlab

    dlab Member

    Feb 15, 2010
    freest*mpb* has a wealth of information and a large, very knowledgable builder community, although they're not very popular around here (last time I tried to type it without the asterisks it got censored from my post). Beavis Audio is also a fantastic resource. Ditto for, the BYOC forums, some parts of I Love Fuzz, the Geoefx website, and Jack Orman's website (AMZ-FX) and anything else that he might recommend.

    To get your start, I'd recommend building a General Guitar Gadgets or BYOC fuzz (should be pretty easy) or tubescreamer kit (easy, but not TOO easy...), just be careful when working with the IC and transistors since they're the most heat-sensitive components (you can buy heat sinks to put on them when soldering if you're worried). Just work on it slowly and deliberately, always reading about what you're doing and how it works, and you'll learn A LOT.

    To put together a kit, you'll typically want the following items: pencil soldering iron, solder, needlenose pliers and snips, wire stripper, magnifying glass and lamp, screwdriver. Some nice-to-haves might be desoldering braid, heat shrink tubing, and a "helping hands" stand. Beyond that, whatever you need to finish the enclosure to your liking. Once you start trying to build your own circuits you'll want to have a multimeter. Drilling, prepping and finishing boxes would require a good drill, Unibit or set of regular bits, sandpaper, and any other paint/finishing materials you like.

    And as much as I hate to say it, there is no "best" place to get all this stuff, shop around on the Internet for each individual item. Radio Shack is good for picking up instant-gratification tools, but it's not what it used to be. Even my local electronics store in Atlanta is way over-priced compared to the Internet.

    At any rate, feel free to PM me if you have any more questions. I'm not an expert by any means, but I've done a lot of learning by trial and error and would be more than happy to share lessons learned. Godspeed.
  7. XmasTree

    XmasTree Member

    Jan 7, 2009
    Clearwater, FL * Tampa Bay Area
    *learn to solder - watch all the solder youtube vids
    *buy solder iron, 60/40 solder & desoldering braid from radioshack
    *practice simple mods (pickup replacment is a good 1st step)

    (oh, i see you've gotten this far) ..............
    Last edited: May 12, 2011
  8. KrazyKarl

    KrazyKarl Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Parts - Small Bear Electronics
    Amazing service, prices, ship time, selection etc. Everything you need is there. I can probably count on one hand the number of times they didn't have a part that I was looking for.

    Forum - diystompboxes
    Kits/pcbs/instructions - General Guitar Gadgets, BYOC

    Those are my main diy sites.
  9. shikawkee

    shikawkee Silver Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2005
    Music City, USA + Halden, Norway
    There's a great book I had that I gave to a buddy but I think it will be easy to search. Highly recommended.
  10. Lolaviola

    Lolaviola Member

    Oct 13, 2005
    Eastern Standard Time
    If you have a Boss pedal, a good place to start is one of CMATMODS kits. They sell a bunch of parts and online instructions, and you can turn your boss into a customized version in no time at all for about 20 bucks.
    I think it's a good place to start for hands-on experience hearing how diodes, caps and stuff interact. After each part, you can audition the changes and learn what each piece is affecting.
  11. CaseyI

    CaseyI Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    SW Washington
    I think you're on the right track. Start with BYOC. Honestly, sourcing your own parts can be a real hassle. If you order a wrong part, well, that might cost you $.15, but then you have to pay the $5 to get it to you. Do that a couple of times and you'll be really frustrated. Use the BYOC kit to get familiar with what different components look like. It's a great way to build confidence.

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