Carbon Comp vs. Metal Film Resistors in Boutique Fuzz Clone -Sound Differences??

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by dewman, Feb 7, 2006.


  1. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey everyone, I have a boutique fuzz clone (built by yours truly around a FuzzFace general circuit) that has nice matched NOS germanium transistors and is a great fuzz but sounds like it has a bit of extra high end and some buzziness. Would swapping out the metal film resistors for carbon comp resistors smooth the sound out? I know I am sacrificing increasing noise, but that's ok by me if it sweetens the tone up a bit. Thanks for your help...
     
  2. Skreddy

    Skreddy Member

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    You ASSUME that carbon comp resistors will add noise. But you're asking if they might smooth things out. Considering that most of the noise is being created by the transistors (and amplified by them from the input cable and the hookup wires, etc., depending on how you have things set up), I am confident that any "smoothing" effect of carbon comp resistors would overwhelmingly offset any potential thermal noise they may impart to the circuit (which I doubt you would ever be able to even hear under any circumstances).

    The net result of switching from metal film resistors to carbon comp resistors would likely be LESS noise, not more (assuming there is any audible difference).

    The type of caps you use will have more influence over the tone than the resistors; and different types impart some of their signature tones. E.g., aluminum electrolytics will give it some extra lo-fi grunginess (assuming a low bias voltage, so they're not running in their linear range). Mylar will tend to sound harsher and spikier. Ceramic will be more lo-fi and gritty. Etc. Metalized poly films tend to be the most "transparent" sounding capacitors, IMO.
     
  3. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    Ok- so I'll re-ask this question and try to be a little more clear. I want to smoothen the tone of a fuzz face clone. Will swapping CC resistors make a big difference in smoothing tone? Second, are there audible increase in hiss levels when replacing CC resistors for metal film resistors as is the case in tube amp circuits and rangemaster clones. Third, if caps are more important in shaping overall fuzz face tone, are there any type and brands that you have personally A/Bed that would lead to smoothing the fuzz tone, lessening buzziness, taming the real high end and warming the fuzz up a bit. Lastly, maybe cap values are important as well, but I elected not to initially play with these instead as biasing the two Ge transistors is an integral component of getting a good fuzz face tone and I only wanted to go there as a last resort. My circuit is loosely based on a fuzz face, so any reference to that circuit and cap/resistor changes would likely work for my build.
     
  4. Skreddy

    Skreddy Member

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    I tend to like more transparent cap types in Fuzzface circuits, to emphasize the guitar's basic tone and the character of the fuzz, rather than smoothing it out. If you have too much hiss, experiment with a small ceramic cap in the negative feedback loop (e.g. 47pf in parallel with the 100k feedback resistor). There are very few components in the FF, and I've found that CC resistors seem to make more of an impact the more of them that there are (cumulative effect, you know).

    Having said that, I personally like the tone of carbon comp resistors and dislike that of metal films. Just my personal preference. I've never experienced any noise in any build using carbon comps that metal films improved. So you should test this yourself and determine what you like best. There is no right or wrong answer.

    The caps are HUGE determiners of tone, like I said, after the transistors. If you have a nice basic tone with your transistors, you can fine-tune the amount of tightness and high-end with your choice of input cap type and value (play with values between .1 uf and 2.2uf). And you can get a huge, open tone by using a large output cap (try a 10uf tantalum) or get a tight, midrangey tone with a smaller one (try a .015 film).
     
  5. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Dewman, a buddy of mine routinely guts his factory made pedals and systematically replaces ALL caps, resistors, diodes, etc. with parts of the exact same value, but higher quality. I realize that this doesn't really directly answer your question, but it's worth noting thast in every case - without exception - a simple component upgrade greatly improves the signal-to-noise ratio, and in many cases, the overall tone of the pedal as well. This has led me to conclude that it's often not so much the circuit designs themselves, as it is the quality of the parts, that are responsible for the huge gap in performance between *booteek* & mass-produced gear.

    Skreddy, I no nothing whatsoever about electronics, but reading your posts has increased my gas levels for one of your fuzzes by about 1000%! Tell us more..
     
  6. Blues Lyne

    Blues Lyne Member

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    Skreddy,

    I built a Ge (AC188) fuzz face clone and it came out real smooth. What would you experiment with to get a little more rip or wooly sound out of it?
     
  7. Skreddy

    Skreddy Member

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    To get more farty wooliness, increase the size of the input cap (and generally do the same to the bypass cap on the gain pot). To let more details of the fuzz through, use a higher-fidelity output cap (like metalized poly). You can always experiment with the bias, etc., etc. It's a rich platform for mods. Another mod (I haven't heard others mention before) is to decrease the size of the negative feedback resistor (100k stock). Less neg feedback=more gain and less compression. I'm usually content with a smooth-sounding fuzz, though! Better ask Devi Ever (effector13.com) for more tips about ripping tones! :)
     
  8. Blues Lyne

    Blues Lyne Member

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    LOL, not looking for that much rip! :D Just a hint of it. I'm looking for that reedy character when used with the neck pup.
     
  9. AL30

    AL30 Member

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    Try this:


    "Refine" your pedal and smooth the tone out


    A Jake Nagy special! Put a smallish value capacitor on the output lugs of your volume pot (from signal to ground) to clear up the high end "buzz and hash" from your pedal and give it instant smoothness!
    Try different values from 220pf to .0015uF or even larger values depending on the amount of high frequency content you want to remove.


    [​IMG]

    This info is from Aron's stompbox forum.
     
  10. Blues Lyne

    Blues Lyne Member

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    I remembered that the Ge London Fuzz I played in a tourbox a year or so ago had more of the quality i'm looking for. I listened to the clips on the MJM site and they confirmed it.
     
  11. Blues Lyne

    Blues Lyne Member

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    I messed around with my FF today. I adjusted the bias a bit and it seemed to get a bit more of what I was looking for. Also, I had built the FF with a pot that blends between two input caps. I adjusted it for more bass and got a bit more of that reedy tone.

    Skreddy, thanks for that tip. I clipped another 100k resistor in parallel to the one in the circuit and it is a cool sound. I think I may put in a switch to switch the parallel resitor in and out.

    I also added a 390pf cap across the output pot as AL30 suggested since it had a little too much top end for my rig. It helped without making the FF dark sounding.
     
  12. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    parts come this weekend ...will try some of thesemods out...
     
  13. mcfuzz

    mcfuzz Guest

    you may also try a cap across your 470 r 330 or 1 k resistans if you want .[or whatever your using there] small -maybe .01-.022 or so to start. and for your sil trannies a small puffer [20-75 ]from base to emmit.if your box is all sil the puffer might help with rf and the de-coupling cap wil fatten things up a bit . have fun.
     
  14. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    ok- the info was outstanding - and I have a freakin amazing fuzz pedal now. Dropped in two tantalum caps- sure smoothed it out and liked it better than electrolytics of film caps- Thanks, great suggestion! I played around with several values and just went with the original values. Also put a 250 pF silver mica cap on the two outer lugs of the volume pot- again more smooth, but probably not something you would notice when cranked, at least I couldn't. So here is the kicker. I had some germanium matched transistors from Small Bear that sounded ok but never in that circuit, even with the cap changes sounded harsh-So I began experimenting since the trannies are mounted in trannie clips and can be swapped out easily. I have a bias adjustment pot in the circuit too. tried every permutation of Ge trannies with a rangemaster germanium OC44 Mullard from small bear and some random cheap ass radio shack silicon PNP transistors. Loaded with all silicon transistors, the pedal had significant gain, but was harsh, even with bias adjusted up or down. tried the OC44 in Q1 and Q2 positions paired w/ a Ge trannie and it was still ratty, but hadmore of the classic germanium sound. The OC44 wasnt as smooth as the stock Ge trannies, no matter where I put it. Same goes for the OC44 and silicons. Ok very loud, but roll the volume back and it sucked. SO here is the killer- tried swapping the two Ge trannies in different positions, and clearly found that the Ge in Q1 paired with a radio shack silicon trannie in Q2 gave the most unfreakin believable tone. It was shocking. No sh^t. No other combination came close. So the tone is higher gain a bit than the dual Ge NOS trannies but has the sweetness and musicalness of the Germaniums. It has a singing quality and very good single note definition with the bias rolled down a bit to lose a little of the woofiness. What absolutely blew me away was the tone when the volume was rolled off. The Si trannie imparts a breakup to the tone and a thickness and warmth. The breakup is there. I mean it is dead on w/ my strat w/ fralin blues doin Castles in the Sand and the quieter parts of Voodoo Chile. Roll it up and you get the saturation which compresses nicely with the neck pickup. I couldnt believe it since no other combination gave the smoothness, note clarity, and really musicality as this combination did. It might be something special with the gain of the Ge trannie, I dont know, since all of the Si trannies that I tried sounded basically the same. So that combo is amazing. I guess hybrid fuzzes are clearly nothing new, but this combnination sounded so completely fat when dimed as well as when the volume was rolled back on the guitar that I am still freaking out. I think the tantalum caps helped achieve this tone, which is clearly smooth and bang on to where I wanted to be anyway, which was copping classic tones (voodoo chile, etc. - yeah I know we all want to have a little Jimi) Also I swapped everything out for 1/2 watt CC resistors which made it sound slightly better too. I'm using cheap ass dollar store carbon batteries, which sound way better than alkaline or DC input voltage. Anyway, run out to radio shack and grab their cheap multipak of Si trannies and experiment with a hybrid Ge-Si fuzz. I am glad that I posted this thread- thanks to all of you guys for helping get the ball rolling with these fuzz changes. You guys rock...
     
  15. Skreddy

    Skreddy Member

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    Kick ass, Dude! :) Thanks for posting your results. Man, nothing feels quite so good as experimenting and tweeking and coming up with magical results. Congrats.
     
  16. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    Hope I can figure out my computer enough to post a clip for ya. What was cool too is that the mojo translated between amps (Germino Club 40 and Ampeg VT-40) so I know I hit on something. Ordered a nice housing for the pedal, which was prototyped in an aluminum Home Depot electrical box and now deserves at least a pretty hammond house...thanks again guys as always!
     

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