Shortly after buying a copy of Electronic Projects for Musicians, I tried building my first guitar pedal. It didn’t work, at all. Years later, the bulk of my pedal board is comprised of pedals I’ve built myself, or modified/rehoused. I have a few more things in mind for the board, with a nearly finished circuit-bent pitch pedal on the way. All of the DIY/rehoused stuff has artwork done by my wife, Angela.

Noise Swash

This is my first 4ms pedal. I bought it back in 1999 when the company was called 3ms, and made their more experimental pedals under the ‘soundshimmer’ brand. The pedal was built by Mike Both, and tweaked by Dann at 4ms. I recently sent it back to Dann for some TLC. Once I got it back I decided to give it a fitting enclosure, and added a few other mods myself. The enclosure is done by Angela, my wife, and is, literally canvas, epoxied to the metal, which she painted on.

Atoner

This is modeled after the ’sweet spot’ Atoner on the 4ms webpage. I wanted the sounds from it, but didn’t want to give up all the board space for it. The PCB is paper, glued to cardboard, ala the old-school 3ms/4ms pedals. I sent it to Dann after building it for him to ‘tune’ it into a sweet-spot one.

The paint job is also by Angela, and this is the second version of it. The original was a black and white tree, but had no finish, so it started coming off.

M9 MIDI Looper

This is my Arduino-based M9 MIDI Looper. When the M9 came out I decided I would replace my trusty DL4, but needing to hold the pedal in order to enter the looper was no good. Click here to find out more about this build.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modified Whammy WH-4

Digitech Whammy WH-4

After giving up on trying to buy an original Digitech WH-1, I decided to buy a current model WH-4 instead. Liking the sounds of it, but not the terrible bypass it had, I wondered if it could be modified to true-bypass like the older, and rarer WH-1. After opening it up, things looked promising. I set out to make it happen.

I ordered parts to true-bypass it, and to add a momentary switch, since I was using it for short hits most of the time. The modification was a lot easier than I had anticipated, although it did take me several hours, which including all the necessary circuit tracing. Knowing what to do, I’m sure the mod can happen in less than an hour.

Click here for a complete photo walk-through, guide, explanation, including video clips.

Chorats

This is a Boss CE-2, and a Big Jam 6-band graphic EQ pedal, housed into one larger enclosure. Both pedals have been a mainstay of my board since I got them in 1996. The CE-2 is the only chorus I’ve ever liked the sound of, and the EQ pedal I’ve always used with an inverted V setup, so it sounds like a half-cocked wah. I never really touch the sliders on the EQ pedal, but I decided to move the high freq one to a knob, for extra squeal if used in a feedback loop. The enclosure is etched, but not deeply. Angela used white acrylic paint as the ‘blocker’ for the acid, but after ten minutes, the acid began eating at the paint. We rinsed the whole thing with water, and I thought it looked so good as it was, it stayed that way. The original plan was for the rats to be blue (CE-2) and green (EQ), but instead, only the LEDs are.

Phaseur-Fleur

phaser fleur

This is a fairly straight ahead build from a 4ms Phaseur-Fleur kit that I ordered at the same time as my Nocto-Loco. I’m not a big phaser fan, but I figured it would be fun to build and mess with. It’s still on my board at the moment, but will probably be the first pedal bumped off when I run out of room.

I’ve done a few mods to it, including a wave-shape toggle, and an LFO range switch.

The paint job is way cooler than the pedal, and will be the reason I never get rid of the pedal, even if I don’t use it. It’s acid etched, but this time Angela used masking tape as the ‘blocker’ and as a result, was able to let the pedal etch for nearly an hour. You can’t tell from the picture too well, but the grooves go quite deep, and the edges of the pedal are notched in a bit.

 

 

 

Bent OC-2

Bent OC-2

This is a Boss OC-2, which I first rehoused just to have it be true-bypass, and to nearly rid my board of Boss shaped pedals (Curse you DD-6!!). After the mod was done, I asked Angela to do some artwork for the pedal as per usual. Unfortunately(fortunately) she did such an awesome job, that the paint job was FAR cooler than the pedal itself. This pedal is also etched, but very lightly, with only the ‘skin’ on the creature being etched, and only to give it that unusual look, as it is flat to the touch.

Since the pedal looked so good, I wanted to make it sound just as good and set out to circuit-bend it. I found a couple of great bends that fall into the ‘fuzz’ category. What is particularly nice is that you have access to two different fuzz sounds, which you can control via the Oct1/Oct2 level controls. The direct/dry signal is unaffected. So I can dial in a brutal low fuzz, then add a bit of dry for some clarity.

Here are my sloppy ‘bending notes’ on what I found.

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ABOUT

Rodrigo Constanzo
-makes music and art
-lives in Madrid/Manchester
-is a crazy person

Learn from me (for free!)

I am offering free lessons / conversations / consultations / mentoring / time / support to creative people, locally or remotely.
Want in on this?!

Read my PhD Thesis!

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Composition, Performance,
and Making Things,
sitting in a tree :
Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me-Me

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