I started playing guitar about a year ago. Once I got some of the fundamentals and a few songs down, I wanted to do a guitar project. For the first one, I decided on a distortion pedal. Then I found ElectroSmash. It’s a cool site that analyzes the electronic design of various guitar effects and equipment. I started with their analysis for the Ibanez Tube Screamer. I have heard versions of this pedal before and enjoyed the sound. It is quite popular after all. I finished this project in July 2014.
I mostly followed their schematic with a few adjustments. First, I replaced the complex electronic switch with a simple 3PDT switch, making it a true bypass pedal. Next, I replaced all the antiquated semiconductors and things with modern equivalents. ElectroSmash lists some equivalents right in their analysis. Finally, the big difference is I used mostly surface mount parts. I was really curious how it would sound. Surface mount components are almost always preferred in most electronic design. Audio effects seem to be one of the exceptions. After all, this is a type of distortion effect. That’s usually not a desirable thing. With audio, though, the bottom line is how good it sounds, which isn’t easy to measure. It’s very subjective.
I designed a PCB, sourced the parts, and put everything together. Since this was my first design, everything attached to the enclosure was attached to the PCB via wire leads and connectors. I wanted to easily be able to take the pedal apart if I something was wrong. Naturally, the pedal worked great, and I didn’t need to take it apart. I bought two PCBs, so I eventually populated the second with the pin headers and soldered the wires from the components directly to the board. It turned out really well. A buddy of mine has a TS808 reissue, and we compared them side by side. They sounded very, very similar. I was quite pleased.
I will make some changes for the next one. I really want to design the PCB such that everything will mount to the enclosure directly from the PCB. That is, I won’t need to mount the PCB to the enclosure with standoffs. It will just be fixed to the pots and connectors and things. Also, I won’t need to wire anything. I just gained access to powder coating equipment, so I want to try that out on the next one.