Any musical diy/modders out there?


So from a recent thread on here some people mentioned that they have been building their own guitar effect pedals and keyboards.

I’d be intersted t know what people have been building and what the outcomes are.

The only mod I’ve done so far is on my monotribe, but that was very easy.

I have a soldering iron and I"m not afraid to use it!

Anyone out there been doing this?

Yes, for years, with all kinds of things - effects, analog synths, modular units, preamps, power supplies, CV and midi tools, etc (I also fix the shit around the house like the dishwasher lol).

It’s important to understand that electronics is mostly a hobby unto itself that happens to dovetail nicely with music. It’s easy to get sidetracked from making music while building stuff to make music with. That said, I find it really satisfying and it allows me to tinker and make things that specifically suit my needs, and sometimes create things that aren’t commercially available (or cost an arm and a leg). Or do simple but useful things like add a MIDI port to a synth or a speed control to a walkman.

Another big upside is understanding what’s actually happening with your equipment and signal, which can give benefits when actually making music. I very rarely have trouble with my setup because I know how it’s designed and interconnected, and when I do I can easily troubleshoot it. It also lets you do things like look at a schematic and replicate it in something like Max, PD, or even Reaktor. It’s also helped me build up an intuition about things like mixing, because I understand the signal flow and levels and frequency (you spend enough time designing LPFs for a pedal and you get your head around how freq works), and that intuition comes into play every time you sit down to make music. A good analogy would be if you buy a model rocket, you can launch it off a bunch of times to figure out how it works, but if you understand the math and physics behind it, you’re going to have a good intuition of how it’ll fly and land before you ever blast off.

It’s also important to realize that if you’re just trying to make a distortion pedal, it’s probably not going to save you money. You need the tools, maybe some test equipment, components, an enclosure, wire, a PCB, jacks, and on and on. Economics of scale means that Boss can buy TL074s for a 1/100th of what you pay. But you buy a lot of that in bulk and every build gets cheaper.

My advice for getting started would be to identify what you want to build, then see what the options are. Buying a pre-etched effects PCB from somewhere like Madbean or BYOC is a great place to start (just make sure you’re getting thru-hole boards or that SMDs are already populated) and parts from Tayda. Once you get a handle on the process, it’s easy to branch out in a bunch of different directions - etching your own PCBs, altering/modding schematics, designing your own enclosures, combining effects into a single unit, all the way to straight up designing and building your own effects and synths.

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I worked as a test engineer for a long time, so circuits and soldering are easy for me to understand.

The only test equipment i have these days is a multimeter :slight_smile:

yeah, knowing what to build is where its at i guess.

Defo a couple of guitar effects pedals, but some bleep generating machine would be great too.

Just chiming in here to say yeah, I am also interested in the DIY thing. I have built a PreenFM2 most recently. I am considering other projects, especially some easy guitar pedals to get my feed wet again. I also have a TSynth sitting on my bench that I am reluctant to work on because I bought the pots with a shaft that is too short…I am debating about making my own knobs to fit the shaft…I dunno, got other things to do atm. But yeah, I am glad you started the thread @thegoatboy and I will post up when I am doing stuff.

Nice to see some other builder around here!
@Creepr: how do you plan to make the knobs? 3d printer?
I spend most of my budget in boxes and knobs!

Yeah, that is was I was thinking. I only have a gray color, but it would do. I should really do it, I bought the damn printer last summer and have hardly used it. :smiley: