Featured Pedals

Here are some of the very best pedals you can make.

The rest are on the AMZ CD and site.

Lava Rim 2

Build this pedal for a cool retro FUZZ sound to play Hendrix style licks with funky fuzzy distortion. This fuzz uses cheap, readily available 2N3904 transistors that you can buy at Radio Shack. Usually the 2N3904 silicon transistor produce a harsh sounding type of distortion but this design takes advantage of diode distortion at the end of the circuit to "mellow" things out a bit. What happens is that the transistors distort but the diodes distort too and compress the sound a lot. The 1N914 and 1N34a diodes really round out the sound and make this pedal sound much better than if they weren't there. In addition the neat "harmonics volume" trim pot in the diodes (thanks R.G.!) allow you to adjust the intensity of the harmonics and the mix of diode "effect" vs. transistor distortion. Please socket the transistors and diodes because experimenting with them will give you all sorts of timbres.

The Lava Rim 2 is a versatile circuit! You can mix NPN germanium transistors and silicon transistors for a unique sound. The trim pots let you use all types of transistors such as the 2N5088 for more distortion and gain. In addition, the 2nd transistor can use a MOSFET like the 2N7000 or BS170! Just pop in the MOSFET, drain toward V+, source toward ground and adjust the trim pot until you hear good tone! In addition, remove the diodes to really hear the MOSFET.

Skill level: beginner

Perfboard, rough layout.

Listen to the the Lava Rim 2

A big buzz for a cheap and simple project.


A Fuzz Face that uses germanium (somewhat hard to find) transistors and a hi-gain silicon transistor for powerful output. Screaming and distorted, this is a powerful Fuzz Face pedal. The Hornet doesn't have the typical low end buzz of a Fuzz Face since I rolled off some lows at the input. A great sounding hybrid Fuzz Face that can be trimmed to match a wide variety of transistors.

Skill level: medium

Perfboard layout.

High-gain germanium fuzz based on a classic circuit.

The Rocket

Built off of Gus Smalley's 3 transistor fuzz, this fuzz face with buffer on the front is a nice take on a silicon distortion. Good sustain, and good distortion, make this pedal a winner. Easy to build too.

Skill level: medium

Listen to The Rocket

High-gain silicon fuzz that's suprisingly good.

Booster 2

You may have heard about FET transistors and their ability to sound "tube-like". Well here is your chance to try an excellent low to medium drive booster/overdrive. It sounds very good for driving the input of an amp and has a very nice tone. It's easy to build and sounds very good.

Skill level: medium

The warm sound of FETs in a great overdrive.

Booster 2.5, Sweet Thing The Booster 2.5 is my mods on the Booster 2 which makes it into a great medium to high overdrive unit. It's gives a great tube-like singing sustain and wonderful feel. The Sweet Thing is Doug Hammond's mods to the Booster 2.5. He added a nice tone control which basically adjusts the mid content of the pedal. This is an excellent overdrive to build.

Listen to the Booster 2.5 MP3 file.

Listen to the Sweet Thing MP3 file.

Rapidly becoming one of my most favorite pedals. Still in transition, this pedal rivals the Shaka Braddah III.

Insanity Box

Screaming, screaming - (Did I say screaming?) pedal. Killer distortion that's "brown" and warm but with bite. If you've got the chops, this pedal delivers screaming leads, tons of sustain, just the right amount of buzz in the distortion while keeping it smooth. This pedal is FAST, try your fastest licks on this pedal. Crank it up to get enormous distortion and sustain. It's insane!

Skill level: advanced

Listen to the Insanity Box

PCB Layout, Press and peel layout (TIF format) Thanks to John Catto!

One of the best ultra-hi-gain pedals I have built and played.

Shaka Braddah III

Everyone seems to want a pedal to boost their tube amp nowdays, well here it is and more. The Shaka Braddah III is a big boost pedal with drive! The pedal uses one of the best boosters you can get anywhere: the Jack Orman Mini-Booster. The circuit incorporates MOSFET internal diodes with germaniums for a unique buzz that gets rounded off with the Mini-Booster. This pedal has tone when played into a tube amp and the clear highs allow you to cut right through a band mix.

Skill level: advanced

Perfboard rough layout - Note, you must run a wire from the ground pin of the IC to ground on the circuit.

Listen to the Shaka Braddah III

The best diode distortion pedal I have built and played for boost and overdrive.

Bonzai Pedal Note, you must run a wire from the ground pin of the IC to ground on the circuit.

Build this pedal once and configure it over and over many different ways. With easy modifications, this pedal can do the following circuits:

TS- series feedback loop distortion (use the feedback loop with clipping module)
Shaka III distorter (standard config)
MXR Distortion++ (bypass the FET MiniBooster)
FET Booster (no clipping module)
Op Amp booster (just use op amp, no FET MiniBooster)
Funky Fuzz Face (op amp into Fuzz Face circuit instead of clipping diodes - include or omit MiniBooster)

How can it do all of this? Simple. By using a separate clipping module (separate perfboard with clippers or another type of distortion circuit), and sockets/jumpers, tap into this pedal at different points to create many different types of distorters. It's very powerful and easy to do. You can also tap into the pedal at the end of the MiniBooster and pass the signal to a new filter module. I've used the Rat, Bluesbreaker, Shaka 3 and Jack Orman modified tone controls in this pedal with good results.

Much more on this pedal to come....

Skill level: advanced, but you only build it once.

A configurable, flexible distorter.

Shaka Express

A hi-gain pedal for the guys that want to rock!. The Shaka Express represents the top of the line Shaka for hi-gain overdrive/distortion. The mid "bite" control gives your distortion "teeth" and the 3 FET stages make sure every nuance comes out loud and clear. Step on this pedal and take the lead. PCB and Layout available from GEO. Listen to a sample of the Shaka Express from sounds.ampage.org.

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