It's true. I've done so many stupid things, wiring Germanium transistors backwards, being stupid enough to wire the V batt and ground so it shorts (lol), then figuring it out like a whole year later... You have a big advantage though, in that there are lots of friendly people with knowledge and experience that you can go to for advice. Not trying to come off as some bitter fart (which I'm not, yet anyway, haha), but I would've killed to have a place like this to go to. Mainly I had this book which was a collection of DIY articles from a Japanese guitar mag, and not all of the info was correct, like the whatchamakalit--the PCB trace pattern. A Shin-ei Octaver copy PCB thingie was missing a ground connection, for example. I don't know how long it took to figure that out (after I laboured to make the board, wire in the parts, etc.). Or I look back and think what an idiot I was for believing some of the myths about point-to-point being superior over PCBs or whatever. I guess just wanted to get things to work and get a better sound so bad that I kept trying so I eventually started getting things to work (even though I'm still pretty far from knowledgeable). I think when it comes to troubleshooting, being systematic helps, not assuming (as Mark H. mentions) but making sure even if it's a pain in the ass. If working through and soldiering on is your style, then do it, but sometimes it's better to put it down and come back to it when you are fresh, later on or the next day or whatever. I think sometimes you can get in this sort of failure mode where you keep making the same mistake but you don't realize it for some reason. The failure is part of (what will be) your experience, so actually it has value, even though it may not feel at all like that at the time(LOL). Since we're not engaging in voodoo (or at least with the simpler efx), there must be a discernible SOMETHING (or thingS) that went wrong, so the trick is to figure out what it was. Did you overheat something, miswire something, not do a good solder connection, forget to plug in the battery, and on and on.