Author Topic: Voyage of a neophyte  (Read 710 times)


Voyage of a neophyte
« on: November 14, 2021, 05:40:19 PM »
I've been playing the guitar for more than 20 years by now (and bass, drums and organ along the way) but assembling my own effect boxes has never really occured to me and still half a year ago I had absolutely no ambition to do it. Part of the reason might be that I've never been too hot on effects overall and during one of my previous bands, up and running up until 2016, I succesively purged my setup even further to the point that I nowadays live by the motto 'If you need a board for your pedals, you've got too many pedals'. My go-go-setup was a fuzz and an optional wah if I was in a good mood, the rest being up to the valves in the amp and my right pinky.

Anyway, this recent endeavour of making effects was actually sparked by a failed purchase. Earlier this year I decided I needed a Rangemaster, a long overdue proposition since I've long since been a fan of messrs. Iommy, Blackmore, Gallagher, May and all those guys. Realizing an original one would cost a fortune even if I was lucky enough to find one, so a newly built clone would suffice. On to Ebay, purchased one from a guy in UK who made them himself. A few weeks went by and no box showed up; messaged the guy and it was revealed that he hadn't even assembled it yet, meaning I effectively had payed for someting that didn't even exist. Oh well, he was on it but it might be a week or two, or something to that effect, but he would get it done and on its way soon. Alright by me, I wasn't in a hurry. Weeks turned to months, still no box. Messaging the guy back and forth along the way, he was just going to finish it up and would ship it soon.

Soon finally came, about 4 months or so after the actual purchase and it was finally on its way. The kicker though was that he somehow failed to provide the correct phone number, meaning the courier couldn't get through to me when the package arrived in Sweden (even as far as my hometown) and it eventually went back to the sender. That's when I finally gave up on all the hassle, requested a refund, and while looking for another seller stumbled over several DIY kits of Rangemasters on the bay. I decided that it could be a good experience trying my hands on putting it together myself, in addition to the lower price in comparison with a ready-made one. Received the kit in about a week this time, assembled it according to the provided instructions, discovered it actually worked - yay - and realized that now that I had the instructions, I could simply purcase all the components included in the kit and make myself a whole farm of Rangemasters.

The final piece of the puzzle was where to acquire metal casings, as I wanted something akin to the original and not a generic stomp box. After some searching I found some site on which you could buy ready-made metal boxes of the right kind but I realized it would be way too expensive and simply not worth it. Thus another realization; these are basically just bent sheet metal and why couldn't I simply make them as well, I've got a workshop with tools and some leftover steel sheets just outside town. If anything, making the cases as well as the actual electronics adds another dimension to the whole DIY thing, and you have the freedom to shape them into something else than just another run-of-the-mill stompbox. The leftover steel was shaped into a handful of Rangemasters, painted amber and brown (on the basis of me happening to have two spraycans at hand with those colours) and the stone was rolling. A couple of Fuzzfaces followed, encased in something more akin to a Maestro fuzz, dark blue and amber this time, and to date a few other effects as well as shown in the photo. No telling what they do of course so I guess I'll have to elaborate on each and everyone of them, which is what this thread is all about.

Bottom photo left to right: 2-in-1 box (Rangemaster and Fuzzface), Rangemaster, Big Muff, Maestro Brassmaster, Fuzzface, Selectatone, Superfuzz, Colorsound wah, Dynacomp.


Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2021, 05:49:39 PM »
Welcome to the forum and this mad mad world ;)
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

Rob Strand

Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2021, 05:59:27 PM »
I like the enclosures.   The folded metal construction is something that adds to the charm of the 60s pedals (and electronic equipment in general).
Plopping around the pot since An unexpected error has occurred.


Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2021, 08:36:19 AM »
that's some nice bending. we'll be wanting internal shots to see how you do the stuff. I wish I could make mine look less home-made - I'll run a mile before I'll spray a bend.
imps are sold


Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2021, 11:28:37 AM »
I like the enclosures.   The folded metal construction is something that adds to the charm of the 60s pedals (and electronic equipment in general).

The late 60's/early 70's is my sweetspot both regarding music and general aesthetics, so it's only fitting that said time period style lends itself to the relatively simple build process. I have to emphasize though that I'm just as new to the art of crafting sheet metal shapes as I am electronics. No formal education, training nor experience in those fields, only blind optimism and a 'good enough' attitude. And a workshop, without which I probably never would have gone to such lengths in doing as much from scratch as possible.

that's some nice bending. we'll be wanting internal shots to see how you do the stuff. I wish I could make mine look less home-made - I'll run a mile before I'll spray a bend.

And get you shall. This is where it all started about half a year ago, and it might as well have been where it ended as well, since this is just about all I need personally in my rig - a Rangemaster which I've dubbed the 'Laundronaut' and I'll just leave the two morphed references for your guesswork:

And the underside with the battery solution visible. Not pretty but it works, and no one sees the underbelly anyway.

The innards, featuring the proverbial OC44. The hole in the back was supposed to be populated by a DC jack but I left it off since I only use batteries anyway. The power goes through the front switch on the left together with the bypass so that it's turned off when not engaged, in contrast of having it connected over the input jack. That way I figured it can remain plugged in when not in use and not drain the battery as this is one of those gadgets you rather have resting on top of your amp rather than on the floor. The right slide switch is for the input capacitance in order to get a fuller tone if desired. If I remember correctly it switches between 10 and 33 nF. The original value is way lower but I found it to be a bit too tinny. I'm thinking about adding a rotary switch in future builds for a wider tonal range though. And just for some added mojo and national pride I crowned the pot with the knob from an old Hagström amp.

Also shown in the photo are the first trembling attempts (tremble boosters?), before I got a grip on artisan consistency. They all work just fine but the finishes leave a lot to be desired, with gaps and uneven angles and all. They all feature my first template for the schematics, derived directly from that first DIY kit I mentioned and thus have a generic NPN silicon transistor and negative ground. They sound adequate enough but I wanted to approach the original for the succeeding builds and therefore opted for the original PNP schematics and a germanium tranny.

« Last Edit: November 15, 2021, 11:31:25 AM by Dotoar »


Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2021, 11:11:09 AM »
Just finished off my most recent project, a clone of a Foxx Tone Machine, and also the first where I made a conscious attempt to replicate the original appearance (save for, sort of, the Rangemaster), because of course I did. How many shagpiled effect pedals are there out there? It actually worked on the first try but generated some ungodly oscillating when cranking the fuzz knob. At first I sort of ignored it, convinced myself that one simply needen't turn it all the way when operating it, and that you've got a Theremin as an added extra if you did. But then I realized it wouldn't do, did some quick searching on potential problems and noticed that I missed one capacitor which proved to be the issue. Now it works as expected, at least according to what I've heard in various demos. A bit noisy when cranked, but hey, it's a fuzz, it's the 70's, it's alright by me. The velour lining is from an old cardigan stretched and glued over the metal casing. I dubbed it 'Foxxy Lady' because obviously, and had Jimi been alive at its launch I'm certain he would have used it.


Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2021, 09:31:50 AM »
Super interesting enclosures. I would like to see more pics... :-)


Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2021, 05:34:47 AM »
Time for an update. Finished this one yesterday, a simple phaser pedal this time, my first one actually (not counting my still unfinished Univibe which I may or may not redo from scratch as I cannot get the lightbulb to flash)

This is not a clone of any particular model but one that I found schematics for in the form of an old electronics magazine, showcased here:

Originally it had only the rate knob, as shown in the scanned article, but as there was a trimpot for adjusting the bias for the transistors, I decided that if it's adjustable from the inside it can be adjustable from the outside so it's effectively working as a depth control. I had to experiment with the value of the respective resistor in series with each pot as well, in order to get a decent range of the depth and rate. I'd say that the ensuing character is akin to a Small Stone, not too pronounced but still adding flavour.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2021, 05:45:26 AM by Dotoar »

Ben N

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Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2021, 09:28:02 AM »
that's some nice bending.

I used to think I knew what that meant to a guitarist.  :P


Re: Voyage of a neophyte
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2022, 12:17:34 PM »
Time for another one. My second attempt at making a Superfuzz clone as the first one didn't sound anything like the original. I made an attempt to echo the appearance as well although there is room for improvement regarding the finish (that's what you get for not bothering with drawings or measurements). The blue paint turned out all cracked for some reason but it looked kinda cool so I left it that way.