My =ultimate= multi-fx pedalboard...W.I.P

Started by Auke Haarsma, April 14, 2007, 06:10:01 AM

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Auke Haarsma

Hi Folks!

I'm gonna build a multi-fx board. Well, that's what I plan to do... I've not built that much DIY stuff this far (some boosters, delay, Thor, Omnidrive), but really got the hang of it. Now I want to put all my fave+usefull pedals in one enclosure. I'll post my progress in this thread, with some pics, and hope to receive feedback... I'm sure I overlook lotsa things, and I'm sure I'll run into trouble on my own. I *need* you guys (and ladies!)  :-* ;)

What do I want in the board:
-Fuzzes (1 modern, 1 vintage FF)
-boosters (SHO, rangemaster)
-OD/Dist (Thor for sure!, TS, Rat, DOD250, MI Crunchbox) -> guess I'll drop some here
-Modulation (CE-2, Neovibe, phaser, delay pt80)
-built-in tuner (I'll rehouse my Korg DT-10).

But I want MORE:
-3 (?) external fx, which can be switched from the board (so I can still keep my DD20 etc)
-A line selector/looper
-An AB switch to switch channels on my Vox AC30.
-Built in regulated, ultra clean powersupply. With, say, 4-8 seperate outputs, at least one pos ground, and adjustable voltage to simulate drained batt. Voltages 9v, and some 12v. I also want to be able to power my 3 external fx from this board.
-maybe a stereo output (but I'm not sure about this, seems like to much trouble with all these fx)

And some FEATURES:
-modular design. In otherwords, it is NOT fixed. I should be able to replace effects. How? Well, I am thinking to connect the seperate fx via a connector you see in computer-hardware (maybe an ethernet/telephone line connecter). Just something you can pop in and out quite easily.
-following the above, I want to be able to reroute the fx internally. So the fx-order is not fixed either. Again, I think I can do this with the mentioned connectors.
-I LOVE the woodwork skills of Basicaudio, really impressive. And I do LOVE the upcoming Vox AC15 limited edition...also in nice wood'll get it by now...I want this board to be made (at least at the outside) of wood, good looking wood.

Well, that's it for now. I already received a bunch of parts so I can start breadboarding the fx and modding them to my liking. When I draw up some plans and stuff I 'll post it here.

Any sugestions?


Here's one idea... you could have a shell, say an angled rectangle. Then, instead of having one solid faceplate, you could have rectangular holes, and basically you get your FX, fix it to a 'lid' and then screw it in. Furthermore, you could make lots of different routing paths by making them have a lip or bent bit on the short side, so they basically hang to the top edge, with the controls on the front bit, and over the back is the jacks. This way, you could unscrew it, and replace it easily.

Not sure how well this would work with wood though...

Is this roughly what you meant by
Quotemodular design. In otherwords, it is NOT fixed. I should be able to replace effects. How? Well, I am thinking to connect the seperate fx via a connector you see in computer-hardware (maybe an ethernet/telephone line connecter). Just something you can pop in and out quite easily.
-following the above, I want to be able to reroute the fx internally. So the fx-order is not fixed either. Again, I think I can do this with the mentioned connectors.


Few suggestions:

1. A couple of footswitches for amp channel and reverb switching.

2. Option to "swap" two EFX loops with one footswitch for that RYTHM/LEAD effect chains.

3. Combine the above so that when the efx loop is switched it changes the state of your amps CH or Reverb.

4. Multi-pin disconnect. Allied has several affordable, small, circular multipin connectors with 4 to 11 contacts. I've seen touring amp rigs that use a circular multi-pin connectors with multi-channel snakes or cable looms to connect between pedalboards and amps and racks and amps.  At each end there is an interface panel/box. Channels in the guitar snake include:
Guitar 1
Guitar 2
Feed to Rackmount Tuner
Red Box (Amp DI) feed to console
Built in cabinet mic (SM57) feed  to console
In-ears Direct
In-ears Ambient
Wireless 1
Wireless 2
And some strange things too like drum machines and samplers too.

5. Alternate power sources, specifically a bank of 9V batteries that can be used for recording to get rid of the wall warts. I've run eight DIY pedals off of four 9V batteries for up to four hours before dropping below 7.5V with a load. Those panel mount dual 9V battery DRAWERS as so cool to have mounted on the side. I'll see if I can find a pic of one.
It's time to buy a gun. That's what I've been thinking.
Maybe I can afford one, if I do a little less drinking. - Fred Eaglesmith


Oh and a plexiglass or lexan top so you can see all your internal hard work!  :icon_wink:
It's time to buy a gun. That's what I've been thinking.
Maybe I can afford one, if I do a little less drinking. - Fred Eaglesmith



In my experience, with these sort of "ultimate" projects you spend a lot of time in the "dreaming" stage. Then, not much happens. It just gets too big and out of hand. Listing just about every effect you want and trying put them into a board simply won't happen.

You need to think about how to limit the scale of the project. Try to make it as small and simple as possible, while still being useful. E.g. - if I could only have 5 effects in the whole world - what would they be? What order would they go on the board?

Start out small and build it. That will give you some experience in working with complex multi-fx stuff. Once it is complete, go ahead and build the "ultimate" rig.


200% agree with d95err,

first choose the pedal you really want and need, then make all your pedal works....cause it take lots of time to build all those effect...and debug then...

Long live the music.....

Auke Haarsma

Thanks for the ideas, suggestions and warnings!

I agree with d95err too. I will keep that in mind. I'm pretty sure I'll slim down the list of fx which will end up on the board. It will however still be preboost, OD/Dist (3 types), post-boost, modulation (probably chorus with mods) and delay. The 3 external fx allow me to hook up lots of fx (if I want to) because in fact they will be 3 external fx loops.

@roobin: I hope to soon draw down some of the idea's, so I can visionalize how I think I will place and route the fx. I don't want to pop them in and out of the board (like the Line6 Tonecores), but I do want to be able to change the fx without too much hassle. Not during a gig, but because I know I'll keep searching for more and more 'tone'. (that's why I DIY...)

@pushtone: nice ideas! I think you're saying what I have in mind, but more and bigger. I don't gig that often, don't have wireless systems or a huge rig. The Rythm/Lead switch should be included for sure!

Plexiglass could be nice, but I specifically want a nice wooden encloser. I could make the bottom out of plexi. Nice to look in side and it will make the box ligther.

I'll keep you all posted ;) because I will go on, it's gonna be like a g-system, but 'analog' and 'wood' instead of digital and metal.


Think about making multiple small boxes... you could always make it so that they attach to each other.  But this way you could have one box that's a series of fuzz pedals, one that's a series of ODs and Distortions, one box of modulation, one box of control function switchers.  Come up with a way to make them all attach together into one larger Voltron, and that way as you complete each box, you'll have something usable.  Just an idea.

Your initial idea is good... kind of a Cornish sort of thing, but it's easily something you could start and never find the time to finish.  If your complete box enclosure is something you plan ahead, you could end up finishing a fuzz and a chorus, and never getting any further... then you'd have a lot of wasted money and time.


although i also fully agree with d95err, there are a lot of different ways to go about your project depending on your needs.  if you're not gigging that much, why even build an ultimate pedal board when you can easily just take a few minutes to plug in your effects?  one possibility is that you could build the effects in a modular synth type setup...  like this... 

that way you can have the ins/outs right on the front for easy/flexible patching, you could make it a little bigger than you need so you could always add more panels (and you could fill the empty space with blank panels so it still looks nice!), even add some interesting options, such as:  build a sample and hold generator to control voltage and have that be patchable into your modulation effect(s) for more waveshapes, etc.  you could also add a stompbox with multiple switches to use for turning effects on/off. 

OR you could make something like this:  (scroll down)


Have you given any thought as to what parts get integrated.

The "module" could include the I/O jacks, DC jack, and switch so that each module has those part integrated.


The module could be bare bones, just the circuit and controls with the I/O jacks, DC, and switching integrated into the board mainframe.

I think I would go with the latter. I'm picturing eight footswitches that either electronically or electromechanical switch the module I/O.
You could even intergrate the switching circuit on the module and trigger it from a tactile FS on the board mainframe.

Finding the right module connector that allows easy swapping would be a challenge.
It's time to buy a gun. That's what I've been thinking.
Maybe I can afford one, if I do a little less drinking. - Fred Eaglesmith

Auke Haarsma

busy days ;) that's why I didn't respond fast. Thanks for thinking with me here.

I have considerd the 'small boxes chained together' and I do like that approach. However, it's not what I have in mind. I'm not going for the most effective board, just what I think is cool, nice, and fun to build (it's a DIY forum right..).

Thanks for pointing me to Cornish. I have looked at him before, but forgot about it. Good to see how he makes his boards. Great he shares those WIP pics. Top notch quality...but sooo ugly (imho...). I want something that looks cool too. It made me realize the board will be big with all those switches. Maybe to big. Another push to drop some fx off the board.

Modulestuff: I think I'll seperate the board from the pots (maybe seperate pcb for the pots and swithces). I'll use millenium bypass pcb's with the dpdt-switches (cheaper, and switch easier). There will be three main module boards: psu, fx-send board (fxb A) (for fx out to amp and return) and 'other fx' board (fxb B). The fx-pcb's will have a connecter, which will allow me to plug in a fx at fxb A or fxb B. This will give me the opportunity to change the order of fx, and to put internal fx in my amp's fx loop or not. I don't want to use jacks inside of the board (too big). Just one input jackbus, and one or two (stereo) output jack(s).

I've been breadboarding some:
Rat -> NICE I will include the LED mod and a switch, this one is going on th board
TS808 -> nice ts tone, like it as it is. On the board too
Currently breadboarding a CE-2 Chorus... complex build, but fun to do. No comment on this one yet.

-I'm bad, very bad at drawing on pc (or drawing at all...) but here's some to show a bit what I have in mind:

I'm considering dropping the tuner DT-10 off the board, and just use another external input/switch, but for the Tuner. Takes it out of my chain. DT-10 is known as a good buffer, so I I don't have a problem with it being in my chain. What say you? On the board, or external?


Be sure to leave enough space around your foot switches! Things look crammed on that picture!

What I do is measure the width of my shoes, add 1 cm / 0,5 inch and have the switches evenly spaced. That way, you'll have plenty of room for your Fred Astaire tap dancing!  :)

Auke Haarsma

Ah good point, I forgot to mention to sizes:

Width: 60 cm
length: 25-30 cm
height: low (near footswitches) to enought height for pots, boards and jacks (5 cm?)

Spaces between switches on one row is 8 cm. Between rows, 2.5 cm. So 5 cm between switches in row 1 and 3.

Should be space enough, right?

(I guess a 1:1 drawing would be usefull here, just to put my feet on the drawing :P)

Auke Haarsma

those knobs will be organized better. Number of knobs is a guess, just to paint the picture. Also text will be added. I want that part to look like the panel of my vox ac30. So, wine-red background  with cream font.


I think you still need to simplify things a lot. Here's one suggestion:

You're not likely to use phaser, neovibe and chorus at the same time. So use one footswitch for those three effects called "Modulation". Then use a rotary switch to select which effect you want to use.

You can probably do the same for some of the distortions.

This will also help you scale things. You can start out with only one single modulation effect, and then add more later.

Auke Haarsma

I like that idea, I'll give it some more thought. I could have a Modualtion footswitch, and then per modulation type a normal switch which connects it to the main switch or not. In that cause I have less, modulation footswitches, but if needed I can still use them at the same time. Sounds right?

Same could go for OD/Dist section and boost section. I like that idea, thanks!


Careful using a rotary switch for switching multiple modulation and/or distortion effects... many of those need to be input grounded when bypassed or they will 'leak'.

Cool idea - did you check out this one by SFR?

Auke Haarsma

Yeah, I did. Looks awesome! But it's not what I have in mind.

If I use an on/off switch I can either connect them to the 'modulation section' or to ground. That would solve that leaking issue, right?

Mark Hammer

One of the nice things about an integrated analog multi-fx unit is the capacity for engaging in parallel processing and re-ordering of effects.

A feature which I highly recommend is having an active splitter at the front end and a mixer at the output end.  Once you start combining effects in paralle you'll quickly find yourself spoiled.  If you can build in foot-controlled panning between mixer inputs, you won't be able to come back to "mere mono".