Author Topic: Help with some Country Guitar effects.  (Read 12959 times)


Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« on: May 24, 2012, 12:09:13 PM »
Ok, so I built the beginners project. It worked. I like it.  Now, I want to build some more stuff...(imagine that, right?)

What I need is some advice on a few circuits and the order I should build them in.

Firstly, I need a better compressor. I have a Behringer and ... eh.. well it works but its suddenly started adding some odd swirly feedback type noise to my signal. If anyone could suggest one I could try, I'd appreciate it. I need it to be fairly transparent, I guess is the word I'm looking for. Too much and I start losing my low end twang. Our bassist wants a compressor too. I never should have shown him my Boost Pedal....

Phaser. I play a lot of Waylon Jennings songs and he used the hell out of a phaser. I have a Behringer VP1. It works ok, and its about to get a bypass mod done to it. I am having a bit of trouble with volume loss on it though. I'm still not sure where it should be in my chain. I had at first thought it was the source of the swirly hiss but no.. I took it and the boost out, so gotta be the compressor.

Overdrive. I have a Joyo Ultimate Drive. Nice pedal but way too much drive. Enough gain to get break-up and I get way more than I want. Works awesome as a booster though... I am leaning toward the Peppermill from ROG and/or the old Tube Sound Fuzz as a grunge box. I'm looking for a Bellamy Brothers type sound. (especially on the song Redneck Girl)

I'm also wanting a Fat Pants from Madbean, and a Bloviator. I used to have the old BBE Stinger til an ex-friend stole it.  I'm thinking that it would be perfect for my new style.

Any and all advice would be welcome. I'm sure there are things I haven't thought about yet.



Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2012, 02:36:32 PM »
The only distinct "country" sounding effect I can think of is you do the harmony presets on any of the digitech whammy pedals, its so great, it still has a slight digital gurgle thing on the high end, but aside from that it gets you some legitimate pedal still licks! its unbelievable.

also, this playlist is great
successful transactions with forum members: bcalla, digi2t, and gutsofgold


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2012, 04:13:18 PM »
Hey bud.  Here's something to think about for some country sounds...   

Compressor - (essential for Chicken Pickin')

the BYOC 5 knob compressor kit is basically a kit to build the Wampler Ego compressor...  which is a moddified Ross Comp.    I built mine and use it on every country gig I play.  Super transparent and spanky as hell if thats what you need.  Also, the MoRC compressor is a modified Ross comp (the original Ross Grey Comp is kind of the holy grail for us chicken pickers) very transparent as well, and they sell a kit for it at mammoth electronics as well, or you can buy the board from Guitar PCB and source your own parts.

Phaser  -(Waylon it)

Again, guitarpcb has a great sounding but kind of tough build called Dr. Phybes  they even sell the matched quad set of FETs transistors.  Also, the Phase Royal over at BYOC is pretty awesome as well.

Chorus - (a country must have pedal)

I'm just putting this out in the universe, but if you're going to play country music modern or old school, you need a chorus.  Every tour I've done, every other band on them, and almost every country show I've seen, the guitarist(s) had a chorus pedal..  lots of guys sell boards for them.  Check out and check out their "Ola" pedal's sound samples for a taste of some bangin' chorus (not to build, just to check out).

Overdrive - (tricky 'cuz there are so many great sounding OD's)

The Nashville secret weapon OD is the Nobels ODR-1.  Trust me on this.  Its a thick and pretty compressed OD that can get gainy, but most guys use them on about 3 or 4 (gain).  Its on almost every heavy-weight Nashville session/touring rig I've seen.  Not always used live, but a lot in sessions (mainly cuz the real green boxes haven't been made for 10+ years, and guys are scared of breaking them) sells a board (way overpriced IMO) for their Nobleman ODR.  Awesome build, great board, pretty easy.  Sounds just like the original and its true bypassed when you build it.

Delay - (something with tap-tempo for live gigs)

Another "throwing it out in the universe" pedal for country gigging..  Guitar PCB has a pretty bad ass one with tap tempo options. (the D'lay) I would assume a tough build tho.


OD's, fuzzes and distortions are usually the easiest circuits to build, so I would start there.  Second, I would build the compressor, and last the modulation or delay effects as they will definitely be more challenging.


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2012, 04:18:38 PM »


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2012, 08:24:59 PM »
Thanks very much folks. I spent a bunch of time last evening chasing those links. I was really intrigued by the historical fuzz articles.

It had never occurred to me to use the Digitech Whammy like that. The other guitarist in my band is currently building himself an electric lap steel. So now I'm thinking about hooking the Whammy pedal up to that and seeing what happens.

I had thought about delay and a tremolo or vibrato pedal. Chorus I hadn't thought about. I've never really used one, except on some hair metal ballads years ago...

That BYOC compressor HAS to be better than this behringer.  I'm going to order it. First I'm building the TSF and the Peppermill, because I want the experience, plus I have a history with that TSF. I built one before, back in 87 or so and I couldn't get it to work. It will work this time.

The Nobels ODR-1 huh? Ok, I had heard that name mentioned before somewhere. It is a bit steep at ToneZone. Not as bad as I was afraid it would be when pedaljunkie said "way over priced". Google-fu brings me a PDF of a ODR-S project, with layout, etc. Looks.. eh kinda complex. I'll work up to that.

Again, thanks for the advice. I gotta go order some parts..


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2012, 11:53:49 PM »
nobels is a ts type clipper, with some toneshaping/hard clipping flavor thrown in by the looks of it. not trying to undervalue that as bad, just saying that a tube screamer 'type' pedal is likely -my guess- to be in the same ballpark at least... like a fab od or bad monkey or td-5 for diy a tube reamer or other tube screamer sd-1 type circuit with some tone mods or whatever...
sd-1's can be had cheap and sounds close to the nobles to me, but i've never hear them being used for country, mostly blues and rock stuff...
a treble booster can be country...'muffmaster' is a small good sounding trble booster circuit, actually not a bad first build on the easy scale its.. easy.
you got a Tele? :icon_lol:
nothing says forever like a solid block of liquid nails!!!


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2012, 12:43:12 AM »
I have built the MoRC from guitarpcb, a couple orange squeezers and the 5 knob from byoc. I have found the byoc to be the best sounding and most tweak able obviously but the kit is more expensive. I do like the MoRC more than the orange squeezer but that is just preference. They are inexpensive to build so I would do a couple and see what you like. Sell the rest haha. There is also another new compress or floating around on here by Merlin that I would check out as well. Just my two cents.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2012, 03:23:54 AM by sgmezei »


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2012, 03:17:49 AM »
what!  country can't have fuzz?   I still collect country fuzz 45's. Here's one of my favorites.

Glen Garrison - "City of Sin"
always think outside the box


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2012, 12:25:37 PM »
Hey, if there's fuzz on a Buck Owens record, Country can has fuzz! On that "City of Sin" song, fuzz sounds like a sax. Cool idea. I realize the original fuzz marketing was about sounding like a sax but wow, never heard it done quite like that.

The whole compressor thing... At first, when I first changed from metal to country, I couldn't chick'n pick without it. Now I can. I still like the sound of it though. I agree, I should build several. Thanks for the suggestions. One thing that concerns me is how a pedal can sound one way at home at lower volumes, but be a lot different when you actually play with the band. That's a lot the issue with this Behringer. Oh well, it was like..$20.

I also found the Catalinbread Formula #5. I REALLY like it. The layouts and schematics also look like something I could do. I'm positive this is one of y'all on here. Thanks for the very cool blog.

I saw the Muffmaster.  It may go on the "to do" list. The booster I built from here is almost too loud, unless I leave it on all the time. The other thing is, I'm not totally sure I built it right. At the high end, it has fuzz. I know its supposed to but... erk. I hate it.

Last night, our primary singer gave me a couple of pedals, an Ibanez ST Super Chorus, and an ST FL5 Flanger. I dunno what I'm gonna do with the Flanger. Now it looks like I'm gonna have to build a bigger pedal board.

Yes, I do have a Tele. I've got two Strats also. However, mine are all Squiers. Not stock Squiers, but yeah, El Cheapo's.  I love them. Since I got that Tele though, both Strats collect dust. It has some custom pups I put in, and the frets are polished, I was going to add a roller nut and bridge saddles but its been holding tune really well. I still wind up bending the b string a little to play chords in tune though.


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2012, 05:17:25 PM »
you could even try modding the booster you made, with a smaller input cap ='the first cap the signal goes through at the start of a circuit'
a smaller input cap will cut more bass and make any booster a treble booster, something to try if you arent happy with it as is...
nothing says forever like a solid block of liquid nails!!!


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2012, 06:00:36 PM »
No its plenty treble-y now. I love the booster I built, it sounds awesome.  Right up til you turn it all the way up.  It then produces some serious, static sounding fuzz that I don't like. After chasing a bunch of links and reading, and listening to sound clips, I get the impression that some fuzz effects just sound like that. Maybe I don't dig fuzz? I dunno.


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2012, 06:43:37 PM »
Compressor: Don't spend money on that overpriced BYOC stuff... It's just a derivate of the dynacomp, which isn't a really good design (it's noisy and distorts easily). I just built two circuits that "mictester" posted at vreestombpoxes, the "Really Cheap Compressor", which is very transparent and clean (with the mods suggest by "Syder" on p.10) - I would prefer that for clean sounds. And the "Compression Sustainer", which is better for distorted solo sounds.

Phaser: I think, for country it should be quite subtle? Maybe a Phase 45 or a Phase 90? has great layouts for both.

Overdrive: This is my derivate of the tube screamer circuit, it kicked all my other diode clippers of the pedalboard:
Use a on/off/on switch for S1! This is much better than a stock TS esp. for


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2012, 11:03:23 PM »
Here is the link I was talking about:
The Engineers Thumb

Also check out this thread for some discussion on the subject:


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2012, 09:28:52 AM »
The effects used are neither here nor there, it's the fingers that count - and if they don't move in the style, no amount of effects will improve it.

Anyway pedal steel should play lead in country shouldn't it?
Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.

Mark Hammer

Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2012, 10:20:57 AM »
Save yourself some time and energy by gettig one of the Behringer P90 clones that they sell in a blue 1590B-sized box.  The box IS actually cast aluminum, so no worries about plastic there.  The circuit is pretty much a stock P90 with a couple of tweaks to the output stage, and a slide switch for more and less resonance/feedback to placate the script/block junkies.

I picked one up for well under $40 and modded it to have variable bias current, as pictured below (but labelled "width").  This lets you move the range upwards and downwards for varying degrees of gurgle, which can often be important in matching the feel of the phase sweep to the tune.  I'll have to post a pic of which resistor on the board to remove, and replace with a pot+fixed-resistor.  The caveat is that it's an SMT board which may be beyond the reach of some folks and solder tips.  The good news is that the resistor itself is in a very accessible area and away from other thngs one might screw up.

As for effects overall, I would think the most critical element of any country player's tone is an optimal Tele bridge sound.  There, we wander into not-quite-voodoo territory, involving the various Eddy currents around the bridge plate, the plate on the underside of the pickup, the springs, the flatness of the bridge plate assembly, the composition of the saddles, etc., and a whole host of things I don't quite understand.  Nail that down, and the rest is a piece of cake.


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2012, 11:16:06 PM »
Well, thanks Stephen, I understand what you're saying there, but I'm not looking for a crutch, just a cool sound. I do know that playing country is way more challenging than metal was due to the lack of high gain distortion to hide behind. If I pull a bad note or have some weak fingering, its out there for everyone to hear. Effects are just another part of a player's tonal palette. You can learn to use them in a musical way, or just bash around mindlessly. I prefer to learn to use my gear. I like finding interesting tones. Your song structure, note choice and phrasing are your meat and potatoes. That all has to sound good dry, effects are just spice. Country has a lot of lead instruments. I'd love to have a pedal steel player, but those aren't real easy to find. Apparently its not real easy to play a pedal steel.  Or afford one since the cheapest I've seen was $750. So until then, I'm pretty much stuck with my partner and I doing what we can do.  We don't have a fiddle either. Our main singer does play harmonica though, so we got the Willie Nelson stuff covered.

As far as saving my time and energy and money... With all due respect. Mr Hammer,  I believe I'll decide how I'll spend all that.  Of course I'm in over my head.  What would be the fun in it if I wasn't?
I'd like to build these effects so I can say I built them, and sound like I want to sound. Thank you for the phaser advice, I may go that route. I don't know if either my eyesight or my solder hand is up to SMT though. I may wind up buying either a p90 re-issue or a EH re-issue.  I might even get real ambitious and try to put one together.

I have this fantasy where I pretend its Austin Texas in about 1975, so those are the sounds I'm shooting for. The Phasing on those songs was anything but subtle. Listen to some Waylon or Merle Haggard from the period.

In any case, thanks for the help and advice. I guess I'm funny, I don't discourage easily. Otherwise, its likely I'd have never learned to play guitar.

Mark Hammer

Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2012, 08:39:04 AM »
If you can find a P90-like phaser for a decent price that uses through-hole, by all means, go for it.  I'd be the first to declare that I wish to avoid SMT as much as is humanly possible.  The Behringer unit is cheap, works great, and is more solidly built than all those plastic box units people normally associate with them.  If you can find a starving musician who wants to abandon their "block" unit for the same price, though, snag it and mod away.

While I completely understand the thrill and pride of being able to say  "I made that myself" - I mean, I'm here on this website, right? - a commercial pedal that does "tricks" your friends' commercial pedals can't do is pretty dead sexy as well.

If it's 1975 phasing you want, then you want a FET-based 4-stager, AND you want to be able to tinker with the bias and where in the overall audio spectrum those notches are moving around.  I have a crappy-little plastic Rocktek phaser, and when you get the bias juuuuusssstt right, it's instant Paul Barrere.  I realize that's not what you're aiming for.  It's just a way of emphasizing that a lot of "signature" phasing sounds we associate with certain musicians or pedals, or issues of pedals, have a LOT to do with being able to nail a particular phasing range.  The simple LFO is the same.  The FETs may be the same.  The same 2 notches with the same depth and 50/50 wet/dry balance.  There may be a bunch of superficial component and design changes, but all that's really different is the location of the notches.

Finally, I suspect you are aiming for a slower sweep rate, in which case the matching of FETs becomes more important.  Well-matched FETs make for a more musical "turnaround" at the extremes of the sweep (where it starts moving in the other direction).  At fast speeds, you don't notice it so much, but at slow speeds, the turnaround can make the difference between "pretty" and "I need to buy another phaser".
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 08:45:19 AM by Mark Hammer »


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2012, 09:15:14 AM »

This is the sound I like - country or not!

and here's some English Country - tears in yer beers!

Now the guitarist here, Andy Roberts I think used a digital effects unit, which he told me he "persuaded" to sound like a phaser. This band used to play songs like:

If you can't have marriage sunny side up, try divorce over easy!

I ain't married but the wife is!

You turned me on and then you turned me down!

and not forgetting "Joggin' with Jesus"
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 09:24:06 AM by StephenGiles »
Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 09:58:08 PM »
Strat, if it was me, and I was planning to shoot for current Nashville or Austine tones, the MoRC is actually the right call for a comp.  The BYOC is a much easier build (skip the "vintage" package), but the MoRC is a much, much, better sounding unit.  Really though, it's more an issue of the amp you're using - chicken pickin' is only one part of it.  A little comp goes a long way, a lotta comp can get irritating pretty quick, but a properly built MoRC has an enormous range and with the three position attack/refresh toggle it gets all you'll need.  The Nobels isn't a bad choice either.  It comes in a pretty easy to build kit from a place called Tone Clone pedals; they only sell the boards, but the BOM and layout are on their site.  Now that said, my pick for an OD would be a Zen drive (there are a couple of pretty accurate versions from MB and GuitarPCB), not the Nobels.  Another nice OP Amp OD is one of the Bluesbreaker options - they have a fairly wide range for gain and can add a little bite or go straight to full on OD (more of a woody tone than the others).  I think one of those are a must.  I'd also have to agree that a decent phaser could offer a little flexibility.  After hearing Waylon do "White Room" I don't think anything is out of the question now.  I'd also recommend a fat trem.  Tremulus Lune is the best I know of.  That's a real builder's board though and if you're very new to pedal building, it may be a bit of a stretch.  Perhaps you could get someone to populate the board and you could add the pots, switches and enclosure?  Finally, I'm surpirsed no one's mentioned it, but first and formost, you'll need a Tele with a real bridge pickup, not a Squire or a low end Fender.  Lollar Special T, or Fralin's choices are great for the Tele twang a very sweet but ear splittng treble with super strong bass.  Those are some good starting points.  My .02


Re: Help with some Country Guitar effects.
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2012, 08:43:41 AM »
The MoRC still follows the Dynacomp design - much more noise than is necessary... Have a look at mictesters "really cheap compressor"!!! With the afore-mentioned little mod it's by far the best compressor I've built so far. And it's deadly simple