Author Topic: What components do what?  (Read 373 times)

CCS

  • Diode Destroyer
  • *
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
What components do what?
« on: May 22, 2017, 03:20:09 AM »
Hey All I'm playing around with pedal sounds by swapping out components to see what happens, I was wondering if there is available online or in book form of what each components can do e.g. what combination of components gives me a fuzz sound, overdrive etc. How to add a tone control to a basic boost pedal etc. Cheers Paul

midwayfair

  • Electron Doctor
  • *****
  • Posts: 6883
  • Jon P
    • View Profile
    • Midway Fair
Re: What components do what?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2017, 08:00:10 AM »
This is a common question for people new to the hobby. But you won't really find such a book. The reason is that no particular component does anything on its own.

You could restate your question as "Which number will give me multiplication or addition?" Which of course most people realize doesn't make sense, because all numbers let you do that.

There are books that you can get that will, in a way, tell you what you want to know. Anderton's Electronics Projects for Musicians and Boscorelli's Stompbox Cookbook are both guitar-pedal specific, and if you read about and build every project in either you will have a solid grounding. But you may run into issues (particularly with Anderton's book) dealing with obsolete parts.

The Art of Electronics is the other book. It's not stompbox specific, it has some equations in it, and many parts of it are going to be far more advanced than you need to build guitar pedals. But know that it's a classic textbook, and think about how rarely both of those words are bestowed on any work in any discipline.

Here's how you learn this without just skipping straight to very dry material on how transistors or valves work (which don't get me wrong is still worth reading): You pick a relatively simple circuit you're interested in. Then you try to find out if someone has done a circuit breakdown. Then you breadboard the circuit, and read the breakdown while experimenting with the parts.

Good place to find such circuit breakdowns are Geofex, electrosmash, the Madbean build documents (less complete of a breakdown), the Member's Projects subforum here, DIYStompboxes (you have to work to find the threads dedicated to new designs, but there are a lot of them), etc.

Can't find a forum or blog post about the circuit you're interested in? One might not exist. In that case, you might be able to find something it's based on, or you have to rely on experimentation and pattern matching.

My suggestion is to start with a relatively simple effect. RG Keen's article on Geofex about the rangemaster (find the "technology of ..." section) is about as complete as you can get. Again, breadboard the circuit while you're reading about it. When you are going through that document, when you encounter a concept you don't understand, stop, go to wikipedia, and get an overview of what he's talking about. Then go back to the document. Keep doing that and keep playing with the circuit and you will have an inside-out knowledge of a single transistor gain stage. Then do the same thing with his Fuzz Face, Tubescreamer, etc. papers.
Myself's music & things I make: http://jonpattonmusic.com. My band: http://midwayfair.org. PCBs of my designs from: http://www.1776Effects.com (Bearhug Comp & Cardinal Harmonic Trem); http://www.jmkpcbs.com (Hamlet+ delay & Blue Warbler envelope vibe); Snow Day OD/Flabulanche: www.madbeanpedals.com

CCS

  • Diode Destroyer
  • *
  • Posts: 23
    • View Profile
Re: What components do what?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2017, 05:01:55 PM »
Thanks for your response. So much to learn, although I have learnt so much since starting a couple of months ago.