Soldering Iron Fun

Hi, I thought I’d share one of my few hobbies with you. I have a fetish for ripping open Boss DS-1 pedals and modifying them. Boss DS-1s are great for modifying because they are solidly built, and they sound like shit. This means that many people give up on them, so you can usually pick one up second hand for around £20 on eBay or Gumtree. The reason they sound like shit is because some of the components used in the newer pedals are not ideal. The circuit however is pretty much identical to the vintage DS-1s which sound incredible.

These factors combined make the newer DS-1s ripe for modifying. By changing a few components you can have something that sounds decent with very little outlay and effort. Best of all, you can experiment with components and their values to find the sound that you’re after. It is possible to achieve anything from a bluesy breakup to over the top screaming leads by swapping out certain parts.

There is a wealth of information on modding DS-1s on the internet. A great starting point is this pdf which features several decent sounding popular mods you can try: http://www.diystompboxes.com/DIYFiles/up/Build_Your_Own_DS-1_Distortion.pdf

Anyway, I am no electrician, and I have learnt a lot of lessons the hard way. DIY electronics is not rock’n’roll. The most important lessons I have learnt are:

1. Don’t try to solder when you’re drunk and/or on drugs. You’ll just make a mess of it and have to throw your beloved pedal in the bin. You also run the risk of spilling superglue all over your flatmate’s tablecloth (still haven’t told her, but I’m sure she knows).

2. Do it in steps. Decide on an easy goal for the day, and then stop when you’ve finished. Try your pedal out for a couple of weeks and then if you’re still not happy decide what you’re going to change next and do that. If you’ve been hunched over the same pedal for six hours at a stretch you’re likely to run out of patience and start making mistakes. I’ve gone from having working pedals to working doorstops in the space of a few hours through overzealous tweaking.

3. You don’t need to change an awful lot of components to have a big effect on the sound. The temptation can be to change every little thing on the board, but this is not really necessary. Start small.

5. Keep your soldering iron clean, and try to make sure you don’t hold the iron on the board for too long. There is a very real risk of burning the tracks off your circuit board. Use a solder sucker and solder wick when desoldering, and work quickly. If you do burn off one of the tracks, it may be possible to trace it back on using something called Wire Glue. This little trick has brought at least one of my pedals back from the dead.

4. Read the forums. There are some very clever people who know what they’re talking about (unlike me).

5. Test it with a practice amp to make sure it works, but remember it will sound completely different though a bigger amp. It is possible to modify the pedal to make a tiny amp sound huge, but this will turn into mud at stage volumes.

Anyway here is what I was up to this morning:

This is what happens when you have no friends

It is my first mod to feature a replacement chip, using an SIP-8 to DIP-8 adapter. The chip I decided on is a Texas Instruments TL072CP op-amp. I think it sounds good. The chip adapter has a socket soldered into it so you can audition different chips quickly and easily.

In the clipping section I decided on asymmetrical clipping using germanium diodes. I also soldered a small value ceramic disc capacitor in parallel to the diodes on the underside of the board, as per the popular Keeley mod. This apparently smooths out the distortion but many say they can’t hear the difference. A 47pf ceramic disc only costs a fraction of a penny or something stupid, so I did it anyway. Lastly, I swapped a few of the stock caps for yellow boxes, and put a couple of tantalum caps in the tone control section.

I’ll try to get it recorded so anyone interested can hear what it sounds like.

Here’s some useful links if you want to get into it. Usually you can find what you want on eBay but I prefer to get my bits from Doctor Tweek as his service is second to none and his prices are very fair:

Doctor Tweek – specialist in electronic parts for guitar effects
Brown Dog chip adapters – you have to get these from the states.

If anyone knows of some good information resources or retailers of geeky bits and bobs, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

I will stop boring you all to death now. Happy soldering.

28 Responses to “Soldering Iron Fun”

  1. MarkV

    Hey man, how did you get the op amp adapter to fit in the pedal when you put the board back in? Mine wont clear the 1/4 jack.

    Reply
  2. Johnf662

    Superb post but I was wanting to know if you could write a gceebebbecda

    Reply
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  4. GennadiyRiTex

    Совсем недавно я пытался найти сайт где можно недорого купить одежду и постельное белье для дома, и наткнулся на форум где другие люди тоже искали недорогую одежду. На просторах интернета много чего можно найти, но таких выгодных предложений я еще не видел. Я искал постельное белье иваново и нашёл отличный сайт который мне посоветовали на форуме. Хочу поделиться с вами своими впечатлениями, купил все то, что и планировал. Очень увидили и порадовали цены.

    Reply
  5. Juliancob

    Спасибо за полезную информацию. Благодарю всех. Большое спасибо пользователю Admin

    Reply
  6. BruceNet

    Личный дом построить нелегко, но возможно. Однако зависит через того, что усилий вы готовы приложить ради реализации этой идеи

    Reply

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