Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fat Rocket!

I finished building an effects box for my guitar. I call it the Fat Rocket. It's the BYOC Large Beaver, a clone of the classic Big Muff. This distortion pedal has been around since the early 70's made by ElectroHarmonix. You'd be familiar with it if you've heard Pink Floyd, Dinosaur Jr and The White Stripes among countless others. It's a very thick and heavy guitar tone with lots of sustain. My first build was the BYOC Fuzz Face clone (see earlier blog post) and loved not only the sound of it but the experience of building it as well. I haven't had a hobby like this since I was a kid building lots of airplane models. It's great to get back into something so detailed. Something my mind can be present with. To be focused on something, to zen with.

Although easy to lots of builders, this one was just a step more complicated than my previous build. I started with preparing and painting the case first. I had never done this before. My other one I covered in fuzzy fabric, this one I spray painted red layers on, over and over again. Then I figured out a design and got some stickers of a fat looking rocket and some gold stars to put on there and hand panted the name I came up with. Very steady hands!! I had the words painted on there so nicely until I tried to make one final touch with one of the letters and a big drop of paint fell from my paint pen onto it. I was so upset!! Why did I have to perfect something that was already good! Ugh. I quickly had to wipe it down and spray paint over it. In my rush I completely sprayed my hand that was holding the case. Even after trying to wash it off, my hand looked like it had been bloodied after a killing for a day or two.

While this stuff dried I started soldering the components to the board and then added the pots and jacks. You can build this to the Ram's Head or Triangle versions of the Big Muff. I went for the Ram's Head. The trickiest part was wiring this thing. It took a little while to get my soldering skills up to speed too. Some of my first soldering attempts were pretty sketchy and I knew that if this thing didn't work, that was probably the problem to be looked at. I worked on the pedal on and of and in bits over a couple of months.

And then I finished it. ooohhh ... will it work?...what will it sound like?...what's going to happen? I got all excited to plug it in and step on it! Plugged it in. Turned on the amp. With it off, I got clean signal going through it. That's good. Then, the moment of truth, I strummed a chord and hit the switch and POW!! We have lift off!! It worked!! What a great feeling. It really sounds good.

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