So every so often I just get frustrated with this place and need to just do something that reminds me why I do this. Something enjoyable for a friend who appreciates what I do. Don't get me wrong. I have the greatest job in the world. Sometimes I just need to forget about the business side of things and remember why I started doing this. Making pedals is very therapeutic for me which is why I started building them in the first place. I find the precise, repetitive nature of effects building very calming.
I got into the workshop recently and decided I was going to work on a pedal that a friend and I had been discussing for a long time. The Violent Soho guys have been using my gear for years and both guitarists use my Ram Head Big Mud as their main distortion pedal but since recording their new album Luke's pedal board has grown bigger as he takes on more "lead" work while James settles into more rhythm duties.
When I first made my new Tymexar and ODP666 pedals, Luke tried them out and loved them for different features and tones and I thought I'd just make him one of each next time I made a batch of them ? Well, things didn't really work out that way so it took some time to get this idea sorted.
Luke and I had spoken about how, because he uses a bypass switcher on his pedal board, he didn't need stomp switches and asked if it was possible to make some pedals in smaller enclosures without stomps to save room on his board. Of course it is ...............
Initially we talked of the Tymexar and the ODP666 in one pedal, which I have made, in more standard form for Steve from Mudhoney. I figured since Luke uses one of my Ram Heads too I may as well put one of them in there too. It would make sense to put all his dirt boxes in one small enclosure and make room for other pedals on his board so it was time to shoehorn them all into one of my custom made stainless steel boxes.
I started with the Big Mud and figured with the Dist and OD I have 7 pots, 6 jacks and 3 PCB's. My PCB's are designed around my enclosures so they're not particularly the smallest for their type around so things needed to be moved around. Once I worked out where things should go I realized I could probably fit one of my Tone Boost pedals in there as well.
Luke doesn't use one of my Tone Boosts but we have discussed (many times) being at the mercy of hire amps and not always getting what you want. Turning up to a show and have a dull, badly serviced amp, or even worse, nothing like what you would normally use can be common for touring bands. I like my TB as both a boost AND as a pedal that can "liven up" a dull amp. One of the reasons I initially designed and made the Tone Boost was to keep in your hardcase (or day pack) to liven up and shape an amp you may not normally use while on tour. For this reason I added the TB circuit because it fit in the enclosure and since the idea was to save room on his board I thought I may as well fit as much worthwhile circuitry in as I could. It meant two more pots, 2 more jacks and a PCB. It was getting tight .................
So I drilled the enclosure after several "fittings" and started soldering the deepest parts first and worked my way through all the parts.
Each effect is it's own pedal with IN/OUT jacks and controls which are switched on and off via the bypass switches. The Tymexar has the toggle for germanium or silicon clipping as Luke had mentioned he liked both settings for different tones but I kept everything else as simple as possible. I cut up my face plates to show what knobs controlled what effects, and while it's not aesthetically my best work (sorry Tone) it seems to make sense of the 9 knobs on such a small enclosure.
The LED was almost an afterthought as I figured it would be good to know if there were any power issues on the board in case of problems and a pedal that showed no sign of life would always be a difficult part to evaluate, especially in the heat of mid show.
So, this gives Luke a Tymexar, an ODP666, a Ram Head and a Tone Boost all in an enclosure half the size of a standard Big Mvff and frees up room on the board for something needed or just wanted ?
This was a fun, and long overdue project for a good friend who knows and understands what I do and why and who gives me friendship and great music.