I’m writing this review because it seems like the pep box is a completely under the radar circuit that most have yet to hear. I’m fairly sure if the original wem/rush version had been more available that it would be as popular and desirable as a superfuzz or companion fuzz or something like that. Also ghost effects deserves more love.
I built this kit ages ago. It was the first thing I built that wasn’t a bazz fuss, muff fuzz or one of their variants. Basically a test for myself to see how capable I was of actually building a legit pedal. Mine didn’t turn out too pretty and it definitely doesn’t sound pretty either….
The pep box is a LOUD, nasty, gritty, and very gated fuzz unlike any fuzz I’ve ever played. The original only had controls for volume and pep (aka fuzz) and sounds pretty thin. Not necessarily in a bad way though. The range of tones available from those two controls is fairly limited but thankfully the ghost effects pcb has extra pads to add a tone control configured as an output capacitor blend to add more bass and totally thicken things up. For my tastes it is a little bit on the bright side even with the bass cranked but with bright fuzz pedals like this or a scrambler/superfuzz etc I’ll usually stack a mid gain dirt pedal like a rat after it to even things out.
My favourite use for this pedal is with power chords or leads played very staccato which really emphasizes the gated nature of this fuzz.
The ghosts effects kit is quite reasonably priced and includes a very nice pcb and all of the components to populate the board. It’s up to the builder to source the rest (enclosure, jacks, pots, switch etc). Ian was very pleasant to deal with and helped me out with biasing and some transistor issues I was having (completely my fault). It’s very rad of him to even offer these kits since he mostly sells these things completed for a much higher price. He also finally started selling kits for the wem project V which I am definitely gonna check out because of my infinite love for Brian Eno.
Anybody have any tips for tuning a standard or short scale guitar to stupid low? I cannot for the life of me play a guitar tuned as high as E anymore unless absolutely necessary…
I’ve recently strung my 24 inch scale bronco with the middle six strings from a d’addario 8 string set (EXL140) and it’s working surprisingly well. I’m tuning B to B with gauges 13-64 but they’re made for a 26.5 inch scale. They don’t sound sloppy at all and they’re still slinky enough to pull off bends and feel fairly similar to a standard tuned guitar. Tonally it’s quite similar to a longer scale baritone but it’s got a totally different feel I’m really enjoying right now.
Just curious what others might be using for strings to tune stupid low…
Some of you have been asking what’s going on with these pedals I was gearing up to start selling ages ago so here’s an update…
I had some time booked off work to build a small batch of a couple circuits (a fuzz and a drive/distortion) in late April.
Then I got sick.
Bronchitis and pneumonia.
I was able to power through and finish a batch of the 1995/scuzz but that was super tough due to the amount of fatigue my body was in at the time.
Once I got better I started testing out my dirt circuit (1987/thedriver) with tons of different guitars and amps. It sounded perfect to me with my own gear but testing it through other amps with different guitars sent me back to the drawing board to make the thing more versatile with different set ups.
Fast forward to July and I’ve finally got a flexible pedal that can adapt to different rigs and captures the best elements of a range of classic hard clippers (DOD250/dist+/Rat/maxon od-01). Now I’m fully ready to start building these things.
Then I get hit in the back of the head (knockout game) which I am still very slowly recovering from. I’ve still got sort of blurry vision (which has made soldering boards super difficult) and feel like a huge pile of shit if I don’t get at least 10 hours of sleep every night.
Add to all of this my dumb full time job and the fact that I’m getting married in 12 days and you can sorta get the picture…
So basically once I’m back from my honeymoon in mid September I’m gonna build like crazy and finally get these things between some peoples guitars and amps.
What you should expect from blnk page dirt:
Anything I make should be usable for bass/baritone/standard guitar/anything you wanna plug into it.
No straight up clones. Ever.
1987/thedriver - classic hard clipping od/distortion with minimal loss of bottom end, zero fizz, flexible tone control, and a huge range of dirt from semi-clean 250 style boost (with an obscene amount of volume on tap) to super thick rat style grit.
1995/scuzz - thick gritty fuzz all the way back to shrill treble boost. Shit-tons of volume. Very interactive with a guitars volume and tone pots. Endless sustain. Controllable harmonic feedback. A surprising amount of different tones from two deceptively simple controls. This one has been a big hit with a handful of locals. Probably more like a van full.
Potentially available down the road:
1: Something based loosely on the ampeg scrambler with an added rat style filter. I own a reissue and have access to an original so I’m not talking outta my ass on this one… The scrambler is one of the brightest pedals ever made and normally hates being in a chain with any sort of buffer. It also despises humbuckers. I’m pretty close to solving both of these issues.
2: A pedal extremely loosely based on the V5 opamp big muff that actually sounds more like an HM-2. This one is almost ready. Just needs some minor tone stack tweaks.
3: a range of expression jack compatible control pedals. May include things like simple switches to toggle between settings and possibly external LFO boxes to add modulation of any parameter controllable through an expression jack. They’d be small, simple, and cheap.
Come mid September, please feel free to pester me about this stuff.
So this is happening…
MIM Classic and road worn Jazzmasters and Jaguars.
Vintage “correct” trem placement, AV65 pickups, some sort of vintage style bridge (not an adjustomatic). Hopefully more finishes than these…
Leaked for pre-order - http://www.nstuffmusic.com/m-2-fender.aspx
What's so terrible about buzzstops? Just wondering, I know a few players who use them.
They’re honestly not the worst thing ever and I don’t blame people for using them. They’re basically a really easy solution for people who have yet to learn how to properly set up their jag/jazzy (which is unlike most other guitars) and don’t mind killing the resonance of the strings behind the bridge that makes these guitars so special. It definitely doesn’t help at all that these guitars tend to leave the factory without being set up properly these days. Even a ton of guitar shop techs don’t understand the uniqueness of these guitars.
Heavy strings - I like 12s or 13s but I’m used to baritone/vi strings. 11s should do it for most humans.
Raise the bridge
Shim the neck
Maybe consider a mustang, mastery, or staytrem bridge if you’ve still got issues…
This rig belongs to my friend Kevin.
Garnet BTO into a beat Laney (AOR?) 4x12. He plays an original musicman stingray guitar through it and it sounds incredible.
If you’ve never heard of Garnet amps and especially the BTO you’re missing out. This thing is LOUD with the thickest mid range of any amp I’ve ever heard. 120 clean watts, gorgeous trem, and “the stinger sound fountain” circuit (tube fuzz).
Good luck finding one though. Apparently Gar only made 300 of them and Randy Bachman probably owns most of them…
Chad VanGaalen performing “burning photographs” at calgary folk fest last weekend.
Bass player Scotty Munroe (also of viet cong) is using one of my blnk page dirt - 1995/scuzz pedals in the awesome loud section and end of the song. This show was literally the first time he ever plugged the thing in.
So I needed a tiny looper for creating drones/textural/feedback loops live. I have no use for storing loops and didn’t want to spend too much money so I went to the store and tried out these two simple loopers (I brought the jamman home). Their features are nearly identical but there is one major functional difference…
-Both claim to be true bypass. They say so right next to the footswitch so it has to be true! I’m unsure if the clean signal is left alone when a loop is playing or only when the unit is completely bypassed.… -One multi function footswitch and one level knob. -One stomp to start recording and then one more to stop recording, stomp again to overdub. -Press and hold while loop is playing to undo your last overdub, hold again to redo. -Double tap to stop loop. -press and hold while loop is stopped to completely erase your loop and start over. This is biggest difference right here. With the ditto when you press and hold to erase, the loop starts playing as soon as you touch the footswitch while the jamman stays silent while erasing the loop. This was the deal breaker for me with the ditto and would make the thing completely unusable in a live setting (Does anyone know if there’s any way around this other than turning the level right down first?) The jamman also has stereo inputs and outputs which is a huge deal for me right now since I can use my MXR stereo tremolo to create panning loops cascading from one amp to the other with each layer at a slightly different rate. Very tasty indeed. The three status indicators on the jamman are also a handy feature when you’re still getting used to the super simple interface. The biggest drawback of the jamman I didn’t notice until I got it home and used it at full volume. It is power hungry and noisy! It definitely needs it’s own isolated power supply otherwise it’s got that digital snow hum/noise hissing away in the background constantly. It will work silently on a battery but battery life is fairly short. I can’t say if the ditto is any quieter but there is definitely no battery option. I’m pretty pleased overall with the jamman as a simple looping tool. Now I just need to look in to getting some legit pedal power for this, my 18volt tremolo, and my noisy (un)holy grail. 4 power supplies is way too many for one pedalboard…
Edit: from tc electronic support: “Question When I want to stop and erase the loop to record a new one, the Ditto Looper plays about 2 seconds of the old loop again. Is there a fix for this?
Answer While this is an issue with all loopers we know of that use a one-knob design with multiple functions, we implemented a solution for this: When you have to stop and clear, instead of double clicking (stop) and then press and hold to clear, just double click and keep holding the switch pressed on the second click. Now the pedal stops and clears the recording buffer without playing the buffer content again.”
Simple enough but what if I don’t know I want to erase the loop when I stop the thing? The best solution for tc would be to reverse the footswitch so it begins playback when the footswitch is released and not when initially pressed. Major design flaw in my opinion.
Small clone - moved to my little bass board
Tube works real tube - dumping it. Doesn’t do anything my own pedals can’t.
Colorsound overdriver - Used it mostly for spicing up my practice amp. Doesn’t need permanent board space for that.
Moved DOD phaser out of memory man loop to the front of the chain (pre dirt) for not so subtle phasing.
MXR eq is my attempt to simulate a neck pickup with my bridge pickup only bronco. Works pretty decent although it’s not my favourite eq but it was too cheap to pass up. Flat isn’t actually flat so everything is a little weird visually at least.
MXR stereo tremolo for slow/gentle panning between two amps. Panning with this guy almost has a sort of Leslie speaker type effect with the two amps alternating phase or something like that. With it panning slowly and the moog trem doing a fast/hard vox repeat percussion type thing it sounds insane! Very spacemen. I’ve been looking for a good deal on one of these for ages and I’m very pleased.
Darrell rants about the Proco Rat and the ruetz mod.
It’s no secret that the rat is my favourite pedal to ever exist. It’s only drawback is the fact that it can cut a bit too much bottom end for use with low tuned instruments such as baritone guitars, heavily detuned guitars, or bass. The most common mod to remedy this is the ruetz mod. It was the first pedal mod I ever did and the thing that got me hooked on messing around inside pedals. I’ve played around with this mod and the whole rat circuit a ton and am obsessive about getting as much usable low end as possible out of every pedal.
The ruetz mod basically consists of messing around with the 47ohm resistor (R6) that is part of one of two rc (resistor/capacitor) filter networks from the opamps feedback loop to ground. Sometimes this resistor is literally just snipped leaving only the 560ohm/4u7 rc pair to set the gain and low end roll off. Other times that 47 ohm resistor is replaced with a pot. Usually around 1k.
My problem with both versions is that bass is never actually increased. Instead the gain of treble frequencies is actually being decreased by varying degrees. This does give the perception of more low end but in my opinion the decrease of gain in the high end actually robs the rat of its true character. The are tons of “boutique” rat derivatives and rat inspired pedals out there that incorporate some version of the ruetz mod and it boggles my mind.
So what’s the solution?
Well if you know anything about rc filters and especially rc filters in opamp based dirt circuits, you know that the capacitor in that rc pair has an equal impact on the frequencies amplified by the opamp which are then clipped by the diodes. Typically the resistor sets the gain and that resistors relation to the capacitor sets the frequency roll off.
If we look into the rc filters in a rat we’ll see that the 47ohm/2u2 rc pair sets one high pass filter roll off at around 1500hz while the 560ohm/4u7 pair sets a second roll off point around 60hz although with much lower gain.
There are tons of popular mods for equally classic pedals (tubescreamer, distortion plus etc) that involve tweaking the value of the cap in the opamps rc filter to get more bass out of the circuit while leaving gain levels alone.
So why does that seem uncommon in a rat circuit? Why do we ignore the capacitors?
Because I don’t think anyone has written it on the internet yet and a large part of the boutique/DIY pedal community can’t do anything until someone else does it first and tells them how it’s done. The idea of understanding concepts applicable across the board is just beyond some.
So back to these rc pairs…
My favourite version of the ruetz mod was always just replacing the 47ohm resistor with something around 400 ohms which gives a roll off about 180hz while sacrificing a fair bit of gain but If you increase the value of the 2u2 cap instead you can get your low end back without sacrificing ANY gain. 22uf will give you a roll off of around 150hz which is low enough to let most bass frequencies through without getting muddy.
If you want a tweakable version you could wire up a capacitor blend pot (usually used at the input or output of a circuit) to blend between the stock 2u2 and a much larger cap or any 2 values you want. I’ve used this in several of my own builds and it is massively usable.
Leaving the amount of gain in the circuit alone also makes diode changes much more obvious. Put a big cap (or cap blend pot) in there and a 3 way diode toggle (or even a diode blend pot) and you’ve got a super flexible rat that still has all the amazing qualities of the best rats.
Also check out the comparative rat schematic demonstrating why the “vintage” rat circuit isn’t all that special (with the exception of the lm308). It’d take anyone who can solder 20 minutes or less to covert any rat to vintage specs. My rat 2 was already “vintage spec” other than the missing lm308.
Several hours ago I was hit from behind by some douche bag teenager while his friend asked me for a cigarette. I strongly believe these miserable excuses for human beings were playing the knockout game. They took nothing from me, there was one lone punch, and they immediately ran away. I spent five hours in emergency just to get 9 stitches. Luckily there’s no concussion.
The first time I heard of this knockout game I was extremely sick to my stomach. This is so much worse. What the hell has humanity come to?
On the othe side of things, NURSES ARE THE BEST HUMANS ON THIS PLANET.