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Homemade Tremolo Pedal

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:08 am
by Hofstadter
Yo this is my first pedal I've made from scratch (well not totally 'cause I didn't etch the PCB myself, but whatever, I think that's okay for my first time). What should I put on the enclosure?

[sorry when I embedded them a lot of the image got cut off]

Re: Homemade Tremolo Pedal

Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 4:45 pm
by marcvolta
Looks great Hof. Ive been making pedals for about a year now, and it is great fun! I usually leave all of mine in plain silver enclosures.

Is that a BYOC build?

Re: Homemade Tremolo Pedal

Posted: Wed May 02, 2012 5:15 am
by Hofstadter
Thanks, and yeah it's . Figured I would start with some guidance. I actually am just building a theremin right now! Next pedal I am going to try to build completely from scratch.

The etching process doesn't seem too bad at all (I might even just perfboard it), it's the enclosure that seems like it will be the only really challenging part, since I don't have easy access to a drill (oh and I guess also drilling the pcb...). I have a friend who does a lot of woodworking maybe help me out, hopefully he has the materials. I haven't decided if I will just do it in a electrical junction box or actually order a hammond. I'd really appreciate whatever advice you have about this/if you would share any tips/tricks/lessons you have learned!

Re: Homemade Tremolo Pedal

Posted: Thu May 03, 2012 9:10 am
by mojo filters
Love the look of your trem pedal - looks like the small MXRs (eg Phase 90s) without and anonymous!

For drilling plastics such as pcb's, and also turret boards and suchlike, I find a handdrill with a fine bit works well.

I've often been tempted to get a BYOC kit, but resisted as I anticipate it'll get half done then end up in the garage/loft/other place my half-finished good ideas end up :(

Assuming a BYOC kit includes all necessary finished pcb's, drilled case and components, how long would you say these things take to build? (assuming decent soldering skills etc.)

Thanks, and good luck with the theremin.

Re: Homemade Tremolo Pedal

Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:50 am
by Hofstadter
I just sat down and did the whole thing in about 4 hours or so. I actually did it during Finals Week as a 'break' from studying (but really more of a fun way to procrastinate). The only thing that was difficult was wiring the foot switch. If you have a free Saturday or something you could knock it out easy. Obviously the length of time will depend partly on how complicated the effect is, but it still won't change that much I would guess.

Edit: Really the part that would take a lot of time would be putting a design on the enclosure. You can really spend quite a while on that.

Homemade Tremolo Pedal

Posted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:21 pm
by Timothytix
would like the boss stereo tremolo pedal, but if anyones got something lying round that they dont need id be keen to check it out.

Re: Homemade Tremolo Pedal

Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:46 am
by mojo filters
Timothytix wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:21 pm
would like the boss stereo tremolo pedal, but if anyones got something lying round that they dont need id be keen to check it out.
You mean the popular but long discontinued Boss PN-2? I've noticed those frequently appear on the pedalboards of well known guitar players, especially from Jason Pierce's generation.

I don't know why they stopped making them, effectively replacing it with the current mono TR-2. I think that keeps the used PN-2 values high, as there isn't any regular sized Boss pedal that creates the same panning effect (though I suspect some of their multi FX offer something similar).

If you really want that PN-2 they appear to go for £150-200, which doesn't seem exorbitant given the age, scarcity, plus the many famous names still using them. Also the legendary bombproof Boss build quality makes it a sensible buy, as I suspect you'd easily sell it on without losing money.

Personally I'd be tempted to buy a new Boss SL-20 "Slicer" with that money. It looks like you can create some very sophisticated tremolo effects in stereo, plus lots of other interesting and original sounds of that type with the ability to easily make many different granular adjustments - given the flexibility to change multiple parameters.

As the current owner of two tremolo pedals with the same stereo effect panning outputs the PN-2 offered (but like many models, not the handy stereo input the Boss offered, allowing multiple stereo FX to run in series) I quickly found the idea was nice - but putting it into effect on a live stage is more bother than any actual rewards warranted.

I'd have thought there are plenty of tremolo pedals with stereo outputs available at reasonable cost. I got my EH Pulsar for under £50 in as new condition, and I doubt the current model has changed much apart from the size (mine is still relatively new, as it has the modern Boss style power input rather than the typical old EH mini jack type). I then picked up a second for £20, mainly as it seemed really cheap and I didn't know Marshall had ever built tremolo pedals.

I was surprised to see that buying new, there actually are not many stereo tremolo pedal options, even amongst the fancy boutique brands, which probably indicates that the stereo effect is not especially in demand.

The EH Pulsar looked to be the cheapest, though the most interesting was the combined tremolo + reverb from Fender's new range. List prices for the latter are not cheap, but the other models in that range I've heard sounded really nice, plus it's a neat and fully featured alternative to buying two separate reverb and tremolo FX that can be placed in series to output both effects in stereo.

I recall the short-lived DigiTech Hardwire pedal range usefully offered all their stereo pedals with both inputs and outputs, for ease of running multiple stereo FX in series. Unfortunately they stopped making those some time ago, plus following the recent purchase of parent company Harmon by Samsung, I understand they closed what was left of the original DigiTech design shop in Utah (though they may still be building pedals from there under whatever the last brand name was).

Given the relative simplicity of analogue tremolo circuits, it's not surprising they sound pretty similar. If I was looking to replace either of mine, I wouldn't expect much difference between the many current brands - as long as they offer all the various different waveform options.

A quick Google shows even the Jim Dunlop (same brand as MXR) version with an extra footswitch to toggle between stereo and mono, is available for £50 used. If you don't need stereo, there are loads of modern tremolo pedals under £50, including respectable brands like TC Electronics, plus used TR-2s - which I'd have no hesitation buying given the stellar build quality of those Boss boxes.

I guess it comes down to how much you actually want or need that panning effect from your tremolo? I thought it would be nice to have the stereo option, but in practice I've only ever used it in checking out the pedals were working properly.

I'd be interested in hearing from others who find good use for the panning stereo tremolo effect. For instance, whether it's of more practical use in recording environments? If so, do you bother running a stereo guitar rig to replicate those recordings playing live?

I don't see many guitar players using stereo live rigs in the typical hobbyist and semi-pro gigging environment. The last two I encountered both suffered badly from intrusive ground loop noise, which is quite typical when trying to run that kind of signal unbalanced and without adding in any kind of isolation such as a passive 1:1 transformer (can't think of the proper name, technically it's not a transformer as the box is specifically designed to not change the impedance) or a DI box. In addition the stereo effect only really works properly if the amps are mic'd up, hard panned, and the relative stage volume low enough not to overwhelm the PA in the house.