midi pal, midi merge, midi quad through

2015 settembre 030

I’ve been delving in building myself a comfy, compact and easy setup to play some acid house, quickly and easily.

i built a midipal, aka a midibud, an excellent midi do-it-all thingie that boasts sequencer, arpeggiator, midi filter, midi-whatever-you could possibly think of. It is a very useful addition to cheap synths that dont have an apeggiaotr, at least.

since my TR707 doesnt like to be a slave to external midi clocks, it had to be the master to the whole setup.

i had to use a midisolutions QUAD THROUGH box, to be able to multiply the 707’s midi out.

everything is more or less connected there. another useful box from the aforementioned company, the MERGE box. Since to use the midipal arpeggiator you need both clock and keys in, to out the arpeggio, i merged the clock from the through box, and midi out from my poly800 to the input of the midipal, and midipal out to midi in of the poly800.

Also featured, a Mode Machines x0xb0x (mki, when they were still made in Germany), i also have one from x0xs0urce, but this sounds a lot more trebly and acid. the other one is a lot smoother and bassier.

The system works a beauty. The Electribe plays some samples, from my Commodore 64 sound archive (i was a baby SID programmer in 1983), and sometimes triggers, ace analog drum box, MAM’s adx-1.

Everything is connected to some outboard fx, most notably MAM’s vintage spring reverb, a Dynacord Vertical Reverberation System, and a Lexicon MPX550 (my first digital multi fx rack, wow!) set to ‘Basement’.

I will post sounds as soon as i get my head together on this project..

wah wah heaven

2582 2579

After a while of non-activities, i took the wah projects by the balls and finished them successfully.

Inductors: one is a Stack o Dimes, the other is called a Hasel inductor, both handmade by the nice guys at ARTeffects in Israel.

Pots: ArtCARs.

Caps: i found an ancient italian preamp with the right caps type and values at a car boot sale, they’re the surf green ones you see on the stack o dimes build. I swapped the cheap greenies you see pictured on the other build with some tropical fish ones, just for mojo sake.

The two wahs do sound different.

PCBs by gp.electronics@gmail.com (Greece)

and NO Volkswagen for me, thanks.


Messin with the Klon


Yesterday i was busy making two Klon Centaur clones.
Months ago i bought the last two Chimaera pcbs from the cat over at Grind Customs Fx.
Very well made boards i must say.
I got me some 50 x D9E germanium diodes, the latest darlings of klon builders the world over and plunged into this build, keeping in mind and on the bom the latest (2014) discoveries by the byoc guys on the silver klon (the golden enclosure came first, the silver came later, improving on tone and volume control).
Elna electros, philips, greenies, etc caps.
Metal and carbon film resistors, 1590BB build #1:


I had to lower the value of a 20k log pot down to 10k for the volume knob using a resistor across pins 1-3.
This was made for my friend Luca.
Next, it’s mine:


Same caps n resistors chan pon here.
This time to make the volume pot a log, i used a 10k lin, a 2k resistor from pin 2 to ground.
Same blue minotaur lsd blotter art employed..


On the first build, the gain pot would run funny: regular until 3/4 its taper, then volume would drop.
Heres what i found out about the klon:
YOU MUST audition/measure LOADS of TL072 to get the right balance of clean/gain/volume in general. I have some Texas Instruments and some ST, all of the TI sounded way too “weak”, alas noise would slip through, not enough power, etc. SI are better but still you have to choose the right ones. I did this by ear.
Good TL072s are the secret to this pedal: i tried a bunch of germanium diodes: lots of the aforementioned russian ones, both matched and unmatched, but also Valvo OA81, OA91, RL32S11, AAY22.. guess what? They didnt impart any specific tonal character to the pedal.

As it is, the Klon is a good, clean, very musical buffer/overdrive.
Without a strung out, breaking amp though, i have my doubts it would save the day.

I prefer the good old dirty Rangemaster to the Klon i suppose.

yours truly

Tonezilla mkii


I just rebuilt a friends tone bender mkii i gave him almost 2 years ago. Realised component values were all over the place, my mistakes, crossing oc81d and oc75 schems it seems.. ah beer days..
Now sober as a court jury, i wrote it all down. I made some sort of magic there, the pedal is one of the most powerful mkii i ever made, most likely due to my errors.
The original had carbon comps/ carbon film resistors and dubilier, philips electros, wima caps. This has wima, roe caps and carbon film/metal film resistors but still sounds amazing.
Since he gigs a lot, i had a mission to build it like the proverbial tank.. and to shuffle the controls a bit: he wanted to have the q3 bias out in lieu of the attack pot, that he uses maxed all the time (it now sits inside as a trimmer).
I messed up the decal a bit, hope he wont mind…


yours truly

Maestro fz1a


1.5 volts of pure 60es fuzz.
Hot on the heels of “(i cant get no) Satisfaction”‘s success, that triggered sales of the fz1 (a product that lied for its first couple of marketing years virtually in denial), once the stock left of the original model was over, the Gibson/Maestro plants started churning out this, the fz1a.
This is a bit different in sound, still with a very distinctive vintage vibe. If you play garage, this is a must have sound, as this is the pedal thats been taken up by all those garage kids on the wake of the Stones’ USA invasion circa 65!
I didnt have any layout to follow for this, so i had to do it myself from the schem.. works great!

I used some carefully selected ac125, oc75 x 2 (Motorola) germanium trannies, NOS ICEL caps, the usual carbon comps.

Artwork taken from a japanese 60es pop 45.

Fz1a maestro

yours truly

“A date with wild”


Vox Tone Bender clone, with tone cap switch and boost/cut switch.
I did some research on this one, so many different variations.
Heres some of the stuff i found out
-the famed 47k resistor across the level pot makes the sound ‘less there’, not useful AT ALL- i dumped it;
-it makes sense to have a 3n3 AND 10n on a switch, with the 10n(2) cap you go steady into classic bender territory, otherwise you have a very trebly bender here (which i prefer in this case actually!);
-biasing is a breeze. Just pick carefully the q1 tranny. I auditioned quite a few. I found comfy with a ac134, 138 hfe on q1; i picked an ancient oc76, hfe 33 for q2.
But remember, q2 here follows q1. If q1 sounds good, q2 is there just to give it some body and tails (sustain);
-1k, attack (fuzz) pot only works either full on or at the final 3/4 of its run;
-22uF is a good value for the electrolytic, giving the pedal a good sustain and range.

Fiddlin with the trannies, i stumbled upon a setting where it sounded a lot like the fuzz on Easter Everywhere by the 13th fl elevators.. im talking about the guitar at the beginning of the second song.. sitary and choking, maybe due to misbiasing,  a really haunting tone, gotta go back there somehow in the near future.


Ducati filering cap, a salvo to the original vox made in italy, 15uF of the motorcycles brand; icel and sifco nos caps, and a nos mustard cap that i believe its italian too.

yours truly


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