Some of you DIY’ers will be interested in this. Over the years I’ve been dabbling in pedal building, pedal repairing and pedal mods. As a musician with an interest in electronics, it’s a natural progression. Pulling out the soldering iron, trying to understand schematics and reading up on cool mods is usually the beginning. From there, just like any *hobby* it’s about finding gear that makes life a bit easier. I started purchasing items like a panavise, good wire cutters and various soldering tools, wire strippers, etc. It’s a process of accumulation, just like guitar gear. One day you look back and go “damn.. I got a lot of stuff”.
Recently, I started working on an older 90s MXR Distortion+ pedal that has some issues. It basically sounds like poo, and something is clearly wrong with it. When it was brought to me, I figured it was going to be the classic loose jack and disconnected wire.. or failed solder joint. Taking a closer look, it became clearly obvious, it’s something much more deeper. A component or components are not acting as they should. Looking at the PCB there are no clear indicators that anything is wrong (no burnt/fried components, etc). So something is bad, but I know what or where. Normally, this is when I hand the pedal back and say it’s over my head, or I start the process of replacing components.. blindly until the unit is working again.
While I was problem solving I would run into posts talking about Audio Probes to help debug these circuits. This is a very simple tool to allow you to intercept the signal into your amp directly from the circuit board, bypassing anything beyond where you are testing. This can help identify the most likely faulty component, but also show you how the circuit manipulates your signal. It’s a great learning tool. I posted this on the Rattlesnake Cable Company Facebook page a while back, and a lot of people were curious how this works, so I put a quick demo of it last night.
As you can see, it’s a great tool to *step* through the circuit and hear what’s happening. If you’re wanting one of these, shoot me a message from the Rattlesnake Contact form. I have a very limited set of these, and don’t expect them to last for very long.