DIY Effects: Delay Pedal in a Fossil Watch Tin with Gas Can Amp


I’m a sucker for delay. Some guys can’t get enough fuzz or will pay a gazillion dollars for the ‘perfect’ overdrive, but my weakness is for anything that let’s my guitar get repeated ad nauseam in all manner of zaniness*.

I usually have at least one delay pedal with me on stage, but I’ve always wanted one that really pushed the envelope, which is where guitarPCB’s ‘D’lay’ circuit comes in, as there are some really zany mods that can be added with the stomp of a switch. See the video above for what I mean, as I added as second stomp switch that, when held down, lets the repeats in my signal ramp up like crazy (you can read about the mods here). It’s already been a lot of fun at the last few shows.

Not only is it a very fun pedal to use, but take a look at that awesome tin! Fossil was kind enough to send me a box full of their watch tins after I expressed that they were perfect for building pedals (in my humble opinion, anyway). You’ll be seeing a lot more of these beauties!

Not only that, but I recently found a weird old amp at Goodwill called “The Can” and couldn’t resist checking it out. It’s a solid state amp from the 80’s that’s shaped like a gas can. Made in the Crate factory in St. Louis, there were supposedly only 10,000 of these made. It’s actually pretty cool sounding too!

Fossil Watch Tins

Video: DIY Effect Pedal Board Demo

This one’s for the gear-heads, like me*. We’re back from the East Coast and have some downtime between shows, so I figure it’s high time for a demonstration of all the wacky effect pedals we tour with. This is the actual rig used at a bunch of shows this year.

EDIT: the VW pedal is a Phase 45, not 90. Slip of the tongue.

I learned how to build these effects with the help of various online forums, like:

http://www.buildyourownclone.com/board
http://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/

The Tiny Giant amp circuit board is from http://www.musicpcb.com.

The intro and outro music is from our most pedal-heavy song, “Slow Boat to China,” from our brand new album, Tortoise.

*Laura, for instance, finds this all very, very nerdy…

Another Homemade Amp: Tiny Happy Giant!

DIY Tiny Giant guitar amplifier

Getting ready for our upcoming tour of eastern Canada has me taking stock of what we need for the trip. My homemade Fender 5F2-A amp isn’t loud enough for most shows, so I’m working on a bigger tube amp (based on an Ampeg Jet), but it won’t be ready in time.

Enter the Tiny Giant, an amplifier design from Musicpcb.com (whose projects I fully endorse). Based around the use of laptop power supply, as there are a gazillion of them floating around without a functioning laptop to give power to, the Tiny Giant bypasses the danger of high-voltage and allows for a very compact, yet powerful amp.

This happy little dude is capable of putting out 20 watts of crystal clear clean volume (depending on the speaker) and cost me about $40 to build (including getting the power supply off eBay). We’ll be taking it on tour as a backup along with a homemade speaker cabinet I made out of an old reel-to-reel box—the pair sounds awesome!

In fact, lately I’ve been playing it through a 1/2-sized Jay Turser I got for $60 (pictured below with the homemade cabinet), so that’s an entire rig that sounds great for only about $100!

Check out the build thread at DIYstompboxes.com for more info. I’m going to try to mod mine to include a jack to supply power to a couple pedals for added portability…

DIY Tiny Giant guitar amplifier

Homemade Amp!

5F2-A Fender Princeton DIY tube amp
At our show last week I mentioned having dropped my newly homemade amp off the stage. Thankfully the damage was minimal and after a quick fix she’s up and running without issue.

Falling 3 feet isn’t really on the same level as the old Traynor tests (supposedly they used to drop their amps out a second story window), but the fact that my little guy only suffered a broken fuse holder is pretty reassuring.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the amp in question. It’s a modified Fender Princeton 5F2-A made mostly out of old radio parts (the box itself is from an old portable turntable). At about 5 loud watts with great crunch it’s the perfect amp for smaller shows and recording—we’ll be posting some new demos made with it soon!

For all you gear-nerds like myself, the modifications include a solid state rectifier, switch to toggle the negative feedback in or out and an easily disconnected speaker so I can hook it up to something larger. If you want to build amps too, I suggest doing some reading/asking questions at Ax84.com. I couldn’t have finished this without the help of the forum over there.

Now I just have to stop dropping it!

DIY Fender 5F2-A tube amp

DIY Fender 5F2-A tube amp

DIY Fender 5F2-A tube amp