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

DIY: Seven Fuzz Pedal

Seven Fuzz Pedal

Fuzz, fuzz, fuzz.

There’s nothing that a DIY pedal enthusiast loves more than fuzz. So many variations on such a simple effect. Hell, you could probably make one with an elastic band, a pipe-cleaner and an old orange. However, in the case of the Andrew Carrell designed Seven, maximum tweakability was the name of the game, hence the namesake number of knobs.

With a few tweaks the Seven fuzz can go from all out swarm of angry bees to farty sputtering robot. It might hog a lot of space on the ol’ pedal board for one effect, but in a studio setting this guy will have a myriad of options to cut through any mix. I just hope I don’t forget what those knobs actually do, as labelling ain’t my thing.

Click the play button for but a cursory glance at some of the various settings this bad boy can crank out (starts with clean tone, ends with some added wah from the crazy alphabet pedal I posted last week).

Seven Fuzz Pedal
Seven Fuzz Pedal
Seven Fuzz Pedal

Crazy New Pedal: Fuzz, Echo, Wah, Chorus Woo!

Crazy Alphabet Cookie Tin Homemade Guitar Pedal: Fuzz, Wah, Echo, Chorus in one!

Laura (re: half the band) was away for the last two weeks of January working on her tan. Of course, we all know that when the cat’s away the mouse will…uh…build a ridiculous guitar pedal.

In this case, I had a few quirky circuit boards kicking around and decided to cram as much as I could into a single alphabet-themed cookie tin. All in all, I’m not sure how useful this will be on stage, as it’s pretty unwieldy, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

The breakdown is as follows: the first switch (and 2 yellow knobs) operate an auto wah—the Dr. Quack circuit (a better version of the EHX Dr. Q). The second switch (and 4 red knobs) controls a crazy fuzz/echo circuit based on the “Noise Ensemble” (I added a few extra knobs). Finally, the third switch (and 2 green knobs) works the modified “Little Angle” chorus (I’m still tweaking this one to taste*).

All told, it’s a crazy mess of sonic destruction that is both versatile and absolutely insane. For a sound sample of me going through some of the various possibilities click the little red play button below:

UPDATE: after band practice last night I tweaked this monster even further, adding a toggle switch in place of one of the red knobs so that I could make room for a knob to control just how crazy the chorus can get—the answer: real crazy.

Crazy Alphabet Cookie Tin Homemade Guitar Pedal: Fuzz, Wah, Echo, Chorus in one!
Crazy Alphabet Cookie Tin Homemade Guitar Pedal: Fuzz, Wah, Echo, Chorus in one!
Crazy Alphabet Cookie Tin Homemade Guitar Pedal: Fuzz, Wah, Echo, Chorus in one!

Merry Christmas from Dog Is Blue and Santa Wahs

DIY Santa Clause Snow White Auto Wah Guitar PedalMerry Christmas, folks!

In honour of the festive season, here’s a guitar pedal I built a while back that has become a necessity live. It’s a homemade Snow White Auto Wah on one side with an Easy Drive distortion on the other. I call him Santa Wahs (I hope that’s an obvious enough pun for you…)—makes for some very funky Jingle Bell Rock.

In fact, the wah portion featured heavily in the recording of “Hot Air Balloons (and Submarines).” You can hear it mostly in the lead guitar (along with a homemade phaser, for extra warble—starts about 13 seconds in).

Download the track by clicking the arrow button on the right, or buy the whole Hot Air Balloons EP from Zunior for only $2.22 with all proceeds going directly to the Daily Bread Food Bank. Happy Holidays!

Hot Air Balloons (and Submarines) by Dog Is Blue

Here are the messy gutshots—for all you gearheads like me (extra points for those who notice that the Easy Drive side is wired point-to-point!):

DIY Santa Clause Snow White Auto Wah and Easy Drive Guitar PedalDIY Santa Clause Snow White Auto Wah and Easy Drive Guitar Pedal

New Demo: Southern Ontario

Foster 812 Mixer and R8 Reel to ReelAhh, the bittersweet financially-depraved love song. It’s the age-old “baby, I love you, but it’d be a lot easier to do if I was a millionaire.”

We recorded this last weekend in a studio space we just started renting—the usual tactic of throwing mics all over the room and hoping for the best. The electric guitar is, as usual, going through my homemade Fender Princeton amp, this time with the snowman Clari(not) pedal that I posted about recently thickening things up and adding a subtle warble (There’s a homemade phaser in the bridge too).

This song and “Tortoise” (that we posted a demo of last week) are the two that seem to get the most reaction out of our new material at our shows. I’m thinking the album version might need some Anna Atkinson viola.

Southern Ontario (Live Demo) by Dog Is Blue

Also, for Laura’s sake, let it be known that she sat patiently nailing her glockenspiel and vocal parts while I bumbled through take after take (listen to how happy she is at the end to have finally made it through the song). She’s the rock, I’m the roll.

‘Tis the Season: Crazy Snowman Pedal

DIY Mid-fi Clari(not) in a snowman tin

It’s cold and sporadically snowy in Toronto, which means it’s time to throw some wild noise-making device into a festive watch tin for seasonal sonic destruction!*

This little bad-boy is my homemade take on the Mid-Fi Electronics Clari(not)—an insane echo/fuzz box that can go from subtle tape warble to all out elephant farts. Doug from Mid-Fi was kind enough to post the schematic online, so folks have been able to tweak it to their tastes. All I did was add a toggle that turns the fuzz on or off (making the yellow eye light up too).

We did another new demo on the weekend and used this to thicken up my electric guitar a little. I’ll try to post that soon.

Suffice to say, this is yet another in the long line of semi-musical noise boxes that I build to annoy Laura. Look closely and you’ll see it on my pedal-board at shows.

*…er, something like that. I actually built this in the summer, but we’ll keep that between you and me.

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