There aren’t many pedals out there that an astute DIY enthusiast can’t build. However, if there’s one company that keeps pushing the envelope away from the same tired, easy to build overdrives and fuzzes it’s Electro Harmonix. Case in point, their Freeze pedal—a sound retainer effect—is next to impossible to piece together on my own. Thankfully Laura was kind enough to buy me one for my birthday and even kinder enough to give it to me a month and a half early!
After a quick test so she could see how happy I was, it was off to the drill press to add some holes into my new gift. In the end, as the above video describes (with a first attempt at annotations too!), I changed the stock stomp switch, went with an expression pedal jack to optionally control the effect level my foot, and added an effects loop. The latter allows me to run just the ‘frozen’ signal through things like a tremolo or phaser and not affect my guitar signal at all.
I couldn’t really find any guidelines on how to do any of this online (the usual suggestion of disconnecting the wiper of the level pot and inserting the effects loop there didn’t work), so I ended up tracing the circuit with an audio probe. All told, I took the ‘send’ signal from R3 and returned it to the wiper of the level pot (there could be an easier way, but I’m no guru—just a lunatic with a soldering iron).
That said, if you’re looking to do this to your own Freeze just be aware that it’s all SMD components and I almost lost R3 a few times (it’s about the size a hangnail). But you know what they say, “He who dares…” blah blah blah.
We used this newly modified bad boy at a show on the weekend and it worked really well. A friend later remarked that he what sounded like an organ playing under my guitar, which is exactly what I was hoping for!
Case in point, the very versatile and useful Paramix circuit from Guitarpcb.com (designed by Tonmann). This sort of pedal can be a bit difficult to explain (as you can no doubt infer from my nonsensical ramblings in the video demo), but, while it’s no in your face fuzz or swirly phaser, it adds new options to how things like your fuzz or phaser can interact. You can almost think of it as allowing them to live beside each other instead of mashing on top of one another.
Just trust me when I say it really is an awesome pedal. I wouldn’t steer you wrong, would I? Also, that oranges and lemons tin is pretty great anyway…
It’s been a while since I built a new guitar pedal. Putting together that gallery of all the ones I built in 2011 made me realize that I only finished a half-dozen or so the whole year. I guess that means I’m spending the rest of my time actually making music, right?
In any case, here’s a lovely lady I like to call ‘Stuttering Ginger.’ As I explain in the video demo below, I had to eat a lot of candy to empty that tin out (the pedal builders diet?). What’s inside now is a very choppy tremolo circuit called the ‘Stutter Trem’ designed by Forced Fire Pedals.
She’s a real beaut and I don’t actually have a standalone tremolo these days, so she’ll fill that niche very nicely. Check out the demo below if you want to hear me ramble…
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: