Building your own guitar pedals is a great way to get into the world of guitar effects. Not only can you save money by sourcing your parts, but you can also get a better understanding of how these devices work. It’s time to learn how to source guitar pedal parts.
In addition to creating new pedal designs, you can try to recreate famous pedals like the Klon or the Tube Screamer. You can modify the pedals you already have!
In this article, we’ll show you where to find guitar pedal parts so that you can start building your own devices today.
Pedals are expensive! You’ll drop thousands of dollars if you want an impressive pedal board you never use. Building pedals allows you to add knobs and LEDs that don’t do anything but look impressive.
To get started, you’ll need to find a supplier of guitar pedal parts. Many online stores specialize in guitar pedal parts, and you can often find better prices and selections than you would at your local electronics store.
Once you’ve found a supplier, you’ll need to decide what parts you need. The basic guitar pedal contains printed circuit boards (PCBs), a few resistors, capacitors, transistors, integrated circuits, diodes, and LEDs.
Kits are available that contain all of the parts you need to make a pedal. Many people start with a kit for their first few pedals to get used to the different parts and the wiring process.
You will also need a soldering iron, wire cutters, and a multimeter. You probably want a helping hands clip holder, magnifying headset, tweezers and pliers, and alligator clips.
Where To Buy Guitar Pedal Parts
- guitarpedalparts.com (parts/kits)
- stewmac.com (parts/kits)
- aionfx.com (parts/kits)
- buildyourownclone.com (parts/kits)
- etsy.com (kits)
- pedalpcb.com (PCB)
- usa.banggood.com (resistors)
- pedalpartsplus.com (enclosures)
- guitarpcb.com (guides and forum)
These two YouTube channels are entertaining and will teach you a ton about pedals:
What Do These Parts Do?
A resistor is a small device that limits the flow of electricity. Resistors are used to control the level of signal that passes through them. Capacitors store electrical energy and release it when needed. Transistors are used to amplify or switch electronic signals.
When looking at resistors online, you’ll find three types:
- Carbon Film Resistors
- Metal Film Resistors
- Surface Mount (SMD) Resistors
The first two are similar and will work for most of your pedal projects. However, Surface Mount Resistors are challenging to work with and better for more complicated projects.
¼ watt resistors should be the maximum we need for the power levels we’re working with. There is no reason to use higher wattage resistors; they will just take up space.
Metal Film Resistors are the way to go unless you need a vintage sound. These resistors have tighter tolerances, meaning the values are more in line with what you expect and make less noise.
The capacitor you need is based on the circuit’s required type. The three varieties you will see when building pedals are:
- Electrolytic Capacitors
- Polyester Film Capacitors
- Ceramic Disc Capacitors
You don’t need to think about the power rating of the capacitors. 25 volts is the most common and will be fine for MOST of these low-power circuits.
Transistors have three legs and a black or metal casing
Integrated Circuits (IC): Chips with at least six pins
Diodes: Plastic or glass one-way current switch
LEDs: Used to indicate power status
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are the backbone of most guitar pedals. These thin pieces of material contain the circuitry that makes the pedal work. Many guitar pedal parts suppliers sell pre-made PCBs, making your life much easier.
Once you have all of your parts, you’ll need to assemble them according to the instructions provided by your supplier. This process can vary depending on the complexity of the pedal, but it involves soldering the parts to the PCB.
You can etch PCBs, but this is pretty advanced and won’t be covered here.
Enclosures are the case that holds the pedal circuitry. The most common enclosure sizes are 1590A, 1590B, 125B, and 1590BB. For example, the different sizes determine if you have room for a battery.
Footswitches turn the pedal on and off. Momentary footswitches do something when you hold them down. Latching footswitches move between two states when pushed. Latching footswitches are more common.
How Are Different Effects Created?
The different sounds and effects created by guitar pedals are built by varying the values of the resistors, capacitors, and transistors used in their construction. So, once you understand how these parts work, you can start experimenting with different combinations to create unique sounds.
Here are some quick examples of what you will be doing once you start building pedals:
Creating distortion is one of the most popular effects among guitar players. To create distortion, you’ll need to use a transistor. The first thing you’ll need to do is find a resistor with a high value. The higher the value of the resistor, the more distortion you’ll create.
Once you’ve found a high-value resistor, solder it to the PCB. Then, solder a capacitor to the other side of the resistor. The capacitor will help smooth out the distortion.
If you want to create a more intense distortion effect, you can use two transistors instead of one. Solder the two resistors to the PCB, then solder a capacitor in between the two resistors. This will create more extreme distortion.
You’ll need to use a transistor and a capacitor to create a delay effect. First, solder the transistor to the PCB. Then, solder a capacitor to the other side of the transistor. The capacitor will store the electrical energy needed to create the delay effect.
A chorus effect is created by combining a delay effect with an echo effect. You’ll need to use two transistors and two capacitors to create this effect. First, solder the two transistors to the PCB. Then, solder a capacitor to each side of the transistors.
The first capacitor will store the electrical energy needed to create the delay effect. The second capacitor will store the electrical energy required for the echo effect.
Reverb is created by using a transistor and a capacitor. First, solder the transistor to the PCB. Then, solder a capacitor to the other side of the transistor. The capacitor will store the electrical energy needed to create the reverb effect.
There are many other guitar pedal effects that you can create by varying the values of the resistors, capacitors, and transistors used in their construction. So, get creative and see what kinds of sounds you can make!
When sourcing guitar pedal parts, you must consider the quality of the components you’re using. Cheap parts will result in a cheap-sounding guitar pedal. So, if you’re serious about building quality guitar pedals, it’s worth spending a little extra money on high-quality parts.
Another thing to remember when sourcing guitar pedal parts is the compatibility of the components you’re using. Make sure that the resistors, capacitors, and transistors you’re using are compatible with each other. Otherwise, you may face problems when you assemble your pedal.
Once you have all of your guitar pedal parts, it’s time to get started building.
Follow the instructions provided by your parts supplier, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of components to create unique sounds. With patience and practice, you’ll be able to build quality guitar pedals that will make your friends jealous.