Posts Tagged ‘switch’

I have been having quite a bit of interest in the Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 36 controller over the last few weeks, so here’s an update on it after using it for a few months.

My advice to anyone looking to build one would simply be this: Don’t. Or if you do, build bigger and less complex.

The main problem with the amp controller I built was that is was simply not big enough. You can’t stomp the channel change very well without accidentally turning on the reverb, cutting out the FX loop, changing to crunch from lead, hitting the killswitch etc you get the idea? And this becomes a real problem live when trying to do mid song channel changes!

The buffer is a good feature, as are the loops, but again these caused me problems. The Tubemeister went down and had to be returned to Germany for a repair, so I bought a 2nd hand Black Heart Little Giant 5w head, which is single channeled. All of a sudden my board was hard to use – I had overdrive in one loop, compressors in the other, what a nightmare to use on the fly!

My Tubemesiter 36 setup is this:

Guitar > Korg Pitchblack (tuner) > TM Footswitch > Loop 1 – Boss CS3 (compressor, modded) – TM Footswitch loop 1 return > TM Footswitch loop 2 – Way Huge Green Rhino > TM Footswitch loop2 return > TM36 > Source Audio EQ > ISP Decimator > EHX Small Stone Nano (phaser) > Malekko 616 (delay) > TM36 return

Which requires 5 (yes 5!) cables running to the amp by the time the channel switching was taken care of!

For using the single channeled amp I ripped up my I had a board setup like this:

Guitar > Korg Pitchblack (tuner) > Boss CS3 (compressor, modded) > Way Huge Green Rhino (overdrive) > Barber Dirty Bomb (distortion) > EHX Small Stone Nano (phaser) > Malekko 616 (delay) > Amp

And this was all I needed. A reverb would have been nice, but for live use not needed. I actually think this is the best sounding setup I have ever used (except for really cranked, heavy stuff where the TM36 lead channel destroyed everything else for me!). And guess what… no FX loop, no channel switching, no on-board reverb, no complex EQ’s, no need for noise gates, no MIDI switching or programming, basically no gimmicks. I actually preferred the Malekko 616 out front to be honest.

So, this has turned into a bit of a ramble and you’re probably wondering how this all relates to the Tubemeister footswitch? Well here it is I’m going to do the dirty and come out and say it: If you think you need anything as complex as the switch I built here and the relevant routing this requires in order to get your rig in line, I would take a step back and consider what you really need before embarking on building something similar. If you have a whole bunch of analogue FX running up front and in the loop that you really need and you find yourself tap dancing to go from your clean and dirty sounds I would seriously suggest looking into getting a digital MIDI enabled solution and to control everything and not building a footswitch like the one I built and rig like this. Something like the Boss GT range,  Line 6’s M13, the TC Nova System (that’s what I’m currently running) or G System etc. Cut out all the tap dancing and get playing! This does add a certain level of complexity when toggling settings on the fly, but it also opens so many possibilities that a traditional footswitch such as the one I built here is rendered archaic.

For the future I’m looking to get one of the bigger single channeled Black Heart amps and the simple board I described for it, and using the TM36 and Nova setup for anything more complex, which for my main band is sometimes required. I gigged this setup last week, and it was awesome:

Guitar > Korg Pitchblack > Boss CS3 > Way Huge Green Rhino > TM36 > Nova System > TM36 return

One button press to go from TM36 lead with a small amount of digital delay to trippy phaser, reverby analogue delayed clean, using the TM36’s channels, compressor and overdrive there for when I need them.

Basically if you want a footswitch for the TM36 my advice is this: you have a midi controlled amp so use it – midi-fy your rig, you won’t look back! I may have bashed MIDI in the past with the TM36 saying it over complicates things – but used right it really is cracking and solves a lot of headaches. Despite being quite old technology MIDI really is the future for us guitarists and I honestly believe digitally controlled analogue circuits with MIDI capabilities are the way pedal building needs to go in order to progress. Full MIDI integration.

If you rig is a super simple amp with no pedals and you want a footswitch to change channels only then that is another story…


So, I finally finished the channel switcher for my Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 36!


And here it is all lit up…


Perhaps somewhat foolishly I have built this footswitch at a time when I don’t actually have my amp, due to it being off away somewhere in Germany being repaired, but I’ve tried it with other amps  that are set up the same way with RTS jacks, so I know it’s all good.

It’s pretty full on – it’s a buffer (the same circuit as the 072), killswitch, has dual switchable loops (one for clean, one for dirty channels) and also controls the amps FX and reverb. I very nearly put a starvable dc outlet on it, but when it came down to it I decided I would probably never use it, plus it was getting a bit cluttered without mounting components on the upward face of the pedal.

To say it is a squeeze getting all of that in there is an understatement – I used the jack sockets that are typically mounted on PCB’s so that I could file off certain bits of the plastic casing so they would fit into the corners of the pedal.

It uses 3 x 3PDT toggle switches, a momentary soft touch SPST footswitch switch and a 4DPT footswitch, which are not rare components, but certainly not as readily available as most pedal parts
In reality it is a bit too small for large feet stomping it on stage – there’s a real potential of stomping the wrong thing. I probably wouldn’t worry too much about adding the buffer again, although it may come in handy to have. But hey, it is what it is, something I wouldn’t build again, but it was a good thing to do an a lesson on how much you can really squeeze into an enclosure if you want to go OTT!

So if you want to build your own I have included the schematic I drew up for it.


A word of warning – arrangement of this into a Hammond 1590BB is pretty tricky, consider a bigger enclosure if you have the  room on your pedal board and want to make you life that bit easier! Plus, by going bigger you could probably use right-angled jacks for the send and return loops, which would save space on the board in the long run!

Just a quick update on the SET audio slicer I’m developing.

The logic side of the circuit that is used to control the stuttering is all up and running well, but I’m still having trouble slicing the audio without introducing noise. I’ve removed the 4066 chip and redesigned the circuit to use a JFET as the switch. By having this in a shunt arrangement where the source and drain are biased to a reference voltage I can eliminate most of the popping, but there is still a little bit of ticking on the audio line. I’ve also tried using a LED and LDR to shunt the signal without allowing any noise from the oscillators, but it isn’t perfect either way. It may be that the noise is on the supply rail and I need to filter the supplies, but I’m not sure with very limited time to spend on it at the moment.

The controls will also have changed by the time this comes out. At present they stand at Rate A, Rate B pots, long/short range  toggle, A/AB toggle, and/or toggle.

Whatever happens, I have learnt a lot from this project, one being that nothing is as easy as it first seems!

Anyone who has followed the progress of any of my pedals within the last year may remember this post I made way back in January of 2012. Or you may not, hell I hardly remember writing it! But anyway, in that post I started harping on about this idea for an auto stutter/killswitch type device that is based on two 555 timers, and allows you to set 2 independent frequencies, decide how to combine them to make one pulse and use that to stutter your guitars signal. The last week or si I’ve been working on the circuit and it is nearly at a point where I’m going to start making a few, just as soon as I can iron out a few small issues (thanks to the guys at DIY Stompboxes). It is not actually based on 555 timers but 2 4047 oscillators operating in astable mode, which cause either a 4066 or 4053 to switch the signal, creating the stutter. I won’t go into the components I’m using now as it may well change, and when I have finalised the circuit I will post it up with an explanation anyway.
The pedal will feature 2 pots – rate a and rate b (can’t tell you the range of the frequency yet as even that isn’t fully decided!) and 3 toggle switches. A/ab allows you to select either just oscillation a or oscillation a and b. And/or controls how frequencies a and b combined – either both on or either on, and invert which flips the output of a/ab. A, b and the combined logic will all have their own LED. The pedal will be momentary, so your signal is unaffected until you hit the stomp at which point stuttering begins and continues, until you release the switch. By combining the 2 different oscillators you can create some really cool patterns, and it actually has a very mathematical feel especially when using ab and using the and setting. That probably makes little sense, here’s an idea of what the pedal may look like, I’ll get a video up soon once I iron out the few small problems with the design.

Imagine it as a square wave tremolo with the depth up full and you will get some kind of idea as to how it sounds in ‘a’ mode, ‘b’ mode sounds much more pattern based, although the patterns are only very simple with the 2 oscillators. I wanted to add a blendable fx loop so the pedal could stutter between dry and wet, but that was way too big for the 1590B version, maybe if it is a cool design I’ll build a 1590BB version with more oscillators, a blend control and a fx loop!


Here’s a couple of pics of the new style Morse Device. I have 2 of these ready to be shipped out, looking for £25 delivered in the UK, outside the UK please email me.

Morse Device Artwork

Posted: April 24, 2012 in FX, Morse Device
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The next batch of Morse Device will be created using a sticker overlay on top of a powder coated enclosure. This should be much more durable than the previous paint job! If this works well I’ll probably use this method for the No Tomorrow and any future pedals as it saves everyone cost, me time, and allows for much more complex graphics. Anyway, here’s the idea for the new Morse Device graphic!

Last night I finished the A/B switcher I was making for a mate who plays bass. It has 2 channels (obviously!) with a selectable level for each channel. Levels can be toggled between active and passive, when in active mode there is a gain of around x6 right up, which is pretty intense and possibly a bit much. The active mode works pretty sweetly, but it is nice to have the passive option, where the volume only cuts, so that you can use the pedal with no power, or if you don’t fancy passive mode. So you do need to set the dials differently for both options  – in passive mode you would cut the louder instrument to match the quieter, where as in active mode you would probably boost the quieter instrument to match the louder, but it is pretty useful and is generally a set and forget control.

I also added a LDR cut control (‘Suck’) which can be used for small swells and cuts, just for shits and giggles. It is pretty funky and just adds that something to the pedal that others lack. The LDR can be taken out of the circuit with the ‘Suck’ toggle. Housing the LDR itself in a 5mm bezel mount is a much neater way rather than the peep-hole with perspex window I have tried before.

I used a blue/red bi-colour LED to indicate the channel, which matches the red and blue knobs on the levels. Really simple idea, but makes channel identification a no-brainer! I’m really surprised I haven’t seen this on an A/B box before, it just makes sooo much sense!

Anyway here she is: