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Thread: Tone Bender- diy?

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    Tone Bender- diy?

    Hi chaps- I think Im in need of a Tone Bender! & got some pedal build parts like a suitable 2-knob alu box/ switch to house it (unless it needs one of those huAge cool old grey boxes.. assuming not actually neccessary to be this big-?).

    I'd like advice on building a clone.. so can anyone cast any basic light for a novice?

    Thanks, SeaChief

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    I don't know Tone Bender from Adam, but it looks like the first thing you have to do is decide which one you want. There are different versions with different circuits - seems mostly ripped off from elsewhere.

    EDIT: CORRECTED LINK!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_Bender

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    Last edited by rjb; 12-18-2018 at 05:50 AM.
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    They've got PCBs, parts lists, and full instructions Here>http://www.madbeanpedals.com/projects/index.html

    You'll find them about 1/3 of the way down the page under 'classics'

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    I don't know Tone Bender from Adam, but it looks like the first thing you have to do is decide which one you want. There are different versions with different circuits - seems mostly ripped off from elsewhere.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjZsWs7Tw6A
    I don't know if youtube got hacked, but I followed your link and ended up on a Allman Brothers concert. Well, you know how the internet is. Tonebenders, indeed!

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    There are many, many iterations of this circuit.

    Pick one & post the schematic.

    Keep in mind that the circuit utilized germanium transistors.

    So, by its very nature, the germanium three-transistor circuit is a finicky design. It seems to sound best with components that are obsolete and difficult to procure. It begs to be tweaked and optimized and fussed over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eschertron View Post
    I don't know if youtube got hacked, but I followed your link and ended up on a Allman Brothers concert.
    I screwed up- meant to post a link to Wikipedia. Its fixed now.

    The YT link was Flaco Jimenez & Freddy Fender playing Frosty the Snowman. But I can see how you could get them confused with the Allman Brothers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    I screwed up- meant to post a link to Wikipedia. Its fixed now.

    The YT link was Flaco Jimenez & Freddy Fender playing Frosty the Snowman. But I can see how you could get them confused with the Allman Brothers.
    I did enjoy Freddy and Flaco. From Freddy, well, I meandered. I did say I ended up on...

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    We need more chaos in music, in art... I'm here to make it. - Justin Thomas
    MANY things in human experience can be easily differentiated, yet *impossible* to express as a measurement. - Juan Fahey


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    Good link rjb. Tbh I'm needing suggestions firstly on which one to go for. I can't tell a heap of difference between a YT demo of all the mk 1-4 etc, tho mk1 seemed to have more complexity.

    I was wondering if anyone's actually made one?

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    I've never built one, but if you can't tell much difference between them the most sensible choice is to build the simplest circuit. Right?

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    Well Id say no not neccessarily; if the simplest circuit costs alot more, &/ or is far more difficult to source the parts for, is problematic regarding getting xyz 'just right'.

    Im really needing advice from anyone whose built one. I thought they were a diy'ers ideal clone.. they look made from pretty few parts, & sound great generally speaking afaict/ far better than a generic 'distortion' pedal, which I built a rat clone of & seems about 3x as complex with horrible fiddly 8-leg transistor whanots in, a diy n'mare from my pov to solder in.

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    This got me interested, so I ordered a board for a germanium three knob version. 2015 edition. Coincidentally, just last week I ordered an assortment of around 200 germanium transistors along with some mounting sockets. I'll add any other components that I need to an order that I'm putting together already.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Chief View Post
    Well Id say no not neccessarily; if the simplest circuit costs alot more, &/ or is far more difficult to source the parts for, is problematic regarding getting xyz 'just right'.

    Im really needing advice from anyone whose built one. I thought they were a diy'ers ideal clone.. they look made from pretty few parts, & sound great generally speaking afaict/ far better than a generic 'distortion' pedal, which I built a rat clone of & seems about 3x as complex with horrible fiddly 8-leg transistor whanots in, a diy n'mare from my pov to solder in.
    There a lot worse out there to desolder or solder in than a jrc 4558. They're preatty easy peasy, maybe you need more practice, which I got mine from deconstrucing various electronics. i figured if I messed it up oh well. but it was good practice cause with the iron at 408c i can zip them out pretty quick no traces lifted.

    nosaj

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    Sea Chief.

    Have you read this part of my post?
    "Keep in mind that the circuit utilized germanium transistors.

    So, by its very nature, the germanium three-transistor circuit is a finicky design. It seems to sound best with components that are obsolete and difficult to procure. It begs to be tweaked and optimized and fussed over. "

    You are traveling down a road from Hell.

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    This is a good demo
    https://youtu.be/VdJWv4emZdY

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    There are a great many things that are called "Tonebender". Some are essentially derived from the basic Fuzz Face circuit, some akin to the Big Muff Pi, and others of a different basic architecture. I'm assuming that your desire to make one is because you heard the name associated with a particular artist or artists whose tone appealed to you. Who might those be? That might point towards the more relevant schematic/circuit, and whatever guidance about parts, construction tips, etc. might be of use.

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    What timing! This just arrived in my inbox.
    https://www.premierguitar.com/articl...eid=aae0a9e720

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    Nice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frus View Post
    This is a good demo
    https://youtu.be/VdJWv4emZdY
    Many of those sound bad, biased close / past cut off.
    Sticking AC128s into everything (without tweaking for a suitable operating point) may not be a valid approach.

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    Many thanks chaps for the replies & info. The link from rjb has lots of info in the folks' replies twds btm of page in fact, including ref to a couple of diy sites which Id forgotten all about.

    Very useful- appreciated. I'll set about with a plan & report back.

    Until then- merry christmas! Sea Chief.

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    I've ordered parts for two different variants of this. One, the schematic that I attached earlier, and also one very close to the Sola Sound MKII original circuit. http://fuzzcentral.ssguitar.com/mkII.phpThe schematic at the top of the page is the one I'll use along with the recommended modifications. I'll build it on perf board. I'm off to San Diego for the Holiday weekend, but when I get home, I'll be testing transistors.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I have almost everything together for both pedals. The parts that I'm missing, are on the way. There weren't any suitable transistors in the batch that I got, so I ordered a couple of matched sets from a seller on ebay. I found a nice layout that I'll use to build the MKII on perfboard. There's a lot of interesting history related to these. I'm glad Sea Chief got this rolling.
    turretbender.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    I have almost everything together for both pedals. The parts that I'm missing, are on the way. There weren't any suitable transistors in the batch that I got, so I ordered a couple of matched sets from a seller on ebay. I found a nice layout that I'll use to build the MKII on perfboard. There's a lot of interesting history related to these. I'm glad Sea Chief got this rolling.
    turretbender.pdf
    Hi John just got this in an email thought it might be of interest to you.

    https://www.electrosmash.com/germanium-fuzz
    nosaj

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    Quote Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
    Hi John just got this in an email thought it might be of interest to you.
    Thanks Jason. I've been checking out Fuzz Face variants. These look as good as any, and they're cheap enough, so I ordered a PCB, and pair of transistors. You can't have too many fuzz pedals.. can you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    Thanks Jason. I've been checking out Fuzz Face variants. These look as good as any, and they're cheap enough, so I ordered a PCB, and pair of transistors. You can't have too many fuzz pedals.. can you?
    I've got about 20 of those russian UFO transistors when I have a chance to play I need to build one up.
    nosaj

    Electrosmash has some good pedal breakdowns you should check them out.

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
    I've got about 20 of those russian UFO transistors when I have a chance to play I need to build one up.
    nosaj
    I've got a bunch of Russian, and Asian transistors with similar values. That's why I'm anxious to see how well they work in the electrosmash circuit.

    Quote Originally Posted by nosaj View Post
    Electrosmash has some good pedal breakdowns you should check them out.
    Thanks Jason. I checked out their site. There's some cool stuff there, but they're pretty centered on their arduino dsp pedals, and their LM386 based mini amps. I thought the name was familiar, and that's why I remember them.

    I don't want to get too far off topic In Sea Chief's thread, but since we're talking about Fuzz Face for the moment.

    Check out the kit I found on ebay. It comes with AC128 germanium transistors. (it's a crapshoot as to whether, or not they're good ones, but that can be fixed) At $22 it's a small gamble, so I ordered one of these too. https://www.ebay.com/itm/DIY-Fuzz-Fa...72.m2749.l2649

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    I decided to not use the layout that I linked to in an earlier post, and instead of building it on perf board as I had planned, I decided to make a custom eyelet board. I have some grey forbon, and eyelets on hand, so why not? I did a mock-up of the circuit on my breadboard, including all of the connections so I can lay out the eyelets. It adds a little more DIY , but will make it unique. This is fun stuff.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Unless you want to mount DIP ICs, eyelet boards rule for "serious prototypes"
    No design (save a basic sketch on the back of an envelope) or etching, far cleaner than perfboard (where replacing parts is a mess), a single hole is actually a node and holds 3 or 4 parts legs so design and drilling is simpler, whatīs not to like?
    I still keep the bench type eyeletter and the 1/8" dies bought in late 60īs "to make boards like Fender did", still in daily use.
    Congratulations on your build.

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Thanks Juan. I realized how awful a cut-up piece of perf board was going to look, and changed plans. I bought my eyelet setting tool back when I first started winding pickups. This is such a simple circuit, It makes it a great candidate for this.

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    It turned out that the tiny eyelet tool that I use for pickups was too small. Not being sure what would be better, 2mm versus 3mm, I ordered both along with punches, and dies. The 2mm kit showed up today, and the other is due tomorrow. I'm curious to see how many leads will fit in a 2mm. I'll check it out later, but it looks about perfect for this application. I'm anxious to get back to work on this.

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    I've got 6 pcb's for tonebenders on my bench right now. Word to the wise, fuzzcentral has a lot of mistakes on the website, don't trust any of the schematics. Also, few others things. Are you testing the transistors for gain and leakage? You need a certain amount of leakage for these to work properly. You also don't need the perfect gains and especially in the order of 70,70, 100 that everybody says you need. Most Russian transistors of the pnp variety, will have about 0 leakage, they often will not work at all, older date coded ones will have leakage. I have close to 2000 russians here and are not from eBay.

    For all advice, search on diystompboxes and look for posts by LucifersTrip, aron, Electric Warrior and about 10 others, they have built and troubleshooted a lot of these. Electric Warrior has posted the voltages from a original good sounding unit, so you want to be near that ballpark. Also, don't do the bias pot thing on the 8.2k resistor on Q3, leave that alone and if you have to tweak the bias, use the collector of Q2, which may be 47k or 100k depending on which trannys you use. Also the base resistor on Q1 sometimes is 100k , other times 10k.

    My first board right now is going into a open enclosure, transistor sockets, 100 ohm resistor on the 1k fuzz pot(to stop the wide open oscillation these are known to do), switch for 100k/10k on Q1base, switch for 100k/47k Q2collector, and test points so i can meter Q2c and Q3c voltages. I have it working beautiful with totally stock resistor values, just by swapping out transistors of the proper leakage and secondly, gain.

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozz View Post
    I've got 6 pcb's for tonebenders on my bench right now. Word to the wise, fuzzcentral has a lot of mistakes on the website, don't trust any of the schematics. Also, few others things. Are you testing the transistors for gain and leakage? You need a certain amount of leakage for these to work properly. You also don't need the perfect gains and especially in the order of 70,70, 100 that everybody says you need. Most Russian transistors of the pnp variety, will have about 0 leakage, they often will not work at all, older date coded ones will have leakage. I have close to 2000 russians here and are not from eBay.
    Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate the input. I built a rig to measure leakage like the one that R.G. detailed in his article about selecting transistors for FF clones at geofex.com

    I bought 2 'sets' of AC125's from an online dealer. They were all marked with the gain, and leakage. I'll socket mount every transistor. There are plenty of PCBs available, but I thought it would be fun to DIY like the thread title says.

    For all advice, search on diystompboxes and look for posts by LucifersTrip, aron, Electric Warrior and about 10 others, they have built and troubleshooted a lot of these. Electric Warrior has posted the voltages from a original good sounding unit, so you want to be near that ballpark. Also, don't do the bias pot thing on the 8.2k resistor on Q3, leave that alone and if you have to tweak the bias, use the collector of Q2, which may be 47k or 100k depending on which trannys you use. Also the base resistor on Q1 sometimes is 100k , other times 10k.
    Thanks! This is the kind of information that I need. I'll check it out over there. I wasn't very familiar with tonebenders a few weeks ago, but I've picked up some. This is all fun for me. There's no better way to learn than to build a couple of them. I know that they are idiosyncratic, so this will help I'm sure.
    My first board right now is going into a open enclosure, transistor sockets, 100 ohm resistor on the 1k fuzz pot(to stop the wide open oscillation these are known to do), switch for 100k/10k on Q1base, switch for 100k/47k Q2collector, and test points so i can meter Q2c and Q3c voltages. I have it working beautiful with totally stock resistor values, just by swapping out transistors of the proper leakage and secondly, gain.
    Nice! I'm just a rookie at this, but I'm learning, and having fun along the way. I'll be able to change transistors easily. I had no doubt that would be important. Your switching should allow for a few variations in tone. Very cool.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  32. #32
    Supporting Member mozz's Avatar
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    These are really nice to have.
    https://www.newark.com/peak/dca55/co...tor/dp/95K9102.

    How much leakage do these "sets" have? You need about 150-200ua for this to work correctly. One source for pnp germaniums is old portable transistor radios or walkie talkies, the ones which said "6 transistor", "13 transistor" often cheap parts which work great.

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozz View Post
    These are really nice to have.
    https://www.newark.com/peak/dca55/co...tor/dp/95K9102.

    How much leakage do these "sets" have? You need about 150-200ua for this to work correctly. One source for pnp germaniums is old portable transistor radios or walkie talkies, the ones which said "6 transistor", "13 transistor" often cheap parts which work great.
    Thanks for the reply. I ordered this transistor testing gizmo. https://www.gearbest.com/other-instr...ml?wid=1433363. Things take a while to arrive from this distributor, but it could be pretty handy.

    The AC125's that I have all read between 170 - 230ua leakage.

    I've been keeping my eye out for old pocket radios. I'll be at a flea market tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll find something.

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    Supporting Member mozz's Avatar
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    Watch the rabbit hole. Last time i was building something i sunk $600 into a tele, but at least it's made of good parts.

    Just picked up 3 "solid state" intercoms today at the flea market, sft323, sft325, 2n404, 2sb33 and some other germanium transistors, all useable. One even had tropical fish caps(used in classic wahs and other stuff). Sometimes you find the old small output transformers, they are often good for building a octavia pedal. Finding certain old transistors can sometimes be harder than finding some certain tubes.

    Edit: If you go searching the web for tonebender tranny gains and leakages, 50% of the builders use the RG tester and the other half use the Peak DCA55, readings are similar but not the same due to test voltages and currents. I was gonna order one of those chinese testers for under $20(ebay) just to see how the readings compare. One thing i did notice was checking germanium diodes for voltage drop, 2 of my radio shack bench meters, fluke handheld, and the DCA55 all gave me different voltage drop readings.

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    Last edited by mozz; 02-02-2019 at 08:46 PM.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate the input. I built a rig to measure leakage like the one that R.G. detailed in his article about selecting transistors for FF clones at geofex.com

    I bought 2 'sets' of AC125's from an online dealer. They were all marked with the gain, and leakage. I'll socket mount every transistor. There are plenty of PCBs available, but I thought it would be fun to DIY like the thread title says.

    Thanks! This is the kind of information that I need. I'll check it out over there. I wasn't very familiar with tonebenders a few weeks ago, but I've picked up some. This is all fun for me. There's no better way to learn than to build a couple of them. I know that they are idiosyncratic, so this will help I'm sure.
    Nice! I'm just a rookie at this, but I'm learning, and having fun along the way. I'll be able to change transistors easily. I had no doubt that would be important. Your switching should allow for a few variations in tone. Very cool.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Sounds like you are having fun with this. Seems like after the Wah you might be getting into pedals?

    Just, by the by, I happen to have a Vox Tonebender MkIII here right how. One of these (pic grabbed off Reverb com). They are asking amazing prices. The owner had no idea of the potential value.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's (poor) picture of the PCB All unmarked germanium and all original.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Schematic is here http://fuzzcentral.ssguitar.com/3knob.php

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