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The trouble with tremolos….

Old style tremolo with a little boost added…

Ok so there’s no trouble with this tremolo, but after playing around with an old design (originally a Schaller and a big favourite with the DIY community ) a few times I’ve added a volume boost and a little overall ‘ooomph’ to it’s tonal response and come out with this vintage style tremolo that can add a little volume or take some away when the effect is engaged. It’s smooth and simple and I’ll be making a small batch of them this summer, hopefully!

Noodling around with the tremolo, not exactly Abbey Road recording standard or (playing standard) but you should get the gist….
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Fun with…

Fuzz.

V.I.N. Fuzz, Vintage Style Fuzz Pedal

Coming soon to the online shop will be a version of a very cool vintage fuzz circuit I’ve been playing with, It’s op-amp based and designed fairly closely on some MFZ-1 schematics™ I’ve found online and in terms of modifications, I’ve added an optional ‘drive’ mode and one of two new types of distortion/fuzz that weren’t available with the originals. Hopefully it will be ready for (very, very small) batch production later this year…Mmmmm fuzz.

UPDATE: A final version of this circuit has been decided upon (finally…) and will go ahead to the actual next stage of having a batch of PCBs printed……might even have some available before winter 2022!

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All Together Now….

Chorus PedalIn short, a chorus pedal is what you get when a delay pedal and a reverb pedal get together and, well, make a freaky child that actually works pretty well.

 

Bands like The Cure spring to mind when thinking about chorus pedals but they are in fact used widely throughout music genres,usually in a more subtle way. Ando Effects currently builds a chorus using the classic PT2399 echo chip, with some strange modifications added to allow you to make the chorus sound,well, trippy and weird,if that’s what you are into (use of modifications is optional).

rather than explain more and bore you to death, below is a couple of examples of what the Ando Effects version can do.

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Don’t Forget Your Head

Ando Effects custom built guitar pedals gallery

 

“Just bring your heads and breakables”…….

 

This post is a different one, it is not focused around pedal building, it is focused around the differences in the sound you get in a rehearsal room and the sound you get at a live venue, and is aimed at bands who are (relatively) new to doing live shows but may also help any band that doesn’t have their own sound technician, road crew and tour bus…

It’s a collection of points, gathered from live sound experience, both my own and others and it will hopefully solve some of your problems you have been having getting that awesome tone you’ve been working on for years to really come across live, because there is a BIG difference between rehearsal and LIVE.

(Pedals may be mentioned at some point).

 

“All the gear and no idea” 

Are you using your own gear? We spend many hours getting the tone of our amps and pedals just right, tweaking the settings by a fraction of a degree to get that perfect crunch/bass/high end mix just right… which isn’t much use if you’re using somebody else’s speaker cabinet and/or amplifier. For many bands it just isn’t practical to take all of your own backline, whether it’s time,cost or a dodgy spinal column. Sharing a drum kit,bass amp and sometimes guitar cabinets with other bands on the bill makes a lot less hassle for all bands concerned and is common practice.

“Check you know how to quickly modify your bass/mids and treble on your amp and your pedals, different cabinet speakers have different frequency responses, as do different venues”

“Location,location,location”

Where are you playing? A small pub/bar? a grungy little venue or a nice big stage? Some of the best venues are the size of a postage stamp, can you get your signature tone at different volumes?

Different frequencies are more prominent at different volumes (it’s a human hearing thing), depending on the venue, you may have to be quieter or louder than you are in practice, quite simply so that the sound technician can get a decent mix and all the instruments can be heard properly. This is a point in which pedals can help, with them you can get thick fuzz and crunch without having to drive your amp to volumes that drown everything else out and ruin your gig.

” It’s a common misunderstanding that an amp has to be at high volumes to produce distortion/overdrive, it doesn’t, the distortion is produced by driving the valves/transistors, most of this occurs in the pre-amp section of the amplifier. A guitar overdrive/fuzz pedal is essentially a pre-amp section in it’s own right, thats why you can control fuzz/distortion/drive separately from the volume, you do need a certain level of volume to produce that nice thick sound, but the two are not totally dependent on each other, amplifiers work on a similar principle,the higher the gain,the less guitar signal it takes to create distortion and drive”

” I heard she was a sound guy”

The sound technician is your friend,remember that.

He or she is not,however, a mind reader. It’s unlikely the sound technician has heard your band before so they don’t actually know exactly what you are supposed to sound like. If you have quite a specific sound (vocals low in the mix, a very prominent guitar or bass) and need that to be taken into account then let the technician know. When it comes to guitar pedals, they can produce very different volume levels, these dynamics are often essential when it comes to your music but if you don’t tell the sound tech that you go from quiet to heavy, it could throw everything out of alignment.

“Most technical sound issues can be discussed and resolved during sound checking, however, sometimes a sound-check is a luxury and you may only get a line-check, if this is the case then make sure you say hello to the sound technician before your set (in fact do it anyway, it will help you stand out in their mind and it really doesn’t hurt to be nice) and let them know (briefly) what you’re after, this person is here to make you sound as good as they can make you sound and it is in their interest as well as yours to know what mix to go for.”

“FYI the PA is 3KW”

When you arrive at a venue, one of the first things you should check out is the PA system, chances are most if not all of your band are going to be going through that PA system via microphones. Now that sounds pretty obvious but there are a few points bands misunderstand when it comes to the PA.

  • On-stage sound and front of house sound are DIFFERENT , your guitar may seem quiet coming through the monitors but you could be blasting out the front of the PA system, so don’t go cranking up your volume mid-set, if you’re worried that it’s too quiet, ask the sound tech to turn you up in the monitors or if they can’t do that for whatever reason (monitors are a luxury for some) then just ask them if you should turn up. Failing that, trying moving around the stage a little, you’ll find the overall sound levels change depending where you are on stage.
  • Don’t stand 2″ in front of your amplifier, remember that the speaker cabinet is probably sitting around knee/waist level, and you don’t have ears in those parts of your body. The sound is projected outwards in a cone shape,so to hear yourself best, stand at least a few feet in front of the cabinet.
  • Ideally the sound technician will have mic’d up all the guitar cabinets so that they can get greater control over the mix and be able to run everything back to you through the monitors. Remember that what comes out of the microphone (and then PA system) is sonically different to what went in, as microphones don’t produce a perfect copy of the sound they are recording so if you are very concerned about the fine details of your guitar sound, invest in a long guitar cable and during sound-check stand in front of the stage where the audience will be (let the technician know this first, again they are here to help but show some courtesy) and adjust your settings (or ask the technician to adjust their settings) accordingly.
  •  If you are a bass player, chances are you are going to be put through a D.I box, for most this isn’t a problem but if you are using pedals remember that PA systems and mixing desks respond differently than bass amplifiers.It may be a good idea to use a cabinet simulator pedal, or simply ask the technician if they can also mic’ up your bass cabinet.

 

 

 

“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…” – Sun Tzu

The term ‘logistics’ sounds incredibly boring, but it is essential if you want your audience to really hear how you’re supposed to sound, and you can’t do that if you haven’t first sorted out all the logistical problems that occur when playing at a live venue, here are a few pointers….

  • Get a pedal board, make sure every pedal is securely fastened into it so that when you set up all you have to do is take the lid off it and plug it in, because spending five minutes during sound-check time plugging in patch cables and power adapters is an extra five minutes you could have had sound-checking.
  • Don’t spend ages tweaking each setting on each your pedals once you are set up, just make only the most necessary changes and only if it is really necessary, don’t go re-arranging your whole guitar tone during the sound-check.
  • Bring spare everything, this includes batteries, guitar picks,patch cables, speaker cables,instrument cables and strings. You should have fresh batteries in everything that needs them and if your guitar needs re-stringing, don’t leave it to just before the gig to do so.
  • Bring a power extension cable, preferably at least a four-gang one,also consider getting a black one as it is less visible to the audience and does seem to look better (in my opinion). Assuming the venue has power outlets at just the right point on stage is somewhat foolish and having your own extension will let you be anywhere on stage (within reason).
  • Make sure you have your own tuner,  one in pedal form as these not only let you tune silently but can also act as a kill switch to cut your amp sound quickly,also try to avoid clip-on tuners as even the vibration settings can be interfered with if other instruments are playing loudly at the same time.
  • If you can, send a basic tech-spec (a simple document that states the instruments in the band,how many members, what gear you have and what you will need), not all venues ask for these but if they will accept one then send one, it lets the technicians prepare better and may also give you an insight into what your set-up actually is in practical terms.
  • Make sure you know what ohm and wattage rating your amp head has and make sure if you are using other people’s cabinets that they are compatible, otherwise you risk damaging your equipment and/or theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Centaur Of Attention.

Centaur clone guitar pedal
Centaur clone with alternative clipping switch

 

It needs no introduction, if you haven’t heard of the Centaur pedal then just stick that phrase into Google and all will be revealed

Essentially a high end overdrive with a somewhat unique take on how frequencies should be handled and driven, this is one of the most copied guitar pedals there is and legend has it is built from magic smoke, unicorn tears and pure MOJO!

The reality is that it’s made from the same components that other pedals are made from, just put together in a brilliant way, long story short, this circuit is fantastic and definitely worthy of respect, if not the ridiculous hype around it. The Ando Effects version (a one-off build) features alternative op-amps, more bass response and a switch that allows the user to toggle between the classic Germanium diodes and LEDs…. basically two varieties of distortion, as opposed to the original one.

 

Now owned by a very discerning and polite customer (come back anytime)!

 

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Stones, Stoners and what’s to gain.

SFT Overdive Pedal Front View

 

 

 

SFT Overdive Pedal Front View                                                     The SFT overdrive Clone With Stones and Stoner Switch

A one off build of a well regarded overdrive, famous for emulating old school bass amps, this was an enlightening experience.

Complete with an internal charge pump, which takes your 9v input and doubles it for more headroom and overall gain,

excellent tone controls and a sound that varied between qotsa and the rolling stones this was a great pedal to build……. especially if you like desert rock.

 

unfortunately everything doesn’t always go to plan, ando effects builds a number of clones/ modified versions of classics all with intention of building up a body of work which will create superior and original circuits in the future. this means using schematics from various sources, some of which need

‘ tweaking’…

in this case the overdrive had a gain potentiometer which was stated in the on-line schematic as being linear but really need to be reverse audio taper (basically, it’s resistance changes more in the first part of the turn than the latter).

Ando Effects Clone Overdrive

geek speak aside, the pot was swapped and now the overdrive’s gain can be set more precisely rather than going from very little gain for most of the turn then full on drive for the very last few degrees!

 

it’s being put on ebay for an auction at a nice low price.after all,as  it was always going to be a one off as the originals are still being produced by a very good original pedal company.

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Analog Tremolo Build.

Analog tremolo guitar pedal

 

 

a picture of the Ando Effects Analog Tremolo
The analog tremolo

 

The analog tremolo is a vintage style tremolo pedal, based on a famous german circuit favoured by a number of pedal manufacturers for it’s smooth sound.  this version has a few minor improvements/ alterations that have appeared in the pedal building community.

 

 

 

 

  • it features a depth control, allowing you to dial in how much tremolo you want in your signal.
  • a speed switch to go between fast and slow modes and a speed potentiometer to fine tune that rate of temolo.
  • it’s true bypass and has polarity protection.
  • It’s best suited to players who want a vintage style sound to their tremolo, particularly those who like a bit of a country feel to things, although it can get pretty choppy if you want it to.
  • There’s a small volume drop compared to the bypassed signal.
  • no fancy decorations, excellent for live and recording work, solidly built in the uk by hand.
  • it’s up on ebay at the time of writing this, and it’s up for offers as the case is slightly scratched………..
    a picture of the analog tremolo from ando effects

 

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