17 March 2014

Biyang Fuzz Star FZ-10 Repair

I did this one for squeaks and gigs. I knew it would not be worth much even after I fixed it.

It was quite a mess when I opened it. The six pins that connect the two boards were not even in the holes, and several solder pads were missing, most likely the result of the previous repair attempt.

I did the following: 
  • Removed the six pins and replaced them with wire
  • Used a razor to expose some of the copper traces adjacent to the missing pads and placed mini-jumpers from the wire to the exposed copper
  • Put two longer jumpers where there was no room to expose the adjacent copper trace

Ugly, but it works and the connections are solid. Again, it’s not worth much, but because I often repair pedals that someone has already tried to repair, I see a lot of lifted pads and traces, so the practice was good. 

15 March 2014

Another Easy Fix for a Morley Pedal

I recently acquired a 1970s Morley MVO Wah Volume on eBay. It was listed as not working/for parts, so I got a good deal on it. Here is a picture of the pedal as it was when I bought it:

And here is a picture of the pedal as it was when I sold it:

There are three issues a non-working pedal can have, and the Morley WVO had two:
  • Mechanical: the treadle was loose and laid all the way forward. It moved freely like a treadle should, but flopped forward as soon as I took my foot off it. Also, the tolex flap inside the pedal that blocks the light came unstuck from the tape that holds it in place (see a brief description of how this works in my previous post at http://momentfx.blogspot.com/2014/03/simple-fix-for-1976-morley-pro-flanger.html).
  • Cosmetic (which is really only an issue if the plan is to resell the pedal, which I did): The chrome was decidedly dull and the treadle pad was dirty.
  • (The third issue is electrical, and this pedal had absolutely no problems in that respect.)

The first mechanical fix was the pedal, which was easy. I used a 5/16” wrench for the bolt and a 3/8” wrench for the nut and gave each a few slow turns. A plastic bushing maintains the friction required to hold the pedal in position. If you were to overtighten and crack the bushing, they are not specialty parts, so you could get one from any hardware store. Nonetheless, you should only tighten a little at a time and check for feel after a couple of slow turns.
The other mechanical fix was a little trickier, and I didn’t notice it until after making arrangements for a potential buyer to come look at it. The flap that blocks the light is made of tolex (fake leather made of vinyl and fabric), which had become stiff over the last thirty-some years. So rocking the treadle back and forth must have worked it loose from the tape that was holding it in place.

Because of the age of the pedal, I did not want to replace anything, even a piece of tape. So I took a length of double-sided tape and placed it along the edge of the tolex. I put it in place and pressed the original tape down on the tolex and it held. I was thus able to keep all of the original components of the pedal and the fix is invisible. I know it’s only a piece of tape, but I wasn’t sure at the time if the buyer was an avid collector or just someone who wanted the pedal for nostalgic reasons.
The cosmetic fix did not require any troubleshooting, but it did require some work. I used window cleaner for the chrome and a damp cloth over a screwdriver tip to clean every ridge in the treadle pad. After about a half hour, the pedal looked almost like new. Well, not new, but an old pedal that has been well taken care of.
I was able to resell this pedal on craigslist very quickly for a tidy profit. I probably could have gotten a bit more on eBay, but not having to pay fees or pack and ship the pedal was worth it. A bird in hand . . .
A few takeaways from this one:
  • Take the time to clean whatever your selling.
  • If the item only requires a few turns of a wrench to get it in working order, it’s worth the effort (and possibly the price of a wrench).
  • When selling a pedal, always give it a quick test before the seller comes. If I hadn’t, it would have been pretty awkward. He did not want to test it, so he would have gotten home, found out it didn’t work, and I would have looked foolish, if not dishonest. 
For more Morley maintenance and repair tips, as well as a brief history of Tel-Ray/Morley, check out this site: http://www.wingspreadrecords.com/morley_maintenance.htmlWarning: All text on that site is centered and occasionally red on a gray background. I had a bit of a headache by the time I was done reading it. However, I love the guy’s passion. People like that make the Internet a better place.

13 March 2014

Univox Super Fuzz Clone

One of my friends asked if I could build a Univox Super Fuzz clone using enclosure he liked. I used the vero layout on Guitar FX Layouts blog at http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.com/2012/01/univox-super-fuzz.html.

Here's the completed enclosure (I had nothing to do with the design—not sure what the story is on that):

To preserve a bit of vintage feel, I did not include an LED or a DC jack on the pedal. When I thought I was finally done, my friend asked if I could put a jack in, so that was the final step.

I had already mounted the board to the closure with mounting tape, so rather than remove that and risk cracking the board or scratching the paint or the like, I decided to install the jack with everything else in place. 

To drill the hole without getting metal bits all over the inside of the pedal, I stuffed a shirt inside the enclosure. When I was done with the shirt, I hung it back up in my wife's closet, in case she planned on wearing it to work the next day : )

I snipped the positive battery wire, leaving a little wire on the terminal:

I then rerouted the long end of that wire to the DC jack. This wire now supplies the 9V+ to the board from the jack instead of the battery. 

Quick explanation: For those who don't know, the battery is connected to one of two positive terminals on the DC jack. The other positive terminal supplies power to the board. When using a battery for power, these two terminals are connected, so the power comes from the battery, through the two terminals and to the board. When a DC power supply is inserted into the jack, these two terminals are disconnected. So even if the battery is plugged in, it no longer is connected to the board in any way. The power comes straight from the power supply to the board.

I then spliced a wire onto the short positive wire on the battery terminal and ran that to the jack. After grounding the jack, I was done:

And here is a quick and sloppy demo of Sasquatch playing through the Super Fuzz (I'm not sure what my camera was focused on, but it's nothing I can see). The Balance and Expander knobs are at about 7 or 8. Half way through, I flick the Tone switch. My dinky camera mic captures the difference, but not faithfully.

10 March 2014

AMZ Mini-Booster in an Old Clock

What time is it? Time to play the geetar!
I recently built a version of the AMZ Mini-Booster based on the vero board layout on Guitar FX Layouts (best blog ever, and quite possibly the reason the Internet was invented).

It looked like a very quick build (I was determined to finish it in one go), and I had most of the parts on hand, but I did not have a small enclosure. However, I did have an old digital clock that stopped working, and I had set it by my workbench intending to take a look at it sometime. It wasn't the perfect size, but it was on hand and it had a battery compartment. 

I removed all of the clock's innards and glued in place all of the buttons (snooze, hour, minute, etc.) that had been held in place by those innards. My super glue was hardened and useless, so I used Gorilla Glue, which expands when it dries, hence the mess.

I drilled two holes in the back for input and output, two on top for the switch and level knob and wired them all to the little vero board held in place by stiff wires coming from the pot. I put the battery in, and it was ready to go.

Sounded good (see video demo below), and I ended up selling it on ebay for $30. The enclosure is pretty sturdy—fine for home, but I doubt it would last long at all under regular stage use.

If I were to do a similar project again, I would drill another hole in the top for the LED. I was trying to be clever and have it shine out through the display lens, but the LED wasn't in a great location and the red plastic is darker than I thought.

The pot, switch and jacks were all salvaged. Poor choice of glue.

Battery compartment already built in

06 March 2014

Simple Fix for a 1976 Morley Pro Flanger

Last year, I repaired a 1976 Morley Pro Flanger (PFL) pedal, doubling its value in the process. 
It ended up being a simple fix, so I thought I'd share my brief repair notes.

Morley Flanger Repair Notes, 031713:
  • Pot codes: 1377621 (May 1976)
  • Pedal passes a signal in bypass
  • Passes a signal when engage, but no flange effect  
  • Checked switches – all worked fine.
  • All solder connections seemed very solid.
  • No obviously burnt out components.
  • Because everything else looked fine, I started adjusting the trimpots, one at a time (I marked the original positions first of course).
  • The 25k trimpot next to the 100k trimpot seemed to do the trick. When I adjusted it, flange became apparent in the signal.

Pedal worked fine in foot and auto modes after that.

For those that are not familiar with Morley, this pedal works by way of a black fabric at the far end that covers and uncovers a photoresistor as the pedal is moved forward and backward.