I need more volume when i play lead, what pedal shall i get?
This is one of the most frequent questions. Let's put aside the sound itself and concentrate just on the volume part.
When you place a guitar pedal in front of a tube amp with pre-amp, the only thing that matters is how much gain is set on the pre-amp at the moment you step on the pedal. If you use an already cranked pre-amp for chords, you can't expect much of a volume jump. The high level signal that comes from the pedal can't raise the overall volume ad infinity. There is a limit after which the volume stays constant, and all the extra power is converted into drive (compression and distortion). No more volume since that point.
The cranked amp basically means, that the headroom limits have been reached. The lower is your amp gain, the bigger volume jump you can achieve by stepping on your booster.
The solution for players who use a cranked sound for chords is to connect the booster to the effect loop (if your amp has any). By doing this, you effectively skip the pre-amp and feed the booster straight to the power amp that has a way higher headroom.
I use VOX AC15 - a simple single-channel amp. When i play chords i have the gain set to 1/2, so i still get some extra volume when i step on my booster. If i set the gain at max., stepping on the booster brings just more drive, but volume doesn't change a bit.
When i engage the pedal i can hear a hum (or squealing noise ...)
Hum can sneak into your sound by several ways:
1. The wall wart you use is not stabilized.
2. Your pedals draw more current than the limit wall wart was built for (see the plate information).
3. You have plugged the wall wart in a different socket than your amp. By that, you may have created a large ground loop - a loop that leads unwanted currents between spots of different electric potential, and those are audible. A perfect ground of 0 volts is a text-book simplification.
4. You have more pedals connected to one power adapter. Again, a case of a ground loop:
DC socket ground pin 1 -> transformer ground wire -> DC socket ground pin 2 -> enclosure 2 -> cable jack ground -> enclosure 1 -> back to the DC socket ground pin 1
5. Quirky, home-made electrification in your house - very often a cause of hum and squealing.
6. You use a switching power supply - these devices, anyhow advantageous they are, can generate some unwanted noises unless made specifically for audio applications.
When i plug my germanium based pedal in my pedal board, and connect the common DC power supply in, everything turns off
These obsolete circuits often incorporate PNP transistors that are fed by negative voltage. That means that you can't plug them to one common power supply together with the modern, NPN pedals. The best solution is to use:
- a power supply that contains more than one transformer, where one of the transformers provides the negative voltage (to feed the PNP pedal)
- a transformer that provides a symmetrical voltage (+ <> 0 <> -)
- more separated wall warts
I can hear the radio when i step on my pedal
When this happens, then there is something wrong with the shielding. Some pedals provide very strong signal amplification (fuzz, overdrive), or/and use long, non-shielded wires inside (the input wire especially), or have insufficiently thick or conducting enclosure, may really receive parasite radio signals. This also regularly happens to Fuzz Face circuits turned to the max. while the guitar volume is all the way down. It can be helped by a shielded input wire, or a slight tweak of the input circuit.
How is the current draw of Electronic Orange pedals
Every pedal has its current draw specified at the summary column by its picture.
This current draw does not comprise the LED diode, which draws about 0.5mA extra when on. I deliberately use low current LEDs, since the current draw of the majority of the pedals i make is so low, that a standard, high bright LED would raise it 20–40 times. I won't let that happen.
If you don't use the pedal plug off the input jack or plug in the DC jack and the battery will turn off completely. I've been using my Spaghetti Wah for a few years now, and there is still the same battery in it. No stress.
Does a vintage effect sound differently while fed from a battery comparing to a DC power source?
Yes, but not for the reasons that are discussed on various Internet forums by assorted mojo hunters. Do not believe in the magical impact of batteries on your sound. It just doesn't make any sense. The bad thing about Internet is, that any obscure rubbish statement can be received as a trustworthy. People just say something, the other reword that statement without understanding it, creating a funny hoax. These urban legends arise due to a few basic factors:
Psychosomatic nature of a man. I can hear what i want to hear - it works just flawlessly. Only blind testing, while the listener doesn't know which of the tested devices is engaged can bring trustworthy results.
Nowadays, common 9V batteries can be easily giving 10V to low current pedals like a Fuzz Face or Wah. Unlike stabilized power adapters that will strictly stand on 9V, the batteries can differ, and yes, that one volt of the difference plays a role. Fuzz Face unit that has been built for 9V operation voltage will sound more open and less fuzzy while connected to 10V. The difference is enough to say "wow, this really sounds different". A vintage fuzz box will not have the same sound it had in 60s, because there were no 10V batteries in 60s as far as i know. Not saying its elyte caps may have been degraded.
I've purchasing boutique units of this kind to nail the 60s sound, but none of them sounds the same as my friend's original vintage 60s unit.
No wonder it doesn't. There can be a few reasons but one of them, and i find it a very good reason, are the electrolytic capacitors. These little containers are filled with an ionic, conducting liquid that dries up over the time when under voltage, thus changing the capacity.
The cap values changed this way do have impact on sound. The more often we use such a pedal, the faster the caps deteriorate. The old electrolyte capacitors would have about 15.000 hours of operation time before their capacity dropped down to one half. Such a vintage unit then doesn't sound the same anymore. If you ever want to compare vintage and boutique pedals, you should use only lightly played vintage pieces.
A friend of mine brought a mid 60s VOX wah over here, that sounded just dull. When i measured the elyte cap by the inductor, i found out it had half of the original capacity.
My Fuzz Face doesn't play well when i put a tuner in front of it
Companies like Boss or Ibanez (and others) employ a special switching system that uses buffers. These buffers are engaged all the timew, even if the pedal is turned off. This fact has a major impact on the vintage unit's sound that is placed right after. This applies mainly to tuners, as they are usually placed at the first position in the pedal chain. Place such a tuner in a loop switch or put it behind a vintage unit.
updated: September 27, 2023