New pedal day - BYOC FET Preamp

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by mnemonic, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I bought the FET Preamp kit to put together for a couple reasons - it looked like an interesting boost, similar in concept to my TC Electronic Integrated Preamp, and I wanted to try it.

    And partly because my TC Integrated Preamp is broken and I want to fix it, and I've never soldered on PCB's before. So this was practice.

    Turns out soldering on PCB's is piss-easy. It's just paint-by-numbers, all the parts have a labled hole they go into. The hardest part of the build was getting the damn pcb-mounted pots into the correct position.

    resistors all in, so far so good...

    IMG_0019 1.JPG

    skip a few steps, everything in but the pots...

    IMG_0021 1.JPG

    heres a gut shot. Not the cleanest work, but also its my first day, cut me some slack. Clearly I should have used much shorter wire for the power and in/out jacks.

    IMG_0025.JPG

    I do like all the connections at the top of the pedal, much cleaner looking and easier to manage. But, that area is super crowded as you can see. It was a pain to get the damn pcb in there with all the wires hanging off, and with the power jack in place. Also, the in/out jacks have to be positioned correctly so that they don't hit the PCB when you plug a cable in.

    IMG_0026.JPG

    all labeled up.

    IMG_0027.JPG

    The LED isn't that bright, which is good for me as I don't play live, and I don't like being blinded in my spare room.

    As far as sound goes, its a pretty cool boost. I really like the model of this in the axe fx ii for boosting high gain amps, usually in the unit, I put drive at 0, level at 10, bass at -12db, and treble at 0 or +2db or something. It makes a cool clean eq boost, similar to my integrated preamp.

    This is a bit different, its not as clean as the axe fx model. With the volume set as shown in the picture, its like having drive on 5 in the axe fx (not a lot of grit, but a little). Also this has a lot more volume on tap than the axe fx model. Like 26 db or something.

    The EQ is pretty cool, not as drastic sounding as my TC Electronic Integrated Preamp. I have the bass at 0, treble up a little bit, and it tightens up the amp decently well, but still lets through some bottom end. It can get sludgy though, with too much gain. The low cut switch is good for cutting a little more bottom end out.

    The controls are about as neutral as you can get with the treble and bass at noon, and volume at about 9:00.

    Just for comparisons sake, and based on the last time my Integrated Preamp worked correctly, the Integrated Preamp can cut or boost way more on the treble and bass controls, and it is way cleaner, whereas this distorts when you get the volume up. Not surprising given the Boss FA1 (which this is a clone of) was originally some low-rent belt-buckle amp that ran through a 2" speaker. I don't think sound quality was high on the list when it was designed, but hey-ho, it worked out in the end, and they made a cool boost.

    Now its time to order a bunch of spare parts and get to fixing my TC Integrated Preamp, so I can do a real comparison! :duel:
     
  2. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    I find it funny you got this whole thing built in the same time I got the label on mine, lol. Painting is still a PITA, but almost there!

    Looks good man! I have been curious about this one also. I assume the treble is more of a high end presence than an upper mid type treble?
     
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  3. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    When I saw your painting issues I figured I'd leave this one raw, haha. Maybe I'll try painting the next one.

    And yeah it isn't really a high mid treble, it's further up. I was surprised when I got it that it doesn't make a huge difference. You can't really go from super dark to super screechy, it doesn't have that much range. The range it has is pretty usable, but to be honest I just parked it around noon and didn't experiment a lot further than that.
     
  4. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    I think the next one will go much better because I have learned some tricks this time, but I will definitely start the painting weeks before I ever plan to do the electronics. My desk has been covered in parts for months.... waiting. Honestly, I probably would have just switched and wrote it on there with a paint marker or something if I wasn't doing one with 10 knobs, which have specific labels (EQ frequencies, etc...). Hard to write all that nicely.

    I was curious. I recently got some clean booster type pedals with B/T controls (Caline Highway Man, Caline Blue Sky, etc....), and I notice I really miss the mid hump with them. I keep turning the treble to get more of that metallic KRANG sound when I palm mute, but I get fizzy, noisy treble instead. I assume this FET Booster would be the same. I may skip this one for now then. Another one I am curious about is the Parametric Overdrive. It looks kinda like a Tubescreamer clipping section with a 1-band parametric EQ where you can set the mid boost. Could be a cool pedal where you could set the amount of mid-hump for how much pick attack you want.
     
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  5. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    That one does sound cool. I'll have to read up on it.

    You can boost the mids with this by turning bass and treble down (effectively only not cutting mids) but the knobs don't have a ton of range, so even with bass at 0, it's not a super middy boost. Not tubescreamer-like at least.

    I'll try both bass and treble on 0 when I get home and see how middy it sounds.

    I do kinda like a less middy boost from time though, makes the tone a bit more hi-fi, assuming it's got enough attack.


    Since this was fun and easy to assemble I may try building some of the veroboard layouts ive seen. I've already found one for the TC Preamp, Mesa Grid Slammer, etc. with the cost of parts, it should be really cheap to try, at least.
     
  6. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, it sounds like the pedals I mentioned. They can do middy if you turn down the bass and treble, but not like a Tubescreamer.

    I like other types of boosts also, which is one reason why I have been buying up cheap overdrive pedals. They are great for changing the feel and overall flavor of any amp. I like the above boosts for a clean sound. They definitely make everything sound bigger on clean sounds. However, I have been playing my PRS and Recto lately which are both dark, so I have been wanting something with more upper mid harshness. I want metallic clank, lol.

    I have seen those layouts, but never tried one. The issue is almost always the board, and the enclosure. I have enough parts to open up shop, but don't mess with it often since the board and enclosure are such pains.
     
  7. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Have you done anything on veroboard before? It looks to me like it would only be marginally harder than a PCB since you just follow the picture rather than the PCB markings.

    And I figure if I use panel mount pots and connect them to the board by wires, then the enclosure shouldn't be too difficult.
     
  8. Shask

    Shask SS.org Regular

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    No, I haven't. That is a rather new thing. I dont remember seeing those 5-10 years ago. In the past people used the boards with just a bunch of holes in them, and tied the legs of the parts together with wires and solder. Was pretty messy.

    When I say enclosure, I mean like, drilling all the holes, painting, board stands so it sits in there correctly, etc.... I have done it in the past, but it ends up being much more than what it looks. The electronics is the easy part, IMO.
     
  9. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    Haha perfboard is not fun. I remember building a transistor radio transmitter in my electronics class back in high school using that stuff. I never did get it to work.

    Yeah, mounting the board does sound hard. I'm still not sure how I'd do that part, short of making sure the board has spare space on each side, and then just put a hole through the top of the enclosure and secure it with screws that way. Maybe machine screws with a nut on either side of the board so I could get it to stand off from the backs of the pots, but still be secure.

    Also, I spent some more time with the treble knob on the FET preamp, and it's basically what you don't want, haha. Rolling it all the way off doesn't have a huge effect, just takes off the extreme highs and smooths the tone out a bit. Like kicking the tone knob down a little bit.

    But turn it up, and it adds in those extreme highs and it gets hissy and feeds back easy. I bet it would be useful for a dark guitar or dark pickups.

    I imagine the treble control would be useful in a clean or slightly driven setting, which I think most people use this pedal for. I kept seeing 'chime' being used to describe the pedal.
     

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