Noob Q - parts list?

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Noob Q - parts list?

Burt Cocain
Hi all, I'm getting back into the pedal building malarkey after years away. I built a few Fuzz Faces, and a few Distortion plus variations, and have done the odd repair on others, but it's all in the very distant past...

I did try a Ruby amp kit a year ago, but the components were so tightly spaced I had a hell of a time with it and it ended in the bin...

Any suggestions on what kind of inventory I need to get started?

I'd really like to get some simple pedals under my belt - Em Drive, the 1 knob fuzzes, Muff Fuzz, Electra variants...

Where/what would you recommend to get me started? (UK) The bulk packs on Banzai look good, but by the time i buy one of everything, anda selection of pots it's getting pricey.

Also, does anyone work with a Beavis/Wampler prototyping board? Is it helpful before commiting parts to stripboard?


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Re: Noob Q - parts list?

Well for components I like Tayda in Thailand - VERY fast shipping and as cheap as I have found.  There are some parts I don't buy from them - either they don't have them or I don't like the versions they sell.  Being in Australia I use Mouser Australia (which is sort-of based in Hong Kong) but sometimes shipments come from the US.  The genuine Hammond enclosures are much better to work with than the generic copies from Tayda because the material isn't as brutal to your drills.  But they cost almost twice as much.

I buy my Switchcraft jacks from Mouser because I don't trust anything else.  And I don't know where to buy Neutrik!  Over $Aust60 or so shipping is fast and free.  Mouser also has some parts which are difficult to source elsewhere.  I just bought a heap of through-hole BC549Cs for a very reasonable price from them.

As for tools, well you don't need much.  I would get a soldering iron which has temperature control.  I only recently bought one rather than the basic 40W iron and I really like being able to vary the temp for different circumstances.  I find 375C works for most things.  But when I get into my amplifiers I need higher temps for some jobs.

I like your basic rosin-core solder, a couple of pairs of tweezers, a wire clipper to trim things and a wire stripper to take some of the PVC off wires for soldering.  You probably already have all the screwdrivers.  A solder-sucker is handy sometimes.  A pair of small needle-nose pliers is handy.  And a magnifying glass to inspect solder joints is more important than I would like to admit!

FWIW I have built hundreds of pedals and never used a bread-board.  But I do use a small USB-powered fan to blow the fumes away from my face.
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Re: Noob Q - parts list?

Since you live in the UK one always has to keep in mind the tax man. When ordering from outside the EU, or the UK for that matter, I doubt that Brexit will change a thing about that, you have to sneak underneath the radar of her majesty's customs services by ordering in quantities that are small enough not to warrant inspection. For instance Tayda is a great source of cheap parts, but in my case, the Netherlands, anything I order that can't fit in their envelope bags gets hit with customs duties. In which case its cheaper to split the order into several smaller orders and pay for the additional shipping then it is to pay the customs duties of the single big one.

One of the advantages of Tayda is that when ordering resistors and some capacitors they always come with a minimum order of 10. Which means that you will build up stock of those items quite easily. But if you want to build up stock, keep in mind that some things will get used more then others. You will burn through 10K resistors like crazy, whereas 8.2k or 11K, and most values lower then 1K not so much. Similarly with 100n caps.

Ordering from the US is hideously expensive, because American shipping is hideously expensive. And customs LOVES to charge you customs duties over the value of your order + shipping costs. So double whammy there. But if you have to order from the US, Smallbear is your place. If only because if you need rare out of production parts Smallbear is your place. They also have the best hook up wire, worth your while. I usually placed orders there for 2 rolls of wire and some rare trannies or IC's, just enough so my shipping costs wouldn't increase from the lowest to the next levels. For some odd reason adding a third roll would increase shipping costs.

When ordering from China, caveat emptor, the buyer beware. China is the land of scammers. When given a choice between scamming customers for a quick buck vs. carefully building up a loyal customer base in the long run, your average Chinese businessman will go for the quick buck. Always! This is a cultural thing. And the reason why the country is always hit with food safety scandals. It just is. Ordering any transistor or IC that's out of production from China is basically asking to be ripped off with fakes.

From Australia is a very good webshop. Not that much stuff to be had there, but what they have is all quality. And I recommend his electrolytic capacitors as they are small, thus fit easily on vero boards. Usually the larger the value, the bigger the cap, and a big 100u or 200u electrolytic cap can be a hassle to fit on some board layouts. Small caps is a quality of its own. Here also applies, keep your orders small enough to keep shipping costs down so the tax man will not take notice.

In Germany you have Banzai and Musikding. Banzai has probably more stuff, but Musikding is considered to be more reliable. They're offering a lot of kits and PCB's from other sellers these days. I highly recommend them. In the UK you have Fuzz Dog selling kits, PCB's and parts, and you have Bits Box selling 'official' tagboard kits. And I LOVE their vero. The one thing UK distributors don't seem to have though is 125B boxes, they only sell Hammond enclosures. And I think that the Hammond 1590B enclosures they recommend for pedals are utter shite. Not because they are bad, but they are incredibly hard to install topmounted jacks into, which is easy in a 125B. And side mounted jacks eat up too much valuable pedal board real estate. Sorry there, that's my top mount OCD speaking there.

For soldering get a soldering iron whose temperature you can regulate. Doesn't have to be a fully digital one, one with a turning know will do. But of course a cheap soldering iron is more likely to die sooner on you then a more expensive one. Although having a cheap one as backup is never a stupid investment. For solder I like to use rosin core too, but I like to use really thin solder (0.5mm) for soldering on PCB's/vero boards and more standard thickness for soldering the wires. A fan to blow away fumes is a must if you desire to have kids without birth defects one day. Or avoid defects yourself. Some good tweezers, a good cutter and a wire stripper are good investments. The wire stripper alone will save you hours of work stripping wires. A 4mm drill bit held by hand can be easily used to make the cuts in your vero layout. Also get a digital multimeter with sound that can detect for continuity. You're going to need that to find if there are any solder bridges. For removing (excess) solder I much prefer a solder sucker over copper braid.

Unless you feel really confident in your soldering skills use sockets for transistors and IC's so you can install and remove them without frying them. For soldering I prefer to start with the links first, then diodes and resistors, then IC and tranny sockets, then caps in increasing order of size. Save your clippings as you can use them to make links in future builds. They're also great when you have to connect lugs on the same pots.

For debugging pedals that don't work build yourself an audio probe and get a looper pedal or a delay pedal with looping capability. A cheap Behringer pedal would do. Use the pedal to play a riff or some chords, then let it loop forever while you check your circuit to find out where the signal goes dead with the audio probe. It can be really cool to follow your signal through a circuit and hear how it changes as it progresses. It goes without saying that having a small practice amp for that is also required. Audio probe info can be found here:

Tayda has pre-drilled enclosures these days, with top mounts, so yay! But if you need to drill your own holes investing in a drill press is a very good investment. In which case you need drill bits between 5mm for the LED's and up to 12/13mm for the power jack and 3PDT switch. Jacks are usually 10mm, pots 7mm and toggle switches 6mm. LED bezels are usually 5mm for 3mm LED's and 8mm for 5mm LED's. I've learned that getting a long thin file is also a very good tool to have if your need to shift your pot layouts. Not by drilling a larger hole, but making it more oval to the side. In case you have big knobs and you don't want them to touch. Washers will usually cover up your mistake.
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Re: Noob Q - parts list?

Burt Cocain
Thanks guys, that was a fantastic response. Much googling to do tonight.

I've sort of made a deal with myself that I'm not starting this until I clear some surplus tooling out of the garage, so I'm having an ebay marathon tonight which will hopefully fund my fuzz efforts.

Thanks again - and probably worth mentioning, great site!
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Re: Noob Q - parts list?

Hi Burt, where in UK are you? I'm just outside Grimsby (and yes it is is pretty grim ;o)

Muadzin as always is full of a lot of very good advice, and well worth taking note of. Multimeter is incredibly useful, especially one that can measure transistor HFE and a decent soldering iron/solering station makes life so much easier, cheap irons are not nice to use (Shudders) The pliers, cutters (Side and end cut) tweezers and other small tools you might need  can be picked ub from places likeToolstation, The Range or B&M for next to nothing.
I'd also add that a step bit is very handy for drilling enclosures, and if you don't have a drill press, a decent power drill, a bit of patience and centre punching before drilling can still give really dood results.

From my own experiene I've had consistantly good results from all of these sellers in UK, some also have web stores, but I've found that their ebay stores often work out to be better value

Fast and reliable

Mallinson Electrical
I use these for hook up wire, fast delivery and reasonable prices

Bright Components
Some decent prices on veroboard, again fast delivery

Good prices for SIL sockets
not a wide variety of parts but some decent prices on footswitches and jack sockets

Time Traveller Audio
Some good prices on enclosure multi buys, fast delivery

Some more good prices on enclosure multi buys, fast delivery

Not too much of interest but good prices on LDR's

GAPCO also have a good variety of enclosures, including 125B size, works out best value if you are buying quite a few at a time though.

Non UK Sellers

Keep an eye on the Tayda thread here for discount codes, usually 15% and regular intervals throughout the year, stick to basic delivery option, the others aren't worth the extra and don't get here much faster (A couple of weeks)

DIYGP in Australia
Good for SMD JFET and adaptor boards, decent prices for most things even taking shipping into account (Usually a couple of weeks) and Paul is a real pleasure to deal with

Das Musikding
Quite good for reliable quality (If not always in stock) of some of the more difficult to find parts such as LM308, MN3007 etc, some common items can be quite expensive though so worth shopping around