If you’re interested in delay pedals, check out this post after you finish this guide. Making changes to your guitar pedal requires some skill and some soldering, but it’s something that can be achieved by nearly anyone, with the right knowledge. That’s why this article will show you some easy steps to follow to modify your pedal as you wish.
How to get started?
First of all, find out what model your pedal is and using the power of Google, find a community to help you with some information on the modding process. Write the name of your pedal and the word “mod” after it and that’s how you’ll get started.
There are plenty of forums that will show you information on how you can modify each pedal and what you can change in your pedal. While you’re on the internet, take some time and watch some soldering videos, if you haven’t soldered before. If you have the chance, practice a bit on pieces of equipment that you don’t need anymore.
What do you want to change?
Modifying a pedal can bring you many results, but there are some things that people always like to change when it comes to their pedal and it’s most likely that you will find more information about those things.
One of the most common things that people like to add to their pedals is more bass. Changing your pedal to offer more bass will help you whether your guitar is struggling with a thin tone or you want the bassline to be less distorted. The advantage of this modification is that you only need to move a couple of pieces around.
You can also change the distortion and make it suit your style more. Changing the diodes inside the pedal and the integrated chips will help you improve your guitar’s sound. You can go beyond that and attempt to decrease the noise that the pedal produces, or you can change how bright the LEDs shine. There are many other things that you can modify.
The equipment needed
To start modifying your guitar pedal you don’t need much equipment, but one essential item is a soldering iron. Fortunately, you don’t need any fancy one, and buying a cheap iron for $15 to $20 will be good enough.
You also need solder, and when you’re buying that, make sure to avoid things containing an acid core. Instead, you should be looking for solder with a rosin core, because that will protect your components. With a mild solder like the one with a rosin core, you will avoid rusting on the metal of your components, and thus you will get a stronger joint.
One of the tricks that you may have found out from watching soldering videos is to tin the tip of the soldering iron. What that means is coating it a bit with solder material before actually starting to solder. This helps with dispersing the heat better and it will lead to a better soldering process.
Because you’re disassembling the pedal, you also need a desoldering braid to remove the needed components and protect them. This piece of equipment is made to absorb solder when something heats the soldered part of the component. So you use the soldering iron to heat the part you want to get out of the board.
This helps you unstick that component from the main board and you can thus remove it. Watching some videos or getting some explanation from a professional will help you greatly when using the desoldering braid.
To protect the important parts when you’re soldering or desoldering them, you should use a heat sink. This device is made to dissipate the heat and protect sensitive parts. You should clip the heat sink to the leg of the capacitor, so it doesn’t overheat.
Needless to say, you also need a pedal that you can tinker with. An older pedal that you’re not too afraid to break apart or destroy is a good choice. You can go for a second-hand one if you’re looking for a specific model.
You will find that mod instructions will talk mostly about 3 main categories of components and those are resistors, capacitors, and diodes. Taking this into account, you should get accustomed to what each of these components does, especially because you will sometimes need to change one cheap piece with an expensive one.
Fortunately, the internet is there to help you with that too. Modding instructions will tell you what kind of component you need and you can find almost any component on the internet if you’re looking on the specialized websites.
Capacitors come in a variety of shapes, and you’ll sometimes see it’s difficult to find them. However, they are labeled with a certain combination of letters and numbers, so when reading the instructions, you will see precisely what capacitors you need to change.
Different types of capacitors serve different purposes, so when buying new ones, you should stick to the models that look like water towers, cylinders or boxes.
When looking for diodes or resistors, you will be glad to find out that they don’t come in such a wild variety. Thus, when searching for them on the internet, you have to put in the value of the resistor, measured in Kohms, and the part number it has, coupled with the material the piece is made of, for example, 1N34A Germanium.
Working with each kind of component requires some knowledge and that is something you can only acquire if you’re reading the modding instructions thoroughly. But as a general rule, you should know that diodes and some capacitors are polarized and when placing them on the PCB board you need to assure they’re pointed in the right direction. The board will help you with that by providing some small arrows pointing in the correct direction.
Tips and tricks
Just in case we didn’t emphasize it enough, make sure that before you start tinkering with a guitar pedal, you know how to use a soldering iron well. Some knowledge of electrical engineering is always welcome in this process. Furthermore, although this is a piece of advice that often gets ignored, try to be as patient as possible while soldering. It works wonders.
When you start you will probably have no previous experience with electrical stuff, so because it’s your first time trying to figure electrical circuits out, don’t stress too much. If you feel you’re getting frustrated, don’t break your guitar pedal, just walk away for a few minutes. Soldering is like playing the guitar at first – it can be difficult and frustrating.
Another trick is to try to pull the components off one at a time and test how the pedal sounds like that. When doing a complex mod, change a capacitor and after you put in the replacement try to listen for any subtle change in the sound. Remember that you don’t need to put the whole housing of the pedal back together. It works if it’s open too.
One more thing that you could do is take a picture of the circuit board before everything starts. That’s how you make sure that all the parts you take out will be replaced, without you forgetting one of them. Finally, remember that you can always go back and modify your pedal some more.