Thursday, May 3, 2012
Before moving on to more distorted sounds created by fuzz boxes and overdrives, I'd like to share with you a great circuit that has become a crucial part of my pedal board. Playing around with all sorts of amps, guitars and pickups, I realized that I could definitely use some clean tone shaping capabilities.
I started looking for a nice tone stack (EQ) schematic that would give me more voicing flexibility, a clean boost/volume control and a good buffer design. By voicing I mean the characteristic tone of an amp. My Zebra Humbuckers often need a bit more treble to get that shine. A clean boost or volume is very helpful when you place the pedal first in the chain. You can really shape your pickups for more MIDs or less BASS whenever necessary. The buffer compensates for tone sucking when working with many pedals in the chain which are not engaged (OFF position). So after some looking around I realized that the wonderful guys at runoffgroove have done all the hard work already and designed the perfect guitar tone stack in a simple circuit named the Tone Mender. It's a dual stage operational amp with a tone stack between the two stages which gives clean and tunable boost.
Once I breadboarded this design I knew it was love at first site. Placing the unit between the guitar and a fuzz (not all of them) gave my the freedom to really change the fuzz behavior because you control the BASS content. Fuzz pedals react strongly to the bass content coming in (more bass = stronger harmonics = more fuzz). The MID is like a volume control so you can control the fuzz amount by just lowering signal going in. When placing it after one of the amp emulation pedals you can really achieve different voicings by tweaking the knobs, but it doesn't end there. You can get scooped mids or roll off the bass for less mud. It even has a MID SHIFT switch to choose between the MID control at 400Hz and 700Hz. Cranking the TREBLE knob at the end of the chain gives you extra clarity which is always needed. From darkest night to brightest light. It's all there.
Wow... what a great addition. This pedal just blew me away...mainly because it gives you so many options no matter where you place it. Because it was such a jungle of sounds I decided to paint it tropically and name it The EQUATOR. If you are in need of some tone shaping don't miss out on this one, its simple and super flexible. BTW I ended up using the NE5532 dual op-amp and it sounds great. You can get the schematic and details here.