Demystifying Effects Board Rebuilds

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by CandidPicker, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Like many guitarists, we own effects boards of a variety of sizes, shapes and builds. While the guitar, fingers and amp are mostly the foundation of our tone, We utilize effects to enhance and emphasize aspects of certain tone characteristics: non-time based effects such as overdrive and distortion, and time-based effects such as modulation effects.

    During the past two days I rebuilt my effects board so that a repaired effect that had made its way over to Spain ($51 one way via USPS), repaired in 2 days, and shipped back to the U.S. via FedEx International Priority, at no personal expense to me for the repair nor return shipping was replaced on my effects board. At this point, I'd like to personally thank Guillem of Decibelics Effects who works near Barcelona, Spain, building handmade effects one at a time, metal powdered silkscreen, signed and numbered.

    All in all, it took about 5-½ hours to complete the rebuild and testing of the effects board. First 1-½ hours of struggling to correctly connect the board, being sure wiring connectors proved viable. Then, another 2-½ hours checking if each pedal individually worked correctly, and checking wiring connectors to be sure each passed signal, from back to front. Then, correcting an input error and checking continuity one last time. It was evident at that point that my TC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate's firmware needed updating. However, last night was not the time to try updating my firmware, so I waited until this evening.

    After several re-reading of the software updater's Help section, it was eventually possible to update the Sentry's firmware. Yet, reconnecting the Sentry to the effects board proved fruitless. The Sentry passed only a tiny amount of signal, not what the effect was supposed to do.

    It took a little thought to find the solution: The connector cable plugs needed tightening, repositioning, and cleaning up. I then used a Dustbuster to rid the board of dust and small plastic pieces. Finally, my efforts paid off and the effects board works appreciably well, with adequate signal passing throughout the entire board. Altogether, I think it took 5-½ hours to be sure the board was working correctly.

    Would I know what to do if the problem were to occur again? Perhaps. I think what I learned from this exercise was to keep at it until feeling satisfied with one's work.

    At least until one could enjoy guitar practice without the struggling to get things to go together well.
     
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  2. merciful-evans

    merciful-evans Portsmouth uk

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    streuth! I think I would just have gone back to the acoustic.:eek:

    I now feel validated about not having any pedals.
     
  3. goat-n-gitter

    goat-n-gitter Dismembered

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    Glad you got it working.
    You might be overthinking it. My rule for firmware is I don't update unless the new version fixes a problem I am actually having, or adds a feature I feel I can't do without.
    I use a Line 6 Helix as a pedalboard, not for amp modeling. I made the mistake of rushing into a firmware update one time, and to gain a couple of FX and amps I rarely use, the update broke some of the functionality I depend on. Fortunately I was able to revert to the old version. Now I read the user forums for some time after an update is offered before I install it, to make sure no one has serious problems with the new firmware.
    I can't say I've never been caught out by a cable problem, but after 35 years of using guitar effects (and operating a home studio), if a cable problem holds me up for more than a few minutes - the issue is with me.
     
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Like CP, I had enough with cable issues in 30 years of recording sessions. So a few years ago I decided to only use traditional soldered plugs on my interconnects, made using good cables and plugs of my choosing.

    Lately I’ve had them made by a small company called Sinasoid, using Evidence cable with strain relief, and G&H plugs, but I have a bunch that were previously done with Van den Hul cable and the G&H plugs. No failures, and I’d say it’s been about five years since going down this path. They’re ordered to length and plug orientation.

    I’ve rebuilt two pedalboards several times during this period.

    I also had them make me some heavy duty 15 foot power and extension cables, covered with tough nylon braiding.
     
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  5. Dirty_Boogie

    Dirty_Boogie Still got the ol' tagger on it

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    No stinkin' firmware on my analog pedals! ;)

    I enjoy pedalboard rebuilds, but after shuffling and re-configuring, I usually land up where I started.

    Seriously though, since I started building pedals a couple of years ago, if there is an issue on my board, invariably, I know that I was likely the cause of the problem. I now have more pedals than I know what to do with (the hobby became an obsession!), so if anyone is looking for a handmade clone of any pedals, let me know, I might just be able to send you a gift.
     
  6. Tucson Thump

    Tucson Thump Mint Heavy Relic

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    nice story.

    I always hate that moment in the process where you wonder "Am I up the creek on this one or am I missing something?"
     
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  7. GADonis

    GADonis New Member

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    I'm actually looking into building a new pedal board. I'm going to use a Boss ES-8 switcher and I think I'm going to get a board from Pedal Pad. This will be my first foray into switchers and MIDI control. I'm looking to use MIDI to control amp channel switching and solo boost along with patch selection for a delay pedal and a chorus pedal. Leaning towards a Strymon TimeLine and Mobius for the delay and modulation. This build got real expensive, real quick. I'm planning on making my own cables too. My soldering skills are mediocre at best so that is the part that worries me the most.
     
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  8. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    The Sentry wasn't working no matter how much I tried getting it to work: knob tweaking, cable tightening, you name it, nothing was happening.

    It was at that point I thought the firmware was out-of-date and needed upgrading. Apparently that was the key. The cable connector issues still haunt me somewhat...whenever I rebuild an effects board the cables invariably loosen and require re-tightening...so it's almost a given that one needs to check the plug connections, tightening them before expecting any good results.
     
  9. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Les,

    That might be an option if the extra cash was sitting around burning a hole in my pocket...My space constraints are relatively tight so I'd need either some really tiny plug-heads like LavaCable Tightrope, or similar.

    Just noted that Sinasoids are ordered to length and plug orientation. Link, please?

    EDIT: Found it, thanks.
     
    #9 CandidPicker, Oct 8, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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  10. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    I've used a OneControl IguanaTail Loopswitcher 2 for some years now, no connection failures or such. Requires some small connector plugs. Only times I've not had the board work correctly is when swapping the effects input for the tuner out...can't say how many times I've done this and facepalmed myself accordingly...
     
  11. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Yup. For every revelation there is also a "Doh!" moment...
     
  12. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Thanks for the offer, though I've no remaining real estate on my board for such a kindness. The inn is full!

    I think it's the proprietary TC Electronic TonePrint capability that allows firmware updates to some of their effects, just as you can upload TonePrints to their pedals.
     
    #12 CandidPicker, Oct 8, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  13. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    Been switching between electric and acoustic recently for finger strengthening and flexibility. Have often wondered what life would be like without my PRSi electrics, effects and amp, then dismiss the thought.

    Kind of like asking the question, should I wear these same socks again today? Sorry, no way.
     
  14. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    I’m the king of cold solder joints, if you need any tips on how to make a dead cable, PM me. :oops:
     
  15. merciful-evans

    merciful-evans Portsmouth uk

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    Good analogy! My tone is indeed exactly like my socks. Uncoloured and clean :D.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

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    Scrub the tip, goose the temp, and don’t keep contact too long. For the old tin/lead solder, 650 degrees is perfect. 700 for the new stuff, or a little higher. I continue to use my George L’s cable but solder Neutrik connectors with excellent results. I figured, I made the investment in cable that’s working well, and I don’t mix up my board much, why not make them bullet-proof? Screw-on connectors are the weakness.
     
  17. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I found that they were easy to use, and convenient during a build or mod to the board - a plus. But mine always seemed to go bad at inopportune times. Then again, when is it a good time for a cable to fail?

    A soldered cable with heat shrink strain relief under the barrel part of the plug is a pretty strong connection.

    Dan on That Pedal Show likes the Evidence screw-on plugs. The cable is solid wire, only the shield is braided, and the solid part of the wire screws into a threaded end on the plug. It appears to be strong.
     
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  18. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Feed & Seed

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    In the past, I'd used George L's, then upgraded to the LavaCable Tightrope series. Even with the solder-less Tightrope, the plugs and connections would often loosen up when being rebuilt or transported to gigs...that does not bode well for open-mics that doesn't allow much time for a soundcheck prior...

    I'd really like to scrap some of my existing LavaCables and have some built that are better constructed, but I discovered that businesses thrive on this concept as well...(they're just trying to make a buck, folks).

    It may be necessary for me to wait until my cash flow improves so some Sinasoid cables could be purchased...

    Les, in your view, is it more cost-effective to order the pre-built ones in various lengths, or the custom ones (with the same plugs/wire as the prebuilt ones) of various lengths?
     
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  19. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I’ve only ordered custom ones because of the various configurations of my pedals, where jacks are located, the position on the board, etc. I haven’t considered anything pre-made.

    So I honestly don’t know!
     
  20. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules New and improved member

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    5 1/2 hours to rebuild a pedal board????

    Is this photo of your pedal board???

    [​IMG]
     
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