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Thread: DIY tube overdrive pedal

  1. #1
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    Default DIY tube overdrive pedal



    heres a project for you DIY guys, i snagged this from a forum i was searching(i take no credit for this project),thought maybe you guys would like it. id sure like to know how to make one of these with 2 or 3 more tubes in it, if you have any ideas please share, thanks Allen

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    Regular Fretter vroomery's Avatar
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    that looks way to easy haha. I don't doubt that it works, I just would have guessed something more complicated. I have no idea what i'm talking about though so don't mind me.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by vroomery
    that looks way to easy haha. I don't doubt that it works, I just would have guessed something more complicated. I have no idea what i'm talking about though so don't mind me.
    Apparently the guy builds these often, But im like you,i havent a clue with these things. Maybe one of the fellows here with better knowledge will provide some insite.Id love to see one of these things with 2 or 3 tubes in them.

  4. #4
    Super Duper Fretter tunghaichuan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadWolf1171
    Apparently the guy builds these often, But im like you,i havent a clue with these things. Maybe one of the fellows here with better knowledge will provide some insite.Id love to see one of these things with 2 or 3 tubes in them.
    That circuit is similar in concept to the BK Butler/Tubeworks Tube Driver. Since there is only a 9v supply, the tubes operate in "starved plate" mode. Preamp tubes normally operate on 100v-300v. It's similar to using a Variac on a tube amp. When there is only 9v on the anode the tube operates way outside its linear amplification range and is easy to push into distortion.

    There are several overdrives similar to this one, like the Dean Markley Overlord.

    If you want to roll your own BK Butler Tube Driver, there are a few threads on freestompboxes.org. PCBs, graphics, the whole enchilada.
    Last edited by tunghaichuan; February 26th, 2010 at 09:07 AM.

  5. #5
    Addicted to solder.... duhvoodooman's Avatar
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    If I ever get ahead of my other projects, I gotta try one of these....
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    Quote Originally Posted by duhvoodooman
    If I ever get ahead of my other projects, I gotta try one of these....
    what made it interesting to me (other then it doesnt look to hard to build), is i use a solid state xxl peavey amp, and it allows you to put something in the preamp (pedals etc).while the amp is a real good SS amp, it has no real "tube sound", so one day i took my ibanez tube king pedal (has a 12ax7 tube) and plugged it in the preamp and maaaannnn was i suprised at how it sounded, like a totally different amp. So anyway i was wondering if there was a way to make this pedal with 2 or 3 or more tubes in it, as i could run it in the preamp, but ive never attempted making a pedal before.any idea?

  7. #7

    Default the Tube for looks only

    The tube in the circuit looks to be for decorative purposes only and all the battery does is light the LED. I drew the circuit out and the only pins on the tube doing anything are the heater pins 4 and 5 passing the signal. So at best the heater element is being used as an inductor in the signal path. There is no current supplied to the heater so no space charge of electrons in the tube so how could the tube work? If you want to make a tube overdrive with low voltages they used to make tubes for car radios that work with a 12 volt supply. I have built an overdrive with one before and am now building a vibrato/tremolo and overdrive box with one now a 6GM8.
    I can post a schematic of the posted circuit to give you an idea of what it is, some people would call it a signal canceling noise enhancing circuit.

  8. #8
    Super Duper Fretter tunghaichuan's Avatar
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    Edit: the Westbury tube OD runs at high voltages and doesn't operate in starved plate mode.

    Another project to check out is the Real McTube OD. I built the first version that came out in Feb. 1999 issue of Electronics Now. The newer version can be found here: http://www.dogstar.dantimax.dk/tubestuf/mctube.htm

  9. #9

    Default here is a 6GM8 overdrive schematic

    I did up this quick schematic for a tube overdrive using the 6GM8 tube. Do to the low grid resistor required with this tube there is a jfet buffer a J211 as the input which is also used as a tone control. The schematic program does not have symbols for pots so R3-R4 represents a 10 k pot. Also R19-R20 and R21-22 is a dual 100k pot used as the gain control. While R23-24 is a 1 meg audio pot for the output level control. The two triodes have current source loads in the plate circuits using 2N5457 jfets with 750 ohms in series with there source. What is not shown is the power supply section which is a rectified 12 volt AC supply that is also used for the heater with an approx 18 ohms 5 watt resistor in series. The final output buffer FET could be optional if you are connecting to a tube amplifier, required with a solid state amplifier. C10 and C11 are brightness (treble boost) that has been added and one or the other could be removed or values could be increased or decreased to your preference. You may want to add a resistor in series with the tone pot (R3-R4) to limit the maximum gain with the tone at maximum.

    Took a break to see about the cost for the tube and not sure but looks like they are going up in price. The tube you can use is a 6GM8/ECC86/2N27P getting to be 20 bucks each.

    Here is the basic schematic
    http://i1020.photobucket.com/albums/...8overdrive.jpg


    Here is a page on space charge tubes
    http://www.junkbox.com/electronics/l...agetubes.shtml

    This whole thing made me look around and what I think would be away to go would be to modify one of these. http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com...amp?sku=180581
    I need to check out the schematic but for 30 bucks you have the box the tube the power supply hard too beat, just need to see what it would need to be used for a guitar.
    Last edited by jim p; March 21st, 2010 at 05:41 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Correction to the posted schematic

    I was just checking through things and on the posted schematic R24, R23 that represents a 1 MegA pot is shown wrong. The wiper should only be connected to C7 so its resistance relative to the tube is always 1 Meg.

  11. #11

    Default Initial look at ART Tube MP studio

    Got the ART Tube MP Studio today and have opened it up to have a look around. The plate current of the 12AX7 operating with just 48 volts on its plate is only 65uA with R61 a feedback resistor removed. There is approx 5uA of grid current so with the 20k grid resistor the grid is -0.1 volt and with a 2k cathode resistor the cathode voltage is 0.129 volts. The gain of the tube is approx 40. The second triode in the tube is used as a cathode follower. Figure I will cut traces on the PCB connect an emitter follower to the first triode plate for a high impedance to low impedance buffer. Then make a common cathode stage out of the second triode. With the high grid current the grid resistor values used will need to be 50k or less can probably grid bias the tube with the cathode tied to ground. So if I get a gain of 40 from each tube should have an overall tube gain of 1600.

  12. #12

    Default Modifications to the tube circuit in the ART Tube MP

    I have been working on the tube section in the ART Tube MP and this is what I have so far. The stock circuit uses one of the triodes as a cathode follower but for an over drive I wanted both triodes to be common cathode gain stages. When operating the 12AX7 in starved plate there is 5uA of control grid current so the grid resistor value needs to be approx 50k ohms or less. Also the plate impedance of the tube is probably approx 120k ohms or better and with the high value of plate resistance used I connected an emitter follower to the plate as a high impedance to low impedance buffer to maintain high gain. I used a KSP44 as the transistor buffer the preamp comes with a MPSA29 which may be an even better choice being a 100 volt Darlington pair. Each tube stage has a gain of approx 40 so it is better then what I was getting using the low voltage 6GM8 tube. In the attached schematic I have 2k emitter resistors with 1uf bypass capacitors to reduce the low frequency gain. I also needed to load the plate of both tubes with 30pF to stop oscillations. If possible the collectors of the emitter followers should be connected to a supply greater then the plate supply so they will not go into saturation before the tube. You can operate the tube with no cathode resistors with a grid resistor of approx 39k. The heater supply in the ART is only 5.7 volts DC with the low plate current you do not need to heat the cathode as much as in normal operation. I can not be sure but the low heater voltage may also reduce the grid current. The input impedance of the tube is low due to the grid resistor value so if you were to make a preamp from scratch you should install a jfet op amp or jfet buffer before the input to the tube for a high input impedance.

    Just to add trying the circuit with another amp it is a bit bright so may change the first bypass back to 100uF.

    Here is the schematic of the tube section
    http://i1020.photobucket.com/albums/...tetwostage.jpg
    Last edited by jim p; April 1st, 2010 at 06:34 PM.

  13. #13

    Default lower heater voltage lower grid current

    Still checking things out on the starved plate circuit. The stock setup on the ART has a heater supply of 5.7 volts so I shorted the diode in the ground leg of the three terminal regulator causing the control grid current to drop to 3uA from 5uA. So I may try reducing the heater voltage to the tube a bit more to see where the tradeoff between gain and grid current is. The gain of a single stage is looking to be approx 31 with the maximum signal at the control grid before distortion at 40mVolts peak to peak. So if you build your own box you will need to buffer the signal to the tube due to its low impedance and reduce its amplititude if you want a clean sound before going into distortion.

    So you donít need to boil off very many electrons with a plate current of only 60uA I have too look around but thought I saw a curve on heater voltage and electron emission.
    If I can reduce the grid current more a higher value grid resistor can be used thus increasing the input impedance of the tube.

  14. #14
    Addicted to solder.... duhvoodooman's Avatar
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    I'm following your progress on this with great interest, Jim. A couple years back, I bought one of those $30 ART tube preamps on a whim and haven't done anything with it yet. If you get your project running well & sounding good (we're gonna need a clip or two here, as I'm sure you realize!), I may give it a go.
    DVM's Ever-Expanding Gear List:

    Guitars - '05 Gibson Custom Historic Series '59 Reissue (R9); '11 PRS Studio; '08 Heritage H-555 Semi-hollowbody; '12 Fender American Standard Stratocaster; '89 Fender Strat Plus; '10 Agile AL-3000; '12 G&L Tribute ASAT Classic Bluesboy Semi-hollowbody; " Kwik-Keef Konvertible" '09 Squier CV '50s Telecaster; '10 Squier CV Telecaster Custom; '12 Squier Vintage Modified Cabronita Tele + Bigsby; '12 Xaviere XV-890HSS w/ FR Trem; '12 Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE; '71 Yamaha FG-300

    Amps & Cabs - Mesa Boogie Express 5:25 10" combo; ultra-modded Fender Blues Junior; Vox AC15 Heritage handwired 1x12 combo; Allen Sweet Spot kit amp; BYOC Tweed Royal kit amp (switchable 5E3/5F1 hybrid); Homebuilt 1.5W Firefly Head; Epiphone Valve Jr. combo + mods; Jet City Picovalve 5W head; Drive 2x12 cab w/ Celestion G12M Greenback + G12H30; AB Custom Audio 1x12 cab w/ Celestion Alnico Blue (UK made)

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    Default

    Yes indeed this is very interesting Jim, I have an ART preamp setting around here too!

  16. #16
    Regular Fretter Duffy's Avatar
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    Default Art mic preamp

    I have one of the studio art mic preamps and can't figure out how to use it. I have been using it in a small room and it "squeals" like H!#! when I turn up the knobs over anything but about normal volume.

    I am positive I am doing something wrong and don't know how to use the item.

    I am looking for a nice tube warming of the vocal but when I try to apply some nice smooth overdrive I get howling squealing going on.

    I'm sure you know what I'm talking about and what I'm doing wrong. Can you please advise me as what I should do to correct the problem, I'll check it out tonight if I get some good directions.

    Thanks in advance.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p
    The tube in the circuit looks to be for decorative purposes only and all the battery does is light the LED. I drew the circuit out and the only pins on the tube doing anything are the heater pins 4 and 5 passing the signal. So at best the heater element is being used as an inductor in the signal path. There is no current supplied to the heater so no space charge of electrons in the tube so how could the tube work? If you want to make a tube overdrive with low voltages they used to make tubes for car radios that work with a 12 volt supply. I have built an overdrive with one before and am now building a vibrato/tremolo and overdrive box with one now a 6GM8.
    I can post a schematic of the posted circuit to give you an idea of what it is, some people would call it a signal canceling noise enhancing circuit.
    Hi jim,
    Do you know if those are those the same tube used in the ZVex Nano?

    By the way, thanks for all the tech-talk info in the "Crate V5 mods" thread, great info. I am picking mine up this weekend ($50 used at GC).

  18. #18

    Default not a mimiature tube

    The 6GM8 is the same size as a 12AX7. In the Nano they use miniature tubes and a have a switch mode power supply to get the plate voltage of approx 250 volts. The smaller a tube the shorter its lifetime also the tubes in the Nano are soldered in so? If you want a low wattage amp I would build a Firefly for a lot less money. Ted Weber has the transformers cheep and the board is 20 bucks.


    You could also consider adding a variable voltage regulator to the Crate V5 if you are modifying it for a low volume overdriven sound in that mode the power tube should last a long time.

  19. #19

    Default ART as a mic preamp?

    I never used the ART as a mic preamp just cracked it open and started modifying so I donít know about microphone problems. On the box I could not buy the parts for what it costs.

    Where I am at right now with the modification.
    As I posted before I converted both tube stages to common cathode with a transistor buffer connected to there plates. On the + 20db gain switch it is a double throw double pole that is tied common across the two switch sections. I cut the traces on the PCB between the two sides re ran the broken trace to the wiper and used the other side to connect just one common cathode stage to the output in low gain and both common cathode stages in series in high gain. I made the bypass cap on the first common cathode 220nf for brightness the second stage has a 10uf bypass. I am adding 500pf from the plate to ground on the second common cathode to lower hiss from the preamp I have 30pF on the first common cathode I may increase that also.
    I found the VU meter gives you a good indication of the amplititude of the output signal at zero it is approx 1 volt RMS. So if you do not want a signal going into the amplifier connected to the box to cause overdrive in it keep it at or below zero on the meter.
    I changed the tube to a Groove Tube so it is a Sovetek 12AX7 saw a post where they tried different tubes in an overdrive pedal and found the Sovetek to be best. I did try an ElectroHarmonix, a 12AT7 and a 12AZ7 and the Sovetek sounded best to me.
    I will post some pictures of the guts when I get a chance I may not show the specific cuts and jumpers. Behind the PCB the tube is mounted to there is a gap of 0.4 inches for new components. I donít see enough room for a footswitch in the stock box. If you took out the XLR connectors blanked off there holes you may have room for a footswitch at the top of the box. You could also build an external signal bypass footswitch or maybe add a relay in the box for signal bypass.

    If I get a chance I may try to change the compressor output limit circuit it just kills the highs.

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