First Time Build - No Sound

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First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 24 Sep 2012, 18:18

This is my first time here. I am building my first pedal - a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face reissue. I bought a mostly-complete PCB from a guy on eBay that just needed the transistors. He included 2 pairs of germanium transistors; 2 NPN MP38's and 2 PNP IT308b(5?)'s. I decided to go with the PNP's, because as far as I could tell the board was oriented for positive ground.

Last night I finished wiring it into the enclosure and fired it up only to get nothing - not even in bypass.

I am very new to all of this. I can't tell if I wired one of the jacks wrong, the switch wrong, or if there is a grounding issue (the enclosure I got was pretty tight, and everything is really squeezed in there). I had a lot of trouble finding easy to understand diagrams for how to hook up an RTS output jack for a fuzz face, or a switch like mine for a Fuzz Face with no LED or power jack. Actually I couldn't find any :?

I would really appreciate any help I can get. This will be my first Fuzz Face of any kind, and I can't wait to hear it!

I've included some pics. They're not great, but hopefully will give you an idea of where I'm at:
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Nocentelli » 24 Sep 2012, 18:53

Those pictures are pretty small on my phone, so it's hard to see what's happening, but if bypass isn't working then the wiring is definitely wrong. It's always a good idea to connect up the circuit for testing before you box it: Less liklihood of no sound due to shorting something to ground on the enclosure.

Get the bypass working first - From the pics, you seem to have got it right: input tip to middle left footswitch lug, lower left lug to lower middle, middle centre to output tip, top left to circuit input, top middle to circuit output (lug 2 of volume pot). Make sure you know which is tip/ring/sleeve of the jacks if they're stereo, and use a multimeter to check connectivity.

Search for beavis audio, guassmarkov, GGG (general guitar gadets) - They all have footswitch wiring diagrams, but seveal different methods, if you can compare the circuits, you'll soon see how it works. Use a multimeter as a continuity tester to check what is connected to what.

When you've got the bypass working, you can actually see whether the circuit works, and debug if necessary. A pnp, germanium fuzzface with positive ground is not an easy first project, there are several powering issues to think of like it won't work daisychained to negative pedal.

Good luck and report back when you've got the bypass working.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 24 Sep 2012, 19:12

Hi roncg41677

This is my second attempt at replying, as the first one just seemed to disappear - so apologies if it comes up twice.

Without being able to see the tracks on the board, it's difficult to tell if all the connections are going to the right places. Another problem you present us with is in your use of the same colour wire throughout - it's much easier to fault find if all the wires are different colours.

Your soldering appears to be very well done - nice, shiny joints, so well done. That gives us hope that the Germanium trannies are not fried.

One thing I CAN see is that the footswitch appears to be fouling the input jack, which could mean that the jack cannot be pushed fully in. This could be the reason that you have no signal in either bypass or active modes.

Another thing I can see - or rather CAN'T see - is a switched positive coming from your input jack and going to the board.

I hope the above helps.

Good luck !
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 24 Sep 2012, 19:25

Thanks for the replies (and compliment. I was pretty unsure of my soldering :) )

I don't have time now, but will upload some clearer pictures of the board tracks and connections tonight. The kit I bought only had the yellow wire, and I didn't bother buying more. :oops:

A couple of quick questions:
* I ran all of my grounds to the output jack instead of input, does that matter?
* There are 3 lugs on the output jack, pretty sure I got the tip right; would it matter if I accidentally wired the grounds to the sleeve instead of the ring, or vice-versa?
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 24 Sep 2012, 19:47

Should be OK, as the output jack will short the ring and sleeve contacts together.

It's better practice, though, to run your grounds to the sleeve rather than the ring (the jack nut provides good grounding of the sleeve to the box).

Keep us posted on progress.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 25 Sep 2012, 02:16

Lucifer wrote:Another thing I can see - or rather CAN'T see - is a switched positive coming from your input jack and going to the board.


What is a "switched positive"?

The switch is inhibiting the cables a bit, but with a good shove it rotates the switch and goes in all the way. If I'm not doing a power jack or LED do I need that big of a switch? Would a DPDT(?) 6 lug switch alleviate some of that cramped space?

Here are some (hopefully) better pics of the signal path. Both jacks are scraping the top of the enclosure (I didn't drill the holes as far down as I should have.), so there's probably some metal-to-metal contact going on there. I removed both jacks from the enclosure, plugged it in, and still no sound. I do hear a slight buzz when the switch is either engaged or disengaged (can't tell which), but no geetar sounds.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 26 Sep 2012, 01:37

I fiddled some more with the wiring. I realized that I didn't have the input or output from the switch connected to the tip - I had connected them both to the sleeve :slap: . Corrected that and changed the ground to the input jack and tied the ground from the volume pot to the fuzz pot. When I plugged it in I get amp noise and I can touch the end of the cable and get a buzz just like a normal live cable, then if I plug it into the guitar I still get amp buzz and no guitar signal. If I push the switch it's dead quiet. I'm at a loss as far as narrowing down the problem. Really hoping someone can help me figure this out :(

Sorry for all the pictures, but I've attached more so you can see how it's currently wired, and I've also included the schematic I used in putting it all together.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 26 Sep 2012, 11:00

By 'switched positive' I mean the folowing:

The positive from your battery (the red wire that becomes yellow just before you soldered it to the input jack - I'm at a loss as to why you would do that, as the red wire seemed to be long enough already) . . . anyway, this wire should go to the RING of your input jack, then another (red) wire should come from the sleeve of the same jack. This is the 'switched positive' that should then go to the ground side of the circuit board. I can only see two wires on your input jack, but there should be three.

Thanks for the extra pics - I'll study them later and see if I can spot anything else.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 26 Sep 2012, 11:02

Correction.

Having now had a better look at your new pics, I can see the third wire - so please ignore the previous reply.

I'll study the pics further and see if I can spot anything.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 26 Sep 2012, 11:12

I can see from the picture of your hand that you have a very long lifeline - so plenty of years to perfect your pedal building skills :D

I notice on the bottom picture that there is only one wire coming off the output jack. That means you are relying on its contact with the box to supply its ground. It would be better if you put a link from the sleeve of this jack to some other ground point, such as the sleeve of your input jack.

Certainly, while the bits are disconnected from the box, as shown, your output jack will have no earhing/ground. Even when the jacks are mounted back in the box, the ground could be missing because of the insulating paint on the box. This could be where the problem lies. I would suggest you try adding a grounding wire to the sleeve, and try testing again.

Good luck.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 26 Sep 2012, 13:37

Lucifer wrote:I can see from the picture of your hand that you have a very long lifeline - so plenty of years to perfect your pedal building skills :D

I notice on the bottom picture that there is only one wire coming off the output jack. That means you are relying on its contact with the box to supply its ground. It would be better if you put a link from the sleeve of this jack to some other ground point, such as the sleeve of your input jack.

Certainly, while the bits are disconnected from the box, as shown, your output jack will have no earhing/ground. Even when the jacks are mounted back in the box, the ground could be missing because of the insulating paint on the box. This could be where the problem lies. I would suggest you try adding a grounding wire to the sleeve, and try testing again.

Good luck.


If that's so I may actually finish my first project before I die! :D

Thanks for the input. The lack of grounding from the output jack makes sense. I'll solder another cable on when I get home tonight and give it a shot.

(The reason I added the cables to the battery connector is that I have to flip the board over to fit it in the case, and all of the connections on the board end up being at the top. I'm wondering at this point if I should just order a bigger enclosure.)
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 26 Sep 2012, 14:58

I've gathered all your pictures in one place and given them a close study.

I'm a bit confused, as sometimes you appear to have a number of wires on the input jack, and in other shots they appear to be on the output jack. Were you swapping them over between photos ?

Where they are on the input jack, things look OK. That shot also shows the missing wire on the output jack, which we've previously addressed. All other wires seem to go to their intended places (tracing all yellow wires is a pain, but thankfully they are all fairly short, and your photography is excellent).

I've traced the board, and everything looks to be where it should be according to the circuit diagram supplied. However, I can't tell if you have the transistor legs in the correct holes (that's something you may wish to check). Neither can I tell if the transistors are fried - Germanium trannies are very susceptible to heat, so you may have damaged one or both during soldering. But let's stay optimistic for now and make sure everything else is sorted.

The shot showing the input jack fouling on the footswitch still bugs me. The problem of the jack plug not being able to go in fully still remains. There is also a possibility of shorting the input signal through the metal on the footswitch. I can't see where they touch, so I don't know for sure - but it IS a possibility.

There also appears to be a burnt wire from the footswitch to the output jack. This presents a remote possibility of the output signal being shorted to the chassis when everything is stuffed back into the box. It wouldn't hurt to replace this wire to eliminate that possibility.

Your suggestion of putting everything into a slightly larger box is probably a very sensible one (sorry :cry: ).

Once again, good luck :thumbsup
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 26 Sep 2012, 15:32

I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to look closely at this for me - I know trying to trace the monotone wires must be a headache. I've wished I had a more knowledgeable friend nearby to examine my work and tell me what I've done wrong and right. You're doing that for me. Thank you :D

I did switch the grounds from the output jack to the input. I was wondering about that bare wire to the output jack. I still have enough yellow wire ( :) ). I'll fix that up.

The transistors confused me a bit. The guy who I bought the kit from showed 2 NPN germaniums that were very low gain - in the low 30's on hfe on the eBay listing. So when he sent the kit he also threw in 2 PNP germaniums in the 50's, which is what I used. Using my Harbor Freight $5 multimeter I checked the pins to confirm that the NPN was in fact NPN and the PNP was PNP. I also plugged them into the hfe sockets on it to try and test that.

The NPN's tested like they should (I learned all of this from a couple of Youtube videos) - Positive lead on the base, a reading on C and E with E being a little bit lower. hfe socket showed some numbers, but nothing consistent which I just chalked up to my econo-meter.

When I tested the PNP's I put the negative lead on base, got one reading on either the C or E (can't remember) and no reading at all on the other. It was this way on both. I switched the leads on the meter to make sure I wasn't mistaken and that it was, in fact, PNP. Nothing. When plugged into the hfe sockets I got either a 0 or a 001 or 002 or something. My first thoughts was that both trannies were bad, or that my multimeter may just have trouble reading PNP's for some reason. I figured I'd trust that the guy that built the PCB knew better than me, that they were good, and I went ahead and put them in. I had read the collector is indicated by a dot on the top of the transistor, so I oriented them according to that.

If I need to order new ones, or go ahead and use the NPN's (I read on a diystompboxes FAQ that I can do that if I switch the polarity of the 9v and electrolytic capacitors), but I think it would be too weak gain-wise.

At this point I just want to get a bypass signal through. If I do and then there's no sound from the board I'll tackle that one.
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 26 Sep 2012, 16:08

That's exactly what I'd do - make sure you get the bypassed signal working first. Then, with any luck, the rest will all spring to life.

But if it doesn't, do not despair. When I first started building circuits, nothing worked - absolutely nothing. My first distortion box played by itself, and sounded like a haunted set of bagpipes ! :scratch: I never did get it going as a guitar pedal.

I had no-one to turn to in those days (the internet - and THIS excellent forum - weren't even thought of, never mind in existence). Then, one day, I built a circuit that worked - and I've never looked back. Good job I didn't let a few setbacks (well, lots of setbacks, actually) put me off.

You already seem well advanced from what I was when I started out - your soldering is already good, and you'll be much wiser when you get this project going - so I'm sure you'll be knocking out fully working circuits in no time.

Stick with it my son :thumbsup
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 26 Sep 2012, 17:40

Thanks again! I'll update when I've been able to make some of the changes :)
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 13 Oct 2012, 04:24

Well, it's been a while since I've been able to do anything with the pedal. Life has gotten in the way :)

In the meantime I ordered a new multimeter that would check for continuity. Tested it on the pedal today and was getting beeps through the switch lugs and from the input tip to the output tip to indicate there should be a clear signal at least through bypass. Soldered a ground wire from the output sleeve to the input sleeve, and still nothing :x . When I plug in it is still just humming, click the switch - louder humming with a variation in the humming when I touch the strings or flip the pickup selector, but no actual guitar noises coming out. Maybe I will just call this pedal "The Hum Face" and close it up. I'm seriously at a loss. Feel way over my head here :(
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 13 Oct 2012, 05:13

Well, I realized that I had connected the output ground cable to the sleeve and not the ring. Changed that, plugged in and dead silence - NO HUM :applause: !!! However I still didn't have a guitar signal. Then I noticed the wire had come off of the tip of the output. Resoldered that, now I DO have a quiet, fuzzy guitar sound... in bypass, and nothing with the pedal engaged :slap:

At least it's a step in the right direction, and I'm happy that I got something kind of working :D

I have a feeling the quietness and fuzziness of my bypass signal has a lot to do with resoldering things in such cramped quarters about 10 times - those little wires have snapped off lugs every time I pull something out. Probably there are some loose connections somewhere. Is it possible to fry pots and jacks? I've had the soldering iron on the lugs of the input/output jacks so many times they're turning brown :oops: Also, if I were to go buy more wire, can I get that at Radio Shack, or do I need to order that too? Any particular gauge/thickness? Braided or solid?
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 13 Oct 2012, 11:39

Welcome back !

Congratulations on moving forward. Even if it's only a little way, it's still in the right direction.

Pots and jacks are pretty robust, but pot tracks can be damaged by too much heat. Jacks should be able to take it, but it's always possible that the heat expansion causes contacts to loosen. The 'brown' you mention could just be a build up of flux.

I can't advise you on wires from Radio Shack, as I get mine here in the UK. I tend to use single-strand wire for my hookups, though multi-stranded wire tends to be more flexible and doesn't tend to snap so easily.

As far as the next step, I would concentrate on making sure you get a full clean signal in bypass mode. Don't worry about the fuzz part until you've got this bit sorted.

Good luck and keep at it. We're all here to support you, so don't give up. :thumbsup
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby roncg41677 » 13 Oct 2012, 21:08

Lucifer wrote:Welcome back !

Congratulations on moving forward. Even if it's only a little way, it's still in the right direction.

Pots and jacks are pretty robust, but pot tracks can be damaged by too much heat. Jacks should be able to take it, but it's always possible that the heat expansion causes contacts to loosen. The 'brown' you mention could just be a build up of flux.

I can't advise you on wires from Radio Shack, as I get mine here in the UK. I tend to use single-strand wire for my hookups, though multi-stranded wire tends to be more flexible and doesn't tend to snap so easily.

As far as the next step, I would concentrate on making sure you get a full clean signal in bypass mode. Don't worry about the fuzz part until you've got this bit sorted.

Good luck and keep at it. We're all here to support you, so don't give up. :thumbsup


Thanks! The heat is what I'm thinking may have caused it. I don't know how many times I wired everything up last night only to look minutes later and see a loose wire end floating around.

Can I use the multimeter to check for loose solder points? Or will I be able to tell just by looking?
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Re: First Time Build - No Sound

Postby Lucifer » 14 Oct 2012, 11:27

A good solder joint should be nice and shiny, with just enough solder to flow smoothly between the two parts being joined. Bad joints are usually dull looking, but you can also have a bad joint under a big blob of solder.

You should be able to detect an open joint with your meter, but if it's an intermittent joint, you may just catch it when it's behaving.

If you have a solder sucker or solder wick, you could 'unsolder' a joint that you're not sure about, then re-make it.

Can I just make a left-turn at the traffic lights here and ask you, do the jack plugs, when inserted, foul the footswitch (as I mentioned was a possibility in one of my earlier replies) ? If one or other jack plug hits the switch, it may not be going all the way into the socket, which is one possible solution to the problem of not getting a signal in bypass mode.
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