Archive for the ‘Pedals’ Category

Wah Wah mods & repairs

May 21, 2011

Yes, we undertake service, repairs and MODS on most (but not all) wah-wah pedals which are based more or less on the original designs. The obvious exceptions would be the Morley pedals which are nothing remotely like the original wah designs, and some of the newer/updated Dunlop wah’s, which employ surface-mount-technology (SMT), making conventional servicing extremely difficult – also there is very little room in such models for additional circuitry, etc.

Pictured here is the VOX V847 wah pedal, which already sounds better than average, but the customer wanted to take it to the next level ! I had previously implemented my true-bypass MOD, including a pull-down resistor on the input side to the board, to minimise pops & clicks. Just this one MOD alone made a big difference for the customer.

We had already auditioned a wah upgraded with kits from Area 51, and done an A/B comparison with the stock VOX wah, and decided that yes – most wah’s upgraded with an Area 51 kit will definitely have more of that highly desirable vocal quality to their sweep.

The customer placed an order with Area 51 for their Vintage Italian Wah kit, plus the DC Power Jack  kit. He did not include the Buffer kit, intended for applications where the wah directly drives a vintage style fuzz (eg Fuzz Face), this is because the relatively low input impedance of such fuzz pedals prevents the wah circuit from performing correctly. Perhaps this buffer should have been included in the project, as this customer loves fuzz pedals.

The DC jack required a neat 1/2″ hole to be created next to the output jack – I have a hydraulic hole punch tool that makes this job easy. The Area 51 board mounts in the same place, but is slightly larger, so this required careful positioning of the IN and OUT jacks to clear the board. Unlike the Vox and Dunlop boards, the Area 51 board requires all hard-wired connections, rather than cheapo push-on connectors. In my opinion this is a big improvement. The DC Power kit also required some additional components to be mounted on the board, for filtering and protection. At the end of the job, the cheapo output jack started playing up, so I threw it in the bin and installed a new Switchcraft jack.

While this BLOG is not intended to be an advertisement or endorsement for Area 51 kits – there are other alternatives out there for you to explore – the standard of the Area 51 kit/board/components is very high. The final and most important test is when we hook up a guitar and amp to the wah pedal and confirm that yes ! – this wah does now have a much improved sweep and a very vocal quality. Anyone know how to play Burning of the Midnight Lamp ??  IR.


April 18, 2011

HI !     This is Ivan Richards and I am now inroducing myself for the first time on my new BLOG.

I come from a musical family going back several generations. My great grand-parents emigrated from London, England to set up in Sydney as music and singing teachers. My dad, Jack Richards, held down some of Australia’s top pro guitar gigs during the 40’s and 50’s, co-founded Sydney’s first specialist guitar shop (Guitar City), was responsible for arguably the world’s first production pedal steel guitar (Kord King), most definitely played the first pedal-steel in Australia, and is the Godfather of Aussie pedal-steel.

My obsession with all things to do with music and audio electronics began in High School where I was exposed to the guitar music boom of the 60’s and was influenced by some slightly older pupils at that school who had become very sophisticated in the field of electronics to the extent of creating an in-house radio station. I couldn’t wait to finish school and start learning some practical hands-on stuff. I joined the then PMG Department, later known as Telecom/Telstra as a technician-in training and became part of the last generation to be trained in vacuum tube (valve) technology, which was still in widespread use. This training was to become invaluable later. I had access to cupboards full of valves, resistors & capacitors and started trying to build my own guitar amplifiers. I worked my way through the technical career structure, qualifying as a Technican (Telecommunications), then being appointed to positions including Technical Officer, Senior Technical Officer, Technical Specialist/Designer of Audio & Data Services (Analogue & Digital), Customer Project Manager. During all this time I was operating my amplifier business from home, after-hours, and building up a customer base as well as accumulating years of hands-on experience. When the opportunity arose I left Telstra and became a full-time musician and amp tech.

So that brings us up to April 2011 !  Apart from gigging professionally (guitar & vocals) based here in Gosford NSW,  I operate my own one-man workshop specialising in the repair, restoration, modification and custom design/manufacture of valve (tube) musical instrument amplification. I also design and manufacture a range of analogue guitar FX and splitter/signal routing pedals. I am pleased to say that my pedals have been purchased and are being used by the creme de la creme of the Aussie contemporary music scene.

I have been servicing valve (tube) audio equipment now for over 30 years and have worked on most brands and models from the late 50’s/early 60’s to current production. I can restore your amp to correct and original working order, removing unwanted and often dubious modifications and correcting previous servicing mistakes and poor workmanship. I also service some solid-state equipment, please contact me for details.

Quality workmanship and components will always be my first priority, with a strong emphasis on electrical safety.

I have also been playing guitar in bands and duos for over 30 years and have always designed, built and used my own amps and pedals. All this experience has given me the edge when it comes to working on your gear !!