What’s all this I hear about “true bypass”

If you’re familiar with the topic then feel free to skip ahead and watch the video to see a comparison of the two. If true bypass is new to you, it’s basically a technique of modifying a pedal so when the pedal is in the off position (bypassed) the circuitry is 100% out of the guitar’s signal path. This is essential for retaining your guitar’s original tone. Some effects, specifically vintage effects and wah pedals, are notorious tone-suckers. Some of the guitar’s signal is being fed into the pedal’s circuitry even when the pedal is bypassed. The result can be signal bleed, added noise, decreased overall output, and most likely a loss of high-end and clarity.

So with that out of the way… on to the video to hear a difference:

The video was recorded using a Fender ’69 Reissue Thinline Telecaster and a vintage Fender Super Reverb. The first video clip is simply the guitar into an unmodified Electro Harmonix Russian Big Muff then into the amp. The second half of the clip is guitar straight into the amp. If the pedal was modified for true bypass it would sound like the second clip. You can hear a massive increase in volume and see the peak around 2-4kHz when the pedal is removed from the signal chain. Click between 0:25 and 0:58 if you’re impatient. I should note that there was absolutely no post editing to the audio and everything was shot in a single take. The yellow lines show the peaks for each frequency and you’ll notice the overall output is a few dB higher.

For more reading on true bypass with basic diagrams.

For information on having your pedals converted.

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Akai Intelliphase P1 Rehousing

Intelliphase RehousingI remember years ago when Musician’s Friend was blowing out these Akai Intelliphase pedals for $40 but I decided against picking one up due to the size. Above is a shot of a customer’s pedal rehoused into a 3.5″ x 4.5″ casing. There are two boards inside, both of which need to be trimmed to get them to fit into the casing. The larger of the two boards needed to have a section cut and cropped in order to fit into the casing. It was a very time consuming process but I think the end result was worth it.

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Danelectro DJ-1 Rehousing

Danelectro DJ-1I probably see a few emails a week asking for a price quote on rehousing a Danelectro mini. The plastic casing, tiny switch, PCB-mounted plastic jacks, and micro pots are all serious problems for anyone that needs reliable performance from their gear. The finished product can be seen above and will be able to withstand abuse from gigs and tours. Pricing for a rehousing on the Danelectro mini series starts around $70.

On a side note, the DJ-1 uses a TL072 IC which wasn’t expected in such an inexpensive pedal. It also uses LEDs for clipping diodes.

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Tetris Pedal


One of my favorite projects over the years has been these Tetris-shaped casings that I made. There have been a few different designs such as channel switchers and boost pedals. The one pictured above can be used as either a temporary mute pedal or to control many of the tap tempo effects currently on the market.

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Custom Shop Phase 90

It looks like 2011 is the year of the Phaser. In the past few months there has been an unprecedented demand for modifying and building custom phasers. The one pictured above is based on a “script logo” Phase 90. A few additions include an intensity control, a pulsing LED to show the rate of the phaser, and a switch to select two or four stage.

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Boss Rehousings: DD-5 and other 4 knobbers

Occasionally I’ll have a request for a Boss pedal to be modded to the point where components will no longer fit into the stock casing. Some people prefer the stompswitch rather than Boss’ switch design. Sometimes we just want a discrete or unique looking pedal that doesn’t look like every other pedal out there. The predrilled casing pictured above allows for a quick turn around time. This one is for a Boss DD-5 which has the second large hole to accommodate a tap tempo footswitch. There is also room to add a reverse kill switch, a high cut switch (or even EQ knobs), and true bypass is certainly much easier in this format.

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Phase 90 script logo reissue

MXR recently released a copy of their “script logo” Phase 90. This new version is far more accurate to the original than the standard Phase 90. This includes the six opamps instead of two or three in the reissues, full size potentiometer, jacks not mounted directly to the circuit board, and the infamous MXR foam cradle holding the circuit board in place. MXR stuck to the vintage theme and left out true bypass, an LED, and even a DC adapter jack! This seems like a great way for them to cut costs and cash in on the vintage mojo. While I had the pedal to correct these grievances the owner also requested an intensity control, pulsing LED, and Phase 45/90 toggle switch in addition. The end result is a very versatile phaser that still offers 100% of the original tone.

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Boss DM-2 Analog delay clone

So after coming across two rare (and original) MN3005 analog delay chips I realized that they had to be put to use. The pedal above is based on the Boss DM-2 analog delay. Some improvements include upgraded opamps, better quality capacitors, and true bypass switching. Now if only I could find a white footswitch.

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Tap Tempo Tremolo

Here’s a first run of a square wave tap tempo tremolo design. We’re keeping it simple. One LED to flash the rate, one to show when the pedal is activated. The knob controls the depth. Left switch is on/off, right is to tap the tempo. Runs on 9VDC only so no battery. This is available on the fxdoctor.com specials page for $100. Future runs of this pedal may be built.

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Custom Shop: Tremolo / Reverb

This recent build was for Liam from Yellowbirddd looking for a great-sounding reverb and tremolo. The plan was to keep it simple for ease of use and to save space while traveling. The tremolo has depth and rate controls, the reverb has volume and tone controls. I’m surprised more reverb pedals (and delay pedals) don’t have a high cut control to better match an overly bright guitar or amp.

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