The Varidrive by SIB! is a gnarly fully AC powered vacuum tube overdrive. It’s got a real analog growl, pushing that tube to the limits for real distortion.
For such a nicely engineered pedal, they forgot one thing: there’s zero indication when you’ve engaged the effect… I mean, other than screaming overdrive in your ears. But visually, ya got nothing, and during a hard core punk rock gig, it can sometimes be hard to tell. Luckily, SIB! already put an LED on their pedal to indicate it’s getting power. It’s not so hard to change that out for a bicolor LED to indicate power AND when the effect is engaged.
Maybe you have a guitar cab with just a single input, but you want to be able to switch to 4Ω instead of just the 16Ω it’s wired to. Maybe you want to run your speakers in stereo. Maybe you just hate those stupid fucking bullshit plastic Marshall switchable stereo jack plates that constantly break. If any of this applies to you, please consider the Plug and Play jack plate as a replacement.
Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose. This was bought and I installed it. As far as I can tell, it’s made by Amplified Parts, a webstore I use frequently to purchase tubes and parts. This is an all purpose jack plate made of durable metal with no stupid switches that break. Installing one is easy.
Apple Computer is such an annoying corporation. They make these tiny changes to their stupid cords because they expect all of us to be rich tech bros upgrading our shit constantly. Well, I’m a cheap skate and I’m still rocking a seven-year-old laptop. But I did lose my charger. It was a MagSafe 1 charger. You know what’s incredibly hard to find now? MagSafe 1 chargers. Well, it turns out MagSafe 2 is the same fucking thing, just slightly different in size.
I picked up this old charger off craigslist for $20. It was late, we met in front of a grocery store, and I didn’t realize it had the wrong end until I got home. Dammit. Do I call the guy back? Do I try and sell this one myself? Or do I fuck it all up on my own DIY like I always do? You can guess the answer.
The Morley EVO-1; one of the holy grails of stupid, antiquated pedal-collecting. It’s a monster-sized beast that accomplished one tiny effect. It has… a really, really short echo. But when it came out, how fucking novel! In a world before BBD chips, in a time of oil… this is the oil can echo.
This was a broken EVO-1 that I picked up online. The base was rotten and the echo did not echo. I fixed it all up and did meticulous work photographing everything. And then my computer crashed. This was in 2014. So, it’s been awhile. In lieu of the gigantic photo essay I had planned, I’m gonna take my time and retrace my steps. If you want to know more about oil-can audio technology now, see my previous article on the Morley RWV Rotating Wah I refurbished. If you want to see a simple way to mod the circuit board to make an EVO-1 more powerful, for the 2-6 people who actually own one that works, read on!
I’ve been posting pretty sporadically this year. I’ve been working hard on projects for the band and such, but the muse to write and an actual electronic work station have been missing since the wife and I found ourselves together in a single bedroom apartment. Oh yeah, and I work a lot, funneling most of my paycheck to pay off debt. Funny how life gets in the way of, you know, this self-aggrandizing bullshit.
Well, last night I found myself on the floor of our rehearsal space, trying not to lose screws in the carpet and diagnosing bandmates’ broken gear. Sean managed to fry out the zener projection diode in his just-acquired DigiTech Black-13 pedal by plugging in the wrong voltage. Ben’s B-52 Stealth Series ST-100A had some bad power tubes. It’s all stuff that’s very important to fix, but not very interesting to write a post on. So, I thought maybe it’s a good time to stop exulting myself. Instead, I’ll let others do that by showing off their work that some of my posts helped along. Altruistic to the end.
Impaled’s first national tour was with Nile in the year 2000. Nile controlled a bunch of oogey-boogey Egyptial style samples from a PC tower on stage. I was sure they played Tetris between songs to relax. On another tour with Origin, we thought they’d upped the D.I.Y. by burning a CD with samples on it to play through a Sony Discman, the height of technology. Then came the iPod: relatively cheap, small, and it worked pretty good. For Impaled, Jason hooked up a series of samples and would walk back to his amp to push the “forward” button. I did the same thing a few years later while touring with GWAR. I thought, “There must be a better way.” And there is. But I had to invent it.
Well, I didn’t actually invent shit. I did put together a bunch of other already invented shit in what I think is a pretty novel way. The iSewage uNot incorporates an iPod, a DI box, a stereo-summing circuit, and a momentary foot switch. A musician can control an iPod with his foot for use as a sampler while playing music. Apple plugged in all the technology you need to make it happen, but they forgot to include the instructions.
I had gotten about half way through a really great post for this week over the last few days, but disaster struck. My Ampeg V-4B went SNAFU. I smelled something smoking at practice. I thought it was my strings from some awesome bass licks. Nope, I had a tube red plating in the back if my amp. It was about to blow. I turned everything off and had to figure this shit out. I had a show in Canada to play and no back up amp!
Over the next couple days, I checked shit out. I tested all the tube socket voltages with the tubes out, in case it was feeding my tubes too much voltage or not draining enough. This is dangerous territory here and not for the inexperienced. We’re talking leads getting 560V. That will kill you. Long story short, everything tested fine. So, WTF?
In the last installment of this thrilling three part series, I covered the internal changes I made to my Crybaby GCB-95 wah, which became my treasured Sewer Bæby. Being that was one of my first excursions into pedal modifications, I decided to take it all the way to learn a thing or three. I wanted to muck about with the aesthetics to show pride in my work, so I learned at least one way to reskin this cat.
The best way to paint any stomp box is powder coating. That’s the process whereby particles of color are electro-magnetically applied to a metal and then cooked on to form a super protective layer of paint. That’s the way the pros do it. I’m not a pro. I didn’t have the luxury of owning a powder coating system when I did this and I imagine most people never will. Cans of paint it is.