Sewer Bæby part 2: GCB-95 Crybaby mods

The Sewer Bæby… MY Sewer Bæby. This was one of my first pedal modification projects and it still remains one of the favorite effects I own. What happens when you take a salvaged, humble Dunlop Crybaby GCB-95 Wah and mod it? Falling into the rabbit hole of pedal geekery is one thing. Having a wah custom to your tastes is second. I’ve already written about how I added true-bypass and a much needed power indicating LED to this little guy. Next, I got into the guts and made it a kick ass bass wah: my fucking BABY.

modded sewer baby wah

The wah circuit is quite simple in terms of the quantity of parts. It’s a very interesting circuit, though, as it’s application wasn’t even intended by the inventors. It was supposed to be a mid-boost, but instead acted as a variable band-pass filter that simulated the human voice. If you’re interested in the intricacies of it, there’s no better article than The Technology of Wah Pedals over at Geofex.com. Alternatively, you can do just as I did: dive in based on a bunch of photos and descriptions of sound to shape up the tone of your wah.

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Sewer Bæby part 1: GCB-95 Crybaby mods

Going back, way back, I found a broken Dunlop GCB-95 Crybaby wah pedal in our jam space. I thought, huh, maybe I could use this if I figure out what was wrong with it. It turned out to be a loose battery clip, easily fixed. Then I thought, huh, sounds okay, what would make it sound better? A few internet searches later, I was led down the rabbit hole into the wild and wooly (more like impractical and laborious) world of modifying effects pedals. With a bit more knowledge under the belt, it’s time reevaluate what I did and look at what is still one of my favorite pedals on my board, the Sewer Bæby.

modded Crybaby wah

It’s a little beat up after a some years touring, but the hot rod paint job I gave the Sewer Bæby to distinguish it from yer typical Crybaby still looks alright. Of course none of that matters; it’s the inside that counts, right? Tell that to whomever you set on a blind date with Temple Grandin.

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Tools of the Trade: Light Bulb Limiter

It’s easy to slap an LED onto a pedal. At least, it’s easy for me now. I’ve moved onto bigger and badder. Largely through trial and error, I’ve managed to make a few sick amps well again. I’m still a novice, but I’m learning and it’s fun. The online world is a treasure trove of knowledge and helpful people. Those helpful people told me I was doing some stupid things. I was able to rectify at least one of those things.

light bulb limiter

This is a light bulb limiter. You can’t buy one and they’re all built a little different. It’s extremely helpful when dealing with a broken amp. In a previous repair of a Peavey XXX guitar amplifier, I was blowing fuses left and right (maybe center, too). The light bulb limiter is a D.I.Y. device that coulda saved me a lotta pain.

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Building a better Rat trap 2

Just why does Pro Co only make one pedal? Because they got it right the first time. The Rat distortion box is legendary and it sounds killer, in my humble opinion. Okay, okay, Pro Co has made a few other stomp boxes, but they’re all based around the original Rat circuit and the legendary LM308 IC op-amp. The Turbo Rat, the Rat2, the You Dirty Rat, the Deucetone Rat, and the Rat R2DU rack mount are all descendant of the original: the gnarlier then gnarl white face Rat.

This is a white face Rat from around 1984. There are a few cosmetic differences, however, as I put some modifications into this little guy. A fella I knew asked me to do this before either of us realized the value this pedal could have probably scored on the eBay marketplace. So be it… he ended up trading it to me for some other work I did and I’m happy to call it “mine.” One of my earlier forays into pedal modifications, I’m pleased with the simple changes I made.

Wrought in Hell: Road Case Revisionism

There used to be a day when I would put my amp under my car seat for travel. It was an Ampeg B2. I found out that was a good way to have all the EQ knobs broken. Years later I toured with an Ampeg SVT-2Pro rack mount amp… and never bothered rack mounting it. Sure, a guitar always goes in a case. Why bother with an amplifier? It’s just that thing that MAKES IT LOUD.

I got older and poorer, though, while my amp choice got older and more valuable. The folly of youth left me. There was no way was I going to leave on a huge tour again without making sure every amp had a case, especially the vintage Ampeg V4B I was now playing through. When we headed out with GWAR, Sean borrowed a case, we got Dan one while on the road, and I… of course, I had to cobble something together that was special.

I started with this little gem that was tossed for junk outside our practice studio. It was broken and battered, but had a lot of potential.

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HOT ROD DOD MOD: FX90 analog delay

The holy grail of sound seems to be analog. Why? Because it holds more clarity? Hardly. Because it more accurately captures sound? Nope. Is it because your brain wants to hear all those pops, muddiness, and fizzles? Precisely. Effects are kinda the same. Though diligent programmers have been able to model digital delay and echo in every conceivable form with astronomically long delay times, there is still a demand for the old, limited use, barely functional analog delay effects for making music. Just look at eBay. The prices are high for what is ostensibly outdated technology. And what can I say, I’m one of those jerks who totally goes for it.

DOD FX90 analog delay pedal

The DOD FX90 analog delay is not one of those delays one would call coveted, as it sells used for fairly cheap… why? I’m not sure. I like the delay sound on it. With some coaxing, it will run away and self-oscillate with the best of them. Likely, it’s not that coveted because there are many available. In the after-market for discontinued effects, if it’s rare, it must be AMAZING!

The actual circuit creates makes for a pleasing, warm and dark analog delay, but the construction of the pedal itself is sub-par. I scored a couple for cheap. That is to say, I found them left behind in our jam space and no one claimed them. They didn’t work, so I set out to get ’em going again.

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MXR Distortion+ sees the light

John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune is an old school kind of guy and I’m not just making age jokes. He runs a Marshall JCM800 for some transparent rockin’ tone from his ’70s Les Paul guitar. A great set-up and dead easy. Maybe too easy. When it comes to leads, it can be hard to pop out over a six-piece prog band. With no boost channel to switch to, Cobbett uses another classic, the MXR Distortion+ guitar pedal. It subtly boosts his tone and adds some more skreem to those licky lixxx.

MXR Distortion+

After losing his first one, John picked up this “beauty” off of eBay. Back when we played together in a band, I was just starting to dick around with all my own pedals. Cobbett asked if it was possible to add a power indicator light to his Distortion+. It was and is. Looking back, though, I think I could’ve done it better.

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Extreme BOSS DS-1 Makeover: Sewage Edition

Mauz, my boss and friend, is probably most well known for playing in Dystopia. He’s also played in Mindrot, Nigel Peppercock, Medication Time, and now heads up the oi punk outfit Kicker. One day at our print shop a year or so back, I noticed he had a horribly beat up BOSS DS-1. It looked like shit and something was wrong with it. He handed it over to the Doktor.

BOSS DS-1

Just to be clear, that’s not what his pedal looked like. That’s a clean, normal DS-1, a classic in the distortion world. It’s a lot of people’s first stomp box. It’s a simple IC distortion circuit using silicon diode clippers and a very basic low-high tone control. That’s also why it’s a fun pedal to work on, because there’s a lot you can do. Mauz’s DS-1 pedal was spray painted black by some old punk rocker and was missing all the knobs. It needed to be cleaned up, but the technical refurbishing came first.

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