I have always been a pushover for a great deal on that special effects pedal that simply inspires you to play. As good as some deals may be, we all know low-cost pedals can often leave much to be desired in terms of quality, durability, and tone. Yes, they can sometimes fill the void and tie you over for the short term, but in my experience, they rarely stay on the pedalboard for the long haul. More often than not they get traded or sold for some other gear down the line. So what is the bargain hunter looking for great tone to do?
I fired up Google hoping to uncover a new pedal that I had not hear of before for a great price. Several searches brought up nothing more than the usual mediocre mini pedals that are flooding the market from overseas. I must admit that I’ve tried some over the years but I didn’t feel any desire for more of those. I wanted something different this time around, something more substantial.
I stumbled upon GeneralGuitarGadgets.com and noticed that the website offered very affordable pedal kits that can be built by the do-it-yourselfer. I couldn’t help thinking of it as the IKEA of guitar pedals. I decided to have a closer look at the various kits they offered and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of pedal kits they had in stock.
Suddenly I wondered if building my own pedal would be cool and rewarding? I could make it uniquely mine. Would building a kit from scratch be too challenging for my limited skill set? I had never attempted to build a pedal before and my electronic knowledge tops out at some basic soldering and the ability to read basic instructions. I loved building model kits as a child so I thought this could be fun! Quality pedals at budget prices don’t happen every day! If this was such a good thing, then why had I not heard of them before? Was this deal too good to be true? Yes, you could say I had some doubts!
I headed over to YouTube to look up some demo videos of the various pedal kits they offered to help calm my doubts. I watched a few videos but I didn’t really get enough of a feel of the final product as I had hoped. I downloaded the build instructions from the website and read through them. The information seemed pretty clear and detailed. The question was, would I be able to put together a unit and actually make it work? I decided to ignore that annoying voice in my head and proceed to order a pedal kit. There would only be one way to find out!
After much scrutiny, I selected the BSIAB 2 kit which claims to offer the iconic brown sound made famous by Eddie Van Halen. My choice was based on the fact that I had always been a big fan of that Van Halen Tone. If the description on the website was accurate, the BSIAB should be a perfect choice.
The package arrived after about a week and I proceeded to open up the box and have a look at all the parts that would eventually become my new pedal. Most of the required components were enclosed in a small plastic bag. I printed the detailed instructions for the build from the GeneralGuitarGadets.com website a few days earlier so I had everything I needed to begin the project. I cleared off my workbench, fired up my trusty soldering iron, took a deep breath, and got started.
The process was quite satisfying and went smoothly until I came across some instructions which were not 100% clear to me. I tried to the best of my abilities to figure them out but I thought it may be a better idea to send a quick email to Mr. JD Sleep to see if I could get some clarification. To my surprise, JD answered my questions quickly and accurately. As a matter of fact, he even said he would clarify the build instructions based on my questions so it would be clearer for others as well. I was quite impressed by the level of customer support I received since most other DYI pedal companies out there leave you to fend for yourself or point you to a general forum where you can hopefully get the right information from others.
I excitedly proceeded to finish the build so I could judge for myself just how close my new pedal would get to that “brown sound” most guitarists are searching for. I took the delicate electrical innards to my amp and plugged it in to test my creation. I must admit I felt a little like Dr. Frankenstein just before I flicked the power switch on my amp. I nervously pressed the switch and the LED turned on brightly. This was a great sign that the current was flowing through the pedal. I turned up the volume and gain and strummed my first power cord and to my delight, a wonderfully saturated tone came through the amp’s speakers. I tweaked the knobs till I found the sweet spot and played a few more riffs. The brown sound came through in spades. So much so that I decided to put my brand new pedal up against my favorite overdrive pedal which easily costs 4 times as much. To my surprise, the kit pedal did the brown sound better to my ears. It had more of that edgy sound commonly associated with a cranked Marshall Plexi. I continued playing rock riffs with a big satisfied smile on my face.
In my opinion, this is one heck of a “Cranked Marshall” pedal. It has no difficulties getting sounds from Van Halen or ZZ Top. It cleans up nicely and sounds even better in a live situation. I would say that this unit compares very positively to other stomp boxes that cost hundreds of dollars more. It would surely give any of the boutique pedal builders out there a good run for their money. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a great sounding pedal capable of some very nice rock tones at a very reasonable price point.
Overall I think that building your very own effects pedal can seem to be a little daunting at first, but my first experience with Generalguitargadgets.com was very satisfying. I came away from it with a little more confidence, some better electrical knowledge and a really great pedal that I can tweak or repair if ever I needed to. If you are looking for a pedal you can really make your own right down to the paint job and have a few hours to dedicate to the project, check out these kits for yourself.
I already have my eye on my next build!
To visit Generalguitargadgets.com website click here.