Husband, father, geek.

by Chris Pearson

Cloning the Vemuram TSV808 with The Tone Geek

The Vemuram TSV808 is a sort of modified of a Tubescreamer/JanRay hybrid. It’s also incredibly high end. Initially selling for $499, if you could get one in the limited release, and are now being listed on the used market for £1200-£1800 or more.

The internet has allowed me the chance to get to “meet” and speak to people all over the world. One of those is Ryan The Tone Geek. We often talk guitars, pedals, electronics and what ever dumb stuff that comes up.

One evening Ryan sent me a photo of a Vemuram TSV808, a multimeter and a ton of hand drawn documentation. After a bit of conversation I suggested bread boarding it to check the schematic. “I find that so borinnnggggg” came the reply, and after a few more messages back and forth, I had my own copies of the board layout and first pass hand drawn schematic.

My first task was to turn the hand drawn document into a digital one that is easier to maintain and share. I used KiCad for this, which took me an evening. Something about this project had grabbed me and I just had to do it. Whilst creating this schematic I checked values against both the photos of the board I got from Ryan, but also some found on google. As I was doing this my wife re-drew the board layout to be a bit more legible where some items had been squashed together.

Starting to build the bread board

Read more…

DIY Boss BD-2 Blues Driver "Keeley Mod"

One of the more famous pedal mods is the “Keeley Mod” that Robert Keeley used to do to the Boss BD-2. This modded pedal has been used by a number of great players including John Mayer which is how I’ve ended up here. Keeley no longer modify pedals, so you either have to go hunt down a used one, and they will only get more expensive, or you can get a Super Phat Mod, which is essentially a true bypass modded BD-2.

Modded Boss BD-2

Being the person I am rather than buying an old pre-modified pedal I decided to buy a standard pedal used and modify it my self.

If you want to do this your self then there is one gotcha. A year or so ago (2018/9 ish) Boss changed from through hole to SMD components for the BD-2, which make this kind of mod impossible 1. So hit eBay and look for an older pedal. The ones you want have the power jack in the middle of the back like below, not the ones where the jack runs along the base plate.

Comparison of DC jacks showing which pedal can be modded

Older pedals with blue boxes will be fine, the change happened during the current black boxes so you can’t just go “black box is no good” as earlier ones will still be able to be modded.

Before we start: thanks to Ryan “The Tone Geek” who did most of this research and I am just following from his work and a few google searches.

  1. You CAN mod surface mount, but your options are far more limited or require far more determination. 

Read more…


Using SVG2Mod to generate silkscreen images for KiCad from Inkscape

Recently I’ve been working with KiCad to design some PCBs. On some of these I have added a small logo or mono image using the built in converter that comes with KiCad. This tool allows you to take any image, colour or mono, and convert it into something you can add to your PCB.

Whilst this works the tool isn’t great and does loose a significant amount of detail when converting things.

Example of poor image quality from the KiCad converter

For a recent project I wanted to make a face plate using a PCB as it’s convenient, and should be pretty durable. Sadly the built in editor wasn’t giving me results I was happy with for something that will be much more visible than normal.

Some research found a tool called SVG2Mod 1 which will convert an SVG into a .kicad_mod file that I can use.

  1. Note this isn’t the original version, but a fork. The original version is now no longer maintained but this version is. 

Read more…

Ibanez TS-5 Repair

The other week I bought a “spares or repair” Ibanez TS-5 Tube screamer from eBay for £25. It was described as “intermittent” so I expected this to either be an iffy switch, similar to my DL-5 delay, or maybe a broken solder joint to one of the jacks (including the power).

My new TS-5 fresh out of the postage

When the pedal arrived I gave it a thorough cleaning, as befitting our times though it also had 20+ years of grot on it. There was a battery inside to that expired in 2011 and had burst. Fortunately there was minimal damage to the battery clip.

Read more…

JHS Overdrive Clone Build

On Friday 2nd October 2020 JHS launched their brand new 3 Series Pedal line. On the 7th October Josh, and the team, did a live stream for Sweetwater where they demoed these. During that stream Josh showed the schematics for all 7 of these new pedals and said the following:

Here's the schematic to this pedal. You can screenshot it, make it your self. We do not care.

Josh Scott (2020)

So screen shot it I did, and so began my journey cloning a brand new pedal.

Read more…

Blocking a PRS SE/CE Tremelo

Whilst I love my PRS SE Standard 24 I have never really used the trem. Maybe it’s a lack of practice but I never found the results pleasing when more than a light touch is applied. If I want a light touch then just moving the neck has been plenty. The tremelo is also a floating design, which means it is a balancing act of string tension and spring tension, if you change either the setup goes to pot. This means no 1/2 step down or drop D with out it affecting the setup.

One fix is a fixed bridge guitar, I don’t have one. The other is to block the tremelo, which literally is a block of wood that stops the bridge closing. You then use extra spring tension to hold it in. Simple and very reversible.

All of this should be the same for any SE or CE tremelo model as they all use the same import bridge, possibly an S2 but I am not 100% on that one. It will also be the same for any floating trem but the details of dimensions etc will differ.

Read more…

Ibanez Soundtank DL5 Repair

I’ve got a saved search setup on eBay where I keep an eye on cheap guitar pedals in case anything interesting comes up cheap. A couple of weeks ago an Ibanez Soundtank DL5 Digital delay came up for under £15 delivered, “untested”. This translated to works fine but the foot switch is broken so it’s stuck on.

The soundtank range was a budget range by Ibanez in the 90’s with a distinctive black plastic case. One promblem with them over time is the foot switches tend to die on them.

After some research I found replacements on SmallBear in the US. Given the current climate (2020 for future readers) I wanted to avoid ordering internationally and used the part number (ALPS SPPB512300) and found them on RS Components and I could collect 5 from a local branch.

In theory anyway, these actually came direct from Japan 🇯🇵 so were not ready next working day when I arrived. Kindly the store offered to send them on on arrival and save me having to go back. This was done free of charge and was most appreciated.

Replacement ALPS SPPB512300 switches

The ALPS switches are tiny and so it’s not overly surprising that they fail. RS describes them as a Detector Switch, so more in line with a micro switch than the 3PDT footswitch used by boutique builders.

Read more…

MCM Comic Con Birmingham Promo

I don’t normally post about my troops but this weekend was MCM Comic Con Birmingham. During our first patrol we were out near the entrance by the escalators from the trains. An MCM employee asked me to pose for a short video, and after a quick practice he took the shot and moved on.

When the end of day video was posted I figured I’d missed the cut.

However today they posted the end of con video and about halfway on is a very familiar trooper.


Handplane Restoration

One of the tools commonly used for wood working is the handplane. These come in a variety of sizes from only a few inches long to 60cm monsters weighing several kilos. Their purpose is to level and straighten wood and prepare it for jointing. It’s generally thought that some of the best are actually old vintage models made by Stanley or Bailey. These are readily available used and usually have plenty of life left in them. Once you clean them up that is.

My dads old type 19 handplane in the garage where it's been for 30 odd years.

This was my Dads plane. It’s a Stanley number 4, which is a middle size and a very handy one to have. It also had seen better days. The rear handle (called the tote) was broken, the metal work was all very rusted and the finish on the handles was flaking badly. It was time to restore it for use in some projects I have in mind for the future.

My dads old type 19 handplane in the garage where it's been for 30 odd years.

Read more…

© 2015–2023 Christopher Pearson, All rights reserved.