End of Days Fuzz (1) – Initial ideas and development

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Like everything recently, this is way behind schedule. I blame my donkey brains, and offer many apologies from them and me.

With these ‘end of days fuzz’ update posts I’m aiming to document the development of a pedal design. I like the idea of giving back to the community with educational content, and I’ve been wanting to let people into my design process for a while.

I will also be doing posts to showcase other builders’ end of days fuzzes. Please check them out, there’s some cool stuff going on out there.

Before we get into the weeds with the design itself, there’s a couple of things I’ve been wrestling with that I want to address. There is some behind the scenes stuff that will remain behind the scenes once we get into the design process.

The behind the scenes to remain behind the scenes part 1 – brains

I still struggle with impostor syndrome and so making one of my designs public makes me canny anxious. I want to present everything, including whatever stupid mistakes and dead ends may come.

The peculiarities of my ‘divergent’ brain give me some advantages when it comes to design, but they also make some aspects very difficult. I’m not an electrical engineer. I can’t maths. I’ve had to learn by experimenting, making lots of mistakes and doing my damndest to teach myself with fancy educational materials not meant for thickos like me.

So even though I’ve been doing this a while, I still lack the confidence that a formal education bestows. I often feel like at any point some smarty pants might just come along and tell everyone I’ve been doing it all wrong, and I’d have no defence. WHAT IF ALL CHAMPION LECCY PEDALS ARE WRONG!!!1!11

Having said that I am sure I’ll get over myself and I’m happy to discuss anything I’m writing about here (and just DIY stuff in general) as long as you understand I don’t know a lot of technical stuff.

You’re more than welcome to leave a comment or come chat with us in the Champion Leccy/ End of Days Fuzz Discord.

The behind the scenes to remain behind the scenes part 2 – ownership

As I’ve said, these posts are written with the intention of sharing the process honestly and openly, but I am still not sure how to feel about publishing schematics.

I spent a lot of time writing out my thoughts and concerns on this, deleting everything then starting again. I think ultimately this isn’t the place for an essay on all the ins and outs of the subject.

Even after all that thinking and writing, I still haven’t reached a conclusion about whether to publish the schematic or not, but there’s still time, so I’ll come to that bridge when I need to cross it.

I want to be clear though, if I choose to publish schematics (or sections of) in these articles, they are purely for educational purposes. I do not give permission for anyone to use that information for financial profit. If you’re unsure about what that means, please hit me up and we can talk about it.

Anyway, on to the actual design!

The beginning of the end (of days fuzz)

The initial concept was to cover different textures and fill out a wall of frequencies with a couple of colourful fuzz/ noise circuits in parallel.

Off the back of that, I first considered having one main fuzz and a second fuzz to cover the octave nastiness and/or other extra harmonic content.

I then flip-flopped between the idea of having a central fuzz circuit that would have all the fuzzy goodness and something that would have more flexibility. With all that chaos going on around the main fuzz, would it be better to have something that could also be cleaned up? Would extra clarity add cut in amongst the insanity? Or would it be better to just smash all frequencies and never look back?

Some of my earliest Champion Leccy offerings just did one thing and it was usually nutzoid. A lesson I quickly put in place with my designs was to cover plenty of ground leading up to the crazy. And whilst that breadth of functionality is something I always aim for in my designs nowadays, I still needed to decide whether that was applicable for this “world ending” fuzz. Sometimes less is more, you know, but also, sometimes less is actually just less. It’s tricky. Life is hard.

Whilst pondering all this, I thought back through earlier Champion Leccy pedals and I liked the idea of revisiting some of those now discontinued designs. There were several candidates from the back catalogue to look at as a starting place.

I started with a shortlist of the following:

  • The Divvy
  • The Fettle Boost
  • Sausage Fingers
  • The bloat (the crazy octave bit of the Fat Gett)*
  • Some form of dunsh **

* The Fat Gett was one of the first Champion Leccy pedals ever. It even predates the Gett and the Bloody Gett. It was a pretty rudimentary design that was comprised of three circuits in parallel. The first was a somewhat modified Black Russian Big Muff and the other two were lightly tweaked Mid-fi Electronics’ Random Number Generators (also in parallel) tapped off from the sustain pot (after the first transistor). I somehow happened upon the Random Number Generator schematic accidentally whilst searching for something totally different, but it looked so simple and sounded so crazy that I couldn’t not mess around with it. I breadboarded it and made a few adjustments.

I would like to point out that after the Fat Gett design came together, and before trying to sell any, I contacted Doug from Mid-fi to ask for his permission to use his circuit and he was very cool about it and agreed!

I only made something like 20 – 25 Fat Getts in total, partly because I didn’t feel good about it, it was an okay jumping off point for starting Champion Leccy, but it was cobbled together from breadboarding and experimenting with existing circuits. It was a great learning experience, but it didn’t feel right to make the circuit a regular line. That bloat is fun though!

** The Dunshtm was originally a modification I came up with for one of the single transistor gain stages of the Gett circuit. I used it in the Gett and the Bloody Gett. The Fat Gett predates the dunsh. I never went back to do a Fatt Gett with dunsh, though I did originally plan to do a few.

The dunsh is incredibly loud and gnarly and gives infinite sustain (when used in the Gett circuit). I later took that dunsh section, modified it slightly and included it in the Canny Fettle Boost.

The first schematic

The start of the design process is filled with a lot of toing and froing, and a lot of time spent sifting through ideas and schematics.

The first decision I made was to include the bloat, it added so much harmonic content and glitchy fuzziness that I felt it really had to be part of a fuzz whose intention is absolute annihilation. The problem with the bloat is that it oscillates in a very specific way that I got sick of with the Fatt Gett but never spent time working on for a V2.

I did consider using the fettle boost as a clean blend, but ended up deciding against this. It’s a great cutting clean sound, but not what I wanted for this.

I eventually decided that the Sausage Fingers probably wouldn’t be a good fit for this design. The bloat would already be doing octave stuff and the rest of the Sausage Fingers circuit is chunky and is not fuzzy enough.

I ended up drawing out the bloat, the Divvy AND a very simple dunsh-like circuit in parallel with a simple buffer/ splitter and a summing amp. It seemed like as good a place as any to start from. 3 fuzzes is more louder than 2. Also, as I mentioned I did like the idea of revisiting one of my very first designs from all them years ago. i could always just drop the Divvy and essentially just explore this as a Fat Gett V2.

Shortly after drawing out this schematic for the V1.0, I had some cool ideas I wanted to try with the dunsh as a standalone pedal. I decided on developing the dunsh and exploring all of its potential as a wide-ranging gain pedal and then using that to create a dialled in, stripped down, fuzzed out version to put in the end of days fuzz.

So, I started working on the dunsh pedal! I’m expecting the second dunsh prototype PCB to arrive in the next couple of weeks or so. It is going well, and I’m pretty excited about it. But, more about that and the first end of days schematic in the next article!

Please check out the next post. It’s progress posts from some other builders taking part in the challenge.

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