Pedalboard 105: Customizing Your Sound with Guitar Pedal Mods WiredGuitarist May 9, 2019 Articles, Pedal Reviews, Tutorials, Uncategorized Ever since technology was developed there was a modding community not far behind it. The ability to personalize and customize a piece of tech to your individual tastes and needs helps you get more bang for your buck and leave your own footprint. The guitar pedal community is no different, and for decades now pedals have been modified to change the sound, with many popular pedal creators these days getting their own start from modding pedals designed by others. JHS Pedals, Keeley Electronics, Paul Cochrane, and many more legendary effects manufacturer’s only started designing pedals after seeing the immense potential for limitless tonal possibilities. For the less tech-savvy, there are a vast amount of individuals offering modding services to save you the time and effort of learning it yourself. There are countless mod variations on the market and there’s no sign of this business slowing down any time soon. Let’s look at the benefits of modding, how you can use them to create your own sound, and some of the most popular mods out there. Why Mod Your Pedals? Have you ever found a piece of gear that you absolutely loved, but there was just one thing about it you didn’t like? You’re not the first one, and you certainly won’t be the last. This is what inspired others to mess around with pedals and see if – with a little bit of electronics know-how – they can get rid of that “one little thing” on their own. In other cases, you may want to add to what’s already in your pedal. Maybe the tone is perfect but you wish you could get more volume out of it, or it had a switch to add a new feature. While many pedal manufacturers have started designing their pedals with flexibility and common mods already in mind, sometimes you still can’t find the exact thing you’re looking for. This helps you not only get the sound you want but create a more unique tone overall by giving you access to sounds that others don’t have. But not all of us have the time and energy to make that happen, which is why others offer that service to anyone interested. What Mods Can I Get? There’s no end to the number of mods available on the market today, and it’s growing all the time, but there are a handful of very popular ones that can be done to a large number of different pedals. Here are a few popular picks: 1) True Bypass Mod If you don’t know anything about true bypass pedals we’ve got you covered, but if you’re in the loop you probably already know why that might be a good option to have. True bypass mods are extremely common and can be highly beneficial depending on your own pedalboard setup. There is a myriad of pedals in existence that sound great but have horrible, low-quality buffers that degrade and dull your tone. This simple mod can bypass the entire circuit by putting in a new switch and a little bit of wiring work. 2) Low Cut Mod This mod is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a simple filter adjustment that takes out some of the low-end in the tone and tightens it up. This can be extremely useful for pedals that are a little muddy or unresponsive in the bass or low mid frequencies, and can instantly add clarity and articulation to your tone. This mod is common in distortion and overdrive pedals, where low-end buildup can present more of an issue than with a clean tone. 3) Clipping Mod Clipping may be an unfamiliar term for some, but it’s the process by which distortion/overdrive is achieved. The way in which a waveform is clipped will dictate the overall character and color of a distortion effect and is arguably the largest factor in a gain pedal’s sonic signature. Clipping can be achieved in many ways using many different parts and values, from germanium and silicon diodes to even LED’s. There are also two main categories all these parts fall into: symmetrical clipping and asymmetrical clipping, both of which have a unique sound quality. If you have a favorite overdrive or distortion pedal that never leaves your board, it may be worth trying different clipping mods to see if there’s any improvement to your ears. 4) External Tap Tempo Mod Delay pedals are a wonderful area of creative exploration, but sometimes when you find “the sound” it doesn’t necessarily come with all the right features. Tap tempo mods will take a pedal that has tap tempo and will add another input to the enclosure that you can plug an external tap tempo switch into. This is highly beneficial for those running multiple pedals, as you no longer have to tap very precisely on the button, avoiding all the other pedals around it, you can put the delay pedal wherever you’d like and run your tap tempo to the most convenient place for you. How Can I Craft My Own Sound? That’s entirely up to your imagination, but my guess is you’ve already got a few ideas already! The best way to start crafting your own sound is to play with pedals and to play with a lot of them. Take the ones you like and don’t like and start looking into the parts and design for answers to why that may be the case. You may find that most of the distortion pedals you like don’t have much low end to them, or perhaps all the delay pedals you like have a bucket-brigade-style circuit. Maybe your favorite overdrive as asymmetrical clipping. When you know what you like and dislike you can start to make informed guesses about what mods may suit your tastes. The next step would be to take the pedals you already love and see if anything could be improved with them, either in tone or features. Can I Do It Myself? Absolutely! There are more resources now than ever to help you learn to mod your own pedals, or even create one from scratch. Before you start you’re going to need a soldering iron and develop that skill if you haven’t already. Whether you’re building a pedal or modding one this tool will be your bread and butter throughout the entire process. If you’re exploring the idea of entering this world on your own instead of buying mods, you can start with simple circuits like a kill switch or clean boost pedal and work your way up to more complex tasks like clipping or true bypass mods. There are various parts vendors and DIY kits that can be found online to kickstart your education and experience. Final Thoughts There are already enough pedals (and gear mods) to keep you busy experimenting until the day you die, but there’s an entirely new level of options when you look into the modding community. The comforting thought is that with this amount of variety there is more than enough room for everyone to find their own unique sound, the not-so-comforting thought is that you may not be able to fulfill your dream of playing every pedal ever. Sorry, bucko.