Inside an Effectrode Pedal
Effectrode effects pedals really are made of the right stuff. The quality of materials utilised in our pedals is very important to us. Where ever possible Effectrode works with smaller, local companies and our potentiometers and knobs are custom manufactured to our specifications. You can find out more about these and the other high-grade components that make Effectrode pedals so unique and special below.
All-Tube Analogue Signal Path
JJ tubes are manufactured using the old Tesla tube fabrication machines which were physically moved from the Tesla Rožnov factory, Czech Republic by Jan Jorgo (JJ) to Cadca, Slovakia (some 50km east) in the early 1990s. Up until this time Tesla had a state-sponsored monopoly on electronic production in communist Czechoslovakia, producing nearly all electronic products in the country, however this ended when Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two independent countries: the Czech and Slovak Republics. Because JJ tubes are made using the same tooling as Tesla there look very similar internally. All the large Effectrode effects pedals are fitted with JJ B9A miniature dual triode vacuum tubes. These are soak tested for 24 hours to eliminate any weak tubes and then audio tested for low microphony and hum. JJ are one of the finest tubes still being produced today and are extremely reliable both mechanically and electrically – we have a very low rejection rate for microphony, especially on the ECC83s (short anode design). In our opinion JJ are about as close as you can get to a N.O.S. (new old stock) tube.
Despite advances in digital signal processing and modelling techniques it still isn’t possible to reproduce the magic of the tube sound. A recent scientific paper published in Computer Music Journal discusses the complexities and limitations of attempting to digitally model the sound of guitar tube amps. One last fast fact on tubes: They not only sound more natural and musical than transistors but are also immune to damage from to input overload, static electricity and even hard gamma radiation!
Porcelain Tube Sockets
High quality porcelain tube sockets. Tubes deliver a big tone and the flexibility to fine-tune your sound. Chrome plated nudge bars protect the tubes and allow easy replacement for experimentation or servicing. In the same time it takes to change a light bulb, the tone of Effectrode effects pedals can be easily tailored to meet your specific musical tastes by simply changing a tube. For example, simply swap the stock 12AU7 in the Tube-Vibe gain/mixer section for a 12AX7 for increased drive and breakup or try a N.O.S. JAN Philips 12AX7, Mullard ECC83 for a smoother response. JAN Philips mil-spec 12AT7 in the phase-shift sections for high reliablity – you decide.
True Bypass Relay Switching
Audio signal relay with gold plated contacts ensures super quiet switching. True bypass means there is absolutely no loss of tone from your guitar to your amp when the effect is disengaged. These relays are designed specifically for routing audio signals whilst maintaining high integrity. Unlike multi-pole footswitches, which fail easily and were not originally intended for either constant use or audio signals but for switching high voltages, hence their large size. This relay will outlast the three pole true bypass switches in your other pedals. This circuit also shortens the signal path, since the relay is on the circuit board. In bypass, the signal is not routed through any internal wiring which prevent noise from getting into the signal. The relay is controlled using a heavy duty U.S.A. made Carling Technology footswitch. These footswitches are extremely reliable and we’ve never had one fail.
Neutrik Jack Sockets
High-quality German Neutrik jack sockets are the de facto pro-audio industry standard connector. The contacts are made from high-quality phosphor-bronze alloy (much better than steel found in some cheaper jack plugs and sockets) and are nickel-plated – this is one of the finest circuit board mounted (or point-to-point) jack sockets ever poduced. The socket is hard mounted directly onto the PCB to totally eliminate point-to-point wiring – a cause of noise and often a point of failure in audio equipment.
Authentic Davies ‘Dakaware’ Knobs
Our pedals are all fitted with genuine Davies U.S.A. manufactured 1510 pointer and 2300 ‘chickenhead’ knobs. These are especially custom made for Effectrode using the original Chicago, Dakaware moulds from the 1940s. Unlike the cheap Taiwanese copies which are made from plastic and prone to cracking, these knobs are made from solid phenolic resin. They’re many times more expensive than the cheap copies but we really think it is worth it as they’re more elegantly shaped and pleasing to the eye – a far superior product with a very classy retro styling and they are made in the U.S.A.
All our pedals are fitted with custom manufactured sealed Omeg potentiometers with conductive plastic tracks. These have a smoother action and over twice the life of typical carbon track potentiometers and will never dry out or require periodic lubrication or cleaning to remove dirt. This arrangement completely eliminates pot-to-PCB wiring, which is a possible point of failure and keeps induced noise to an absolute minimum. Omeg pots are the industry standard for pro-audio gear and have been manufactured in Great Britain since the late 1950s. Omeg in situated in the old ‘Radiohm’ Works, East Grinstead, Sussex, England.
Polyester Coupling Capacitors
All our pedals feature a 100% analogue signal path using audiophile grade resin potted polyester capacitors. These plastic film dielectric capacitors have a very high “figure of merit”, whereas electrolytics have tendancy to be more lossy (low ESR), poor initial tolerance and dry out over time causing a reduction of capacitance. In short polyester capacitors are extremely reliable and have a life span measured in many, many decades – they’re the absolute best choice of capacitor for high-end audio gear.
Precision Grade Metal Film Resistors
All our pedals utilise U.S.A. manufactured Vishay-Draloric instrumentation grade precision resistors in the signal path. Silver-palladium contacts ensure low, low noise and excellent long term stability. These precision resistors cost several times more than cheaper carbon film resistors which have a tendancy to drift with age and are intrinsically noiser.
Silver Plated Printed Circuit Board
Printed circuit board (PCB) with heavy duty copper reference and power planes for low noise performance. The copper is plated with pure silver and the board is coated with our unique high-grade transparent solder resist and silkscreened on one side. Reference (return) plane layout methodologies coupled with meticulous consideration to circuit layout yields studio-quiet performance. More information can be found in Henry W. Ott’s well considered paper, “Partitioning and Layout of a Mixed-Signal PCB” which gives a more detailed explanation of the approach, Reference and power plane layout is used by pro-audio companies such as BSS Audio and Klark-Teknik in preference to the older star-earth toplogy because of its superior noise performance.
Housed in a Bomb-proof Aluminium Box
Housed in a from diecast aluminium alloy Hammond enclosure. This is lightweight, has superior shielding properties over steel and the rounded edges of these boxes have a more attractive and pleasing appearance than folded steel enclosures. Additionally, considering the signal path in our pedals is based purely on vacuum tubes and not miniaturised solid-state transistor or opamp components, the pedal-board footprint is reasonably small, measuring less than 5″ x 7″. Finished in high-quality powder coating and stoved expoxy silkscreen which is much more durable and scratch resistant than paint. It’s also safer to use and less harmful to the environment.
High Voltage Power Supply
The power supply provides fully filtered, smoothed and regulated 300VDC to the tubes for clean and detailed audio performance with stacks of head-room. Additionally, the power supply to the heaters is fully regulated DC ensuring a low noise floor and wide dynamic range. Effectrode effects pedals are designed and audio tested using both Hi-Z humbucking and single coil pickups. The all-tube signal path performs well with high output Lo-Z active pickups such as EMG85′s and “LiveWires”. The pedal input is even capable of accepting line-level signals and if you do succeed in overdriving our pedals then you’ll be experiencing super smooth, pure class-A, tube overdrive.
Supplied with Wall-Wart
Supplied with Stontronics low noise switched-mode technology wall-wart power supply adapter. These adaptors are the quiestest of several manufacturerers we’ve tested and are far quieter than linear power supplies which produce much more 50/60Hz low frequency hum. Additionally, powering the tubes from 12VDC rather than AC ensures the noise floor of the pedal is as low as it can possibly be.