Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Catalinbread SFT

One of the layouts that is frequently mentioned so I thought I'd do a tagboardeffects version of it.  There's a couple of axial electrolytics in there, simply because I have them in that size and to me they suit the layout as it is better than radial, but as usual, use whatever you have.

Info about the original:

When we originally set out on our quest to make the best Bass overdrive ever, we never imagined that it could also sound so amazing with guitar – but then we got to thinking about some of the classic late ‘60s/early ‘70s ‘Ya-Yas’ era tones and thought we should take a stab at them. And heck while we’re at it, it would be really cool if it worked for the more modern drop tuned heavy stuff too. Made sense since those tones were due in large part to guitars being played through amps designed for bass, right?

And what about the Bass tones? We wanted a pedal that FINALLY let you control the amount of grind solely based on your finger attack. You know the feeling - full and rich and clean when you brush lightly and some nice wooly edge when you dig in. At the other end of the sonic spectrum we wanted a drive pedal that could deliver bone-crunching grind and still hold together without sounding thin or turning into a sludgy mess no matter how hard you hit it.

So we did a LOT of listening – listening for the dynamics, how the pedal responds to pick or finger attack. The cornerstone of those particular amps is their dynamic sensitivity – the feeling that you plugged directly into the power amp, that there is always more potential on tap. It’s a big, lively, responsive tone – you feel completely connected to it and control it all through your hands, nothing gets in the way. So we worked on the input sensitivity until it turned our rather sterile solid-state test subject into a warm and responsive vintage-sounding tube amp.

We also listened for that classic EQ voicing – the ‘right’ midrange was crucial and it was absolutely critical that we got it right. So we scoped it out and found it, and it was good. Then we added some really flexible Treble and Bass controls so you can dial in the right amount of feel - if you wanted a more edgy grind or a looser bottom it was super easy to dial it in with a minimum of tweaking. And those were good too.

We had to get the drive character right as well – meaning that it had so be clean but really full sounding when you picked lightly, and blossom into that huge rich grind when you hit it harder. It had to decay in a certain way, no fizzy stuff as the notes or chords die off. It needed to respond in a very dynamic way just like the amps do – no generic smothering of the transients, it needed to breathe.

So after months of listening, testing, listening some more, and fine-tuning these are the results. The SFT was a real labor of love for us – we wanted a killer, super-versatile bass pedal the likes of which nobody has heard before, and for guitar we wanted a faithful recreation of those classic Taylor-era tones with the ability to morph into more modern heavy sounds and we finally feel we’ve nailed it.







55 comments:

  1. On a roll today IvIark!
    My wife is a gonna kill me... another one on my to-do list
    thanks!

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  2. EIGHT 5457s???? I know what I'm doing on Saturday.

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  3. Good looking vero! What a pity I've already done mine!

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  4. Hi. Have just built this one from Mark's vero. It works and sounds nice. All pots work in the right direction. One problem: My gain pot only has effect on the gain level in the last part of it's range. It does go from very little to full gain there I believe. I checked the pot and my value is correct(1M log)

    Thanks!

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    1. If all your pots work in opposite direction, you must have all the lugs number one and three mixed together. This would also explain why the log pot works weird.

      Check the pot lug numbering here: http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.fi/2012/02/offboard-wiring.html
      +m

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    2. Thanks for verifying the layout for us. Sounds like a linear pot would give a better sweep.

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    3. I read some use a reversed log pot (1M-C) for the gain to get a more 'workable' sweep.
      I haven't tried this one yet... but i'm gonna ;)

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    4. Original schematic uses the 1M-A (logarithmic) though...

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    5. Yes the layout said 1M log originally, I changed it to linear yesterday to have a happy medium. From the description of the results it will definitely work better than the log pot, so I thought I'd leave it as that until someone tests linear and reverse log.

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  5. Just watched the sound clip accompanying your layout again and maybe I am not getting as much gain after all.. I am testing with a Les Paul also. "59 replica pickups so maybe Kingman's pups are hotter?

    On GSB I found that more people are having trouble getting full gain and a smooth gain range.. Reverse audio pots and linear pots are suggested to solve this..

    http://www.freestompboxes.org/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=9417

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  6. Hi Mirosol. Thanks! But all my pots work in the right direction so that's not it.

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  7. Thank you for the tip and all the nice layouts. Have built about 35 now from your blog.

    Just ordered rev log and linear pots to test for better gain range. Will arrive on Wednesday. I'll let you know if they solve it.

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  8. Just tested with 1 meg linear pot. It works fine now! First very large part of the range builts up gain very gently until the last third when it has a (now manageable) sweep from medium to lots of gain. On one of the forums I read that the above mentioned relatively clean first part of the pot range is normal and is supposed to emulate a vintage Ampeg amp.

    The effect also seems to have more gain on tap with the swapped pot but I'm guessing this cannot be true since both are 1 meg total resistance?

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  9. Having owned both the original SFT with the white knobs and the newer ones with the small metal knobs, the newer ones sound pretty different - much brighter with the emphasis on the high mids rather than the low mids. At first I preferred the newer one, but the older one has a certain fatness to it that can't be beat!

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  10. is there any way to brighten up the treble on this one?its very very dark sounding

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  11. Please excuse my ignorance, but where is the output signal coming from the board?

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    1. Well. It does say "Volume 2 to output" on the notes.
      +m

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    2. Thank you Mirosol.
      I figured it was something that simple, I just needed someone to point it out for me.

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  12. I finished building the pedal but I am not getting any real overdrive. I ran my Music-Man Stingray-pedal-Protools and found I was getting about the same amount of signal when the was either off or engaged. Is there something I could've done wrong? Could it be a faulty component?

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  13. After further testing, I found that the effect does work for about 5 minutes, then the gain lessens over time until it turns to what I described earlier.

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  14. Just built this one. I also find that the 1 meg linear pot for the gain works better. Thanks Ivlark and Mirosol!

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  15. Hey, I finished the build the while ago and I cannot get it right for whatever reason. With both 5457's and 5458's it's way too quiet and I checked everything numerous times. Maybe you guys can help: http://postimg.org/gallery/yihczre0/
    Thanks!

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  16. Hi. Just built the SFT this weekend. It does sound really great but I have a couple of questions. The volume pot seems to have very little effect though it does work. The treble pot does adjust the tone but also has a large effect on the volume. If the treble is completely off there is no volume. I find it odd that it sounds the way it is supposed to sound and all pots do in fact do what they are supposed to do. Is this normal? Any advice on what to double/triple check?

    Thanks!!

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  17. Thanks a lot! Built this one last week and it sounds great (at least in high gain settings). But I think I have the same problems as Baron Norris (Only a small amount of volume and the treble pot has effect on the volume). So, my problem is that it is only loud enough when the volume poti is in settings beyond 3 o’clock (even then it is only close to the original volume output of the instrument) – at least when the gain is set below 9 o’clock. Thus low gain settings aren’t possible without losing volume.
    Is this intended or did I make a mistake?

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    1. Do you think it is a 9V versus 18V issue? I am going to try running at 18V.

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    2. if your caps are rated higher then 18V you should have no problem.

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    3. Thanks for the warning. Everything checks out. Getting a lot better response from the pedal.

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    4. My pedal also works better at 18V. It's way louder. But still really low gain settings aren't possible. Maybe it's just the way the pedal should sound.

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  18. Hey there!

    I have built this circuit twice so far and I think I will try it a third time and then give up on it for good. Before I do that, however, I wanted to ask yall some questions.

    The axial caps in the diagram (100uf and 4u7): If I am using polarized radial electrolytic caps, then the negative lead would go to the top, correct? The line in the diagram denoted negative/ground, yes?

    "Volume 2 to output" just means I run a wire from lug 2 of the volume pot to the output lug of the 3pdt switch, right?

    I ordered my 2n5457 transitors from China on ebay.. how do yall test N Channel transistors with your DMM to see if they are working properly? I am new to using a DMM for things like this.

    Here are some pictures of what I have:

    http://postimg.org/image/sgaa24ylv/ - front
    http://postimg.org/image/9zfvbbinn/ - back

    Do yall see anything that might be causing the effect to not engage?

    Thank you so much in advance. God I love this site.

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  19. Built this one for my bass player. Awesome sound! Everything works great, no issues at all. Thank you!

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  20. Finished this circuit. Then read about it for hours and did some analyzing on the schematic.I don't have access to the original unit so i can't confirm, but i'm fairly certain there are things wrong with the traced schematic.

    Issues are with the gain control, which can't work properly as it is depicted on the trace and on the layout. The 22K coming from gain lug 1 to ground. Remove its top lead and solder it to the second row from the bottom - just one row over where the 4K7 has its right hand side lead. Make a cut left to this new joint and take a wire from that resistor lead to gain pot's lug number 1. Now, the control works as intended, but the range is still not even close to what it should be. Swap this 22K to 220K and try again. Now you are able to try on the original 1M log taper for the pot...

    I'm still not getting as much gain or volume out of my build as advertised, but i'm a lot closer. For those building this - try these tweaks out and tell as what happened...
    +m

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    1. Okay I did the tweaks and it works way better and I didn't make the left cut cause of the jumper that conect to q4. Thanks. I installed a NE555 Voltage Doubler and this thing came to life had more gain and volume. All the knob seem to work like they should. Is it normal for the NE555 Voltage Doubler to drain the battery so fast? First time ever adding one to my pedals. One thing that I noticed before I did any of this stuff to the pedal is when I would touch the enclosure I would get a loud buzzing sound with the battery or power supply connected. I ended up putting a wire on the 3pdt switch to the enclosure and that got rid of it.

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    2. Timer doubler will draw quite a lot current, but it should not drain drain a battery in a few minutes.

      Them hum you mentioned sounds like a grounding issue.
      +m

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    3. mirosol: Are you talking about the 22K next to Q1?

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    4. So I tried these tweaks and they didn't improve the low volume or the issue with the treble knob affecting volume. I'm wondering why you would move the top lead of the 22k (now 220k) to the second row and then jumping that to lug 1, why wouldn't you just leave the resistor where it is? isn't it still in line with everything it needs to touch?

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. Built this a couple of days ago and having the same problems. Gain and Volume gotta be cranked up all the way. Gonna try mirosol suggestion when I get a chance. Was looking at this schematic :
    http://homemadefx.web.fc2.com/SFT.BMP


    and the bass is a 100k and treble is a 25k and.Gain is a 500k and Volume is still a 100k. I would try that but only have the 1m. Wondering why those values aren't being used? Wondering if anyone could give it a try. Thanks

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    1. Not sure where that schematic comes from. The FSB trace shows both tone stack pots at 1M. Also, the gain at A1M.

      Go with the gain fix and 220k resistor. Those'll work way better.
      +m

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  23. Is this ok or not? Anyone got some new info?

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    1. Just finished mine tonight. I suggest that you socket the 2n5457 cause it did effect the loudness of the pedal. Also to do mirosol tweak with a reverse potentiometer it helps with gain and last of all to run it at 18 volts helps a great deal. I used a spst (on off) switch to turn my charge pump off and on so I could just use the battery and a spdt (on on) switch to switch between 9v to 18v.

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  24. Ok. Think im going to breadboard this and "finetune" begore soldering. Thanks

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  25. At 9v my clean channel on amp is louder then the pedal at 18v pedal is louder than the clean channel. I wanted to know if this is normal or not for this particular pedal? Thanks

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  26. Hey there, would it be possible for someone to post voltages please? Thanks heaps

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  27. Hey there, would it be possible for someone to post voltages please? Thanks heaps

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  28. i made this effect, is ok but new version sft is really good. I cant wait scheme on this page!!!

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    Replies
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6MYFVjMwiA

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  29. mirosol, Can you draw a new scheme after changes 22k? I do not quite understand how this will be done.

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  30. Hi Mario.
    I think what Miro suggested is to separate Gain's lugs 1 & 2.
    Same as the Catalinbread DLS( http://www.freestompboxes.org/download/file.php?id=24973&mode=view ).
    Where it now says "Gain 1 & 2" becomes Gain 2.
    From what is now called Gain 2 there is a 22K resistor going to ground.
    Disconnect it from Gain 2 and connect it to Gain 1.
    From Gain 1 there will only be the 22K resistor going to ground.
    If you check the DLS schematic above it will be much clearer.
    I've drawn a layout a while back and made those changes.
    I could add it in the Forum/contributions section in the meantime if you want.

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  31. thx Alex!
    this is it, now gain its ok!

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  32. Hi,
    cant find any 2n5457 or substitute near me, the closest thing i can is j113.Will it work or i have to make adjustments around the transistors?

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  33. Nvm, built it with j113, works like a charm :)

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  34. Mine has been working fine for a few months, but now I am only getting weird noises and no signal any more. First moving and touching the vero board helped for a few minutes, but then noise again. I have now rebuilt it on a new vero board. Didn’t help. Only noise. Any ideas what could be wrong?

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  35. Hi. Thanks for the layout. Any chances for a new version with stones/stoner switch?

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    Replies
    1. I think it is just arrived :
      http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.fr/2016/06/catalinbread-sft-ii.html
      Simon

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  36. Just built it, using a pcb from Fuzzdog, not vero, but I thought my experience could help.

    Mirosol's trick to disconnect gain1 & gain2 and have the 22k connected to gain1 only works great. I absolutely recommend it.

    I still had a low gain issue (not much gain in the circuit) but instead of making the 22k 220k, I solved it by placing a 20k trimpot in place of the other 22k (in the lower left corner). Reducing the value to 15k, 10k or even 5k gave much more gain and output.

    And there's a pretty big difference between 9v and 18v, I highly recommend testing it with a 18v psu.

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