Thursday, 10 July 2014

Ramble FX Marvel Drive

Request, thanks to PedalBlotter for his hard graft in tracing the circuit.  This is a bit of an awkward circuit to try to find a good middle point to do it on two levels (like my Muff layouts) and have an even spread of components on the board, so I've just done it in a long single row.  At 25 x 10 it will still easily fit in a 1590B rotated 90 degrees with lots of space at the sides :o) but I've also included a vertical layout for those who would prefer to build it that way.

Info about the original:

Great for AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and more!

From the KRRR-ANG of the high strings to the growl of the low strings, Marvel Drive delivers all of the tone that made the Marshall™ plexi legendary.

Topped with a genuine plexi faceplate, the Marvel Drive uses 4 separate JFET gain stages to create the ultimate in touch sensative, dynamic distortion. Each stage contributes to the harmonics and distortion in much the same way each tube does in an amplifier.

A well known secret to great tone out of the vintage, 4 input Marshall™ amps is to use a patch cable to connect 2 of the inputs together. When this is done, the HIGH TREBLE and the NORMAL volumes can be blended together for the perfect crunchy combination.

That is what Marvel Drive recreates. Marvel Drive uses 2 JFET gain stages in parallel, one with a bright and throaty scream, and one that brings the thump of a full stack. This configuration delivers a powerful way to get the perfect setting.










99 comments:

  1. I knew you were going to take this on :) Nice and compact!
    +m

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  2. Sounds ballsy as hell. Putting this one on the build list for sure. I'm building a silver burst SG that should go nicely with this pedal.

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  3. I'm for sure going to give this one a shot! Haven't tried a JFET distortion yet, but this seems to be a good one to start with...I'll report back when I get around to building it!

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    1. It shouldn't give you too many problems with the trimmers being there making it easy to tweak it

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    2. Awesome, thanks for doing the layout! I may just order parts for it later today... :D

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  4. Updated to change the position of the 22n cap. It shaves off a column too

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  5. Charming!
    I think this one just got pushed up to the top of my to do list LOL
    taking a break from fuzzes

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  6. Original Drainvoltage:

    Q1 4,0 Volt
    Q2 5,0 Volt
    Q5 5,35 Volt

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  7. Fixed a couple of issues so get the latest version

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Mark!

      I haven't built anything in a while, but I'M BUILDIN' THIS ONE!

      G

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  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdXE--QHMG0#t=349

    There is my favorite Krang sound in spades with a SWEET LP-SG Standard... does not get better then that kids! hehee

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    1. Well...after hearing Kingman's demo, gonna have to set aside a couple of builds in mid progress to do this one. I'll bet Brett's demos have sold a ton of pedals....

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  9. Looks great. The endless race for the perfect Plexi tone is really endless.

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  10. I built quite a few Plexi Drive from Mark's layout, they sound absolutely awesome. I'm curious to compare both side to side !
    330µf, is such a high value mandatory is this circuit ?

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    Replies
    1. No you could use pretty much any electro in there, just make it 10u or above.

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    2. Good to know, thanks Mark

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  11. VERIFIED. it works perfect and sounds great.

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  12. So how do you set the trimmers? 4.5v?

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  13. From the above post:
    Original Drainvoltage
    Q1 4,0 Volt
    Q2 5,0 Volt
    Q5 5,35 Volt
    That should get you were you need to be

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    1. Oops, I seemed to have missed that post. Thanks!

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  14. My bud Paul has these little jfet Adapter Boards for mmbfj201's if anyone cannot find any jfets
    http://www.diyguitarpedals.com.au/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=286
    I bought several j201s way back when and those are getting scarce now :( I head the SMD version is every bit as good to use with those little adaptor boards :-)

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    1. Cool....just ordered a bunch of those from Paul.
      Heck of a lot cheaper and safer to order a known good part than to take the chance and added expense of possible fake j201's

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    2. Hey Leo Jo...
      Thanks for the heads up about those JFET adapter boards from Paul. I bought some boards and some SMD's from him and they sound EXCELLENT with this pedal! This was a double plus. I'm no longer afraid of working with SMD components and the price is way, way low.

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  15. Buying parts now. Thanks man. :D
    Quick question:
    If I don't have a 25k log pot, would a higher or lower value be a better alternative. ie 20k or 50k etc

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    1. Pretty much anything will work in there, but it's probably better to keep it low so the output impedance remains low. 20K will work fine.

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    2. Thanks man. Been looking for 25k, and they're turning into unobtainium... They're there, but more expensive than everything else.

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    3. Not 100% sure but I think a 50k resistor parallel with a 50k pot will give you 25k?

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    4. Exactly. Using linear taper pot with 50K resistor added between lugs 1&3 will result is 25K log taper pot.

      However. Since it's master volume, you could use 50K in its place without an issue.
      +m

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  16. Got mine working tonight after hunting down and eradicating a microscopic solder bridge (grrrr). Sounds great! Very loud, and the normal/treble controls appear to be quite effective. I substituted some parts due to what I had on hand (e.g. 220 uF for the 330 uF, 150 nF for 180 nF), and I'll play around with the big caps to see if can use some physically smaller components. Shouldn't have to change too much.

    For those who want a versatile, high gain, pedal for rock and roll, this is a great circuit!

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  17. Whoops - meant 150 pF caps for 180 pF...

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  18. Mine's done and sounds great.
    pics:

    http://johnkvintageguitars.homestead.com/Effects/Fuzz-ODs/MarvelDrive/MarvelDrive-01.jpg

    http://johnkvintageguitars.homestead.com/Effects/Fuzz-ODs/MarvelDrive/MarvelDrive-02.jpg

    thanks for posting it Mark!

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    Replies
    1. awesome job, looks incredible as always john.

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    2. Awesome as always John. How does it sound on bass?

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    3. thanks! and it sounds great with a bass.

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  19. I played around with my circuit tonight. I substituted a (physically smaller) 1 uF cap for the 680 nF, and also changed the A25K to a A50K since that is was the closet log pot I had on hand. Both changes didn't affect the sound.

    The pedal is definitely loud. I can't turn the master past 2/3 before it gets too loud, although you can turn down the normal/treble controls to compensate. I noticed in the YouTube demo videos, the reviewers mostly had the master at around the 12:00 position. Despite this, the tone is very good, and you can sustain notes forever!

    Because the volume is usually rolled off, I noticed some loss of highs, and so experimented with a treble bleed cap (4.7 nF) on the master volume pot. That worked well to make the sound a little crisper (especially for humbuckers). I may put it on a switch though.

    I'll start boxing this baby tomorrow :)

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  20. Just a question : Need to put 100pF capacitors between Treble 2 - board and Treble 3 - board or between Treble 2 - Treble 3 (directly on the pot) ?
    Thanks

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  21. Which one would you consider the best plexi emulator?
    This one, Wampler Plexi-Drive or Madbean Boneyard (Carl Martin Plexitone)?

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    1. All 3 are great pedals. Marvel Drive however imo is more dynamic

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    2. Thanks Leo. That's what I thought.

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  22. Just breadboarded this tonight, and I agree with everyone else that it sounds great on both guitar and bass. I'll likely knock it out once I have some vero the right size. I also used the smd j201s and adapter boards mentioned earlier, and they work great as well.

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    1. I finally have everything for this pedal and will have a go at it tomorrow. I need something to replace my purple plexi since that pedal has a fizzle on the decay :(

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  23. I don't know what happened to my post, but I'll try again here...

    I'll be ordering parts here soon and wanted to ask this question first...I know the later version of the Marvel Drive has a presence control, does anyone know how to add a presence control to this layout?

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    1. With many of these dirt pedals a presence control is often just a low pass filter before the volume pot. Whether that is what has been done on the Marvel Drive or not I don't know, but I expect we wouldn't be too far away by assuming that. You could add a 20K Presence pot and try this:

      Volume 3 wire goes to Presence 3 instead of Vol 3
      Presence 2 to Volume 3
      Presence 1 > 22n > ground

      Volume 2 would remain the output.

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    2. Awesome thanks!! I'll order the parts and give that a try...I'll let you know how it works!

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  24. I just built this one up and everything works perfect except for the normal volume. I don't get any sound from the normal volume. I biased Q1,2, and 5 to the voltage listed above and the treble volume sounds great. I checked the board a few times and it appears all the cuts and the components are in the right spots, and I scraped between the tracks to eliminate any potential solder bridges. Any ideas of the top of your heads?

    I'll post the voltages here in a little bit, I want to go over the board a little bit more and make sure nothing obvious is staring me in the face.

    Once I get the normal volume figured out I'll try the presence control!

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    1. @ Jacob Canady
      I had a similar problem with no control of the Master Volume pot. The problem was I mistakenly had a 27K resistor where the 2K7 resistor should be. Once I swapped it with a 2K7 resistor it was cranking up nice and LOUD. My best guess would be a resistor issue. Check the 820R and both 100K resistor values to make sure they are correct (those connect to the Normal Volume pot).

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  25. Mark.
    Nice pedal. Thanks. again. Would playing with the values of the 22n off of 'Normal 3', and the 2n2 off of 'Treble'2 yield more/less bass and treble quality/response? I know quality is relative term. I would like to create more of a contrast between the normal and treble tones.
    Jeff

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    1. If you reduce the 2n2 it should cut more low end. Increasing the 22n won't affect anything though as it is already allowing all audio frequencies through

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    2. Ooooo. I put a 470p in for the 2n2 and it is more too my taste.
      Like a Johnny Winter treble freak!!

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  26. New favorite. Seriously, I can't get a bad sound out of it. With the blending of the normal and treble, you will not miss a tone control. I haven't plugged in another pedal in a week...

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  27. I agree. I absolutely love this one. I even ended up getting a square red Fresnel for the led ;-) :

    http://johnkvintageguitars.homestead.com/Effects/Fuzz-ODs/MarvelDrive/MarvelDrive-01.jpg

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    1. Looks great John, as do all your builds.

      In looking back at the build plans, i just realized I forgot the 100p across 2 and 3 of the treble. Sounds fine without it but I'll have to add on the next build...

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  28. Built.....wonderful @12v with a bit more headroom and less sag.
    Also great with a Fetto pushing the front end.

    Thanks again for the great layout!

    G

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  29. This is such a great sounding pedal! I highly recommend this build. If you don't have a Marshall Plexi, this gets you one step closer to finding that Hendrix/Zeppelin signature tone. Love that sustain ! ! !

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  30. Thanks for the layout and build tips guys, it's a great-sounding circuit. Highly recommended! Here are a couple pics of my build:

    http://i.imgur.com/WvGj2qg.jpg

    http://i.imgur.com/5bfW0hD.jpg

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    1. Great stuff, thanks for the pics

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  31. 1590A haters be damned! ;)

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Vnii3UxZwpc/U_JrPBWrxLI/AAAAAAAAAus/OKbCT2pQp3w/s512/image%2520%25281%2529.jpeg

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZvV4RjLxZdo/U_JrO89NhkI/AAAAAAAAAuo/BnxmxI2WwZo/s512/image.jpeg

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    1. Awesome. You are clearly insane :o)

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    2. Lordy... it's a miracle! I don't think I could fit all that stuff inside no matter how much planning I did!!

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  32. Hah, thanks. Not my cleanest build, but it's packed in there. I had to remove the 15th column and cram all the connections onto the 14th column. It sounds great. It's the first marshall sounding pedal I've built that I've liked.

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  33. I noticed that there is a new version of this pedal that adds a "Presence" control. Does anyone know how it was implemented?

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  34. Man, this thing sounds fantastic. Might have to build another one with a Rangemaster in the same box. The two are a perfect match.

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  35. I'm about halfway through this build. I used those SMD adapter boards and woah those SMD transistors are tiny!

    Can't wait to rock out with this build!

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  36. Anyone else notice that this circuit turns to mush when a fuzz pedal is running into it? I've tried a few different ones and they all sound muddy when running into the marvel. Rangemaster sounds amazing though.

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    1. It sounds phenomenal with my EJ Signature FuzzFace! It does different things depending on the pedal order.

      If I want a Montrose "Space Station #5" treble infused crunch;
      Guitar > Marvel Drive > FuzzFace > Amp

      If I want a ZZ Top "Blue Jean Blues" mid-range sustain;
      Guitar > FuzzFace > Marvel Drive > Amp

      The signal is pretty much unusable if I use it at the same time with other pedals like an MXR Distortion+ or a ZVEX Woolly Mammoth. Everything gets muddy, jumbled together and it spits out terrible feedback.

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  37. Hi,
    The led, the pots, the jacks and the switch there aren't in the schemes...
    Why?
    Could someone do one for me?
    Thanks!

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    1. off board wiring here http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/offboard-wiring.html

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  38. Does anyone have a schematic? If not I'll make one from the vero layout.

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  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  40. I just finished this build and like everyone has already posted it's an easy build that sounds fantastic!

    The treble "channel" really reminds me of Joey Santiago's dirt sound. It has a great biting grind. The normal channel is nicely balanced

    I can't comment on it's "stackability" yet, but as a standalone dirt box it's impressive

    Haven't installed an LED yet :0
    http://i825.photobucket.com/albums/zz176/Dub-T-123/95475D16-BA39-43C1-B549-A9D7CFCD1D06_zpscrpulx4k.jpg

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    1. Nice job buddy, thanks for the pic

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  41. Thanks Mark

    The more I play with this the more I enjoy it. It's a bit higher gain than I usually go for, and for that I love it. It fills a void for when I want to noodle around on classic rock riffs

    Obviously you'll never get the full sound of a real Marshall from a pedal, but this must be the most amp like distortion I've tried. It's fantastic!

    I really appreciate your site for helping me make great gear like this on a budget. This cost me $15-20 for the complete build. You guys have helped me out so much!

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  42. Painting in process, then stuff it in. Already tested and sounding great. Even through my solid state Behringer test amp and computer speakers in the shed. :D

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  43. I just built one of these but i have a slight problem. At all gains maxed and the master maxed I barely have unity volume. I can't find anything wrong with my layout or soldering. I do hear an overdriven tone but nothing like any videos (slight breakup). Any suggestions?

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    1. Try tweaking the trimmers. You should be able to dime them to perfection by ear.
      +m

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  44. Just built this one up and the treble volume sounds great, but there is barely any output when I decrease the treble volume to zero and then max the normal volume.
    Voltages:
    Q1: 4.1 V
    Q2: 5.0 V
    Q5: 5.45

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  45. This circuit does not carry an integrated?

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    1. I love the sound but in this video shows that has 6 transistors and integrated ... is this so ? or is it another product ? Thank you!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BISRZEy4-JQ

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  46. those extra components are most likely for the relayed bypass circuit and have nothing to do with the tone of the circuit when engaged.

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  47. Just finished this pedal and like everyone else has said, it sounds amazing. Only issue I seem to be having is i'm not getting the loudness some have mentioned. I have to have the volumes up to at least 3/4 to get to unity gain. I tried tweaking the drain voltages, but it didn't really help. I did have to substitute some components, perhaps somebody could tell me if that is my issue? Here is what was swapped.

    Transistors are MPF102's
    I used 220pF caps instead of 180pF
    47k resistors instead of 50k (Should I have went up to 56k instead of down?)
    1uF cap instead of 680nF
    2.2uF cap instead of 1uF (I don't have polarized 1uF caps)
    220uF cap instead of 330uF
    50K log pot for master volume

    But like I said, it still sounds fantastic.

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  48. Let me start by saying the circuit sounds awesome, it really does.. while it worked! I had this wired to a test box and everything worked perfectly: loud master volume and both normal and treble volumes did their job just fine (I've watched many demos of this pedal). When I boxed the circuit the treble vol. didn't work anymore and the master lost most of it's volume - I could tell the normal vol. was still working across the range of the pot but the final output was very low, not even reaching unity with the amp when the master was cranked. So, unboxing the thing and wiring it back to the test box brought the treble vol. back, but still, the master volume keeps acting the same - SUPER quiet, not even reaching unity when @ max with both treble and normal vols. cranked. Some people mentioned the pedal being too quiet...I think we're having the same problem somehow. Has anyone found what was the issue?

    I've changed pots and messed with the trimpots to no avail. The JFETs are the same that worked originally and voltages are as per recommended on a previous post - just as when the pedal originally worked. I'm lost this time... I'll try changing the JFET's tomorrow and see.

    And BTW, someone was saying this circuit sounded mushy when fronted by a fuzz (what fuzz?)... mine soundED awesome, compressed in the right way, thick, creamy, no fizzy/mushy/synthy artifacts - a total winner with a Si Fuzz Face before it. At least, I had time to stack these two pedals!

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  49. Problems are solved. First, probably a bad JFET or two. Then I boxed it and the treble volume starts working all weird, sounding "cranked up" all the time and making nasty noises - got that changed too. Gosh, never had so many problems with a single build.

    Yup, this is a great Marshall-type pedal and a fuzz face works awesome into it. I'm surprised by how little hum this pedal produces after boxed - at least for a circuit capable of such high gain levels. I still think the Plexi-Drive sounds better for low gain, chimey OD sounds but this one has it beat in every other area. Extremely recommended build.

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  50. I was finally able to source some J201s and that fixed my volume issue. Pedal is loud as hell now, so I guess MPF102s aren't good replacements for J201s then.

    A new issue however. I decided to build a second one but this time I used the vertical 15x20 layout and the normal channel is just barely there like others have mentioned. Makes me wonder if both layouts have been verified. Any successful builds out there with the vertical layout?

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  51. I built this with BF245As and sounds really great as a stand alone drive on my solid state amp, and also produces some cool tones after my Meathead which is a cardinal point for me since I'm in a search for good drives/amp sims that do some post gain/break up stuff after a fuzz without annoying mid-hump mushiness. Love it!

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  52. Built mine today. Excellent tone but got louder hum when messing with q5 trimpot. Lowering it down, the hum is gone but also the volume. Any thoughts?

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  53. what are the settings for each trimpot ?

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  54. (sorry for my bad english) i'm having some problems with the treble volume pot: it only work reasonably weel in the first half of the taper. Than it cut the sound. Also it doesnt really add some noticeable treble content.

    The sound of my circuit is incredible. But it doesn't clean really well with the guitar's volume knob. It add some strange harmonics in the notes. Can someone help me?

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