Friday, 20 November 2015

Earthquaker Devices Acapulco Gold

Original infos:
The Acapulco Gold is a dirt-simple power amp distortion device that's based on the vibe of a cranked Sunn Model T. 
You know what is awesome?
Simplicity. One button, one knob. How loud would you like it?
Just move the knob.
This is the spirit of rock and roll. Quit turning knobs and play that guitar like you mean it. 
While playing, you may want to try ignoring our suggestion and try fiddlin' with your guitar's volume and tone knobs as these can drastically affect the sound of the Acapulco Gold.
The volume knob on your guitar cleans up the pedal nicely, but not too clean.
At minimum guitar volume settings, the Gold imparts a hazy, Nashville-sounding spank to your tone. At just-barely-backed-off, the Gold turns into a raunchy overdrive.
And of course when the guitar volume is completely open, the Gold roars like a Model T on the verge of explosion. It's not quite fuzz, but so close.

This is a very loud pedal.
As Nocentelli pointed out on the original FSB thread here, there are 2 types of videos:
a carefully produced one from PGS (where it's probably used to massively drive a nice tube amp)


 and a more realistic one where the volume knob is set much lower






117 comments:

  1. Verified ! just have some noise when the pot is fully clockwise but nice distortion ! Thanks !

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  2. Cool! That was quick! Thanks to both you and Squirrels (from the Forum) for verifying the layout. Does it sound like the videos?

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  3. Don't get me wrong, the monsterous layouts are great but its nice to have a simple, low parts count build every once in a while! ;)

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    1. I agree (although me and Savvas love to draw gigantic layouts).
      Unfortunately there are not many good ones left around.

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    2. Reminds me of the good old days when I was just starting out. Building a new vero almost daily just to try things out. Haha.

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  4. I used my tele and the sound is very close to Andy's demo. Very loud it is.

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  5. I do think it sounds close actually. A lot of gain and a lot of low end. I added a B500k pre gain pot in front of it and it's way more useable and versatile... I'm not sure if a different value would have different results but I needed a 9mm pot and it's all I had right now. Thanks again Alex. This is Squirrels by the way.

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    1. Thanks for the testing and the suggestion Jim! :)

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  6. I have noise when the pot is fully clockwise. (I'm not very experienced)
    Is the B100K could be a better choice ? Thanks

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  7. I just tested mine and all worked well. I'm not a big fan of it "as is". I think the pre gain pot is a good idea. It's much more usable with my guitar vol rolled back. I, however don't like having to adjust my guitar to suit a pedal. The extra pot would elementary that.
    I think it sounds a lot like my Fuzz Bud which I prefer.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. If the pre pot is supposed to replace the guitar pot, (a strat one in my case), I guess that a 250k log pot should do, right?
      Cheers, Gilberto.

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    3. I used a B500k because that's all I had that would fit in the 1590a enclosure I'm using. I still need to paint the enclosure so when I take it apart to finish it, I may try out a few other pots to see if I get better results with maybe a 100k and maybe in a log. taper. I'll order a correct 9mm pot if I like something better. The 500k works fine, try out whatever you have and let us know.

      To wire it, take the input wire to lug 3, lug 2 to the board input and lug 1 to ground.

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  8. Does this pedal have that noise decay like some of the other 386 chip pedals?
    I have a dozen LM386-4's laying around and I think 6 JRC386's as well. Nice simple layout here so I will have to try this one out. I am going to replace those 1uF caps with some panasonic metal film caps - I scored a bunch of the 50v panasonic metal films from ebay since they are obsolete now...
    Thanks!

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  9. I plugged it in directly to my speaker cab (PPC112 w/ V30) and thought it sounded pretty cool for late night practicing, it was easier to control the volume with the pre pot, even with the pre turned up all the way, the master volume just shut it off. I'd imagine a smaller speaker may work better with it. Just thought I would add that to the discussion.

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  10. What type of resistor is that that is marked CLR?

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    1. that's the resistor for the LED, CLR = Current Limiting Resistor, so you can use whatever you normally use for your LED's. some layouts have them on the board, others as you know already do not.

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  12. Here's mine all boxed up. I labeled the pregain as input.

    http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj316/elessar820/IMG_0625_zps5u8wsk3k.jpg

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    1. I like the art work! Good job, What kind of a clear coat are you using Jim?
      I have had a hard time finding something that does not flake off over time, I am thinking about getting into evirotex some day a shot.

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  13. Thanks. I use Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel. It'll chip if something bangs into it hard enough, but it works well enough for me. I use acrylics for the artwork.

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  14. Mine came out noisy as hell, when i am not playing. Need to fix that. Isn't it like a stripped down tufnel from beavis?

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    1. Mine is the same. Complete silence like it's gated for about half a second when I mute the strings, then suddenly really noisey. It works great though generally. I love it

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    2. Same with mine. Did you find out how to minimize the noise? Sound is fantastic, sustain is really nice and with a quick step on the switch the noise is not that much of a problem. But making it a little less noisy would be nice anyway.

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  15. Hello,

    I have try the 50k, du100k, the 250k and 500k in prégain, and I have the impression that the sound is a little less well .......... we will say more rough.
    It is not obvious but it seems that the sound is less accurate.
    I like not touching the volume of the guitar playing (because the next song I 'forget and it's not great :).
    But this difference of his bothers me is that you have it see too?

    For information, I have used 2 LM386N-1 and it works very well.

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    1. You mean "less accurate" compared to what you get when using the guitar volume knob as a pregain pot or compared to when the pre gain is fully open? Listening to the first video, cleaning with the guitar knob sounds very similar to what you've just described.
      By the way, I was wondering how good this pedal eats big muff variants...

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  17. I'm using mine with an LSTR... Sounds bad ass.

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  18. The output level is very High home, I think adding a minimum of 200k resistance output with a DPDT as I also keep the original sound.
    Otherwise it will be unmanageable in the pedalboard because of the volume too High.
    Regarding prégain not think I put ............

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    1. What about a bigger volume pot? (lets say 500k). Would it change the tone in a different way than adding a 400k series resistor?
      Cheers Gilberto.

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  19. Yes it is a good idea and after several tries I will opt for a potentiometer 1M Lin

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    1. I think the higher the impedance of a volume pot, the lesser the highs lost, (at least that s what happens with guitar volume pots...). Have you noticed any increase of highs/shrillness with the 1m pot?
      Cheers, Gilberto.

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    2. The potentiometer 1M works differently from the guitar volume and yes the sound is less shrill and less sheared especially high volume.
      it will integrate more easily into a pedal pedalboard because for me the output volume is too high.
      Add to my use of a potentiometer prégain is useless against by adding a volume of 1M is essential.

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  20. Since this can drive a speaker, could it be possibly refined more to be a badass alternative to the Noisy Cricket?

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    1. Yep! I was monkeying around with mine, and didn't really get enough usable volume when plugged directly into my 112 cab (8 ohm Swamp Thang). I slapped another 386 on the end of it (basically just duplicated the second 386 stage in the original schematic), and it's great. I've actually yanked the board out of my old Cricket build and replaced it with this.

      Big, throaty solid state tone not unlike a Beta Lead, with enough low end and volume to make it really satisfying to play at home. So yeah, it is basically a more badass alternative to the Noisy Cricket.

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    2. When you say "...duplicated the second 386 stage...", you mean 68k resistor, 4n7 cap, 386 and 1uf cap, right?
      My cab is a 2x12 working at 16ohms.

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  21. I just built this with the gain pot,i also added a mod to the input of the second op amp.Instead of using the 68k resistor i wired in a 100k pot,then out of the pot into a DPDT on/on switch and wired it to ground +input while sending signal to the -input and visa versa depending on wich way i throw the switch.so it now has inverted and non inverted signal on the last op amp.This makes alot more different sounds and tones along with changing the 100k pot to get more treble and it sounds like there some crossover distortion in there too.I love this circuit like this.I hope this will help someone else out if they decide to try it.I'm glad i did thanks guys

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    1. I want to try this but I don´t get it. The signal goes to +input after the 68k resistor and to ground through 4n7 cap. -input is on the same ground row, and here is where my understanding get stuck when talking about connecting anything there...
      Could you please elaborate a little more about the dpdt switch configuration?
      Thanks in advance, Gilberto.
      Could you please

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  22. I took the 4n7 off the board and wired it befor the 68k on an SPDT switch to ground.this gives the option of another cap on other side of this switch.The DPDT switch is between the 68k and the + and - inputs on the LM386.I solder an X (2 wires) across the four outside poles of the switch then connect the +input to one of the middle poles and -input to the other.come out of the 68k into one of the outside poles that make up the X,then ground the pole next to the 68k wire.I'm sorry i don't know how to post a pic on the main page.If you google search reverse polarity diagram for DPDT switch the picture will explain alot better.This switch is DPDT on/on only.I hope this helps cause this really gives alot more tone variety IMO.

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    1. Looking at the pedal layout, I can see that -input lays on the ground row, (so it always remains grounded). I was wondering where did you take the -input from without getting sucked by the ground point.
      Cheers, Gilberto.

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    2. I'm sorry i forgot to mention i leave the ground link off the vero board.the link between the JRC386 and 4n7.sorry for the confusion my bad

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    3. That makes sense now, thanks.
      Ive drawn a switch diagram that hopefully will work:
      http://i1380.photobucket.com/albums/ah171/Thrashtop/2015-12-14%2003.15.58_zpslws7say0.jpg

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  24. I replaced the 68k with a 100k log pot.lug 1 connects to line 6 on the board where the 68k and 1U connect.Lugs 2&3 connect to the polarity switch.4n7 connects to lugs 2&3 other end of 4n7 is grounded.I can adjust the 100k pot to get the circuit brighter.I'll try to post a diagram in the forum section under this circuit name.

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    1. That would be great.
      Thanks for your help!

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    2. I guess my diagram above just needs to erase that redundant 68k resistor. If we assume that the pot output, (lugs 2/3), just needs to get into one of the 386 inputs, (while the other one goes to ground), and at he same time to ground throught the 4n7 cap, I think I got it.

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    3. I´ve finally built this on a 1590a enclosure. It roars in a smooth way, it sounds great. I found the gain pot kind of useless; in my experience, the sound becomes dull and muddy in a bad way with my strat and the same happens when doing it from my guitar volume knob. Otherwise, I was wondering why the hell they didn´t include the tone knob as a stock feature, since it really makes this pedal much more all around amp friendly. You can get more highs yes, but also you can make it darker without getting mud, I love it. I didn´t wired the polarity switch, but maybe I´ll do. Does the inverted signal really makes a difference compared with the original?
      Cheers, Gilberto.

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  25. Replies
    1. Volume 2 is the Output.
      It's written in the notes.

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  26. Didn't have a knob big enough for mine so here's the Big Wood distortion https://www.instagram.com/p/_1xEl-EqdO/

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    1. "Dance floor knob" yeah jajaja!!!

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  27. What a tiny beast!! Massive fuzz-like drive with tones of low-end - thats a real spirit of cranked Sunn Model T!
    I use it as preamp and its DOOM! Very good output. Uniquely best thing that i build. Minimalism as it is!

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  28. Thank you very much for this layout. I just finished testing this circuit, and it is beyond awesome. This pedal turned my 15W kmd testing amp from the 80's into a skull pulverizing doom machine. Incredible.

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  30. What does that green dot underneath the IC mean?

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    1. that's a double link. so you're going to have 2 jumpers in the same hole.

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    2. How may I ask do you fit two jumpers in one hole?

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    3. widen the hole with a drill bit just bigger then the hole, so that you widen it, but not make a complete cut.

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    4. Any suggestions as to size? I believe the drill bit I used to drill out the holes was a 1/16"

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  31. Where does the other end of the LED connect? Thanks!

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  32. Footswitch Pin 1 (if you use Mark's offboard wiring):
    http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.fr/2012/02/offboard-wiring.html

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  33. what is the value of CLR resistor on the vero layout?

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    1. whatever you would normally use if the LED was wired as seen in the offboard wiring, seen here

      http://tagboardeffects.blogspot.fr/2012/02/offboard-wiring.html

      most people use between 1k and 4.7k. the lower the value the brighter the LED.

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    2. Can I take the CLR off of this particular board and wire it like in the offboard-wiring diagram? If I do that, does it change anything else in this build?

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    3. Yes. Either leave it there and remove the LED+ wire or remove both. It makes no difference to the build. But I'd personally use it as it's shown. It makes your off board LED wiring easier/cleaner.

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  35. Anyone put 18v to this yet? Simplicity is beauty.

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  36. The max voltage for the IC is 12V, but I would stick with 9V

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  37. Made this up today and damn... Amp crushing beauty. It also sounds great at low volume through my Blackstar HT1R which surprised me.

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  38. Made this up today and damn... Amp crushing beauty. It also sounds great at low volume through my Blackstar HT1R which surprised me.

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  39. I'm looking at the data sheet for the IC and it says that changing the 10u cap from legs 1 to 8 will change the gain from anywhere between 20 to 200. I haven't tried it yet, but wouldn't that bring the overall volume down? I know it would also change the sound and the saturation of the gain, but it's worth messing with. Might end up as a nice crunchy boost.

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  40. I'm looking at the data sheet for the IC and it says that changing the 10u cap from legs 1 to 8 will change the gain from anywhere between 20 to 200. I haven't tried it yet, but wouldn't that bring the overall volume down? I know it would also change the sound and the saturation of the gain, but it's worth messing with. Might end up as a nice crunchy boost.

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  41. Is the unity volume output for this supposed to be in the first 16th of the volume knob? It seems too crazy loud for practical use, more of a 'leave on all the time' kind of effect...

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    1. I found on the Guitar World website that unity gain/volume is at around 9 o'clock.

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  42. Made current layout with pregain B1M pot(B500K got am radio haha any thoughts?).. No issues with B1M. Also added a simple tone control (amz swtc )before volume. Also Works well.

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  43. I get volume 2 to output.
    But 'in > gain 3'?
    What goes to the 3pdt switch lug 1 that usually goes to output?

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  44. Replies
    1. I'll reference Marks switch wiring in the Offboard section...

      Your In jack goes to lug 9, the board in goes from lug 5 to Gain pot lug 3. The switch wiring never changes unless specified. While most layouts have their In connection on the board, this one has its In via the Gain pot. Volume 2 goes to lug 7, Output jack to lug 8, as usual.

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    2. thanks ciaran. i use an alternate 3pdt wiring but I see what you mean. the route is- in jack>>>>3pdt in lug to gain 3 lug.

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  45. Built it yesterday and man, it's loud. So loud that I worry I can actually damage a solid state amp. I found the sound a bit underwhelming (granted I was testing half on protoboard with some noise) but it's way too gainy and by reducing the input volume until it's usable you lose a lot of definition.

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  46. Absoulte noob here so go easy on me. Instead of using the gain pot mod, would it make any sense to have a small preamp to control the gain before the signal gets through this? maybe something like the echoplex preamp you have here on the website!

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  47. hey there, could you (or someone) please tell me what the green dot represents?

    thanks mark for all these awesome informative posts!

    chuck french

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    Replies
    1. It's a double link, two jumper wires in one hole.

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  48. Getting a lot of hiss when gain pot is up passed 12 o clock no matter what volume, Should I change the chips or the pot?

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  49. Hello.
    Where i can find a schematic diagram?
    i want build it with on-board 3pdt and pot.
    Thank u.

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  50. I can't recommend this one enough. Really sounds great and convincingly tube-ish. This is what I kind of wished the BAT Witch Burner had sounded like when I first heard it. Shockingly loud indeed.

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  51. Built this up about a week ago - REALLY like it. The graininess... all of it. But it is ridiculously loud!! I absolutely love how it sounds when I dial the volume back on my guitar to about 50%. Rather than installing a second pot... could I increase the value of that 1M resistor? Would that do the trick of permanently lowering the input signal? I'm still fairly new and I did mess around a bit with sticking resistors here and there (LOL) but yeah.. because of Teh NOOB, none of them worked. Any advice on where and how much resistance to bump up? If it helps, I'm playing a Jazzmaster with 1M pots. Thanks in advance!

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  52. Do the 1uF cans need to be polarized or can I use some kemet box caps that i have. Looks like it probably doen't matter but want to double check. Thanks

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    1. According to this schematic, which I used, yes you do on the 1 microfarad caps.

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    2. Oops

      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4GSq-G3N6HU/VmCyKkB1oNI/AAAAAAAABfg/Jvm0okKGJUY/s1600/EQD%2BAcapulco%2BGold.png

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  53. Built it, sounds cool! I would definitely recommend adding the gain pot.

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  54. Total noob when it comes to pedal building.
    I made this today on the fly after a trip to the electronic store to pick up a few things.
    Cost me about $10 but the above schematic is totally foreign to me.
    I made my mine off another image however I am confused as to the 2 pot connections along with the LED and input/output/switch.
    Anyone have a link to what goes where?
    Sorry for my ignorance, cheers.

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  55. Check the offboard wiring tab at the top of the page

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  56. So I am getting some weird stuff happening.
    1st build ever for me so bound to make some mistakes.
    I made the 2 knob version but I only connected volume 1 out of the 2 and when I actuate the pedal my volume drops big time...it becomes quite fuzzy for sure but very quiet.
    If I touch the wire to the additional volume pot that is supposed to have a 1M pot on it, the volume bumps up a bit but nothing significant.
    I am just not sure where to connect the second volume pot to on the foot switch and if that 100k resistor vs the 68k is playing a part in this?
    Cheers for the help!

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    1. Also looking at this, his footswitch is wired much differently from how it is shown on the offboard wiring section.
      Perhaps that is my issue?

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

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  57. Made a version from this layout with added Big Muff Pi tone control. Check my youtube video of the build!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPbZjd42Fl8

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  58. Hi everyone, I'm kind of new into the diy world, just made 4 stomboxes to date, but very happy with them. I'm really interested into this one, but can't figure how to read some components. I can see the uF values of the caps, but can't know if they are 50V, 100V or whatever... how can I learn that? someone can help me? or, maybe, do a detailed list of components? thank you in advance

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    1. One of the 10uF caps I used is 10v and the other 160v lol.
      I think you would be safe with 20v or so tops as the original pedal's caps are quite small so they are obviously a lower voltage.
      The larger (physical size) the cap, the higher the voltage.

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    2. oh great! I will try those values, thank you very much

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    3. No worries... Good luck mate... It was my first build and it works well!

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  59. Noisy pedal when not playing and strings are not muted.
    Kind of a bummer because this pedal sounds so good when playing.
    Perhaps a noise gate would help?

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  60. Is it possible that the noise that some people are reporting is from the 1M Gain pot? I'm inclined to say that there is a grounding issue. I'm relatively new at pedal building - how would one test?

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  61. I'm still trying to sort mine out. The noise gets better if I ground the shaft of the pot to the pedal ground. I'm not sure why that is, but all my grounds are clean on the board. Won't make matter once everything's boxed up but it's still strange.

    Mine is really fizzy and splattery and I'm not sure why. I built two simultaneously and they both sound the same so I know it's not a bad solder joint etc. Almost sounds like a low battery but the battery is at 9.6v. Will try a wall wart next.

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  62. Built it yesterday and did a quick (unboxed) test with no switch and led today. Sounds really good. Thick, fuzzy distortion. Not as loud as expected though and indeed on the noisy side. Going to box it on the weekend, maybe that helps the noise a little.

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  63. Boxed it tonight, used the offboard wiring from this page. Doesn't work anymore :-(

    The bypass is coming through, the led lights up when i hit the switch, but there is only humming noise. When i turn down the pot the signal goes humming goes quiet.

    Here is a pic of the wired box:
    http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x248/StephanCOH/3046800B-34FE-4116-97AF-A123FFDBB640.jpg

    I guess it is some grounding issue but I cannot see what is wrong :-(

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    1. Hm... check if the tips of the jacks are touching the enclosure when you plug the cables (I once had that problem). The circuit may also be touching the enclosure on the sides or bottom, try using it with the circuit unmounted. Other than that, it looks good to me.

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    2. Thanks for the reply. Did a check with the circuit outside the enclosure. Same effect. Cut the LED then and after that I wired the in and out of the circuit straight to the jacks. All the same. Seems like I broke something of the circuit itself while I boxed it.

      Going to take a closer look tonight.

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    3. You're stereo jack, jack on the left, is wired wrong and grounding the circuit when you turn it on. If you're not planning on using a battery just switch it out for a mono jack . I'll bet that when you make the switch it will work again.

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    4. Hi Zach, thanks for the hint. It's an old jack I had around, going to put in another mono jack tonight.

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    5. no worries. you just have to remember that when using a stereo jack the point is that it's switching the battery on so that it doesn't drain when you've got your guitar plugged in. the way you've got it, since you don't have a battery snap wired up is that when you're plugged in you're sending the signal to ground.

      the offboard wiring on the site does not include the battery snap, since most of us don't use batteries, unless it's a PNP build.

      it happens to us all, so no worries. hope that fixes the build and you're up rocking quickly.

      btw, if you want to see how to wire up a stereo jack with a battery check this out:

      http://www.co-bw.com/Images_DIY/fig8.gif

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    6. Flipped the stereo jack for a mono one, fired up the pedal: same noise as before. Accidentally I put a little pressure on the bottom IC and -boom- beautiful distortion. Hit the bypass, fired of the effect: only humming. Fiddled with the IC - awesome sound. So I took out the IC and one of the legs of the socket came out right with the IC. There is jumper beneath the IC and I got the impression that the legs of the socket do not really connect properly. So I removed the socket and resoldered it. Cannot test it today, but going to do it tomorrow.

      Has anyone an opinion on soldering the IC straight to the board? The legs of the IC seem to be longer than those the socket and poke right through to the solder side.

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  64. Gave it a quick try before heading off to work. Looks like the faulty soldered socket was causing the failure. Roaring little box it is. Looks like I used a log pot, so dialing in a sound is a bit tricky. Probably going to replace that sometime.

    Anyway, thanks for the help. There is a great community on this site.

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