Thursday, 21 September 2017

Shoe Pixel

Interesting sounding 8-Bit fuzz, that's not typically my type of pedal that I thought will get some love. Schematic is posted over at DIYSB.

From the source:

The Pixel is one of the earliest SHOE designs. It began as an oscillating fuzz and, after intentionally adding elements haphazardly and then adjusting the circuit so the pedal began to work again, it turned into something else entirely.
The Pixel is a gated fuzz and is commonly used on bass, though it works quite well on guitar and other instruments. When used with a guitar on single-note lines, the Pixel is adept at producing chiptune and analog or 8-bit synthesizer type sounds. It can resemble the sound of a classic monosynth or game console. This effect is most pronounced at higher PINCH settings.

By turning up the PINCH knob, you will create a stronger gating effect. Turn the control down and you will gain more and more sustain until the pedal ceases to be gated and can move into some slightly more traditional bass and guitar fuzz tones.

The Pixel is not, however, a pitch tracking effect as many synthesizer emulators are. As a result, you can move seamlessly into highly distorted chord playing simply by changing what you play.

Pixel on bass operates quite similarly, but bass notes will tend to have longer sustain when played through the Pixel. By adjusting the PINCH knob, you can also move between more open fuzz sounds or staccato synth-like tones. Because of its popularity with bass players, the current version of the Pixel features larger capacitor values at all stages to let your thunderous low end through.

The Pixel also features a Low Pass control which is very useful in dialing out upper harmonics. You can go from rather nasal to warm and fat with this control.

There’s also a new feature on the latest version. That is the Easy Mode/Hard Mode switch. This essentially lets you select from two different versions of the Pixel circuit. The Hard Mode setting is quite a bit louder than the Easy Mode setting, so be careful to turn down your volume before switching!

The Pixel definitely takes a bit of practice to grasp and you will likely need to adjust your playing style when playing it to achieve the best sounds. This is OK, though. Some SHOE pedals are intended to enhance your guitar and your existing playing. The Pixel is, more or less, a different instrument and you should approach it as such. With some creativity and the right mindset the experience is quite rewarding both sonically and creatively. Use this pedal to write new types of songs and go on new adventures!


Controls:

Volume (Top Left): Sets the output level of the pedal

Easy Mode/Hard Mode (Toggle Switch): Use this to select between two different Pixel circuit versions. Hard Mode is a bit tougher to master (and much louder) but greatly expands the number of sounds available in the pedal (it’s based on the very first Pixel). Play with the Pinch and Input Level knobs to get a number of new synth-like sounds (Pinch all the way left and Input almost all the way up is a personal favorite). Easy Mode is a bit more forgiving and has a softer sound that can be tuned into a more traditional fuzz sound at low Pinch and Input Level settings.

Input Level Adjustment (Top Right): Used to adjust the level of signals coming into the pedal and can also be used to “clean up” harsher attacks due to its built in mild low pass.

Low Pass (Bottom Left): A simple tone control. Use it adjust how much treble is present in your output signal. This control will never cut your bass frequencies.

Pinch (Bottom Right): The heart of the pedal’s sound. Turn the pinch knob up for more staccato and synth-like sounds. Turn it down for longer sustain and less synth-like fuzz sounds.







22 comments:

  1. Man I love these pedals that sound like manure squeezed through a broken speaker. I really do. The Devi Ever Bit is one of my favorites ever, and the Nintendetar from Paul in the Labs.. great stuff! This is on my list now.. thanks :)

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  2. That first row, A, is empty! Safe to delete? I want to redo this to fit in a 1590A :D

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  3. Yea get rid of row A. I'll update it in a bit. I'll also take a look to see if I can make a smaller layout too, no guarantee though I'll make it smaller.

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  4. Been a while since I've built anything, but this looks exciting and fun!

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  5. looks to me like its 16 wide 13 tall! not 15x14

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    1. oop. changed the wrong value when i removed the extra row. correct the layout again. nice catch man.

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  6. I just finished building this and I think there are a few errors in the layout. When I compared the layout to the DIYSB schematic I noticed 2 differences. I believe the 'Volume 3' should go to the same trace as the 'Low Pass 3' (so they are both on the same side of the 220nF cap). The other difference is the 220nF cap attached to the 'In', I think this cap should go between the 'In' and the Base of the transistor instead of the Collector. My supply of 2N3904 transistors have the opposite orientation as the outlines in the layout...but maybe I have non-standard 2N3904's.

    I changed my build to include the edits I mentioned above, and it sounds so sputtery and great. So with the edits you can mark it as verified.

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    1. cheers man. made updated the layout.

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  7. Can’t wait to build this. As always, thanks so much for the layouts! Seems like it could possibly be a Mammoth killer.

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  9. First successful build EVER!! on a breadboard for me :D

    I just lost my virginity to this farty beast!! Time to start modding it :P

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  10. Where is the board output connected. I tried volume 2 and all I'm getting is a very quiet clean sound.

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    1. its vol 2, but sounds like maybe you bridged a circuit somewhere. i just made this yesterday and have no problems with it

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    2. updated the layout to have Volume 2 to output.

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  11. Just built this and boxed it up with an EQD Black Eye boost after it and it's killer. I think the pinch and low pass are reversed from the original though. On this layout it gates less as you turn up the pinch and gets bassier as you turn up the low pass. Pretty sure on the original it's reversed. No big deal either way. Great work as always!

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  12. I built this and it certainly does what's advertised, though I'm not very pleased with the output level in either mode. Easy mode is actually below unity on my build. Anyone else have this problem? I checked it over pretty thoroughly, but that's not to say I still didn't miss something. I figured I'd see if anyone else found the volume to be sub-par. Mulekicker above indicated he put a boost after it in a box.. that seems to support my theory.. I'd love to know :)

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    1. In easy mode, unity on mine is at about halfway up and hard mode is significantly louder. I just put the black eye after it cause I wanted that boost and I like to have 2 pedals in one box. So I didn't really notice any volume issues with my build.

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    2. You could try to tweak the value of 200K resistor from suply to "Q4" collector. Lower value there is bound to make it louder. I'd personally swap it for 200K trimmer.
      +m

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    3. I fooled around with it a little more last night and I'm finding that both modes are definitely above unity, but it's dependent on pinch and input settings.. I think I'm going to try the trimmer as Mirosol suggests and see if I can get it more to my liking. Hard mode is fun as hell though. I really dig the sounds of this thing. I was pulling some droney stuff with the old "Tap the note an octave up from where it's fretted" van halen technique and the harmonics just wont quit. I also have a bunch of boosts built up that I never boxed so worst case scenario I'll just toss one in. I'll report back after I try the 200k trimmer :) thanks again

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  13. Quick question if anyone can answer...

    There are a few oddball 2.0 factor (100r,k,100k) resistors on this bad boy. Not really knowing which stages they are in, would replacing each with a 2.2 factor adversely affect anything in this circuit? I assume the 10% difference wouldn't have too much effect, but I'm not sure...

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  14. I'm putting together a BOM for this (BOMs would be a handy thing to have posted) and a 2k linear pot is really hard to find from a local supplier. Would a 1k linear do just as well? I presume if it's for input it's just for attenuation so it shouldn't matter too much...

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  15. Schematic is no longer there. Built this but very faint. The final transistor before volume is not putting out at the collector. I get signal at emitter and base. Jumped the base to the cap before the volume and it seems to work. I’m going to replace that transistor and see if it’s bad. Is there anywhere that you can get measured voltage? Maybe a mirrored schematic?

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