Guitar Effects Pedal Parts

Written by matt mckay
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Guitar Effects Pedal Parts
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/germanium/426530405)

Most guitar effects pedals use common components for switching, inputs and potentiometer controls. Some are easy to replace with basic electronics know-how and soldering skills, while others require experience and more advanced knowledge. Many guitar pedal parts can be purchased at local electronic parts stores, while more specialised parts can be purchased from online shops catering to DIY effect builders and musical electronic repair persons.

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OEM Parts

If your pedal is a recent model, and the manufacturer still exists, a phone call or visit to the company website can often get you the parts you need at a nominal cost. If you have a vintage pedal, or parts are no longer available, numerous companies manufacture or distribute hard-to-find parts. Some of these companies carry obsolescent original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or manufacture their own aftermarket substitutes.

Common Replacement Parts

Input and output jacks: Standard ¼-inch input jacks can be found at most music and electronics part stores. Old-style jacks are easily replaced by removing the old jack and resoldering wires onto the replacement. If your unit is of newer manufacture, circuit board mount units are somewhat trickier.

Pilot Lights: LED and bulb pilot lamps are easy to replace. They are mounted independently or on the circuit board.

Switches: Toggle and foot switches are generally not mounted on circuit boards, making repairs easier. Toggle switches are usually common two- or three-position switches, while foot switches can be another matter. Standard double pole-double throw (DPDT) on/off switches are easy enough to locate and install, but some manufacturers use proprietary designs, which must be sourced directly from the manufacturer, from an aftermarket manufacturer or from a used effects parts store. As a last resort, factory switches can be bypassed and retrofitted with a more common switch.

Knobs: Control knobs are perhaps the most common replacement part. Knobs will break, crack, become loose and get lost. Direct replacement knobs can be sourced from the manufacturer, aftermarket companies and used effects suppliers or can be replaced with any standard electronics knob. Knobs are either friction mounted or have a small setscrew to secure against the potentiometer post.

Potentiometers: Potentiometers are rotary or sliding controls that adjust different effect controls. Either surface- or circuit-board-mounted, potentiometers are fairly standard and will have stamped or printed markings to assist in choosing the correct replacement.

Electronic Components

Troubleshooting and repair of electronic components requires specialised test equipment and knowledge. Staff at electronic and music equipment repair shops can often do the work for you, but if you do have what it takes to repair the unit itself, most parts are readily available. If the part no longer exists due to proprietary design or technological advances, you may have to redesign the circuitry using comparable modern replacements.

Pedal Housing

Although guitar effect housings are usually quite durable, they can be damaged. Adding non-standard aftermarket parts or modifications may require transferring the internal components to a different housing, if the original will not allow the space or means to accept the new additions. Electronic boxes and housings are available pre-drilled or in blank form from electronic parts suppliers and companies specialising in electronic equipment housings.

Pedal Wiring

Wiring in vintage effects can be substandard or become oxidised and may cause faulty or noisy operation. Upgrading with new wire is an easy soldering job, with wire scavenged from other electronic devices or purchased new from suppliers. Be careful to replace with wire of least the same gauge thickness.

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