If your electric guitar amplifier has more than one channel or a selection of effects, it is likely that you'll need a foot switch to operate it. Most amps come with a foot switch, but they can get damaged or lost at gigs. Avoid technical problems and save money by building your own foot switch to use as a spare or replacement. Regular amp foot switches function in a similar way to a light switch, using a single-pole, single-throw (SPST) switch.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Project enclosure
- Single pole, single throw (SPST) push button switch
- Soldering iron
- Screw driver
Source the parts. To make a robust and practical foot switch, it is best to use a metal or rugged plastic enclosure. Choose a push-button SPST switch so you can operate it with your foot. You can get the electrical components, wires, jacks and project enclosure from an electronics store. Make sure you select an enclosure that is large enough to accommodate the push-button switch, jacks and wires.
Set up a suitable work space. One of the most crucial parts of a successful project is the work area. You'll need a well-lit area with sufficient space to inspect the parts and a power source for your soldering iron.
Inspect the parts. Before you begin the project, examine all of the components to make sure that they are free from cracks or other damage. It is rare, but sometimes faulty parts appear on the shop floor. If you include a faulty component in your project, it can cause damage to the other parts. Use a magnifying glass to inspect the switch and look out for any irregularities on the surface.
Build the circuit. The SPST switch is a very simple mechanism to assemble. Solder one end of the push-button SPST switch to the output jack. The SPST switch will have a lug to which you solder the wire. Be careful not to drip when soldering because this can cause short circuits.
Test the circuit. Plug a regular 1/4 inch patch lead in to the output jack of the foot switch and in to the foot switch jack on the guitar amplifier. Make sure the volume of the amplifier is low before turning it on. Once it is on, test the switch by depressing the button and observing the effect it has on the amplifier. The effect of the switch will depend on what the amp is programmed to do. For example, if the amp comes with a channel selector switch, your switch will have that function. If it comes with an effect selector, your switch will cause the effects to go on or off.
Drill a hole in the top of the switch enclosure large enough for the push-button switch to fit through. Now screw the project enclosure shut with the button exposed at the top.
Tips and warnings
- Glue some rubber feet to the base of the unit so it doesn't slip when in use.
- Use a soldering iron only in a well-ventilated area.
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