DIY Guitar Splitters

Written by simon foden Google
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DIY Guitar Splitters
The Edge uses a splitter to route his effects to different amps. (Ian Gavan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

A guitar splitter is a circuit that routes a single audio signal in two directions, enabling you to connect your guitar to two output devices. With a splitter you can plug into two amplifiers simultaneously, connect to an amplifier and a recording device or plug into a backline and front-of-house system at the same time. Many performing artists, including The Edge from U2 and Matt Bellamy from Muse use splitters to creative effect, by running affected and unaffected guitar signals simultaneously. Splitters typically take the form of a standard "stomp-box" but don't contain the complicated processing circuitry of a distortion or chorus pedal.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wiring schematic
  • Blank circuit board
  • Pedal chassis
  • Resistors
  • Transistors
  • Capacitors
  • 3 balanced 1/4 inch jacks
  • 9-volt battery snap
  • 9-volt battery
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • 4-40 gauge screws (circuit board screws)
  • Wire
  • Wire trimmers

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  1. 1

    Colour-code the schematic. With a set of coloured marker pens, mark each physical component with its symbol on the schematic and its turret on the circuit board. For example, do all of the transistors in blue and all of the capacitors in green. The schematic illustrates the layout and connection method of the circuit. Colour-coding permits quicker cross-referencing when populating the board.

    DIY Guitar Splitters
    The schematic details the layout of the circuit. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Prepare the chassis. With a 1/4 inch drill bit and a standard electric drill, bore one 1/4 inch hole on centre of the right side of the chassis top and two 1/4 inch holes on the left side. The two holes should be positioned equally off centre, so the middle point between them is directly opposite the hole on the right side.

  3. 3

    Turn on the soldering iron so it is warm when you use it.

  4. 4

    Populate the circuit board. Fit the capacitors, resistors and transistors into the turrets on the board, as per the schematic. Push each component into the turret so the connector pins poke through to the base.

  5. 5

    Place the board facedown. Put a small amount of solder onto the tip of the soldering iron. Press the tip against the connector pin and metal trace simultaneously, to fuse the component to the board. Repeat for each pair of connector pins.

  6. 6

    Isolate the transistor source connections. Cut the connector pin either side of the transistors. so they are not connected to each other. The circuit must be split into two signal chains after the input stage. This is so the signal can go in two directions.

  7. 7

    Mount the completed circuit board in the pedal chassis. Screw the board into the base of the chassis, using a Phillips screwdriver and 4-40 gauge screws.

  8. 8

    Solder the red wire of the battery snap to the positive terminal on the circuit board. Solder the black wire to the negative terminal.

    DIY Guitar Splitters
    Splitters take the form of standard pedals, but with two output jacks. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  9. 9

    Mount the jacks. Slot a balanced 1/4 inch jack into each of the holes on the side of the chassis. Secure each with the supplied washer.

  10. 10

    Cut three pieces of wire, each an inch long. Strip approximately 1/8 inch of insulation from each end of each piece.

  11. 11

    Solder a piece of wire to each of the input terminals on the 1/4 inch jacks. Solder the other end to the board eyelet next to the nearest resistor.

  12. 12

    Screw down the chassis lid.

Tips and warnings

  • Always observe your soldering from the side. This way the solder flux won't rise into your face.
  • Solder in a well-ventilated area.

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