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Summer 2002

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BAND NAMES
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Looking for a name for your band? Check out the AMZ band names page and see if you find an interesting selection.

http://www.muzique.com/band.htm

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New in the Lab Notebook
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The Lab Notebook section of the AMZ web site is back! This section was a favorite of many visitors and I have some new articles in the works for your enjoyment with more to come.

AMZ Presence Control, Flat Mids mod for the TS-9, Guitar Pickup simulation and Basic Buffers have been recently added. Check it out!

http://www.muzique.com/lab/main.htm

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Big Muff and the Rat
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A Close Look at The Big Muff and Proco Rat
by Jack Orman
Our Price: $7.00
Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.
14 pages (Nov 2001) - sent via email!

http://www.muzique.com/ebook.htm

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Essential Guitar Site
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AMZ was selected as an "essential guitar site" in the April 2002 issue of the UK-based GUITARIST magazine! Thanks to editor Neville Marten and all the crew at the magazine.

http://www.guitarist.co.uk

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Muff Master
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Do you want a Brian-May-like treble boost but cannot find good germanium transistors? Try the AMZ Muff Master - make it from common silicon devices for just a few dollars and drench your sound in sweet sustain!

http://www.muzique.com/index.html

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Tips & Info
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Don't miss the Tips & Info page at AMZ

http://www.muzique.com/schem/tips.htm

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Nine Volt Nirvana
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Joe Gagan has debuted his Dinosaur Fuzz that gives you super-fat fuzz, sweet overdrive and all around creamy lead/rhythm tones in one box. He's even made the schematic available for d-i-y use! Musictoyz has them in stock or ask around on the Stompbox forum about it.

http://resin.csoft.net/~stompbox/ts_forums/stompboxforum/

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Myths and Misconceptions
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No myths for this issue. If you have a favorite audio or electronics myth, send it to me.

http://www.muzique.com/email.htm

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Quote of the Month
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"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as you please."
~Mark Twain

"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."
~Wernher Von Braun

 

Issue 3

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AMZ Main Page Revision
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You may not have noticed the change but I revised the main AMZ homepage to show fewer images so that visitors who do not have a high speed connection could have faster access to the site. All of the effects and amp books are still available at:

http://www.muzique.com/amproj.htm

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AMZ Online Updates
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If you haven't looked at my projects page lately then you have missed the revisions to the Mosfet Booster. I added some mods that allow the circuit to function as a buffer or booster at the tap of a switch.

http://www.muzique.com/schem/

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Q&D Compressor 3
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Analog Devices has discontinued the SSM2165-2 chip that was the basis for the Q&D 1 Guitar Compressor. The replacement chip is the SSM2167 but it is in a surface mount package so small that it is practically impossible to solder manually to a pc board.

The Q&D Compressor 3 is the solution. It is based on the same chip as the Q&D2 but it is optimized for guitar use and requires fewer parts. Look for the article premiering soon on the AMZ projects page.

http://www.muzique.com/schem/

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Aron's Stompbox Forum
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Aron Nelson has relocated his effects forum to a new site. If you are a do-it-yourself effects hobbyists then you will like the fresh new exchange of ideas and circuits. Check it out!

http://resin.csoft.net/~stompbox/ts_forums/stompboxforum/

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New Effects Sites & Schematics
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I have noticed that there are now quite a few effects sites on the Internet. That is both good and bad. It is always interesting to see new projects and ideas, but the quality of the projects seems to be declining. I've seen circuits based on some of my work that were missing essential parts, had components misoriented, contained blatant errors in drawing and even circuits that just will not work.

Everyone makes mistakes and the people who are doing good work will correct their project and post a revision. There are others that I've notified about errors who have yet to correct them.

Yes, we need your contributions, but with emphasis on quality over quantity. It can be really frustrating, especially to a beginner, to build a project then not be able to get it working.

I was looking at an "original" fuzz design on one web page and it was a fuzzface. I could not find any difference until finally I noticed that one of the cap values had been changed. There was no mention on the schematic that it was 99% fuzzface, just its cute new name.

I believe that old designs are good starting points for developing new designs that have good useful features - the Fuxx Face is a modified fuzzface with a tone control section but its overall sound is substantially different than the stock FF. However, the change should be significant and useful, with the original source indicated. I cannot tell you how many "designs" I have seen with a long list of self-endowed superlatives that are nothing more than the AMZ Mini-Tubes preamp with a few resistors changed and maybe the tone control modified.

We have enough fuzzface and dual mini-booster clones; there is no need for more that don't have major improvements or features to offer.

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Just for AMZ Newsletter Subscribers
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Although not specific to effects, there is a new search engine called Vivisimo that works differently and turns up some alternate links. Give it a try!

http://www.vivisimo.com

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Red Hot and Blues
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Where have I been? How did I miss Wendy Rich? With a voice that shines somewhere in between Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, Wendy can belt out the blues in superb style. If you like raw sensual vocals straight from the gut, turn an ear to this lady!

http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/70/wendy_rich.html

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Napster is dead - R.I.P. 2
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From the sweet jazzy vocals of Miss Paula Lockheart to the blistering SRV-like guitar playing by Indigenous, here are a selection of free legal downloads that will set your toe tapping!

I have downloaded these 100% FREE tunes and have been enjoying them and hope you will as well. There's absolutely no catch - download the songs and enjoy some great guitar. It's a super way to get introduced to new music!

Sweet Marijuana Brown - Paula Lockheart

Turn It On, Turn It Up - Roomful Of Blues

Sharkey - Guitar Works

Little Bit More - Rosie Flores

TOLKIEN (The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings) - Brobdingnagian Bards

Makam Rast - Munir Nurettin Beken
(okay, it's an oud and not a guitar but cool riffs nonetheless)

I Don't Need No Doctor - Peter Frampton
(Classic Humble Pie tune recorded live in 2000: Pete can still rock out!)

Ballroom Blitz 2001 - Testify
(It doesn't get much harder or freakier than this cover tune)

Holdin' Out - Indigenous
(Also "Can't Keep Me From You" by Indigenous for more smokin' guitar work!)

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Myths and Misconceptions
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Myth 1: You need a special 4558 to get the special TS-808 sound

I guess I'm about the only one that believes this, but there is no difference in 4558 chips used in a Tube Screamer circuit - none, nada, zip! You cannot hear it and I guarantee that in a blind listening test you would not be able to consistently identify one 4558 vs. the same part from a different manufacturer.

Myth 2: It takes a high power amp to get a good guitar sound.

Nothing could be further from the truth - one watt can produce all the booty shaking tone you want, and 5 watts might even be overkill. Lots of artists have recorded classic guitar tracks on the Fender Champ. Remember this tip... a really good speaker is more important than a few extra watts.

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Quote of the Month
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"If you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness, or insecurities - remember, things could always be worse. You could be them!"

Thanks for your support of my projects and web site.

Best regards,

Jack Orman
http://www.muzique.com/

 

Issue 2

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Analog Music Zone Mailing List
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Listbot was the service that I have used in the past for the AMZ mailing list, but this free service has been discontinued. Therefore I have installed my own mailing list software and am hoping my IP doesn't cut me off for sending out 600+ emails!

http://www.muzique.com

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AMZ on CD
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The complete original AMZ web site is available on CD-rom. A vast collection of do-it-yourself guitar effects projects and technical articles including:

  • AMZ Mini-Booster
    • The original high gain Class A discrete design jfet signal booster with the pleasing harmonic sound that will remind you of vacuum tubes! Drive your amp into a range it's never been in before.
  • Son of Screamer Overdrive
    • A simplified version of the classic Tube Screamer design with optional circuit improvements and upgrades
  • Fuxx Face
    • The most versatile Fuzzface-type circuit includes a tone control for additional tweaking
  • Fet Muff Distortion
    • Four soft distortion jfet gain stages in series for a tube-like sound
  • Fat Gnat Fuzzbox
    • Throw away your Rat and build this ultra-hot replacement! Agressive distortion at its best!
  • Mini-Tubes Preamp
    • The most innovative guitar preamp in years! The best tube amp sound available with solidstate circuitry! This original concept design (cascaded mini-boosters) has the gain, 'chunk' and response that guitarists love.
  • Dual Booster
    • One input to two output splitter with gain control of each channel
  • Quad Buffer
    • High impedance input to low impedance outputs (x4)
  • A/B Switchbox
    • A passive true bypass switcher - No Tone Loss!
  • Lab Notebook
    • Tone Controls
    • Cabinet Simulator - Simple and cost effective with no hard-to-find parts
    • True Bypass w/LED from a DPDT switch
    • Close Look at the Big Muff: in-depth circuit evaluation
    • Close Look at the Rat: in-depth circuit evaluation
    • Jfet projects
    • Diode Clipping Info
    • Stepped Attenuator
    • Wall Wart Hum Reducer
    • Personality Modules
    • Modifying Pot Taper & Response
    • Tube Screamer Op-Amps
  • and many more projects
Order online at http://www.muzique.com/amz-cd.htm

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AMP v1.2 Update
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The second volume of Analog Music Projects is about half finished. If you read the AMZ forum messages then you have seen some of the messages about my trials comparing the Big Muff and the MS-1.

Another of the projects that I have been developing is the Octavius. I built a prototype and it was too smooth! Not enough harsh octave-up sound to make it stand out! I may have to tweak this one some more.

http://www.muzique.com/amproj.htm

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Just for AMZ newsletter Subscribers
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A FAQ page about capacitors is now available online at http://www.muzique.com/cap_faq.htm

Enjoy!

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Heathkit Schematics
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If you grew up drooling over the Heathkit catalog like I did, then you'll love this site. It has a vast list of schematics and related information about Heath designs - plenty of vacuum tube stuff is included.

http://www.circuitarchive.co.uk/heath.htm

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Clipping Diodes & EQ
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Epiphany No. 2: "it also depends a lot on the eq of the stage before and after the clipping; most times that has more effect than the actual diodes being used." Read more at...

http://members.nbci.com/aronnelson/archives/arch11.html

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Napster is dead. R.I.P.
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I don't want to get into the debate about Napster and the related copyright issues, but the MP3 revolution has changed the way we transport and listen to music. The really great thing is that we now have access to free legal MP3s and do not have to depend on Top 40 Radio to spoon-feed music to us. There's a whole world of cool music other than what's hot on MTV.

I have downloaded these 100% FREE tunes to enjoy and hope you will as well. There's absolutely no catch - download the songs and enjoy some great guitar sounds. It's a super way to get introduced to new music.

Listen to all of these choices. There's a wide variety of styles but all are interesting in their own right (even those without FX!).

Lost Indian ~ Norman Blake & Tony Rice

Just Won't Burn ~ Susan Tedeschi

Invention of the Monsters ~ Al DiMeola

C Jam Blues ~ Kenny Burrell

Dreamsville ~ Stacey Kent

Squeeze Me In ~ Delbert McClinton

Olympic Reel ~ Natalie MacMaster

Layla ~ John Fahey

I'm the Toughest Girl Alive ~ Candye Kane

Run Away ~ Natalie Brown

Lindsay ~ John Renbourn

Things We Said Today ~ Mary McCaslin

Manzanita (1st Variation) ~ Tony Rice

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Myths and Misconceptions
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Myth 1: Carbon composition resistors are not used in audio or effects circuits anymore because they are expensive.

What a laugh! The only thing vintage about carbon composition resistors is the hiss. Carbon comp resistors are not used in audio circuits anymore because they are noisy, less stable, have greater variations in resistance and are more easily broken in handling. Build a high gain circuit with carbon comp resistors and an identical one with metal film devices and you will be astonished at the difference!

I might recommend carbon comps if you are building a random noise generator ;)

http://www.io.com/~ritter/RES/NOISE.HTM

Myth 2: A high power amp needs special composition cable between the amp and speakers.

This is a subject that is too involved to cover in a short newsletter so let it suffice to say that 16 gauge lamp cord is acceptable as speaker wire for amps less than 150 watts and 14 gauge for those more powerful.

Use 16 ga. wire inside the amp between the power supply and circuit.

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Quote of the Month
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"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then your success is sure." ~ Mark Twain

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AMZ Statistics
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The AMZ web site gets more than 600 hits everyday from guitar effects enthusiasts... the mailing list has over 600 members... hmmm, does that mean all of your are coming by every day? I guess not ;)

Thanks for your support of my projects and web site.

Best regards, Jack Orman

http://www.muzique.com/

 

Issue 1

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AMP v1.2 Update
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The second volume of Analog Music Projects is about half finished. What's in it so far? A brief article about hum and noise, the MS-1 distortion (the Big Muff killer) and an article on adding "warp controls" to distortion designs. I'm doing final work on some new designs but I don't want to give them away until I do more prototyping work to make sure that they are good enough to present. Stay tuned!

[Update] I have designed a couple of new circuits that are much different from other effects devices. If I can get them tamed down, one or more will appear in v1.2.

http://www.muzique.com/amproj.htm

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The Department of Useless Information
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My server log analyzing software tells me that since the move of muzique.com to its current home in mid-March 2001, there have been 60,137 visitors who hit 847,936 pages or files. Whew! I'm glad I'm not paying by the byte! I suspect that many of those visitors are the same people coming back again. Thanks to everyone who comes by to check out the site!

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Access Problems?
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If you have problems with access to http://www.muzique.com/ such as slow page loading or "500 Server Error", then try turning off Javascript and reload the page. The script that pulls in the latest topics from the AMZ forum on Delphi will sometimes go offline or be bogged down by traffic. This will prevent the main AMZ page from loading properly.

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Stealing ideas or just Paranoia?
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There is a common belief in the DiY effects community that there are web surfers from big commercial effects companies who browse the hobbiest forums and web pages in search of the latest and greatest innovations or ideas to incorporate into their next product release. Commercial companies pay little attention to the DiY hobbiests; that's evidenced by the crud they continue to put out. Why do I believe this?

[Edit: 4 Oct 2001 - Boy was I wrong on this one! I should have been more paranoid.
(1) It is a more conservative business strategy to imitate an already successful fx design than a cutting edge circuit from a DiY hobbiest. This theory is supported by the many commercial boxes that are merely clones of the classic TS-808 overdrive. Almost every beginning guitarist has heard of the Tube Screamer and an fx company has a better chance of reaching a larger market by claiming to have improved the TS series than some circuit that only a few dedicated hobbiests have tried. There's also a bigger market for resissues of classic designs that are well known.

(2) Commercial fx companies are going to digital effects and modeling. Analog is old hat. True, they do still market some analog boxes, but for the most part, those boxes are the low end of the price spectrum.

(3) The "Not Invented Here Syndrome". The engineers of the fx companies believe they can design better than people who merely build circuits for a hobby. It's an ego thing.

(4) The commercial danger of being found out. It would only be a matter of time before someone discovered that the commercial box is a copy or derivative of the DiY circuit and publically reveals the information. While it might not be illegal, the adverse publicity could cost the company many thousands of dollars/sales if they were found guilty in the court of public opinion.

(5) Endorsement. Commerically successful artists seldom use homemade boxes. The many struggling artists will try to imitate the sound of their favorite rock star by getting a reissue of the expensive old fx box that the star is using. This is a powerful force that keeps certain old fx circuits alive that are best forgotten.

(6) Do companies skim the net looking for schematics? No, they do not even want help! I was hired by a popular effects company to do a specific job for them on one of their distortion boxes and offered to suggest some mods to improve the sound (free of charge). They were not interested at all -- they were more interested in making sure I did not reverse-engineer THEIR fx unit! Yeah, well, too late guys (but I've kept it to myself out of respect for their wishes)

Do some of the people from large fx companies surf the online hobbiest sites? Sure, I've had contact with some of them, but they are doing it for their own enjoyment.

http://www.muzique.com/editor.htm

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Quote of the Month
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"When cryptography is outlawed, only the big corporations will have cryptography."

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Myths and Misconceptions
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Myth 1: Low input impedance is always bad in effects circuits.

Not true. It is true for any effect that needs to have a full range of response from the input signal, such as a compressor, but it does not make much difference in fuzz circuits since the clipping of the signal adds many overtones. One of the classic fuzz designs, the Fuzzface, has a very low input impedance. A technique that I sometimes use in fuzz design is to make the input impedance low because that allows the use of a lower value resistor on the input which means less self-noise from the resistor, and since fuzz circuits have high gain, there is less noise to be amplified.

Myth 2: Ge diodes begin to clip around 0.3 volts.

I used to think so too until I did some experimentation and discovered that Ge diodes BEGIN to conduct at a very low level and gradually turn on over a wide range, depending on the current through the device. They have very interesting and musically usable resistance curves. You can see more info about this in the diode clipping article from the AMZ cd-rom.

http://www.muzique.com/amz-cd.htm

Thanks for your support of my projects and web site.

Best regards, Jack Orman


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