Latest in Features

Image credit:

Music Thing: The ToneCrafter Universal DIY Stompbox

Peter Rojas


Each week, Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment:

Last October, a man in South Korea paid $1,088 for a vintage Ampeg Scrambler guitar effects pedal. That's for a 35 year-old pedal containing maybe 30 solid-state components. One unsuccessful Japanese bidder pulled out at $1,000 and decided instead to visit and spend $99 on a ToneCrafter. It's a kind of universal DIY stompbox.

What you get is a big metal pedal on a wooden base, with a few knobs, sockets and switches pre-installed. Inside the pedal is one of those breadboard circuit boards that the electronics geeks played with at school. The kit comes with a bag of components and a CD of instructions. Slot in a handful of transistors, diodes, capacitors and op-amp chips and you can build replicas of classic and modern solid-state pedals like the Ampeg Scrambler and the Klon Centaur.


Building your own endlessly tweakable music gear seems very appealling in a world of $8,000 mega synths, and absurdly cheap Chinese kit. Plenty of people are getting into it. Circuit Bending has removed people?s fear of fiddling around with circuits, and a small hardcore are building their own synths from scratch.

The most popular kit is the SoundLab Mini Synth - a $30 circuit board and a list of components to build a tiny monophonic synth. More advanced punters have moved onto Paia Fatman, a $180 kit that, with a steady hand and a bit of luck, ends up as a MIDI controlled analog synth.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr