Assess your capabilities -
Put yourself honestly into a category: are you a
- Rank beginner - no previous electronics knowledge, may not have any
- Learning - understand a little bit, can solder OK with a few errors,
have a soldering iron and a multimeter
- Pretty competent - fixed or build a pedal or two, understand Ohm's law,
have electronics tools available. May even have an oscilloscope
There are real differences in what you *can* do in fixing an effect depending
on your experience. There will be places where there isn't much else you could
reasonably expect to be able to do. At those places, I'll insert a note to take
the effect to a qualified tech; this advice will vary by level.
Safety is a big deal in electronics. You can't see, smell or hear electricity
in most cases. However, all electronics devices are powered from somewhere. If
you have no experience with electricity (that is, you're a Category 1 FX
person), assume that every wire inside an effect it connected to the AC power
line until proven otherwise. Even as a Category 2 or 3, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER work
on an effect that has an internal AC power supply with the AC line cord plugged
in unless you have the skills to do this safely. If you don't know what these
skills are, you don't have them. However, unlike amps, most effects are powered
by batteries. Batteries are generally pretty safe.
If you're a (1)
- Recognize your limitations, but don't be embarrassed by them. Fix them -
go out and LEARN.
Everybody was a beginner once, and we every one start at the same place.
- Read, read, read!! Find beginner's texts on electronics in libraries or
the net and compare the stuff there with the effects stuff you find.
Libraries are an incredible value - they let you look at *anything* for
*free*. The web will never have as much detail in it as a library.
- Read instructional material *backwards* - that is, when it says "The
bias resistors supply base current to turn the transistor on and let the
proper current flow through it", read that *backwards* as "If the
bias resistors for some reason can't supply base current to the base to turn
the transistor on, the proper current will NOT flow through it."
There's a big difference from a debugging point of view.
- Learn to solder well. Get someone to help you, to show you what a tinned
iron looks like, how much solder to use, what a good solder joint looks
like. Do this backwards, too - learn what *bad* soldering is so you can
- Learn to read schematics.
If you're a (2)
- Practice, polish, gain experience.
- Learn Ohm's law in all its variations.
If you're a (3)
- Work for understanding