BYOC Silver Pony (Klon Clone)

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Tinman46, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Bravo to Keith and all involved at BYOC. The kit really makes for what IMO is a relatively easy project.

    The cool advantage with something like a Klon is that there are no transistors to have to bias (with trimmers) or sort for "premium properties." It's really just a basic op amp and diode clipper drive box when you can see the PCB like that.

    The charge pump adds a tiny bit of "extra complexity," but for anyone who's built non-effect pedal devices (or intends to), there's usually some kind of internal power supply or power conditioning with even the most basic of electronic projects.

    I have to give kudos for the price of the BYOC kit, too. IMO, it is representative of what a "sort of complex" drive box should cost, IF it uses a prefabbed PCB and at least the pots solder directly to it. I know that labor is not reflected in the price, but it still kind of makes plain (IMO) that there seems to be a huge gap from what is basically turn-key and what someone has soldered together. My point here is that a lot of stuff that is touted as being "boutique/hand built" is really IMO more of a color-by-numbers thing. It's not to make a jab at "boutique companies" as much as it is to represent an option for some guitarists - you get basically the same pieces as found in _____ pedal that has 2X (or more) the cost of the Silver Pony. If all the pieces are basically prefabbed and it's not so much hand built as it is assembled, it might be worth figuring out the assembly part (even if that means someone other than you!).

    Lastly - seeing everything laid out as it is on the Silver Pony PCB really has me realizing that the Klon is much less complex than a lot of other drive boxes out there. To try and minimize it from being too much of an apples-to-oranges comparison, I've put together a few Nobels ODR-1 kits for people (and it's just a 3-knobber like the Klon), and it at least feels like there's a ton more components. :eek:

    Here's a pic of an unpopulated ODR-1 clone PCB, just for reference:
     

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  2. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Interesting you note that. I think I've started to gravitate towards simpler circuits. OD250, Rat, Klon. My signal chain has done the same, so I wonder if there is any meta-similarity or it's just coincidence?

    The Nobels is a good example - it feels very engineered (in a good way). You can hear the complexity. But it's a box that has initial appeal to me but the more I play it, the less I like it. It imposes itself on everything in a way that is hard for me to dial out. Of course, it's beloved and time-tested because it is so "natural", so who knows?
     
  3. JoeNeri

    JoeNeri Friend of Leo's

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    I think the past year or two of Klon drama has been interesting from a "free market" perspective. If you accept the premise that cloning and circuit-copying/tweaking are extremely common in the effects pedal business (not intending here to go off on the ethics tangent), then Finnegan/Klon are getting what he/it deserves - market competition.

    The on-again/off-again/waiting list KTR costs a little less than $300 if you buy direct and over $500 on eBay. Along comes EHX's Soul Food for around $70 - maybe not a 1:1 klone but close enough to compete - and now BYOC's Silver Pony for $99 - a genuine 1:1 klone. The only markets left for the KTR are collectors and speculators.
     
  4. duhvoodooman

    duhvoodooman TDPRI Member

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    Interesting perspective. I think a lot of electric guitar players go from simple to complex and back to simple again over the course of their playing years. Simplicity in amp design certainly has its strong proponents. I read a fascinating interview with Ken Fischer of Trainwreck fame (may he rest in peace) and circuit simplicity was the foundation of his designs--he was absolutely passionate about it. AAMOF, I just bought a used Mojave Coyote amp head that is the very picture of elegant simplicity in its design and layout. And it sounds fabulous! Not a coincidence, I'm sure.

    I see a lot of DIY pedal projects at the BYOC forums, and it's amazing how few components some of them have when stripped down to the basics, particularly "one trick pony" effects like boosts and fuzzes. Even a relatively simple 3-knob OD like the venerable Tube Screamer is loaded up with a bunch of "extras". The JFET bypass switching takes a bunch of extra components, and the input and output transistor buffers, though they offer some operational advantages, aren't really necessary. Below are a couple of photos to illustrate what I mean--the first is an Ibanez TS808 circuit board, and the second is a "gut shot" of a stripped down TS clone I built with no buffers and true bypass switching. Heck, I even added one "extra" to the circuit--a two-position clipping toggle switch--and it's still tiny in comparison to the commercial effect. All of the components (except the switchable clipping diodes) are on a piece of perfboard 1" x 1.7". And it still sounds just like a TS is supposed to sound.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. gtrguru

    gtrguru Friend of Leo's

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    Funny you say that. BYOC told me their kits are a solder-by-numbers as well. :D
     
  6. gtrguru

    gtrguru Friend of Leo's

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    RE: duhvoodooman

    If your version of the TS sounds the same with less components, then why doesn't Ibanez/Maxon follow suit? I only ask out of curiosity, not to argue against your circuit. In these days of companies fighting over every penny of profit wouldn't the reduction in components be a great cost savings for the big companies???
     
  7. duhvoodooman

    duhvoodooman TDPRI Member

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    Reasonable question. Without goin' all pedal-geeky on you, I think it boils down to two main factors:

    1) True mechanical bypass with an accompanying LED indicator light requires the use of a 3PDT footswitch, which are more expensive than the combination of a much cheaper/simpler footswitch and the handful of components (a couple of JFETs and a few resistors & caps) used in the TS commercial pedals. I think Boss, DigiTech, and many other commercial pedal brands use this same kind of bypass switching for this same reason.

    2) As I mentioned in my previous post, buffers offer some operational advantages that make the pedal more robust to other factors that might be present in a guitar-to-amp signal chain. They insure a high input impedance to maintain the incoming signal's treble content (i.e. to resist "tone sucking"), and give a low output impedance to better drive the devices that follow the pedal in the signal chain. I saw someone describe buffers as allowing you to "reproduce a signal from a non-ideal source or send it through a non-ideal load", which I thought was an excellent summary.

    There are other means of accomplishing these same ends, particularly since buffers are so commonly present in modern effect pedals, so leaving the buffers out of the TS really doesn't have a negative impact on your tone as long as you manage your overall signal chain properly. But leaving them in does make for a more "robust" pedal and the components only cost these companies a few pennies, so I expect that's why they leave them in.

    BTW, I own several DIY iterations on the basic TS circuit, and all of the rest of them have the buffers. I built this one just as an exercise to check out for myself what would be the impact of leaving them out. The pedal shown above may have very slightly less treble response than a standard TS circuit, but the difference is subtle and easily compensated for with the tone control.
     
  8. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    3) The original Tube screamers were like that, so... :cool:
     
  9. duhvoodooman

    duhvoodooman TDPRI Member

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    BTW, if you want to know more about how buffers work and when they are /are not useful, here's a good read: http://screaminfx.com/tech/why-and-when-to-use-a-guitar-buffer-pedal.htm

    Good point! Once something is famous & successful, perish the thought of making any changes to it....unless it's to add $5 worth of bells & whistles and charge $50 more for it. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  10. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Definitely not a coincidence, IMO. Even a simple pedal can really do some heavy permutations to your guitar signal. And I'd argue that good/smart design with something simple is actually harder for the designer, because there's less mechanisms to balance/counterbalance it with.

    ...I think what is more important to note is that your "choices of simple" are all op amp/diode clipping devices. An op amp offers a lot of gain with typically low noise, and is very easy to set up for "housekeeping circuitry" in the form of the biasing components. What is interesting about pedals with multiple op amps is that it's fairly universally accepted that unless you're building something like a Metal Zone that all of the op amps can share the same biasing circuitry, too. It's usually just two caps and two resistors.

    I also read an interesting article on the TS the other day, and was shocked to find out that it was published NINE years ago. The article basically stated that a big part of the reason why it sounds as it does is because IT HAS ASYMMETRICAL CLIPPING. Yes, that's right - w/o the Boss SD-1 diode arrangement. It has to do with some things that are specific to OD-like pedals such as the TS - the clipping diodes are in the negative feedback loop, and the signal goes thru what is called the "non-inverting input." In essence, it allows the unclipped signal to mix with the clipped one, and the phase/time constant differences result in asymmetrical clipping!



    ...I only bring up the TS because IMO, it is fairly heavy-handed in what it does to your guitar signal, despite being considered "soft clipping" or a "mild distortion." IOW, even if it doesn't have a buzzsaw tone, the TS really does a hose job on your tone, IMO. :eek:

    I see there are other posts about the complexity of mass produced pedals because of the flip-flop bypass switching. I just want to mention that it's come to light that distortion in the electronic flip-flop path will probably have an overall unpleasing effect that will be absent with other forms of bypass (not necessarily true mechanical bypass only). It was also mentioned by an EE on another board that a lot of the buffers in the Boss and Ibanez stuff are also purposefully tweaked to sort of "tilt the EQ" as a setup for the gain stage(s) to follow.

    Long story short - the more stuff you put in the signal path, the more it has to be carefully designed so as not to incrementally mutate your signal farther away from what would be considered pleasing. This DOESN'T mean it has to be neutral or some kind of "transparent overdrive," but it does have to be tuned for a specific outcome.

    No, you are dead-on with that example. IMO, a well tweaked BD-2 will do the same thing - there's enough harmonic complexity, along with just the right amplitude of "near subsonic frequencies" that make it sound like a cranked up amp that's moving some air (in SOME ways, but is NOT analogous to it - not by a long shot).

    The OD-3 also has a circuit that is complex enough to also do this. AND - the Tech 21 XXL's warp feature and lack of clipping diodes will ALSO do it.

    The problem with the last example is that IMO there's a very small window where the warp control can be set to make this happen, and it's also easy to get really horrible artifacts from the op amps at higher gain settings. Since it has no clipping diodes, op amp choice is critically important, IMO. The truth be told, it also really benefits from being run at voltages higher than 9VDC.

    Much of this may be lost on the average user, because I built an XXL up on "veroboard," and I tweaked a lot of values along the way, and basically ended up hardwiring the warp control. I personally feel that Tech 21 really blew it with the tone control on the XXL - it's very easy to get harsh or buzzy sounds because of it. And due to that, it kind of relegates it more to a "typical distortion box sound." Hard to believe that a few tweaks really transforms the thing.

    ...Then again, I personally found the same to be true of the BD-2. ;) Get those nasty clipping diodes out of the thing, pull out the hardwired "BF/SF tone stack" and put something better in, and the parts of the circuit that usually are "dormant" because people set the gain so low - they come to life!

    I have to say though - most of my personal dinking around with stuff that is ending up on my pedalboards is all on the simple side. I now have a Tube Sound Fuzz (Red Llama) variant that's even simplified beyond what Craig Anderton came up with. I've also been messing with the Jordan Bosstone circuit a LOT, which is another simple one.

    I like the Ken Fischer reference, too. I spent over four years constructing/deconstructing a scratchbuild that had quite a few Trainwreck Express and Liverpool qualities to it, along with some of the Komet stuff. It's amazing how super-dynamic and reactive an amp can be made by stripping all the "extras" out. In the case of the Trainwreck amps, this typically also meant that the input resistor - typically 33K or 68K - was also removed. It makes the first gain stage SUPER twitchy though. :eek:
     
  11. JoeNeri

    JoeNeri Friend of Leo's

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    Not to get too far out on a tangent, I thought it was well established that the Tube Screamer circuit has symmetrical clipping.
     
  12. duhvoodooman

    duhvoodooman TDPRI Member

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    That's true in the sense that is uses a symmetrical diode array--a pair of the same kind of silicon signal diodes oriented in opposite polarity--in the clipping stage. But the point that the article makes is that, because of how the circuit works, the actual waveform of the output is asymmetric. An image in that linked article shows this--input signal on the top and output on the bottom:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    THAT is what is so shocking. For years, there's been this "quantify/qualify the essence of a TS" thing, and it's been chalked up to the 4558 chip, or SPECIFIC 4558 chips, or "blue stripe diodes," or other stuff that IMO falls squarely in the "horse puckey category."

    ...Even if you aren't tech oriented, you can look at this graph:

    [​IMG]

    ...and clearly see that the waveform from the TS is very asymmetrical (bottom sinewave), and it's with a pair of the same type of diodes.

    So Boss may have the rights to implementation at a physical level with asymmetrical clipping in the OD-1 and SD-1, but the fact is that it's an inherent part of the design that no one really bothered to analyze except for the guy in this article. And I guess there are others like him.

    This could be yet another reason why some folks don't bond with the TS or SD-1, because pedals like the D+/Rat/OD250 (and yes - even the Klon) have shunted clipping diodes to ground. So they cannot do the asymmetrical clipping thing (at least not in an analogous way) to the TS/SD-1.

    While I'm on the subject, there are also pedals like the V1 Marshall Bluesbreaker that put the guitar signal thru the inverting input where the clipping diodes are in the negative feedback loop of. From the same article, you get clipping that will look similar to this:

    [​IMG]

    ...which is as symmetrical of clipping as the day is long... :lol:

    It is ALSO how it is handled in both the Xotic RC and AC Booster pedals - both put the signal thru the inverting input where the clipping diodes are. So I guess it might make them seem more "booster'y" in that the clipping will possibly be perceived as having much less harmonic content.

    What is sort of odd is that the Xotic BB Preamp does indeed use the noninverting input, just like a TS/SD-1. Then again, it has a hardwired stage that is basically like the TS tone circuit with the tone knob parked at a specific point (e.g. "mid boost").

    Anyway, my hat is off to Mr. Bogac Topaktas, who (was at least one who) figured out the asymmetrical nature of the TS and any drive box that uses the same basic setup. Clipping diodes are in the inverting input, the signal goes thru the non-inverting input, and then there's a filter that takes some bass out and makes the asymmetry even more pronounced. The science may not be of interest to many, but it's the unique configuration that allows for the phenomenon to occur...
     
  14. jipp

    jipp Friend of Leo's

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    well the kit has been out a week you say? they are sold out already. klon is one hot item. guess it always will be. makes me wonder how many soul foods were sold the first week if a kit sold out in such a short time.
    chris.
     
  15. duhvoodooman

    duhvoodooman TDPRI Member

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    I'm sure they'll be back in stock in a couple of days. The Silver Pony is one of the first couple of BYOC kits to offer a pre-painted & silkscreened enclosure as an option. I'm told that they made 100 of these pre-finished boxes to support the product release. They were gone in 3 days....
     
  16. surfoverb

    surfoverb Doctor of Teleocity

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    in that demo they both sound terrible.

    I know the Klon does not in real life, just sayin' thats not a good demo I guess. :D
     
  17. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Saved myself the drama and some dough. Bought a Soul food. It's good enough for me. I guess I got a lot of work to do, skill-wise, before I need to iron out the subtleties in sound. Just glad that a cheap option exists for us hacks.

    So....back to writing songs.
     
  18. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm not trying to stick up for the KC or any of the Klones, but that's indeed the rub with 99% of the demos.

    I'd argue that even when trying to make it work for recordings that it's typically wanted to be on the sublime side. My best reference of that is Mr. Jim Campilongo, who even posts on the parent forums here on occasion. He used to have a KC on some of the older studio albums, but it was more at the insistence of the producer. It was basically set up so that (in Jim's words) you could barely tell the difference if it was on or off - I think it was just something that was more beneficial to the producer.

    ...Jim isn't the kind of player to lug around pedals or stuff live, and he really doesn't need them with his style, and with using something like a pushed to the brink PR. So he may not be the best representation, but OTOH he might actually be a very good one.

    The problem is that lots of KC users have very different ideas about what the thing is or isn't supposed to do for them, in spite of BF's intentions.

    I think when you have a drive box that can double as some sort of booster as well that it can really open up a can of worms. A lot of guitarists seem to struggle setting things up for what seems to be a gray area - not clean, but not very dirty.

    So as cool as the KC might be, IMO some 'better stuff' has come down the pike since the 90's. Problem is it required diddling around with a bunch of different things. IDK that "clean/touch of hair" should be such a 'protracted kissing of frogs' at this point, so to speak...:lol:

    IMO...
     
  19. Marshall_Stack

    Marshall_Stack Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    OK. A picture I understand. Sound is a physical, measurable event. Is that a legit way to quantify all the gooped up, secret sauce,emotional descriptions of how pedals affect what we hear?
    I wonder what the graphs for various pedals would look like.
    I also got a Soul Food. I'm strictly a small timer in tone chasing. Looking for a little hair - the SFT was too much dirt.
    Hey - are there mods for the SF? Don't ask what I want to change about it - not even sure how to describe it. Just like to try new ideas.
     
  20. Tinman46

    Tinman46 Tele-Meister

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    Allot of this is over my head. But I'm glad there are tone geeks who figure it out and I get to glean the sound.:D
     
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