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Old 03-29-2011, 07:54 AM   #1
jonesy
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Question Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

I have been doing a lot of reading on the transistors that were used in the Vintage Fuzz pedals. I was wondering what are some of your favorite NPN Silicon transistors, for those of you that build FUZZ pedals? I am also researching a lot of the old PNP Germanium transistors as well.

Also what are your thoughts on the hfe/gain readings for Q1 and Q2 etc? Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks, jonesy
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:42 AM   #2
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

What type of Fuzz Jonesy? I've building my own FF and experimenting with different ones and circuits.

If you are looking for that classic Jimi style germanium fuzz then there are some NOS substitute trannies that sound amazing for that. The AS12XD's in the gain stage of 90 and 120 is awesome. Cleans up really well when you roll back the volume.

I still love BC-108's for silicons.
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:21 PM   #3
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Thanks Mayo, I like the sound of the Big Muff pedals, but I am Experimenting with several different kinds of Fuzz. Basically going through the learning curve right now on Fuzz circuits. Planning on building some simple circuits on bread or per board and swapping out transistors. Staying away from the PNP types right now

I just ordered some BC 108's this morning
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:59 PM   #4
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
Thanks Mayo, I like the sound of the Big Muff pedals, but I am Experimenting with several different kinds of Fuzz. Basically going through the learning curve right now on Fuzz circuits. Planning on building some simple circuits on bread or per board and swapping out transistors. Staying away from the PNP types right now

I just ordered some BC 108's this morning
im on the same path as u jonesy, im think of ordering a few russian germanium transistors in the next few days

right now i got a fuzz face with AS12XD's on the q2 right now i got a silicon pnp which im waiting to change soon.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:15 PM   #5
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Not a big fan of PNP's myself for builds.... They need isolated power to prevent issues (they don't play well w/other pedals and shared power supplies).

As far as NPN's go, I've personally found Silicone to be more useful (FOR ME) than Germanium. If you are trying to get that Germanium soft-clipping sound, just use Germanium diodes in a multi-gain stage (like a muff) circuit for the clipping diodes. I think the trannies I found that I liked best were 1086's, but I'll have to double check... I'm going by memory and haven't built a pedal in over 2 yrs now. Transistors are cheap tho Jonsey, you could just socket your board and swap em out as you see fit. As far as gain readings go.... Start w/the highest gain and work from high to low as you go thru the stages for a more tight, controlled fuzz.

(Another fun trick in a Muff fuzz is to add a secondary DPDT Stomp Switch to remove the final "make-up gain" stage after the tone stack to get a bassier Jumbo Tone Bender type fuzz.)

I hope that helps you out somewhat. Again, I'll look into those trannies sometime this evening for you.
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:41 PM   #6
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Never like fiddling with PNP stuff either. So, can't help ya there.

For NPN silicon I like to use 2N2222A's (TO-18 package)for a few pedals I build. Cheap and the gain is usually pretty uniform. BC108's are a safe too. 2N3904's are pretty widely used in the DIY community also. Easily found at Radio ****e.

Go here for a cool Fuzz Face project with different transistor combinations: The Multi-Face
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Jonsey,
2N5089's are what I used. VERY stable, cheap, and plentiful. I have plenty left if you wanna try a few out, just PM me and I'll shoot 'em out to ya. I've also got some 1N914A diodes as well.
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:50 PM   #9
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thiswastheonlyusernameleft View Post
Jonsey,
2N5089's are what I used. VERY stable, cheap, and plentiful. I have plenty left if you wanna try a few out, just PM me and I'll shoot 'em out to ya. I've also got some 1N914A diodes as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thiswastheonlyusernameleft View Post
Not a big fan of PNP's myself for builds.... They need isolated power to prevent issues (they don't play well w/other pedals and shared power supplies).

As far as NPN's go, I've personally found Silicone to be more useful (FOR ME) than Germanium. If you are trying to get that Germanium soft-clipping sound, just use Germanium diodes in a multi-gain stage (like a muff) circuit for the clipping diodes. I think the trannies I found that I liked best were 1086's, but I'll have to double check... I'm going by memory and haven't built a pedal in over 2 yrs now. Transistors are cheap tho Jonsey, you could just socket your board and swap em out as you see fit. As far as gain readings go.... Start w/the highest gain and work from high to low as you go thru the stages for a more tight, controlled fuzz.

(Another fun trick in a Muff fuzz is to add a secondary DPDT Stomp Switch to remove the final "make-up gain" stage after the tone stack to get a bassier Jumbo Tone Bender type fuzz.)

I hope that helps you out somewhat. Again, I'll look into those trannies sometime this evening for you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by guitar_slinger8 View Post
im on the same path as u jonesy, im think of ordering a few russian germanium transistors in the next few days

right now i got a fuzz face with AS12XD's on the q2 right now i got a silicon pnp which im waiting to change soon.
Lot's of good info. thanks!
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:05 PM   #10
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

No sweat. Also, look into "pull down resistors" on switches (to prevent popping when switching, caused by LEDs) and using a FET (as well as an LED) as a clipping diode.

I've also got (somewhere on my drive) the schem for a Frantone Bassweet. It's interesting because it uses Germanium trannies in the clipping stages, and silicone in the primary and tone stack stages. If your interested in it I'll look it up for you.

Another trick in a muff I implemented was using a dual ganged 10k pot as the coupling resistor to "tighen up the fuzz" characteristics of the Muff. The lower value you use... the "crunchier" the fuzz gets. The GGG Muff (and the Sanford and Sonny Bluebeard) use 10k there, but I liked the dual ganged pot wired as a Variable Resistor.
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:51 PM   #11
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
Great link, thanks!
No prob. Glad to help. PM if you have any other questions, I can try to help you out. I'm actually working on a NPN germanium circuit for a friend(jguitarnash) right now.
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:19 PM   #13
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Thanks for the great information thiswasthelastname left. Alot of great information and links in this thread.

Here are some sites for the Muff schematics and a bunch of information. It would be a decent starting point for ideas?

Big Muff Pi Versions

Here are some other fuzzes:

Fuzz Central -- Making the world a fuzzier place for 5 years
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:23 PM   #15
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Just got a bunch of parts in today and a 2n3904 NPN Transistor design kit, some per-boards and all kinds of other goodies



Checking some hFE readings on 2N3904's







I also managed to track down some NOS Transistors from the late 60's but they are all PNP Germanium similar to the types used in the Tone bender and Dallas Range master.

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Old 04-01-2011, 09:40 PM   #16
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayo5 View Post
Thanks for the great information thiswasthelastname left. Alot of great information and links in this thread.

Here are some sites for the Muff schematics and a bunch of information. It would be a decent starting point for ideas?

Big Muff Pi Versions

Here are some other fuzzes:

Fuzz Central -- Making the world a fuzzier place for 5 years
You're very welcome Mayo. I'm FAR from an expert, but I've tinkered w/a few breadboards. FWIW, DIYstompboxes.com is a treasure trove of info on biasing trannies and mods to circuits.

Jonsey,
AWESOME!!! Check those PNP's for leakage. Ge PNP's are like Brazilian Rosewood... alot of the good stock has been picked thru long ago. (not trying to piss on your parade, just offering up fair warning) If you need metal power supply jacks for 'em let me know, I have a bunch here I have no use for really, since I LOATHE doing ANYTHING w/PNP's.
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:49 PM   #17
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

You've got quite a set there jonesy!

Can someone explain to me the difference between all the different transistors are? There are so many different transistors-especially in fuzz, and it confuses me. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:57 PM   #18
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Germanium tends to be a bit softer and warmer than Silicon, but Silicon tends to maintain attack and be less "mushy". Germanium also tends to be lower in gain than Silicon, and most Germanium transistors are less stable.

Germanium is usually used for more vintage type stuff, and Silicon for a more modern type sound basically (if that helps).
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:55 AM   #19
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thiswastheonlyusernameleft View Post

Jonsey,
AWESOME!!! Check those PNP's for leakage. Ge PNP's are like Brazilian Rosewood... alot of the good stock has been picked thru long ago. (not trying to piss on your parade, just offering up fair warning) If you need metal power supply jacks for 'em let me know, I have a bunch here I have no use for really, since I LOATHE doing ANYTHING w/PNP's.
Thanks, I am new to testing transistors and besides the fHE reading not sure how to test for leakage on those PNP Germaniums? I may have a go at building a Tonebender PNP Fuzz clone, but not until I tackle a few more NPN circuits.

The more I learn about transistors the more questions I have it's been a lot of fun so far and a nice change of pace to the rest of my work. The BYOC boost circuit I built last week with a 2N5088 works fine and sounds pretty decent. I hope to have some time later today to experiment. Sent you a PM about those metal jacks
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:03 AM   #20
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitar Freak View Post
You've got quite a set there jonesy!

Can someone explain to me the difference between all the different transistors are? There are so many different transistors-especially in fuzz, and it confuses me. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks bro, I am looking forward to these Fuzz projects

Here are a couple more links I found helpful on identifying and understanding transistors as used in Fuzz pedal circuits...

Transistor Basics

Using A Solderless
Breadboard


http://www.smallbearelec.com/HowTos/...boardIntro.htm

Transistor Amplifiers
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:05 AM   #21
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thiswastheonlyusernameleft View Post
Germanium tends to be a bit softer and warmer than Silicon, but Silicon tends to maintain attack and be less "mushy". Germanium also tends to be lower in gain than Silicon, and most Germanium transistors are less stable.

Germanium is usually used for more vintage type stuff, and Silicon for a more modern type sound basically (if that helps).

That is what I have been reading up on as well, very interesting. I am going to try and track down some NPN Germanium transistors to use so I can compare those different tonal properties.
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:11 AM   #22
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

See question #26 for the accurate way of measuring gain.

I like 2N2222 or 2N3904 for Si. 2N5088 for higher gain stuff.

Good thing about fuzz face type circuits is you can throw just about anything in there and experiment. Good to have a trimpot for biasing Q2. You can even try MOSFETs like the BS170 if you feel like getting crazy.

I keep experimenting myself. Right now I have a silicon 2N3904 in Q1 and a leaky germanium AC187 in Q2. Kind of best of both worlds sound and it does not matter that Q2 is leaky because it will still bias at 4.5v.
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:18 AM   #23
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
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See question #26 for the accurate way of measuring gain.

I like 2N2222 or 2N3904 for Si. 2N5088 for higher gain stuff.

Good thing about fuzz face type circuits is you can throw just about anything in there and experiment. Good to have a trimpot for biasing Q2. You can even try MOSFETs like the BS170 if you feel like getting crazy.
I was reading about someone comparing building Fuzz circuits to "cooking". There are all kinds of ingredients you can use, (no right or wrong really) and the end results and the way they Sound will be a different depending on what you used.

I am at a point now that I want to know what each individual component does in the circuit so I can tweak them to my liking. So much to learn and only so many hours in the day
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Old 04-02-2011, 08:31 AM   #24
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Thanks for all of the links guys! They were very helpful!! I saved them as bookmarks as well, in case i need them again.
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Old 04-02-2011, 11:06 AM   #25
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

This is a project I finished up last week. I don't think BYOC will mind me posting these pics of their Confidence Booster Kit, all the details with pics and pdf instruction download is available at their website. It's like $14.99 and comes with everything you need (no enclsoure) to build a simple one transistor boost circuit. confidence booster

It only took me about an hour or so to build it and the directions from BYOC were really clear and showed lot's of pics. I spent some time sorting through all the resistors to make sure I had the correct values, other than that all other parts were labeled. Did have to get my magnifying glass out to be sure on a few things. Used my 23 watt Weller and some smaller .032" 60/40 solder for the PCB. I haven't soldered to PCB's in years but things went pretty good.





I decided to go ahead and mount this Boost circuit into a box. Used 3PDT for True Bypass and wired up a Blue LED to show when it is on.





I just turned the trim pot up all the way and it's a pretty cool boost. Glassy kind of grit with a little more top end and clarity. Not what I would describe as Fuzz but getting there
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Old 04-02-2011, 11:16 AM   #26
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?



After I built the BYOC Boost it got me curious so I opened up my EXH LPB-1 to see what was inside it The two circuits were very similar but the LPB-1 is much louder than the BYOC Boost and the LPB-1 is much darker sounding as well. I also noticed that there were two "Ferrite" FB2 used in the LPB-1 can anyone explain what those do? Seems like the tranny in the LPB-1 is a BC550B?






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Old 04-02-2011, 04:41 PM   #27
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

FB1 & 2 are ferrite bead caps. They're used in conjunction w/ some of the caps (either c4 & c5, or c5 & c6... can't really recall off the top of my head, sorry) as part of the bypass buffer as a sort of EMI/RFI shield. The buffer on the EHX boost prolly sounds darker due to this increased capacitance in the signal path.
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Old 04-02-2011, 05:40 PM   #28
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
[B]

After I built the BYOC Boost it got me curious so I opened up my EXH LPB-1 to see what was inside it The two circuits were very similar but the LPB-1 is much louder than the BYOC Boost and the LPB-1 is much darker sounding as well. I also noticed that there were two "Ferrite" FB2 used in the LPB-1 can anyone explain what those do? Seems like the tranny in the LPB-1 is a BC550B?
This should be of great interest to you:

http://www.beavisaudio.com/techpages/HIW/hiw1.gif

Not sure what the ferrites do but they allegedly are bad. Looks like they may be there for noise reduction.
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:27 PM   #30
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Re: Favorite NPN PNP Transistors for FUZZ pedals?

Here is a video demo of the EXH LPB-1 Linear Power Booster and the BYOC Booster that I built from a kit and put in one of my one enclosures with 3PDT bypass and Blue LED. Each one of these Boost pedals just has one Transistor, and they each have their own unique sound. I also combine them at the end of the video to get more of a Fuzz tone. Anyhow, check it out and let me know what you think.

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