The Island of Misfit Pedal Info
I will use this portion of the site to give you all some tips, tricks, and otherwise esoteric knowledge that I have picked up along the way. Most of these "tips" are pedal specific, very common "issues" that are easily remedied. Hopefully, this page will help someone out who is in the oddly specific situation of needing to fix their TC Electronics pedal that is no longer working with a battery and is on the 5th page of Google results.
ACA Power and You: a Practical Approach
There are exactly 10 billion articles on the web explaining what ACA power is and how it differs from PSA power. Since you are probably a lazy millennial like me (🙄), I won't make you Google it. The main gist is this: Boss pedals produced before 1997 require an ACA power source. This means that although they say they require 9 volts DC, they really require 12 volts DC. Pedals produced after 1997 use the industry standard PSA type adapter. So, in order for a Boss pedal that requires ACA power to work properly, you either need to power it with a 9 volt battery, a Boss ACA adapter, a non-Boss 12 volt negative center DC output adapter (Voodoo Labs Pedal Power FTW), or "daisy chain" you power from a Boss TU-2, PSM-5, LS-2 or something similar. For the love of God, do not use a 9 volt AC output adapter, you will fry your pedal. That is not ACA power and I feel it in my soul every time someone fries a pedal trying to power it with an E-Cig charger or something equally ridiculous.
You are probably thinking "why does powering a Boss pedal have to be so complicated?" and I would respond it does not necessarily have to be. While all of these older Boss pedals technically do require an ACA adapter, you can get by using most with a regular 9 volt, PSA adapter. There are 2 major models/issues that do arise when these pedals are not used with an ACA adapter. They are detailed below:
The Boss CS-3: Does your CS-3 sound "farty"? Does it sounds strained, tinny, weak, and distorted? Then you aren't using a compatible power supply, dummy. This is the major pedal I have issues with when it comes to ACA power. For some reason, these old CS-3's are very sensitive and just won't stand for 9 volts DC. 100% of older CS-3's will require an ACA power source to work properly. Pop a battery in that sucker and be amazed.
The Boss CE-2: How can it be that All Boss CE-2's have faulty LEDs but work otherwise? They don't, they just require ACA power for the LED to light.
Go on Reverb or Ebay at any given time and find 2-3 CE-2's where the LED has "burned out". 99% of the time the LED works fine with ACA power. Sometimes this can result in you getting a CE-2 on the cheap. And now here I am giving up trades secrets...
BONUS: The Boss HM-2: Some HM-2's will "work" in the sense that they power on and all knobs adjust the parameters they are intended to adjust. However, the HM-2 will sound really thin and generally horrible without ACA adapter.
That's it. Those two pedals are the major reason why we have to have 10 billion articles on ACA power. Most made in Japan and early Made in Taiwan pedals work just fine (and operate safely!) with 9 volts DC (PSA) power. Of course, if your old MIJ or MIT Boss pedal is acting weird, the LED is not lighting, is noisy, or is otherwise not working as intended, you should absolutely try powering it with an ACA power source before declaring it faulty. This happens on a case by case basis. OC-2's sometimes get noisy, a DM-3 or BF-2's LED will not light up, etc. etc., but, for the most part, you can get by with a regular ole' 9 volt DC power supply.
I may get banished from the realm of credibility by the science nerds/haters for this post, but I WILL SPEAK MY TRUTH!
TC Electronics Toneprint Pedals Not Working With a 9-Volt Battery
This is an odd phenomenon I discovered that applies to TC Electronics Toneprint pedals such as the Flashback, Hall of Fame, Arena, Trinity, Corona, Shaker, Vortex, etc.
Within the last 6 months, I have taken 5-6 TC Toneprint pedals back as returns due to the the customer being unable to power them with fresh, 9-volt batteries. I test all power sources when I buy a pedal in, so I could not figure out why all of these TC pedals were all of a sudden not working with batteries.
I still don't know why they are all of a sudden not working with batteries, but I do know how to fix it:
Plug a 9 volt DC adapter (Boss style) into the pedal while it is hooked up to a fresh battery, wait for it to power on, unplug the 9 volt DC adapter, and voila! It will run on batteries again moving forward.
This has been tested on a very small sample size, but it has worked every time thus far. None of the pedals I did this to have reverted back to "not working" with a 9-volt battery, so this is a semi-permanent solution at the very least.
Digitech Jimi Hendrix Experience/EX7 Expression Factory/Brian May Red Special "Doesn't Work"
This series of pedal is probably the most problematic with my customers. They certainly cannot be the only ones, so here is a practical guide on how to operate the Digitech Jimi Hendrix Experience, EX7 Expression Factory, and the Brian May Red Special effects pedals.
First of all, these pedal required a specific adapter. They run on a 9 volt 1300mA AC output adapter. Not DC output. Not a Boss style adapter. 9 volt 1300mA AC output only.
Once you plug the correct 9 volt AC output adapter into the pedal, the light should blink a couple of times. The pedal is now powered on and your effects are bypassed. To engage the toe set of the effects, you have to stand up and gradually press HARD on the toe of the pedal. You will eventually find the sweet spot. Do the same for the heel set of effects. This pedal will not engage if you press it lightly.
BUT...before you go stomping on this like you are making wine, please be aware that Digitech also made the treadle on these pedals out of extremely brittle and weak material. If you apply sudden and excessive force, you will break the treadle. Also, never pull upwards on the treadle, as you will 100% snap it in half. There are not any replacements either, because all the parts-units have broken treadles. Sigh.
The manual for these is also trash, so hopefully this helps. These are cool pedals, they just are not very intuitive by design.
One knob on your Ibanez "9" Series pedal not working? ¡No Hay Problema!
Here is another oddly specific situation I come across at least monthly. We will get a pedal in that is "broken" because one of the pots is totally unresponsive. This is most common on older Ibanez "9" series of pedals, but I also see it on the older 808 series as well as the very early Boss pedals without PCB mounted pots (CE-2, OD-1, PH-1 etc.).
The latest example was an 1984 TS-9 where the "Drive" knob was not working. It was stuck on one "Drive" setting and the gain would not change regardless of the position of the pot. Does this sound familiar? Bummer.
Fortunately, you have a screwdriver, some pliers, and (hopefully) two eyeballs so we can fix it! Take the back plate off (and remove the screw that holds the PCB to the enclosure if you are working with an Ibanez pedal). You can gently lift the board up to see the pots. I betcha a steak dinner that you will see the faulty pot resting against the enclosure.
Over time, the nut that holds the pot in place will loosen. Eventually, when you turn the knob, the pot itself will rotate until it meets resistance, in this case the enclosure. When the enclosure touches the lug on the potentiometer, it grounds it out rendering the pot useless.
Take off the knob and use your pliers or a socket or a nut driver and tighten the nut while holding the pot centered and away from the enclosure. See pic above for how it should look. The pot is nice and centered and far away from grounding out on the enclosure. Easy peasy.
Digitech and DOD Quick Hitters
I love DOD and Digitech pedals. They are weird and cool. Here are some life savers I have picked up along the way, none deserves a post of it's own, but I have to put 'em somewhere.
DOD Battery Cover is loose or falling out:
If your old-school DOD battery cover (not the kind that is held in place by a metal rod on newer DOD pedals) is loose or always falling out of your pedal TIGHTEN THE SCREWS FOR THE BACK PLATE. DOD battery covers are already an endangered species. Keep your safe.
Digitech X-Series Footswitch not engaging:
Most of the time, if your X Series footswitch is faulty or intermittent, it just needs a spritz of Deoxit on the surface mounted switch. Sometimes, however, the little piece of rubber that makes physical contact with the switch goes missing. This is a soul crushing loss. I have suffered great despair when I found this rubber piece was missing. Just imagine my joy when I discovered Digitech gives you an extra.
DOD DFX9 Infinite Repeat Not Working
I did not discover this. A kind soul pointed this out to me on Ebay probably 7 years ago and there are several articles on the web about this. But it still bears repeating.
So, if your DFX9's Infinite Repeat setting is not working (either the repeat will not engage or the delay light does not come on), there is a trim pot right beneath the toggle pot that has to be just so for it to work. As these pedals age and get bashed around, there is some component drift which causes this trim pot to get out of whack. For this particular DFX9, the horizontal slot on the trim pot had to be pointing at 11 and 4 O Clock in order for the Infinite Repeat function to work.
Analogman Pedals and the Resale Market: an Exercise in Patience
So this post may be counterintuitive given what I do for a living, but this is something that has bothered me for a long time.
Analogman is among the top 2-3 pedal makers. Period, no qualifiers. They not only make some of the best sounding pedals on the market, but Analog Mike has always been super generous with the knowledge he has picked up along the way. Need to date a Tube Screamer? There is a web page from 1997 for that. Wanna know the differences between all of the Boss DD models? Same, take a stroll back to the Geocities days. The Analogman Guide to Vintage Effects is the bible in this industry as far as I am concerned.
So, with all that being said, you would think that some markup on Analogman pedals would be normal. I can even understand it for the King of Tone pedals with a sometimes multi-year wait and for Sun Faces with NKT275 White Dot transistors that they used up in production.
But what the hell people? Why are you buying a used Prince of Tone for $200? What are you paying over $225 for a used Sunface with BC183 transistors?
Analogman has a website, www.buyanalogman.com where you can go to, wait for it, buy Analogman pedals! You can buy a brand new Prince of Tone for $148! Or a Brand new base model Sun face for $185! What is the catch?
If you want to save a whole $50 AND get a brand new Prince of Tone, you have to... wait until Wednesday. That's right. All you have to do is wait until Wednesday when the PoT's are back in stock. Any Wednesday will do, according to the product page as of 8/6/20.
And for a Sun Face? Get one made to the exact specs you want! Just wait a week or two for them to CUSTOM BUILD you a brand new pedal for LESS than what you would pay on the used market.
Why am I so angry? Idk, really. But I do think it is important to support the builders who are doing things the right way and save some money in the meantime. I mean, it is not like AM's pedals are not worth every single penny you would spend. If Analog Mike was in this business just to get rich, he would not be doing things the way he is. It is clear that Analogman's main concern is getting top of the line pedals into the hands of musicians for a reasonable price. Support those who are out there supporting you. You can wait until bleeping Wednesday.
TLDR: Wait until Wednesday, go to www.buyanalogman.com, save money and do the right thing.
- 🤘 Garrett