General Guitar Gadgets – Who We Are – Part 2

Phase Shifter

Phase Shifter

General Guitar Gadgets started as a small website in the year 2000. We went under the name “Guitar Effects Projects” when we started. After some careful thought we felt that the name was a bit generic so we changed it a few years later to General Guitar Gadgets. When we started our our first web site, believe it or not, we were the only site on the internet featuring guitar effect PCB layouts. I was spending a lot of time doing PCB layouts (for myself) for the schematics that were on the internet, so I thought it would be a good idea to share my layouts on a website. My layout skills were pretty bad at the time and you can still find some of the atrocious layouts that I did during those early years.

Our first website was on a free hosting company server. Soon, the site was getting too much traffic and we had to find other hosts. The good people at Ampage offered to host us on their server, but our traffic got to be too much for them as well. We decided to get a real host server and do a major upgrade to the site around 2005.

In 2003 we started selling PCB that we etched and drilled ourselves, and we sold lots of PCBs for the next 3 years. In 2006 we made it a full-time business and started selling kits as well as PCB and started out-sourcing our PCB production with high-quality double-sided through-hole-plated PCBs.

That’s a brief summary of our history, now here’s a summary of our philosophy.

We like free stuff.

We also like it when you buy stuff from us, but…all the projects on the site are free for you to use to build your own guitar effects, including PCB layouts. This goes far beyond just posting instructions for our kits. All of our PCBs are designed factoring in the idea that they could be etched at home using the PCB mask provided. It may not sound like much, but the possibilities of an industrial double-sided PCB with razor thin traces far exceeds a single-sided PCB that can be etched at home. So the PCBs are designed accordingly. Most of our PCBs aren’t as small and/or as snazzy as they could be, but now you know why.

We like flexibility.

Sometimes our designs don’t seem to make sense to novice builders. For instance: Why are there extra spaces on the PCB that aren’t used? Why don’t we use PCB mount potentiometers and switches, to reduce the amount of hookup wiring? Why aren’t the boxes drilled differently? The answer to these questions and many more is: to provide maximum flexibility to the builder. You

already have an enclosure you want to use? All of our kits have the option of buying the kit without the enclosure (at a lower cost of course). Or different size enclosures. We also have lots of multi-use PCBs and room for modifications on many of our PCBs.

We like awesome sound more than vintage part numbers and values.

All of our kits are tuned by ear and they sound great! We have gone against the grain in some cases, when we use some parts or design variations other than the original. We do this when it is clear that the updates are unquestionably better than the original. We always use true bypass, even when the originals weren’t. Any stompbox can be easily buffered (like boss and Ibanez pedals) if you are so inclined. In some cases, we supply parts that are easier to acquire than the original part numbers. Some original parts are no longer available or are just hard to find and/or expensive. It’s a sad, brutal reality we all face from time to time. In all cases our substitutions (overall) sound as good or better than the originals. In the case of our germanium fuzz tones and boosters, we don’t include the germanium transistors because if you think you need it, you can probably source a better set of transistors than I can. But all of our kits that originally had a germanium transistor come with a good quality transistor socket and good set of silicon transistors and instructions on how to build a great sounding fuzz tone or booster using silicon transistor(s).

We like great quality.

I’ve never built a guitar effect kit from any other kit seller, but I have built kits from Velleman and other common suppliers and to be completely frank, the quality of those kits is junk compared to our kits. You may find kits on the net for much less cost than ours, but you will get what you pay for. We’re probably not the only source of good quality guitar effects kits on the internet, but our kits have the very best possible quality within the limits of our price range.