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November 10, 2017

Big Muff Clone - Coda Effects Dolmen Fuzz Pedal

When I started doing research on which guitar pedals I wanted to build, the Electro Harmonix Big Muff may have the largest following of any pedal. Nearly every boutique pedal provider has a version of the Big Muff, and there are many forum posts arguing which Big Muff configuration is the best of the best.

After much digging, I found an extremely well documented PCB which can be configured to many different versions including the V1 Triangle, V2 Rams Head, V2 Ram's Head Violet Era, V3 Big Muff, Green Russian, or Civil War w/power booster... you can even tweak it to work similarly to the Black Arts Pharaoh... so lots of headroom to try different things. Best of all, the PCB is only $8, so you can experiment away on the cheap. Speaking of cheap, I highly recommend Tayda electronics, you can get most of what you need for a fraction of the price that Mouser or Digikey would charge. All the resistors, switches, op-amps, sockets, etc. I've purchased there work perfectly well. I do usually splurge on name-brand electrolytic caps from Mouser (e.g. Nichicon or Panasonic), but for everything else, Tayda has you covered.

Coda Effects Dolmen Fuzz on right
If you want to be cool, you'll get a nicely powdercoated enclosure for your Big Muff clone from Mammoth Electronics... or paint your own :) I chose a translucent blue powdercoat for this pedal. The documentation at Coda (PDF) has a printable template for your drill holes. Make sure to not resize the document when printing, otherwise you might have to order another chassis when your drill holes don't line up.

Using Coda's drill template makes things a snap

Adding the holes on the drill press

So purdy!
Now it's the fun part (at least for me), populating the PCB with parts. As you know, start with the small parts first (usually the resistors) and work your way up to the capacitors. I'm pretty OCD about this process. I measure the resistors to ensure they are the correct value, solder them on the bottom, trim the leads, then solder the top of the board. Most people just solder the bottom and trim the lead. No matter the method, it won't take you long to get everything in place.

Populated Coda Pi Fuzz board...sweet!

If you're wondering about the parts used, they are Wima film caps, Vishay Dale mil-spec metal film resistors, and a Panasonic electrolytic. They tend to be the preferred parts for audio people, but you'll likely do just as well with their cheaper counterparts. I followed the Ram's Head Violet Era bill of materials (BoM) for this particular build. I had a good listen to various YouTube videos before I settled on it as my favorite of the bunch. Many people like the Green Russian, so give that a good listen as well. 

The cute little Alpha pots with non-conductive dust covers sit on the other side, no wiring to worry about. These are from Tayda Electronics if you are looking. "A" means audio log taper, and "B" means linear taper... so B25K means a 25K value pot with linear taper. Sorry, that will never show up on trivia night at your local bar. 

Alpha pots all pointed at you like torpedos

Just a heads up, but shoehorning everything into a 1590B is a tight squeeze. I should have drilled the pedal switch a bit lower, but I still made out okay. The great thing is the pots hold the PCB in place, no need for standoffs. 

So tight that I needed to mount the Panasonic capacitor sideways and give the transistors a bit of a gangsta lean. 

The 1/4" plugs fit perfectly. As you can see nearly all the real-estate is filled. 

And the final product, which sounds excellent. Lots of fuzz for your buck. The knobs are also from Tayda. 

Hope you enjoyed the build process of the Coda Effects Dolmen Fuzz Pedal. If you'd like to get started with a versatile effect with exceptional documentation, this is a great choice. Remember to use good quality parts like Switchcraft 1/4" jacks to ensure your new pedal lasts a good long while. Until next time!

Please remember that building/modifying circuits can be dangerous to you and/or your surroundings and should only be performed by a certified technician. The owner of this blog and all associated parties can not / will not be held responsible if you attempt a build or modification posted above and cause physical harm to yourself or your surroundings. Many electronics contain high voltages that can kill, and mods, if performed improperly, can be a fire hazard. 


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