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Thread: Stewmac Screamer: 1st Pedal, 1st pcb

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    Stewmac Screamer: 1st Pedal, 1st pcb

    I started an Aurora compressor thread but havenít started yet. I got this Screamer from Stewmac. Not many parts, the enclosure is drilled and (I opted for) coated, and the instructions are clear enough for a 3rd grader.
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    Last edited by Joe Garfield; 22-09-2020 at 04:50 AM.

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    It works! Idk about the whole tube screamer thing, the premise is it drives the circuit to make your tubes distort. But it also has its own distortion sound and millions of people use it with solid state amps. Regardless, it works and itís a familiar sound.

    The kit and instructions were great til the last 3 steps (fitting the LED was fiddly, the instructions switch between using the words 'shield' and 'ground,' the holes for the jacks were a bit small, and there wasn't any extra wire length for mounting the switch.) It was 5 stars until time to mount the LED, so I'd give it 3.5 stars as a beginner's kit. But the quality is really good, the sound is good, the option for a finished box with stickers for only $1.00 is great, the price is under $70 so overall it's pretty close to 5 stars.
    Last edited by Joe Garfield; 22-09-2020 at 04:56 AM.

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    I wish I knew why all my pictures get turned sideways.

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    It is because you are near the equator

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    Mentor Rabbitz's Avatar
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    What is wrong with the last 3 steps?
    Col.

    I admit that I am an agent of Satan, however, my duties are largely ceremonial.

    \m/

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    GAStronomist DrNomis_44's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Garfield View Post
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    It works! Idk about the whole tube screamer thing, the premise is it drives the circuit to make your tubes distort. But it also has its own distortion sound and millions of people use it with solid state amps. Regardless, it works and itís a familiar sound.

    The kit and instructions were great til the last 3 steps. Iíd give it 3.5 maybe 4 stars as a kit, 5 stars as a pedal.

    Looks great so far, I own both an Ibanez TS-808 and a TS-9. both of them re-issues, they seem to sound their best when being used to push an already overdriving amp into harder overdrive, although they do sound good by themselves, I just recently gave both of my Tube Screamers a bit of a service, the TS-808 just needed it's pots sprayed with some electrical clean and lube, the TS-9 needed three replacement caps and a replacement DC in socket, both are working great now.

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    Sorry for leaving out the info about 'the last 3 steps!'

    The directions start with a nice general overview of what each component is and what it does: This is a resistor, it limits current; this is a capacitor, it blocks DC and this type is directional, etc. They even give some good tips how to solder. It started off as a 5+ star kit.

    The last few steps: the LED shroud had the plastic insert already stuck inside, so it was brutal trying to get it out and I damaged it a little. Then they have you solder in the LED, but the hole in the case is so far away from the location on the board that it's not the easiest thing in the world to line up. When you solder the DC jack, they have a description for "Tip, Ring, and Sleeve" but then use the word 'shield' in the instructions. They also tell you to orient the jacks a certain way, but they don't tell you why. Earlier in the build they have you cut a bunch of pieces of wire - no problem there, but there's literally not a mm of extra length, so when I cut all my 2" pieces at maybe 2-1/8", I was short by almost 1/2" for the 4" pieces. The 4" is more critical than the 2". In other words, the last thing to solder is the jack and my wires were JUST BARELY long enough to make it. Last, I got the pre-finished box, and the holes weren't big enough to fit the jacks. It was simple enough to sand, but I would have preferred not to be making metal shavings with all the components installed. Granted common sense would say to check that things fit first, but being a kit for beginners they could have had a comment about this in the introduction. I took it for granted based on this being advertised for 'beginners' and all the stellar reviews and didn't check.

    Everything went together well and I really like the pedal. I would absolutely recommend it (looks like I was lucky - it's new and is now out of stock) and I think it's a great first kit, but the last couple of steps were a bit fiddly and could be improved upon.

    Now, I know that the 'shield' goes to the 'sleeve' and common sense told me I had to spin the jacks so they wouldn't ground against the case.
    Last edited by Joe Garfield; 22-09-2020 at 04:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNomis_44 View Post
    Looks great so far, I own both an Ibanez TS-808 and a TS-9. both of them re-issues, they seem to sound their best when being used to push an already overdriving amp into harder overdrive, although they do sound good by themselves, I just recently gave both of my Tube Screamers a bit of a service, the TS-808 just needed it's pots sprayed with some electrical clean and lube, the TS-9 needed three replacement caps and a replacement DC in socket, both are working great now.
    I've had TS-9 reissue in the past with solid state amps and never loved it. That was before I understood the intent is to "make your tubes scream" and not "emulate a screaming tube" though, lol. Presently I have the Stewmac screamer running into an all-tube preamp clean channel biased to slightly break up at max volume.

    The Stewmac Screamer is supposely a 'hot rodded' Tube Screamer. I think it sounds decent but it does sound like a pedal, meaning it's not the most transparent effect. I've read from a few sources, like Analogman for example, that the 'mods' help whatever they're designed to fix but trade off transparency.

    I have a Classic Overdrive on the way from BYOC. That's supposed to be a replica of the 808 circuit, with the right chip, good components, etc. It does include a few optional 'mods.' One thing I noticed is the 808 circuit has 2 diodes, the BYOC kit has an optional 3rd diode, and Stewmac Screamer has the 3rd diode. Other mods are more or less gain, a bass boost, treble cutoff adjustment, increased input impedance. When I get the kit I'll compare and see if I can figure out which of these might be in the Stewmac kit, based on resistor/capacitor count and values.

  10. #10
    GAStronomist DrNomis_44's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Garfield View Post
    I've had TS-9 reissue in the past with solid state amps and never loved it. That was before I understood the intent is to "make your tubes scream" and not "emulate a screaming tube" though, lol. Presently I have the Stewmac screamer running into an all-tube preamp clean channel biased to slightly break up at max volume.

    The Stewmac Screamer is supposely a 'hot rodded' Tube Screamer. I think it sounds decent but it does sound like a pedal, meaning it's not the most transparent effect. I've read from a few sources, like Analogman for example, that the 'mods' help whatever they're designed to fix but trade off transparency.

    I have a Classic Overdrive on the way from BYOC. That's supposed to be a replica of the 808 circuit, with the right chip, good components, etc. It does include a few optional 'mods.' One thing I noticed is the 808 circuit has 2 diodes, the BYOC kit has an optional 3rd diode, and Stewmac Screamer has the 3rd diode. Other mods are more or less gain, a bass boost, treble cutoff adjustment, increased input impedance. When I get the kit I'll compare and see if I can figure out which of these might be in the Stewmac kit, based on resistor/capacitor count and values.

    To my ears, my TS-808 re-issue has more of a raw-er sound to it, whereas my TS-9 re-issue seems to sound a tad brighter and smoother with a bit more gain, they both have that prominent midrange tone that the Tube Screamers are known for, if you put three diodes in the clipping section of the Tube Screamer circuit, and have one diode handling one half of the signal waveform, and the other two diodes handling the other half of the signal waveform, you get a more asymmetrically clipped signal output that is supposed to sound more tube-like, different kinds of diodes will give different clipping with Germanium diodes giving the softest clipping, Leds are similar, lots of scope for experimenting.

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