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The Lost Art Of Soldering,Part 1
By Mick Polich - 01/26/2014 - 04:51 PM EST

Hey,who knows how to solder an electronic circuit?

More than a few old-timers out there,and some youngsters - there are a lot of tech/pedal geek project builders worldwide,and plenty of businesses selling kits.

In my on-going quest to leave everything I've learned about music,the music biz, and gear repair out there on the table for my music students,I've recently hit upon the idea

of having students build a simple,one-stage diode clip fuzz pedal.It's quick,fun,easy,and a SKILL BUILDER - yep,skills...who's got 'em? That old lost art of hanging out in your garage,den,or basement,rolling up your sleeves,

and seeing what kind of trouble you could get yourself into with tools and an idea. Now,I've got about four students who've never held a solder pencil before learning this ancient art ( well, semi-ancient...). How to accomplish this?

Ya just gotta ask the kids,that's it.

The students have the option of first painting, and drawing designs on the bare sheet metal project boxes.If they opt out of that,ol' Mick will gladly do it for 'em ( hey,I'm an artist - any canvas will work!).Then, we'll put in control pots,the foot switch, and 1/4" jacks.

The circuit,being a one stage transistor type with related components,is assembled on a terminal block ( the kit I use from C.E. Distribution,uses pictorials rather than schematics. Some bally-hoo this,but you what? Let's get the kids hooked into it first, then throw all the tech hoo-ha at 'em later.

Once said components are in place,the soldering begins, as does the fun. Everyone is tentative at first,just like myself back in the day,but like playing scales or ridin' the bike, you just gotta do it over, and over, and over ......

Wiring comes next - I usually show students how to strip and tin wire,but basically,given our sometimes short lesson periods,I do this for now because it's faster. After hook-up is complete,you plug that little blaster into your guitar and amp rig, and let's see if it works....

Priceless are the expressions when a plan comes together - the looks on young kids faces as this simple device,the bedrock of rock music sounds,amps up their guitar.And oh yes, we NAME the pedals and the function controls ( personal preferences for gain and distort are WOOF and FLAP,as "El Boosto" was a favorite gain/distort

pedal name back in the early days..).

Will this lead to building other projects? I would hope so, because I get the bug everytime we plug in the iron,whip out the tools,and geek forth!

I am all for forward progress - there are so many cool devices,via your smartphone,computer,tablet, and amp rig,for making music, and creating weirdo sounds - I love it. But what's great is showing people HOW and WHAT they can accomplish on their own to contribute to the creative tumult.

Hey, teach a person to fish,ya know?


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