How to make a distortion pedal for $0

is your bank account sitting at $0.47 like usual?
need a distortion pedal or want to start a boutique pedal shop to scam yuppies?
you're in luck!
you can make one for exactly $0 USD! Just try this one easy trick!


Here are the things you will need:
  • two resistors
  • one NPN transistor (more on that in a second)
  • two capacitors (any value <10uF)
  • one or two LED's or diodes
  • 9v power supply

    That is literally it! You can build this in 5 minutes.

    Where to get NPN transistors?

    Well, NPN (is opposed to PNP) are pretty common in any electronics. tear apart an alarm clock or broken boombox or something.
    Find some transistors, and search online for the model number written on them to see if they are NPN.
    Just desolder them, and grab some random resistors and capacitors while youre at it.
    the most important part is a 1M resistor. the color code for these: brown black green

    The circuit to make

    alright, so we have our stuff. this is a circuit i found that is really simple.
    take a look at this and then i'll explain it a bit, but wont go into theory too much.

    So, theres 3 pins on the transistor (thing with the arrow on it)

  • For an NPN transistor, the arrow going out is the emitter pin.
  • In most situations, the middle pin is the base
  • the pin that is just normal is the collector.

    most npn transistors if you look at them face-on (flat side facing you), the pins go left-to-right: collector, base, emitter.
    always double check the transistor though with a search online though for the pinout.

    building it

    the diagram says 12v but you can use 9 just fine
    i recommend building the circuit without the diodes just to test your transistor!
    dont power on this circuit until it is assembled.

    The capactiors arent even super necessary, they just ensure that you dont get DC voltage and instead get only audio signal

    so, what the result of this will be is that ur input comes out, but way louder.
    this is due to transistors being magical.

    The diodes at the right side of the diagram "clip" the signal which is what makes it be a distortion instead of just a gain pedal!

    There you go! you are done! you can mess around by adding some passive filters,
    or stringing together several of this same circuit to get really extreme distortion

    you can mess around with feeding the circuit back into itself in different ways,

    all kinds of stuff. from here on out, you know how to make an amplifier and a clipper, so the world is yours!