Project overview. The project is organized into five parts:

1. Preparations. Here you assemble all the needed tools and round up your parts.

2. Breadboarding the circuit. You’ll assemble the circuit on electronics “breadboard”—an inexpensive prototyping tool that lets you create circuits without soldering. This method makes it easy to understand which components accomplish what (Photo 5).

Photo 5: An electronics breadboard lets you test and customize circuits without soldering.

3. Customizing the circuit. Breadboarding is also a great way to explore design options, which you’ll do right from the beginning.

After refining your circuit on the breadboard, you’ll mount the components on a piece of perforated circuit board, soldering everything together on the board’s reverse side.

4. Assembling the circuit on perf board. Once you finalize your design, you’ll solder it onto “perf board,” a type of circuit board (Photo 6). It’s a more complex process than just plugging parts into holes on a prefab PCB, but it permits customization.

You’ll test your completed board on the breadboard before boxing it up.

Once you learn the technique, you’ll be able to transpose most stompbox circuits directly from schematic to perf board—and almost every stompbox schematic is available online. (Yes, reading schematics is one of our topics.) After assembling the circuit board, you’ll test it using the breadboard (Photo 7).

Photo 8 (left): Your stompbox will have pro hardware, including true-bypass switching, a DC adapter, and a power-indicator LED. Photo 9 (right): In the final assembly, your circuit board rests atop the gain and volume pots.

5. Boxing the circuit. Finally, you’ll box everything up. You’ll install the jacks, footswitch, LED, and DC adapter into the enclosure (Photo 8) and then add the circuitry (Photo 9).