boost placement troubleshooting pedals solder joints

Tom & Mike take reader questions on placing a boost pedal and waking a Boss 7-band EQ from the dead.

Greetings gearheads, welcome back to “Stomp School!” Since starting the column, Analog Mike and I have received a number of pedal-related questions from Premier Guitar readers. So, we thought we’d take some time in this month’s column to answer some real questions posed by real readers. Here goes…

Q: First of all, I love the column! Very cool, and full of useful info. I have a question. I’m planning on adding a clean boost to my pedalboard and was wondering where to place it in the chain. It seems logical that I should put it at the end of the chain to boost the signal after the loss from my pedals and just before it hits the amp. But, I’m not sure. What do you suggest? I appreciate any help you can give me. Again, I love the column (and PG is my favorite mag)!
Rock & Roll, Greg

A: Hi Greg. The order of a clean boost and a dirt pedal (overdrive or distortion) determines what the clean boost will do. A clean boost into a distortion pedal will add more distortion. That’s because the distortion pedal is already clipping, and will just clip more when you hit it harder. That’s also why a small amp cranked up (or a Marshall on 10) does not get louder when you hit it with a louder signal—it’s already out of headroom, so it can only distort more. That’s how a lot of players used the Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 back in the day, to overdrive the amp. A clean boost after a dirt pedal will increase the volume without adding more distortion. So put it where it will do what you want (or get two: one for more distortion and one for more volume!).

Q: I just read your troubleshooting article and really enjoyed it. I wondered if you might be able to give me a little direction. I was given an older Boss 7-band EQ pedal that was dead. Knowing just enough about soldering to be dangerous, I thought I might be able to fix it. Upon plugging it in, I got nothing. No LED, no sound… nothing. After poking around inside for a while and touching up some solder joints, it worked. I thought I was a genius! But soon enough, it stopped working again. Short of retouching every solder joint on the board, can you give me any suggestions on likely culprits?
Thanks, Kevin

A: Hi Kevin. A totally dead pedal is usually the easiest type to fix. In this case, it sounds like power is not getting to the circuit board. If you have a simple continuity meter, you can usually trace the path from the battery to the board. The black battery wire first goes to the input jack, then through the input plug to ground. Plug a cable into the input and check that your battery ground terminal is getting to ground on the jack and ground on the board. There may be a black wire from the input jack to the board.

If your ground is getting to the board, then you need to check the positive. There should be a red wire from the battery clip going to the board near the power jack. It then goes into the power jack, which has a switch to send the battery’s positive voltage to the board if there is not a power plug inserted into the power jack. Check that there is continuity from the red wire to both parts of the jack that are not connected to ground. If you only get continuity to one of those points, then the switch in the power jack is broken and the jack should be replaced. If the switch in the power jack is broken, however, the pedal should still work with an external power supply plugged in. Hope that helps.

Well, that’s all we have room for this time around, but we do have a few more reader questions to answer, so check back with us again next month. Until then, keep on stompin’!

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