Note the two trimmer screwdriver slots, surrounded by blue, in the middle of this phase shifter.

Aisha Loe explains how to cure mushy modulation with a screwdriver—but you need to know what you’re doing.

Potentiometers are used for most of the controls on pedals and a lot of other electronic equipment as well. A potentiometer (also known as a pot) is defined as a 3-terminal variable resistor in which the resistance is manually varied to control the flow of electrical current. A potentiometer acts as an adjustable voltage divider. Any control on a guitar pedal that has a knob will typically be controlling a potentiometer, or sometimes a rotary switch.

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Electrolytic capacitors are your stomps' first line of defense against bad current. Keep them healthy and your tones will be, too.

Feeding clean power to guitar effects is really important. We do our best to buy the highest quality power supplies that we can find for our precious pedals. Once that clean power is fed into the unit from the wall outlet, it often goes through something called a power filter, inside the power supply. This ensures that the pedal's power needs are being met, and allows each pedal to function properly. It also mostly gets rid of ripple.

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Long to try your hand at building a pedal but can't help feeling overwhelmed? Let us enlighten you on the tools, materials, and available resources, as well as teach you how to build a critical, oft-overlooked testing device.

The DIY guitar-pedal world has been exploding over the past few years—so much so that it's likely at least a few of you have dipped a toe in already. I know I did. After using pedals for so many years and becoming pretty much obsessed with them, I felt a burning desire to learn what's going on inside these contraptions. But initially I was pretty intimidated. There is so much to learn! And even though we live in an age when all the information we need is practically at our fingertips, it's sometimes difficult to know how to word things in a search engine to get what we're looking for. Luckily, there's an immense DIY community out there, too—blogs, forums, and general-information reference sites. In my experience, just about everyone in the community is eager to help each other, so it didn't take long for me to feel welcome and encouraged.

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These are a few of Aisha Loe's favorite things. Top row: Chase Bliss X LOE Ayahuasca Aya Fuzz Tremolo, MXR Phase 90, LOE Vibro pitch vibrato, Ibanez AD-9 Analog Delay, Boss PH-2 Super Phaser. Bottom row: Crowther Audio Prunes & Custard Harmonic Generator–Intermodulator, Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man analog echo/chorus/vibrato, Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synthesizer, Jim Dunlop Bass wah.

Stompbox builder Aisha Loe on how a recent encounter with an old bandmate answered the age-old question once again.

I had a conversation with a dear friend and former bandmate recently, about how much using effects has inspired our musical directions and overall journeys as players. We smiled wide as we reminisced about what an epiphany it was for us, as new guitarists, to plug into a stompbox for the first time. For many, it's the initial experience of jamming with yourself. Fresh, exciting sounds are coming out. Inevitably, noodling ensues, which can often lead to bursts of creativity.

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