Arbiter Fuzz Face Clone – Assembly Instructions

Welcome to the Genuine Arbiter Fuzz Face Clone Kit Instructions! It’s a great circuit and it’s an easy build, so let’s get started! This kit can be purcahsed with either Germanium AC128 PNP transistors or BC588 Silicon PNP transistors.

BOM Layout

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DA Fuzz Face Layout

Assembly Instructions

Attention: Changes may occur after the Assembly Instructions are created and the photos may not reflect those changes. Always use the BOM to verify the placement of components.

PCB Components

Resistors

Locate the silkscreen component identifiers for R0, R1, R2, R3, R4, and R5.  Insert each resistor into the correct through-holes and solder them to the board.

Capacitors

When placing C1 and C2, use the picture above to help you position these electrolytic capacitors.  Note the black band; this indicates the negative polarity lead of the capacitor.  To further assist you, the PCB has a ‘+’  and a square through-hole for the positive lead and a  circle through-hole for the negative lead.

C3 is a ceramic capacitor and it does not matter which lead goes into which hole.

Transistors

Germanium AC128 PNP Transistor Orientation

Germanium AC128 PNP Transistor Orientation

 

Silicon PNP Transistor Orientation

Silicon PNP Transistor Orientation

Pay special attention when placing the transistors onto the PCB.  Each of the three leads has a specific function and the circuit will not work if they are placed incorrectly. Line up the little tab on the transistor with the tab on the board as shown in the first picture above. When using the silicon BC558 transistors, follow the orientation in the 2nd photo.

The trimpot has three leads.  Orient the trimpot as shown in the picture above and insert the leads onto the PCB.  If the leads are bent, gently bend them to conform to the through-hole layout on the PCB.  Once the circuit is completely built, you can adjust this trimpot to color your sound to your needs.

That is all for on board components.

Wired Components

Potentiometers

 

 Wire the pots exactly as shown in the picture above (the top one is the A500k and the bottom is B1k). Make note that the B1k pot is reversed from the orientation that most of our pots use.

We suggest soldering wires to the potentiometers before attaching them to the PCB.  Having to de-solder a too-short wire from the PCB is an extra step that can be avoided.  As always, use more wire than you think you will need; wire can always be cut.

When installing the pot, some pots come with nubs near the shaft that may get in the way of installing the circuit into a case. Check for a nub and clip as necessary.

Cut the pot nubs

Don’t forget to cut the nubs on the potentiometers as neccesary.

Input/Output Jacks and Power Jacks

IMG_0327

The ‘In’ Jack of the Arbiter Fuzz Face Clone circuit uses a 1/4″ stereo jack which turns off the power sources when nothing is plugged into it.  When you plug a mono plug into the jack, the circuit receives power.

Stereo jacks have three solder lugs for the 3 different parts of the stereo signal: Tip, Ring, and Sleeve.  On the PCB, they are identified as ‘T’, ‘R’, and ‘S’.  Attach each solder lug on the jack to their respective PCB connection. Make sure to use the solder lugs as pictured above.

On the other side of the board is the ‘Out’ PCB connections.  They are marked ‘T’ and ‘S’ for ‘Tip’ and ‘Sleeve’.  Mono jacks only have these two connections, so they are easy to wire up.

The 9V battery jack is easy to put onto the PCB.  Take the red wire and insert it into the square through-hole with the silkscreened ‘+’.  The black wire goes to the circle through-hole marked with a ‘-‘.

DC Jack Pinout

DC Jack Pinout

The DC Jack has three solder terminals that connect to the PCB.  Use the picture above and the silkscreen on the PCB to place the wires correctly.  The DC Jack allows you to power your circuit with a wall wart and disconnects the 9V battery from the circuit, saving money on expensive batteries.

NOTE: please remember to use a 9 volt center positive power supply. Using the incorrect power supply polarity will damage your circuit.

If you do not want to install the 9V DC jack and only install the 9V battery clip you will have to short the S and C pins for the 9V DC Jack like shown in the picture below*.

* Your PCB may not look exactly like the photo, that is ok. What is important is that you short the same pins as shown in the photo.

No DC Jack

Short these contacts to get the circuit to work without the 9V DC Jack

LED

IMG_0342

Insert the LED through the plastic insertion mount (if needed) and solder wired leads to both legs. Connect the wire leading from the flat side of the of LED to the solder pad on the board that is closest to the flat spot on the silkscreen. The picture below shows the flat spot (although the led is board-mounted). You may omit wiring the LED and mount it directly to the PCB. The photos below illustrating stomp switch wiring show the LED installed in this configuration.

Stomp Switch

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Stomp Switch Help

 Line up the number code from the switch to the board exactly how it is labeled in the picture (above and below.)

Make sure the flat blue side of the stomp switch is facing up when comparing it to the picture below. Either Blue Side will work fine. AND YOU CAN MOUNT THE STOMP SWITCH DIRECTLY TO THE PCB IF DESIRED.

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Stomp Switch Help

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Stomp Switch Wiring

Biasing Instructions:

Power on the pedal and insert a cable into the input jack. For the circuit to be optimally biased, the collector of Q2 needs to be at 4.5 volts. (When connecting the Arbiter Fuzz Face Clone circuit to your multimeter as shown in the photos below, your meter will read -4.5V.) The 20K trim pot is used to dial in this value. All you need to do is connect your leads to a ground on the PCB and the collector of Q2 to get this reading.

Fuzz Face Clone Biasing GuideArbiter Fuzz Face Clone Biasing Guide

Congratulations, that’s the end of the instructions for the Arbiter Fuzz Face Clone circuit!  If everything is wired/connected properly, you should have a fully functional fuzz pedal.  Remember to adjust the trimpot to get the sound you want from your new pedal and have fun!

91 Comments

  1. Jordan Brinkerhoff says:

    I just purchased this kit about a week ago, and I have a question about the power supply I need. The assembly instructions state that it requires a center positive power source. I have a planet waves 9v adapter for boss and similar pedals, but that one won’t work right? Do you have any recommendations? I’ve been having trouble finding an adapter that would power this pedal.

  2. Jordan Brinkerhoff says:

    About the second stomp switch picture, does it matter which flat blue side is facing up?

  3. Steve Harmon says:

    Hi Jordan, either blue side will work the same. Great question, should have had this on the instructions a long time ago!

  4. Tim Knowlton says:

    I recently finished building this pedal — when I first tested it out, it sounded great. Exactly what I was hoping for. However, the LED wasn’t working. I am pretty new to soldering and didn’t realize the polarity of the LED mattered. In the process of removing the LED, I think I must have damaged/overheated the board, because when I finally got the LED working and re-tested the pedal, it sounded screechy and thin— in a word, terrible. So now I have a basically unusable pedal. It is for the most part my fault, but I think it would be very helpful to include a quick mention of how to install the LED, so that beginners can avoid the mistake which I made. Sort of disappointed.

  5. Steve Harmon says:

    Hey Tim,
    Sorry about the confusion on the LED mounting, getting the instructions fixed is happening soon. Thanks for pointing it out to us! As far as why it suddenly sounds screechy, there are a number of things that affect the sound of the Fuzz Face Clone, mainly the germanium transistors, which are VERY temperature sensitive. The AC128s that we use have a maximum temperature of 100*C, so a very hot iron could very well damage them. Another thing is the Trim pot. Potentiometers are also easy to cook with a soldering iron thats too hot, or left on the board too long. If you turn the trim pot, does it change the tone at all?

  6. Tim Knowlton says:

    @Steve Harmon
    Thank you for the response. The trim pot does change not drastically change the tone. I am just going to buy the kit again and start from scratch.

  7. Giovanni says:

    @Jordan Brinkerhoff
    I’m pretty sure you can just switch the + and – wires to the power supply plug and you get a negative center powered pedal. Am I right?

  8. Giovanni says:

    From the board it looks like the DPDT stomp switch (and LED) can be mounted directly on the board, but the instructions show otherwise. Is that possible? Also I assume there’s no harm in switching the wires to the power plug so it works with negative center power supplies (far more common)?

  9. Steve Harmon says:

    The 3PDT and LED CAN be mounted to the board directly with no wires if desired

  10. Steve Harmon says:

    Not so fast! you CAN wire it as a center negative, BUT you cannot use other center negative pedals if you are daisy chaining pedal power.

  11. Paul says:

    Hello,
    I recently purchased the Fuzz Face PCB. I am using a 9v jack for the dc input, it has the center positive as directed, from a Big Muff. The schematics look to be showing that the jack switches the negative lead when it is plugged in, but my jack switches the positive. Am I reading this wrong? Can you please clear this up for me, I would hate to fry my circuit. The S,C,P wires shown connect the P terminal to the pin which is positive, but on the board the p and the negative battery terminal have continuity. Help!!

  12. Steve Harmon says:

    Hi Paul, the “P” connection for the DC jacks has continuity with the “+” battery terminal. The “C” has continuity with the “-“. When the DC jack is open, C and S are connected allowing the battery to function. Does this help?

  13. Andy says:

    My DC jack is open between C and S when no power supply is plugged in, so the battery is not connected until I plug something into the DC jack, whether or not the adapter is connected to the AC. The pedal works with no battery if the DC is connected and plugged into AC. It seems the DC jack (C/S) should be normally closed, then become open when the adapter is plugged into it, but this isn’t the case. Any help?

  14. Steve Harmon says:

    Hi Andy, did you receive the DC jack from us? The ones that we sell and provide in kits have C & S connected when there is nothing plugged into the jack.

  15. Andy says:

    Yes, I bought the complete kit from you. Measured in circuit, C & S are open until something is plugged into the jack; maybe it’s defective? With nothing plugged in and a 9 volt battery connected, I get very low output and no LED. As soon as I plug in the DC plug (not even hooked to mains), the LED comes on and I get full volume. Or the pedal works fine with no battery, using power adapter.

  16. Steve Harmon says:

    Did you use the continuity setting on your multi-meter? Send us a photo via email. Something is clearly not correct. We will figure it out 🙂

  17. Sagar says:

    I just assembled my Fuzz Face. While I am able to get a clean, bypassed tone out of it, pressing the stomp button makes it go quiet– all sound is cut off. I am wondering if one of the transistors is either malfunctioning, or if I accidentally fried it during soldering.

    Have any other customers experienced this problem? I bought two kits, and would like to learn how to avoid doing whatever I may have done wrong on the first one.

    Thanks.

  18. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey, I’ve noticed that actually on one that I built awhile back, Turned out to be a cold solder joint on one of the transistors. Though any number of things could possibly be the issue. You can check out our troubleshooting guide here, but I would definitely check solder joints and component placement first. Feel free to email us at synthroteksales@gmail.com for further help or if you want to arrange a repair.

    -Patrick at Synthrotek

  19. Will says:

    When I press the stomp the noise shuts off but when it is on no guitar tones go through it and it is just a big hum. I checked all the polarity/placement/solder joints and all of that seems to be right. I followed the directions to a t idk where I went wrong

  20. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey will,
    Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your build. If you haven’t already, I would check the troubleshooting guide here. There’s a ton of useful information on there about debugging your circuit. Feel free to email us at synthroteksales@gmail.com as well, for further help or to arrange a repair, feel free to email us at synthroteksales@gmail.com

    -Patrick at Synthrotek

  21. Tom says:

    Is the Fuzzface kit designed for PNP or NPN Transistors? Also, is there a ‘standard’ schematic available w/o the unprintable black background?

    Thanks – Tom

  22. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey tom, we’re using PNP AC128 Germaniums. Unfortunately, that’s the only schematic available.

  23. Steve G. says:

    You can copy the “black-background” schematic and ‘reverse negative’ with “Paint Shop” which reveals some discrepancies to the Bill Of Materials parts… 2N1305 transistors; R1 & R4= 33k;
    R0 & R5= 2M2; R2=330ohm; BOM= both pots ‘Linear’ – Build instructions A500k & B1k…
    I am yet to “wire things up” tomorrow! Thought ‘Metalfilm’ 1% resistors may be a better option. I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me! [RF?]

  24. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey Steve,

    The discrepancies you see on the schematic are just a revision difference between the original schematic and the final product. The 2n1305 is still a PNP Germanium transistor, so it will function, but there may be tone variations.
    I was wondering where you were seeing that the BOM said both linear? The bom we see here says one a500k, and one b1k. If theres another bom that has wrong values, we’ll definitely take care of it

  25. Jordan Brinkerhoff says:

    Well, I finally finished it, and it worked first try. My one question is, how does the trim pot affect the sound?

  26. Patrick Kelly says:

    hello,

    The trim pot affects the bias of the transistors, so that you can match them and make it sound better.

    Best,
    Patrick

  27. John says:

    The input and output jacks are different than the ones shown in the instructions but are correct in the bom Can you describe or illustrate the wording on the metal vs the plastic jacks?
    Thanks john

  28. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey John,

    We recently switched to the metal jacks, and must have missed this assembly instruction page. Please reference the following images to get you hooked up right.
    Metal Jack wiring
    Plastic Jack Wiring

  29. Ozan says:

    Hey there,
    I was wondering is it possible to build a silicone fuzz face clone with this pcb

  30. Bill says:

    I am thinking of adding some extra components to lower the incoming voltage. would adjusting the bias control do the same thing as say, lowering battery voltage? I have seen some fuzz pedals that have an outside adjustable bias pot, but none that allow you to lower the voltage. I have read that some people would experiment with the lower voltages affecting the sound.

    The plan is to use a rotary switch (6 position) and use 5 diodes in series terminating on the rotary switch poles. This would allow me to turn the rotary switch to achieve: 9 vdc, 8.3 vdc, 7.6 vdc, 6.9 vdc, 6.2 vdc, 5.5 vdc. I can think of a dozen other ways to do this, but this one is dirt simple, and won’t drain the battery. what do you think?

  31. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey,

    We’ve read online that other people have had good results replacing an AC128 with a BC558B. We can’t guarantee that these will work, or if they do work, what they will sounds like. Here is a link to an image that has a replacements table for transistors. Link

    Best,
    -Patrick

  32. Patrick Kelly says:

    hello,
    You’re essentially looking to make a starve circuit, I would consider building it into a separate enclosure, as you could then use it with other pedals too, if you look around on the internet, there should be plenty of circuits out there you can look at for ideas.

    Best,
    -Patrick

  33. Mike says:

    I was wondering on the fuzz if the 3PDT Switch can be mounted on the back side of the pc board (solder side of board)? Seems to be great kit and cant beat the price. Thanks.

  34. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey Mike,

    The 3PDT needs to be mounted on the top of the board for it to work correctly. You can, however mount the trim pot on the other side of the board, if thats what you are wanting to do.

    Best,
    -Patrick

  35. chuck says:

    do you have a schematic for this? where can i find it thanks

  36. Patrick Kelly says:

    Hey Chuck,

    We unfortunately cannot release schematics for this due to licencing and contractual obligations.

    Best Regards,
    -Patrick at Synthrotek

  37. John Osborne says:

    Got it yesterday; built it this morning. Like another I wired the LED backwards. I made another bonehead mistake so boneheaded that I will not confess it here. But after correcting both, I can only say this pedal in Germanium AC128 PNP is fabulous. I had always wanted an “original” fuzz face but then learned that when a music store got a shipment, the local hotshot guitarist picked over many to find the one that sounded best. Apparently, the originals were not made with the best AC128s. Mine is better than the one they got!!

  38. Steve Harmon says:

    Awesome! Happy it all worked out John!
    Thanks for your support
    -Zach

  39. Mike says:

    In the picture used in your biasing instructions, if the tab on transistor Q2 is oriented to match the tab indicator printed on the pcb, then the emitter is a 12 o’clock, the collector is at 6 o’clock and the base is at 9 o’clock. Your photograph shows the multimeter connected to the base (9 o’clock) not the collector. But the instructions say to adjust the bias voltage to the collector. Am I mistaken?

  40. Eric says:

    Having a similar problem as mentioned above. Get clean signal fine, but goes silent when switched to fuzz. LED does not light up with battery, but does light up with DC adaptor. Voltage tested all connections and they all check out as good. Don’t think I fried the circuit, though I had to redux the pot connections and the input jack (as I initially had it wired incorrectly). HELP!

  41. Steve Harmon says:

    Hey Eric,
    You should send pictures of your board (both component side and solder side) to store@synthrotek.com
    If I get a chance to look at the board maybe something will stand out and I can offer further assistance!
    We also offer a free 30 minute repair/diagnosis for kits!
    -Zach

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