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Echoplex Preamp Tribute

Project: Ares (EP-3 Preamp)
Variant: Echoplex Preamp tribute with side mounted Fat switch

Build description

I built this pretty much exactly as per the Ares specs.

I bought a handful of 2N5484 and 2N5485 transistors and tested them using the tagboardeffects “Greatly Improved JFET Matcher”. I found a good pair – IDSS for Q1 (2N5484) was 2.94mA and IDSS for Q2 (2N5485) was 7.51mA.

I wanted it to look more like the Echoplex Preamp pedal so I centred the pot, added a chicken-head knob, and side-mounted the Fat switch. The artwork completed the look.

I’m pretty happy with the result!

Sound-wise, I prefer the bright “early version” EP-3 position on the Fat switch and leave the Volume knob at about 1 o’clock. I place it at the end of my pedal chain, just prior to the amp and use it as a solo boost. It pushes the tubes just enough to provide a bit more drive/compression, whilst the brightness edges it above the mix for solos. Nice!

Note: Be careful of the third position of the Fat switch – it’ll blow your head off! 🙂 I might re-consider the capacitor value for that switch selection.

Modifications or part substitutions

Centre mounted the pot and side-mounted the Fat switch.


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Two Ares Builds

Project: Ares (EP-3 Preamp)
Variant: 2N5484/5 FETs

Build description

Box #1 (Black)
Standard Aion layout with side jacks. For this build, I used 2N5484 and 2N5485 tansistors and did not measure the IDSS values. Everything else was pretty much stock and it was my first pedal build.

Box #2 (Orange):
For the second box, I jammed top-mounted jacks into the enclosure. If you want to do this, as well… it would be wide to find a smaller 9V jack, as the flange and barrel on the recommended part required me to shave a little aluminum from the enclosure.

For this one, I fabricated a transistor tester (as recommended in the directions) and matched the FETs to recommended IDSS values.

The pedals have substantially different sounds – which can almost certainly be traced back to the FET selection. Build #1 is a bit more smooth and has less top-end clarity than #2. Actually, #1 loves my Strats and #2 loves my Les Paul.

It’s hard to describe this effect other than to say that when you turn it off, you immediately feel it missing.

In the “traditional” EP modes, you get a very small gain boost, but it makes the sound much more harmonically complex. Cleans get a bit fuller and fatter. Drive sounds cut better and sound bigger (hard to do both, but this does it).

The 3rd voice is a pretty drastic boost – and not a clean boost at all. It changes the signal and adds seasoning.

I am using it at the beginning of my pedal chain (although it’s great at the end) and pushing a TS-9 and/or a ZVEX Box of Rock. It HATES fuzzes.

Great pedals. Kind of a must-have.

Modifications or part substitutions

-Good idea to socket the transistors. Different IDSS values give very different sounds.
-I opted for Switchcraft open jacks, which are easier to deal with in my opinion
-One of the builds used top-mounted jacks. See above for comments.