We all know those nice stompboxes/wahs that have a great sound when turned on. But when they are off they suck tone. This happens because when the effect is switched off it's still goinf through it's circuit. You can try to modify the switch in the stompbox to a true bypass switch (DPDT) but this is in many cases not possible.
One of the easier ways to do it, is to just built a simple true bypass box: sturdy casing, in/output, DPDT footswitch and a send and return. Simply use the send to send a signal to the stompbox input and feed the stompbox output to the return. Now when the footswitch on the true bypass box is activated your signal goes to the stompbox. When you hit the switch again your signal bypasses the stompbox and goes straight to the next device.
That's the basics of the Briljant Box too. But it's been worked out in detail. Apart from a led, it's worked out in detail. But it's still an ongoing projet so many mods are possible, incluiding a indication led.
The Briljant Box has switching stereo in and output connectors. The stereo input jack is used to feed my Reactive Cable (a buffer built inside a Neutrik jack) with 9 volt. The reactive cable has a stereo connector and the ring is used to feed the power. When a normal cable is used, the power can be switched off. The 9V battery can easily be fitted into the box and lays on it's wides side and clamps between the box and the DPDT switch.
The in and output connectors make contact with the casing and give it ground. When nothing is pluged into the input, the signal goes to ground to keep the output silent. Internally everything is stargrounded: all grounds connect at one point. For stability I've connected both in and output connectors to the stargrounding, but one would be enough.
The send and return jacks are also switching stereo and are isolated from ground. When nothing is connected they too go to ground, which is connected with wires. This type of connection the ground gives you the ability to lift the ground when needed to control groundloops. Thanx to the switching of the signal to ground, the pedal can be used as a A/B box, or as a muted tuner output, or what ever you like.
To make it even more perfect, all connectors have a 1M Ohm resistor connected from the signal to ground to prevent popping noise which happens a lot with these type of true bypass boxes.
And to finish it all up, all internal signal wiring is point to point and done with high-end audio cables from Van Den Hul.
Future upgrades will feature a led too. And I'll probarbly add fine tone pots of the highs and lows for the Reactive Cable. The possibilities are endless.I run 12 metres (aprox 36 feet) of cable between my guitar and rack with only a true bypass wah connected. For a long time I noticed signal degration (loss of highs) even with low capacitance cables. I looked for many solution like preamps in the guitar, wireless or the VHT Valvulator. But I thought it could be more cost efficient and "easier" to preserve the guitar sound.
After looking at many schematics of signal boosters I tried to make the easiest design possible with maximum result. I've seen the design of the FET Preamp Cable from Don Tillman who placed some electronics in a jack connector and was really interested by it. This would mean I wouldn't have to modify my guitar, no expensive units (Valvulator), no wallwarts, low cost but still affective. But his design has some downsides. It seems to overload with loud pickups, it does change the volume of the guitar and it involves a lot of parts.
I wanted something more simple. Something that did not affect the volume of my guitar, something that would just preserve the sound. After a long search and with the help from various people I was able to reduce it to one fet, one capacitor and one resistor. That's it. And it works perfectly, the sound is amazing. The highs clean and clear and have as much detail as you would expect from a Piezo bridge, but with the tone and depth of a normal guitar. Both my clean and distorted sounds benefit a lot from this design. Depending on your wishes it can give a small low end boost too.
The great thing is that I placed the electronics into a Neutrik jack connector that goes into your guitar. On the other end I've made a stereo jack connector. This goes into the Briljant Box which supplies the FET with 9V. No inteference, no noise, no hassle. I'm currently testing and fine tuning this idea and will soon make custom ones for those who are interested. How much it's gonna cost is hard to say, cause it depends a lot on the wishes. One thing is certain, I will only use Tasker C196 cable for this. It's low capacitance, dual core, thick gauge, sturdy and has a nice transparant outer sheath. 6 metres (18 feet) of the cable and the two Neutrik connectors alone will cost at least 30 Euro / $ 28.
I use my Briljant Box (custom made true bypass box) right now to supply the Reactive Cable with the volts. But I'm looking for a nice and sturdy metal box which is a bit larger then a 9 volt battery. Than I will be able to make a cable with the battery incluided. I'm also working on various options to fine tuning the low and high boosts. All in all it's a good working project and sounds more then amazing. And it costs less then 20% of a Valvulator, but makes your guitar sound even better (imo).
I've tested the cable with my rack setup, a SG + 5150 II setup and a Status bass + Mesa 400 setup. With my setup it was amazing. It breathed life back into the Quad preamp that I've never heard in it before. The cleans were really amazing, almost piezo like. Also the low end was more defined. With high gain sounds everything was much clearer and open. And because the brilliance of the guitar sound was back, I had more control over the sound with the treble, presence and graphic eq. The clean on the 5150 II (which has a JJ tubes in it) sounded really good. Many people complained about the clean of the 5150 II heads, but with the JJ's and this cable it was more then great. And had a clean headroom that was even able to give you a great funk sound. The Status bass was active, so it did not benefit a lot from it. Highs were a little bit more defined, but this was a subtle change. Thanks to the capacitor, the lows were deeper and clearer. But this is something that can be changed on the preamp of the bass it self too.
I will soon add pics of the Neutrik connector with the parts installed. At the schematics page you'll find the basic layout of the buffer.
© 2003, MvH