Thursday, September 22, 2016

Feature Creeps: Waterfall Theory

I've put together a little collection of my previous music as a little EP about computers & computer games.

FEATURE CREEPS - The Game Dev Band

The tracks are:
  • Waterfall Theory
  • Break Point
  • Flow State

Monday, October 19, 2015

Murray Lorden VS The World

Eat this in your ear face.  Boom!

Listen to Murray Lorden VS The World...

or download MurrayLordenVsTheWorld.mp3 (6mb)

I made this song after watching Scott Pilgrim VS The World.  

I loved the Sex Bobombs jam session in the intro titles.  Awesome.  

Had to do my whole own take on it.

Beer was involved.

I loved how they were just jamming out in a suburban living room, and calling out the changes to each other and stuff.  Fun and raw, and reminded me of that special jam room vibe amongst friends.

I wanted to emulate that but as a stylistic conceit on my own in my bedroom.  Because...  well you know, I'm not a cool young teenager anymore with "friends" and things like that.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


A song I made a while ago. Thought I would do more to it. But after listening to it many hundreds of times since, it's now one of my favourite things I've made. And I don't think it needs any more tinkering.  :)

Listen to Harrisonville...
or download Harrisonville.mp3 (15mb)

I've often listened to it while working, as it provides a catchy consistent drone of beatsy pop fuzz under whatever I'm working on. Great way to block out the noise and chatter at a cafe while hipsterfying your life on your laptop or iPad. It makes me feel good. Hope you enjoy it too.

It's called Harrisonville because George Harrison put a capo on the 7th fret when playing "Here Comes the Sun", and I thought I'd try something with the capo on 7, and this is what came out.  :) Thanks George. You were a real winner.

Features my own creation, the Fuzboz pedal, recorded into the Korg CR4  cassette recorder.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

FUZBOZ: The First Prototype

I built my own custom designed fuzz pedal that I've called the Fuzboz.

It came out of my frustrations at trying to build a Supersonic Fuzz Gun, which is a damned hard pedal to get right due to having to get very specifically valued transistors.

I started with a very basic beginner's circuit, and added my own modifications to it, to make my own unique pedal, that I'm rather proud of, and very happy with.

I started with the Colorsound One Knob Fuzz... which is a great pedal to build first because the entire circuit is explained in this one image.

I fiddled around with ideas of how to fit it into the small enclosure I had. Pretty easy with only one knob! The knob on this design simply specifies the Output Level of the fuzz. Inside the circuit, for simplicity sake, the fuzz amount is hard wired to full blast. It's a great rough nasty sounding fuzz, straight out of the cage.

After my failed attempts at making a Supersonic Fuzz Gun, I really wanted to have success with this pedal, and to learn something along the way. So I decided to breadboard the design, rather than soldering it together straight away. This involves sticking the components into a "breadboard", without solder, so you can test it out, and muck around with the components. I'm really glad I did this, because I learned a lot experimenting with different value resistors along the way.

There was discussion about whether one of the resistors should be an 820 or an 82. I ended up going with a low value resistor in that position, so I could dial in a very lofi early 70's fuzz at the bottom end of the Bias spectrum, because I like a mellower sound at times. The higher you turn the Bias, the more high-gain and modern the fuzz sound. I figured, why not let the user start off real low, and dial it up as high as they want, rather than force them to have a high gain sound and dial up from there.

A goal for me was to make a pedal with us much variety and user control as possible, without making it unreliable or difficult to use. I feel I've ended up with a pedal that lets the user find early 70's lofi fuzz sounds, through to high-gain distortion sort of tones, through to fizzed out high-bias fizzly bit-crunch sort of tones.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. After getting the one knob version working, I really wanted more control of the sounds, because it only had a Volume knob, basically.

So I noticed that people on forums were talking about some obvious changes to make, such as adding a Gain potentiometer, rather than a fixed 1k resistor for full Gain.

And then, you can add in a Bias potentiometer to vary the Bias of the transistors. I don't even know what that means, as such, but I knew I wanted to do it. So I found on forums how to swizzle things around and get that in there, too.

Off my own bat, while working on the breadboard, I realised that changing capacitor values would let more or less bass frequencies through (after a friend of mine named Ben told me that capacitors act as high pass filters). So I added another footswitch that switches between two different capacitors. I call this the BASS CUT footswitch. When you activate it, it cuts a bunch of bass and thins out the sound. Press it again to boom back in at full power. It's a good way to achieve a more retro 60's sort of sound, especially if you also pull back the Input Attenuation a bit as well.

So then I was done, and ready to assemble the pedal. It was sounding pretty groovy on the breadboard! I drew up a rough veroboard layout with my modifications in there, and got to work!

Luckily my housemate has a table drill which let me drill out the holes for the enclosure.

I also decided to make a proper digital version of my veroboard layout, so I had a proper record of how it worked, so I could make more in future, as I'd like to sell a limited run of the pedals once they're fully ready for the wild! It also meant that I could make changes and iteration more easily, without having to keep redrawing things each time.

Another design goal was to make the veroboard as small as possible, so I could keep the enclosure size as small as possible. I'm a guy who likes to have about 10 pedals on a pedalboard, so keeping each pedal small is important. But at the end of the day, I think this pedal (as it continued to evolve - as you'll see below), would be better off in an enclosure about twice the size. Easier to build the pedal, and easier for the user to confidently stomp the different switches, etc.

It's funny, because there's quite a lot of hardware in there, but the circuit really is quite tiny (bottom right corner).  :)

Once all the wires start to go in, it really gets quite messy. I need to get better at my wiring techniques! And I think I need to redesign things to tidy things up in general!

To my chagrin, once I built it into the pedal, it had a much stronger sound than it had previously on the breadboard! I think because all the connections are cleaner, and the wires are neater, etc, the actual sound of the pedal comes out with more power. Which annoyed me! Because it had lost a certain wild fizzly sound that it'd had on the breadboard. It used to have a bit of a Supersonic Fuzz Gun sound on the breadboard in fact, which I've never gotten back. But I started developing some ideas to get some of the elements I wanted back. To mimic the "lossiness" of the breadboard layout I'd had (with really long wires dangling and criss crossing everywhere), I decided to add an Input attenuation stage that would reduce the level of the input, to try to pull away from the high-gain distortion sound that the pedal was making, even at the lowest settings.

I kept tinkering, and was much happier once I'd added an Input Attenuation potentiometer that let me reduce the level of the guitar signal coming into the pedal, thus giving it a more low-gain retro sound. And I added the Voltage Starve potentiometer to allow for more fizzly shit-out kinda tones, which can be fun and gruesome.

The main problem with the pedal prototype as it stands, is that there's just too much going on for such a small enclosure. I want to build the Fuzboz Deluxe in a slightly larger size, and have the Input and Output jacks on the sides or top of the pedal. Currently they're on the bottom and getting in my way!

It'd be much easier to build into a larger enclosure too.

You can hear the Fuzboz pedal being used on an upcoming post, "Harrisonville".

PS: This whole project was sort of a procrastination from working on my indie computer game projects. But it has so many overlaps and similarities to making computer games. They're both complex interactive logic circuits. And I really enjoyed building this pedal, and each definitely taught me more about the other.