top of the food chain
Apex Distortion is a versatile distortion pedal which was originally inspired by a particular LM308 rodent pedal. The goal was to create something new, while still paying homage to the original. This is not a clone. It is a reimagination of a classic. Top of the food chain. The Apex predator.
A while back I saw a set YouTube videos from the incredible Demos in the Dark. The series was called “Rat Week” and each day he showcased a rodent based pedal and compared it to an original. But the key here was that not only must the pedal be based on said circuit, it also needed to contain the fabled LM308 operational amplifier. Now, I’m not saying that the LM308 chip is any better or worse than any other chip, I’m just saying it’s a cool chip and I wanted to use it. I decided to challenge myself to design a pedal around that chip with a circuit inspired by the said rodent pedal. So… I found some LM308s and got to designing. The pedal went though many revisions, in fact I had a version that I almost released. I really liked it, but I felt after playing it at band practice a few times, I thought I could do more… it needed more toanz for my snobby ears. I wanted to improve some aspects of the original by increasing its versatility, improve the gain range, smooth and thicken the tone, while still maintaining some bite.
First things first, I love boosting the RAT with another drive, bit so I added a JFET front end gain stage. JFETs are great because they react extremely well to the dynamics of your playing… dare I say it?... are very amp-like in their character. Next is the LM308 primary gain stage. I completely changed it’s voicing. I wanted a nice low punch with crisp highs and it had to preform well in both low gain and high gain situations. Next is the clipping section. I wanted to a blend of smoothness and crunch so I combined a mixture of diodes and an LED. Up next, the tone stage, which similar to the RAT, functions as a classic low pass filter however it is reversed so to the left is darker, right is brighter. Finally in true classic form a JFET buffer which also adds some color as it saturates.
I’m really digging the result, I hope you do too.
9volt - Center Negative 2.1mm Barrel
Higher Voltages will for sure damage the pedal!!
Current Draw: ~8mA
Bias Trim Pot:
Controls the output volume of the pedal. It can get really loud! Set the Gain to minimum and you have almost a clean boost.
Low-pass filter. Turn to the left for a darker tone and to the right for a brighter tone.
Controls the amount of distortion.
Inside you will find a trimmer right next to the foot switch. This trim pot allows you to adjust the brightness of the LED. You like to be blinded by the light? Turn it up! You find yourself putting a piece of tape over the LED on your pedals? Turn it down.
Just don't mess with it. But if you did... stick your DIMM in those two little holes and turn the trimmer to about 12.12 volts.