Building a custom overdrive pedal for Mike Weiss of mewithoutYou
For about eight years now, mewithoutYou has been my favorite band. They’ve been a huge influence on me both musically and personally. This past summer, after I’d been building my own pedals for a few years, the thought occurred to me that I might be able to give something back besides a few dollars every time they come through Iowa. So I got in touch with their manager and asked if I could build a custom pedal for Mike Weiss, their lead guitarist. It was a blank check—anything you want just as long as you’ll use it!
Within a couple of days, Mike sent me an email saying that his main overdrive (a Fulltone Fulldrive 2) had just quit working and he was in the market for a new drive pedal. So all of a sudden I have the opportunity for my pedal to be a big part of my favorite guitar tone by my favorite guitarist. Pretty surreal.
I didn’t want to mess with perfection—a Tube Screamer flavor into an AC-30—so I sent him two TS-based pedals to try out. The first was a single-channel Fulldrive clone and the second was a Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive. After playing with them for awhile, he preferred the LDO, so that was the variant I ended up building. Here’s how it turned out:
The etching on the front is derived from the Celtic triskelion which goes back a few thousand years. At some point, it was adopted by the church as a Trinitarian symbol and is sometimes seen in Gothic architecture.
I got the pedal to Mike right before they left for their spring tour last week. He’s been playing it every night and sent me a note saying he loves it and it’s working great with his rig. He’s going to try to make a video of it before long, so keep an eye out for more updates.
Here’s how it looks under the hood:
I used the Stratus PCB to build it. The documentation for that project include the parts list for a Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive, so there’s nothing top-secret about it. The switch on the left (PCB left, outside right) controls the clipping diodes, which is directly from the LDO. The switch on the right is set up as the “Flat Mids” control from the Fulldrive 2, which reduces the gain and changes the EQ a little.
Anyway, I’m really happy with the way it turned out and excited that I had the opportunity to be a tiny part of the band. This is my favorite custom project I’ve done so far, and I doubt that will change any time soon! (…Unless Mike wants another one.)