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Aphelion Vintage Distortion

Based On
MXR® Distortion+
Effect Type
Overdrive / Distortion
Build Difficulty
Project Summary
One of the first drive pedals to use an op-amp, this classic effect was a favorite of Yngwie Malmsteen, Thom Yorke and Randy Rhoads among many more.

Complete Kit

What's included?
PCB, finished enclosure, hardware,
and all electronic components.


In stock

Aphelion Vintage Distortion printed circuit board

PCB Only

What's included?
Just the PCB. Build instructions and parts list can be viewed or downloaded from this page.


In stock

Project overview

The Aphelion Vintage Distortion is a clone of the MXR Distortion+, one of the first op-amp-based drive pedals dating all the way back to 1973.

This was also one of the first circuits to use hard diode-to-ground clipping, and while it’s a fairly simple circuit, it served as an ancestor to many other classic pedals like the Boss DS-1 and Maxon/Ibanez SD-9. It has no tone control, but instead, the gain control also changes the tone as you turn it up. Technically speaking, only the bass frequency is cut, but this has the perceived effect of increasing treble as well.

DOD released their version in a few years later in 1976, which they called the Overdrive Preamp 250 (commonly abbreviated to just the “250”). Both versions are classics in their own right, with the Distortion+ being favored by Randy Rhoads, Jerry Garcia, and Thom Yorke, while the 250 is inseparably associated with Yngwie Malmsteen.

Like the Big Muff, both the Distortion+ and 250 had a lot of circuit tweaks throughout the manufacturing run. Because of this, there’s no definitive version of either of them, although some variants were more notable than others. This project includes a versions spreadsheet that provides part values for each of the variants.

The Aphelion adds two extra modifications to the classic two-knob circuit: a treble-cut switch that changes out a capacitor at the input, and a diode selector that lets you go between germanium (Distortion+), silicon (250), or LEDs.

Demo Video

Check out RJ Ronquillo's demo of the Aphelion Vintage Distortion.
Watch on YouTube →