Friday, December 31, 2010

New Web Site for ZMD

There's been a few tweaks to the Zorro Music Devices web site at It's been updated to have more information on my work in guitar effect pedal repair and pedal mods in the Seattle area. The web site is still a mashup between the pedal mods and my guitar performances. At some point I'll get a new domain for ZMD and split those off.

It was also time to find a new web hosting provider. I'm trying out Webzpro and we'll see how it goes. So far their technical support has been excellent. I actually talked to some helpful people over the phone. Still waiting to try out more scripts and DB back end stuff.

Good way to start 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

ZMD #3 - Russian Fur

ZMD #3 is done and out the door!

This is a clone of a Civil War Green Russian Big Muff Pi. The printed circuit board came from General Guitar Gadgets. Enclosure is a blem from Pedal Parts Plus. The electronics components were purchased from Small Bear Electronics.

This was a big improvement over ZMD #1. The layout was improved and all the internal wiring is shorter and more direct. Still plenty of space for an internal battery. A "starve" control has been added for an old school "dying battery" sound.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Prickly Pear Finished!

The Prickly Pear has been sounding awesome! It's been used live and in the studio.

It was finally time for some hand lettering.

The MODE, VOLUME, TONE, and SUSTAIN controls have been labelled MO' BIG PRICKLY FUZZ.

ZMD #1 is completely finished!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guitar Parts in the CAN!!

Guitar parts for 4 songs were tracked the other night. Four songs in 4 hours. Had a false start on Sunday night. Had listened to the songs for about 8 hours during bass tracking. Got the guitars set up and spent about 2 hours playing stuff that wasn't worth keeping. Had to come back another night for a fresh start.

Things fell into place a couple of nights later. I rode my bike to work just like on regular practice night. Wore my usual sweaty bike shorts that I usually wear to practice. Brad and I tracked at the same time.

Gear that I used:

* Fender Strat through Marshall with custom TubeScreamer.
* Jazzmaster through THD and custom TubeScreamer.
* Les Paul through THD and Prickly Pear/Beaver/Muff Clone.
* Les Paul through CRANKED Bassman and custom TubeScreamer.

Drums done, bass done, guitars done. Next is vocals.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Zorro Devices!!

Happy 1 year Anniversary to Zorro Music Devices!! Well almost...

Actually it was about a year ago that I had just gotten the boot from my previous employer. One day out of the blue I got escorted to the front door. Found about 25 other fellow employees out on the sidewalk too, stumbling around in a confused state. This was right after I had moved into a house and I was stone cold broke. As usual, I've worked like a demon to set things straight.

Tons of resumes going out the door daily didn't pay off until a resume workshop. Things picked up after that.

In between is when I started to get BACK into music electronics. It would be tempting to thank my previous employer for helping me get on this road...but they don't really deserve it. I'd been migrating from acoustic to electric music for the LAST 3 YEARS!! I'd already been purchasing mod kits before my "slow time".

Fortunately I'm employed again. That's how I can afford my "hobby".

Better yet is that I've been in a band - for more than 6 months. Still way short of a 1 year mark with "The Country Gentlemen". But things are looking stable.

My plan is keep at it with the music electronics slow and steady for years and years to come.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Zorro Devices #1 - Prickly Pear

Zorro Devices serial number 001: THE PRICKLY PEAR. Here's my first pedal build.

Big Muffs have totally captivated me. I've been obsessed with FUZZ ever since I worked on a couple of civil war Russian Sovtek Big Muffs. Way cool - and hella pricey on Evil-Bay.

I decided to purchase and build a clone kit. The BYOC Large Beaver is widely reviewed as a reasonably priced Muff clone.

Of course, I made some minor changes to the circuit and put it in a copper colored housing purchased from Pedal Parts Plus.

The Prickly Pear is the name of this box. Named after the cactus with edible fruit.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Summer/Fall Update

Things went downhill during the summer. My car broke down on the freeway coming home from Folklife. Lost power crossing the Ship Canal Bridge and had to coast off the freeway. Got the car back from the garage the day before my cat had to go to the vet for her last visit. She had been with me for 14 years. Intestinal cancer made her miserable at the end. Two weeks later my landlord called me to tell me that I had to vacate my rental house because the owner wanted to sell. Goodbye workspace garage and goodbye drumset. Goodbye to the garden that we had just planted. Threw out all the living room furniture - long since destroyed by the cat.

Managed to find another house in the neighborhood. Set up the workshop in one of the bedrooms but I have to go outside for drilling. Managed to build my first clone, the BYOC Big Beaver which is a clone of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff. I made some changes to the circuit and put the clone in a custom enclosure. I call it the Zorro Prickly Pear. Sounded good enough to use for a show at the Shipwreck.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


JORGE ZORRO be playing some rocking Mexi-Ska at NW Folklife.

Sunday 11:00 - 11:30,
Fisher Green Stage.
Big stage just south of the fountain on the east side of Key Arena.

See you there!


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Next Electric Show

Next show with Brad Yaeger Band is Thursday, May 6, 2010. Venue is the illustrious BLUE MOON TAVERN in the U-district.

Also on the bill are Colby Imus and the Good Lieutenants and the Betty Ford Falcons.

See you there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Installing a Lace dobro pickup

The Lace dobro pickup is a snap to install! This job took about 5 minutes! Just a little bit of double stick tape and it's good to go! Much easier than the piezo install.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Installing a Fishman piezo pickup in a resonator

This resonator has a spider bridge but the Fishman pickup works with either a spider or biscuit style bridge.

First thing to do is remove the strings and the bridge cover.

Pull out the bridge and cone from the guitar.

Drill a hole through the end and install the jack.

Connect the piezo to the underside of the cone. Make sure that you have the correct side of the piezo touching the cone. This guitar didn't quite match the instructions provided by Fishman.

Install the cone and bridge. Put on a string and connect the guitar to an amp. Adjust the tightness of the cone nut until there is optimal output from the pickup. The pickup was sensitive to this adjustment. Too tight or too loose and there was hardly any output.

After the nut is adjusted, pull the string off and install the bridge cover. Put the strings on and you are ready for some electrified resonator.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Modded Digitech Hot Rod Distortion Pedal

This Digitech Hot Rod Distortion pedal has been a good workhorse for me. Mods on this pedal are bit difficult because of the surface mount technology. However I was able to upgrade some caps. The evil green monitor LED was a nice upgrade. Sounds way cool.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Modded DS-1 distortion pedal

A recent pedal modification project was this BOSS DS-1 Distortion pedal. I went through a complete cap upgrade and also worked on the bass response and cleaning up the high end. One of the toggle switches selects between a standard symmetric clipping and a more aggressive asymmetric clipping. The other toggle switch selects range in the tone - I found that I wanted a brighter sound when playing through a Fender amp. There is also a new bright yellow LED.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Simple Pedal Board

A "plywood and duct-tape" style of pedal board is low tech yet effective. I've been low on cash so I decided to build a simple pedal board instead of purchasing a commercial board. Power comes from a 1-SPOT supply.

The board is a particle board (my favorite!) shelf that I spray painted green.

I installed another piece of wood on the underside in the front - this makes the board sit inclined instead of flat. Not really necessary, just a little extra touch.

For a little padding I put down some closed cell foam - normally used as weather stripping. The boat cleat is the "handle" for moving the board around.

The pedals are fastened with the usual method of Velcro (TM). But that stuff doesn't always hold. I wanted something really bombproof so I installed some loops for cable ties for every pedal. This photo shows the tie-down loops for the footswtich for the digital delay.

The first version of the board: Tuner -> Wah -> Tube Screamer -> Distortion -> Chorus and a footswitches for the delay and for the amp.

A more recent version of the board: A tremolo and analog delay are added after the chorus. The footswitch for the digital delay has been removed. The pedals are a little too close to each other - some "rearranging of the furntiture" might be next.