Little Red Button (a DIY mute / killswitch stompbox)

Little Red Button (a DIY mute / killswitch stompbox)

I’ll admit it: I’m kind of hooked on DIY projects of late. I’ve built a couple of pieces of functional (I didn’t say pretty!) furniture, and more recently a Cajon, and now, something for my guitar set-up.

It’s a useful little mute (killswitch) stompbox, which kills the sound from the guitar when the latching footswitch is pressed, and then unmutes it again on the next stomp. It means one can unplug a guitar without all the usual pops and clicks. I actually think they should be mandatory for church guitarists, in order to combat that inevitable phenomenom of a guitar feeding back during the sermon because someone forgot to turn the volume knob down.

I used to use a cheap and nasty tuner pedal for that purpose, but that resides somewhere in Australia and I don’t. In any case, this little switch doesn’t have any electrical parts, and so doesn’t need a battery to run.

It’s a simple project, and even someone with no experience (aka me) can do this without any hassle. My soldering needs practice, but that’s about it.

The basic parts needed are:

Though it’s possible to do this with a plastic enclosure, I went with an aluminium one so that it had enough weight to stay put, and not move around with the leads. These parts cost me just under 12€.

You’ll also need the following:

  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • 0.5mm wire
  • Wire cutters / stripper
  • Drill – my jacks needed a 9mm bit, and the footswitch needed an 11mm bit, which didn’t fit in my drill’s chuck, so I used a smaller bit and wriggled it around until the hole was big enough. In any case, be sure to use whichever bit will make a hole big enough for the parts you buy.
  • Screwdriver
  • Spanner (to fit the nuts on the components)

It’s not necessary to paint it, but it looks better (IMO). I used a cheap acrylic paint, applied with a foam roller, which gives it a kind of stippled texture. I want to play with using a foam brush, and spray cans to see if I can get a smoother finish. I topped it off with a semi-gloss lacquer. I used a silver paint pen to write on it, though I’m keen to try waterslid decals, which would go on before the lacquer coat.

It’s best to drill before painting the enclosure. I didn’t, and I got filings stuck to the paint (because I’m impatient and it was a tiny bit tacky still) and then had to repaint it.

The wiring is very simple:

Note: if you use a plastic enclosure, then you’ll probably want to run the green wire to the input sleeve connection as well, or else you might get a buzz when set to mute. The aluminium case has already grounded the two inputs.

It’s really that simple.

I’ve painted mine red, and called it the Little Red Button – wanted to put a little nuke explosion on the front, but my stencil was rubbish…

I’ve got a few more pedals I want to make; next up is a true bypass switch.

25 responses to “Little Red Button (a DIY mute / killswitch stompbox)”

  1. Magnus says:

    Is it noiseless, when switching or is there a click or slam in the sound ?

    • Findo says:

      There’s no active circuitry, so the only click will be the actual mechanics of the switch.. adding an LED might potentionally cause a pop in the signal, and if so, you could always just use a 1M resistor to ground to eliminate it.. but I didn’t notice anything.

  2. chris says:

    I think everybody would figure this out on their own but you only need 2 6.35mm jacks instead of the 3 listed above. But it’s always good to have an extra:)

  3. fuzzbeard666 says:

    was your switch a “push to make” or “push to break” type switch?

  4. bleachvomit says:

    Nice one. I’m building mine, but could only get hold of a switch with two rows of three connectors. Is that a problem, or can it works the same if I just leave them “blank” ?

  5. bleachvomit says:

    Ok, thanks ! I think I will, cause I need to change the enclosure anyway (mine is plastic, causing a buzz even with the two sleeves connected).

  6. Keith says:

    I love this idea and am will either make one or two of these or even incorporate this as a mod to Behringer ADI21. If I want to add a LED how do I do that?

  7. Jack Fairbrother says:

    Hi!

    I’ve tried this with a 3PDT switch, just using one set of switches obviously. However my amplifier is giving me that interference hum heard when you plug a guitar in normally, so something’s not connected properly. Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance,

    Jack

    • AndrewF says:

      Check all the solder connections.. check that you used the correct lugs on the 3pdt – you’ll want to use a row of lugs which are parallel to eachother, not in a line e.g.

      [-] – –
      [-] – –
      [-] – –

  8. BuckTheSystem says:

    How would you add an indicator light to this? I would really like to build a few of these for our church praise band, but indicator lights would be a must. I’m still fairly new to this kind of DIY stuff so someone could help me out with some simple instructions, I would really appreciate it!

  9. JokeY says:

    It is possible to use this pedal with a phantom powered mic? Or will that fry the circuit?

    • AndrewF says:

      Hmm… I’ve no idea, sorry…
      My feeling is that it would be much more complicated, because you’D have to make sure the phantom power kept flowing while only the signal was interrupted with the switch, but I’ve never tried that, and haven’t really worked with mic wiring, so I can’t really help, sorrry.

      • JokeY says:

        Well, I guess just cutting the phatom power as well would be bad for the connected microphone, right? Haven’t even thought of that …

  10. Ryan says:

    Is it possible to make it a stereo pedal? I.E. two inputs and two outputs (not a trs jack). I want to use it to go from a stereo effect chain to two separate amps.

    • AndrewF says:

      Sure.. just use a DPDT switch instead, which has two rows of lugs. But TBH, I’d probably use this at the beginning of a chain.. if you put it at the end, you won’t get an effect tails, like reverb or delay… but if that’s what you’re after, then the DPDT will do the trick.

      • Ryan says:

        Is there anyway you could send me a schematic for this? I would also like to put an indicator light in it so I guess I would need a 3PDT switch right? I’m putting this at the end of the chain because I want to be able to stop the delay and reverb tails and in case there is ever any feedback coming from my board I would like to be able to “nip it in the bud” quickly with this.

What do you think?