Best Books To Read To Get Into Building DIY Effects Pedals
If you’re like me and love to learn through reading an actual book, then you’ve probably spent hours searching the internet for book suggestions that will help you build DIY effects pedals.
Whilst there are lots of fantastic resources out there for intermediate and advanced builders, good resources for beginners are a little harder to come by. This is why I put together my beginner’s guide to building DIY effects pedals. However, the internet isn’t the only place to get our information and there are some incredible printed books out there that will provide you with the knowledge you need to hit the ground running in this hobby.
Unfortunately, some of these books and resources have been out of print for some years now and the prices of them on the second-hand market have gone through the roof. Being part of the guitar pedal world and community, we know a thing or two about rare items going for ridiculous prices on the used market. This is potentially why some of you actually got into building pedals in the first place.
I’ve scoured the forums, bought the books and been through as much as I possibly could so you don’t have to. The result is the below list of awesome books that will help you better understand the world of building your own guitar effects pedals.
Books About General Electronics
Having a basic or general understanding of electronics will make your journey into building DIY effects pedals much easier. Whilst I would strongly recommend jumping straight into a few simple beginner DIY guitar pedal kits to get you used to the process, you’ll soon start to have some questions about why things work the way that they do. In order to scratch that itch, you’ll need to do your research.
Here are a few books that will give you a fantastic introduction to the world of electronics. You most likely won’t need all of them as they cover a lot of similar ground. However, read the reviews and see which one you think will work best for you.
There Are No Electrons by Kenn Amdahl
If you’re completely new to electronics or have struggled to pick up some of the core concepts then this could be the book for you. Kenn’s writing style helps you understand the key teachings of electronics through storytelling and analogies. He’s also written in lots of puns which you’ll either love or hate.
The reviews for this call it an “astounding book” and applaud Kenn’s ability to provide the clearest and most entertaining introduction to electronics that is currently available. Having bought the book off of the back of my research, I can attest to this first hand. This is definitely one buy, read and keep on your shelf.
Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M. Mims III
As that old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know and this book will introduce a tonne of interesting material that will spark further reading.
Rather than being an all-encompassing guide to electronics, this book will provide you with a fantastic overview of lots of different topics. If you’re looking to understand the raw basics but have a lot of generic top-level knowledge of everything else, this book is for you.
I would personally recommend The Art Of Electronics as a more comprehensive guide but if you’re looking to dip your toe into lots of different topics, this book is a great starting point.
The Art Of Electronics by Paul Horowitz
The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz is referenced time and time again as the best and most complete resource about electronics available. It’s not a cheap book but the content found within here will keep you interested for years.
This will be a book that you keep on your shelf and continually reference during your time building effects pedals. It will also provide you with the knowledge necessary to improve your electrical engineering skills.
If you can’t warrant the initial cost of this, I would recommend trying to pick it up second hand or even asking your local library if they could get a copy in stock for you.
Books About Building DIY Effects Pedals
Once you understand the basics of electronics, you can move on to a few specific guitar and DIY effects pedal books. Whilst the more generic books give you a great understanding of components and circuits, they don’t really provide anything particularly relevant to building stompboxes.
However, there are a few books available that are a little more specific to what we’re interested in. They cover some great circuits and provide a fantastic written introduction to this hobby. If you’ve listened to as many effects pedal podcasts as I have, you’ll recognise a number of the following titles as being starting points for many famous builders in the industry. Some of these books will require a basic understanding of electronics but if you’re happy to pick things up as you go along, they could also be a great starting point.
Tracking Down Your Dream Tone – Build Your Own Guitar Effects Pedals by Sascha Suhr
This is a very new book when compared to some of the others on my list. However, this is a must buy book for anyone wanting to get into building their own guitar effects pedals. Sascha has created something that not only teaches you how to build a boost pedal, an overdrive pedal and a distortion pedal, but he also goes into the theory behind it all so you know why it does what it does.
If you’ve built a few kits and are looking to take your knowledge to the next level, buy this book! The pictures and diagrams are very easy to follow and it was definitely created for the beginner in mind but builders at any level will find value from this book
He covers all of the tools and skills you need to build pedals as well as the basics to breadboarding and even some software which is something most other books don’t touch.
I’ve actually had a few conversations with Sascha and he’s the most awesome guy! Pick up a copy of this book and you won’t be disappointed.
Electronic Projects For Musicians by Craig Anderton
This is the first book from Craig Anderton in my list. If you’ve listened to as many podcast interviews with effect pedal builders as I have, you’ll know all about this book. These were the entry point for so many builders and without them, we potentially wouldn’t have some of the brands available today.
Electronic Projects For Musicians is an incredible introduction to building electronics. The first chapter of this book is all about becoming familiar with the components you’ll be using. The combination of detailed descriptions, images and diagrams make this a must-have for people just getting into this hobby who love a printed book to work from.
The majority of the 29 projects featured in this book are not actually for effects pedals. There is a mixture of headphone amps, metronomes, mixers and even patch cables. However, as guitarists, this is all very useful information to understand that will have an impact on your future pedal builds.
Do It Yourself Projects For Guitarists by Craig Anderton
This is the second book by Craig Anderton on my list and it’s another one of those holy grail books.
The first few chapters of this book are similar to that of Craig Anderton’s other book. However, Electronic Projects For Musicians is much more comprehensive so if you’re after an in-depth understanding of components, I would suggest picking up a copy of that book instead of Do It Yourself Projects For Guitarists.
What this book lacks in the fundamentals (in comparison to his other book) it more than makes up for with awesome projects. In this book, you’ll learn how to build buffers, octave fuzzes, boosters and EQ’s. You’ll also learn about how to wire pickups, create a guitar cable tester and rewire vintage effects to make them sound better on modern pedalboards.
You can pick this book up for less than a second hand Behringer pedal and it’s worth every penny!
The Stompbox Cookbook by Nicholas Boscorelli
Regarded as one of the rarest but most disappointing books on effects pedals ever created. Whilst the general consensus is that the information contained in this book is a little too advanced for many builders to appreciate, it does cover some incredible material.
The Stompbox Cookbook doesn’t look to recreate any classic circuits but provides examples of analogue circuits that you can take and modify to your liking.
This isn’t a book for beginners. However, if you’ve been building pedals for quite some time and you’re looking to take your knowledge to the next step, this book contains a few examples that will really get you thinking.
You’ll be doing well if you can find this book for sale for anything less and $100 or even £100 for that matter. However, there are sites out there that offer PDF’s of this book making it a little more accessible. If you’re serious about building pedals, take some time to scope out sites like eBay and you may get lucky and grab a bargain.
If you know of any other books that aren’t currently on my list but think I should check out, please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for awesome new resources that help explain complex topics in simple terms. If books aren’t your thing and prefer to immerse yourself in podcasts, check out my guide on the best podcasts for DIY guitar effects pedal builders. Alternatively, if you like to spend your time watching videos on YouTube, check out my favourite YouTube channels for DIY guitar effects pedal builders.