Archive for the ‘Yamaha’ Category

Yamaha CO-10MII Compressor

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Yamaha-CO-10MII-Compressor

What is it?
Yamaha CO-10MII. Made in japan, 1984. Date is determined from capacitor date codes.

Continuing with another fine specimen from Yamaha’s 10MII series. This unit is one of those i’ve sourced from a local guitar building wizard, Mr. Lindén. I know i’m a sucker for this enclosure type, so every time one shows up for sale for a reasonable price, you know i’ll be there lurking. The coin-op box. It’s just neat and has a high degree of personality. Candies keep on coming ones the bottom is opened up.

Yamaha-CO-10MII-Compressor-guts1

That is just beautiful. Hand drawn board design  that looks like it was created with a machine. Less acid trip style, but still visually pleasing. Very pleasing. The board thickness is also appealing. Like many japanese boxes from the era, there are two boards that make up the circuit. Many designs use the second board for controls only, but Yamaha engineers have taken everything they can  out of the space available. As the photo below shows, tis design is OTA-based and powered by Japan Radio Corporation manufactured 13600 dual OTA.

Yamaha-CO-10MII-Compressor-guts2

The pots are used for pretty standard set of controls. We have our output level (or volume), Attack time control and the amount of sustain. There are practically no schematics available for nearly any of the Yamaha pedals. Due to this injustice, i’m only guessing the design is your average OTA compressor in the vein of Ibanez CP9 and many others. Maybe i’ll need to do some reversing on these someday.

Yamaha-CO-10MII-Compressor-guts3

I’m pretty sure the CD4016 is there to take care of the electronic switching. Rest of the circuit most likely is for buffers, trigger, compression/sustainer stage and mixing amplifiers. The TA75559 is most likely taking care of the buffering or mixing. Or possibly even both.

Yamaha-CO-10MII-Compressor-guts4

So there you have it. A beauty. From the outside and from the inside. But even if everything made is like it should be, the pedal still may not reach to the level it may have deserved to reach. And there’s a reason for that.

How does it sound?
While everything else about this pedal is more than right, the base to it is quite dull and boring.  The tone reminds me of Ibanez CP9 a lot. In good and in bad. First of all, the control ranges are moderate at best, but it still feels like there’s something missing. That’s the kick. The same thing is also missing from the Ibanez mentioned above. While the sound is not bad, it’s not great either. For a collector, this unit has a value of its own. For a player? Nope. In my educated opinion, the mid-00’s Marshall ED1 Compressor simply does a better job and sounds better than this. This opinion doesn’t say anything the Yamaha compressor, but it says the Marshall has a high potential and user value. Even though this Yamaha compressor may not be as usable as many others. This works ands sounds the best as always on -style pedal and with single coils. If i was to give stars for these units, the CO-10MII would only get four out of then. It’s not that it’s a that bad sounding pedal. It’s about sluggish control ranges and lack of personality in its tone. Bunch of personality around this design, if we don’t take the the sound into account. Nice thing to have, but i don’t think i’ll be using this much for anything anytime soon.

Yes. If it didn’t look as great as it does, i’d be slamming it on this post. Hard.

Yamaha COD-100 CMOS Overdrive

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Yamaha-COD100-CMOS-OD-1

What is it?
Yamaha COD-100 C MOS Overdrive from Yamaha 100-series. Made in japan in mid to late 80’s.

Happened to score one of these in near mint condition with an original retail box from a local guitar builder guru J. Lindén. Since i’m still fond of those coin-op design Sound Device series pedals, this one wasn’t too high on my want list. But. Price was correct and due to like-new shape with nearly 30 years of age.. How could i resist? Surprisingly little information available on the unit. Your best bet would to check out the specs from original marketing material at Effectsdatabase.

Yamaha-COD100-CMOS-OD-guts1

Before opening the unit up, i had a huch of this being adaptation of either EHX Hot Tubes (which has a history of its own) or Ibanez MT10 Mostortion. Turns out its neither and both. I suspect that the lower IC is there for electronic  bypass switching and the part above the jacks is the effect circuit itself. There is unbuffered 4069 CMOS chip in there. I’m currently just guessing what’s going on with the circuit, but this pedal may be one of those that deserve a deeper look at the design. The board design itself is eye pleasing, but not special. Nice. Not shocking, but nice.

Yamaha-COD100-CMOS-OD-guts2

I’m quite puzzled how Yamaha designs have slipped through the cracks of interesting designs. Most of the effects that people find interesting from the era have factory schematics floating around. But not for Yamaha. Even the traced schematics for these are scarce. For this particular unit, i sure hope there will be interest in the future. Expect an update on this post…

How does it sound?
As advertised, the MOSFET sound is in there. Harsh, metallic overdrive/distortion with plenty of output level. Well working EQ section with separate controls for highs and lows. Pretty standard all the way, except for that MOS sound. Since there are only few of similar sounding designs, i’m forced to wonder if none of them sold well? And if so, why? For my ears these all (this, WH Red Llama, Hot Tubes and Ibanez MT10) sound very good, gritty, agressive and powerful. And we do have ZVex Box Of Rock and Distortron which both have similar characteristics in their sounds.. I’m under impression that those sell well.

Well. Doesn’t matter. To me, this sounds like a lost gem and it is a definite keeper.

Yamaha MBD-20M Multiband Distortion

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Yamaha-MBD20MII

What is it?
Yamaha MBD-20M Multiband Distortion. Made in japan around mid 80’s.

Got this unit from a guitar guru J. Lindén some months ago. He was selling the unit for a very decent price and i almost did let it go. We were at some gig back then and he said to me that “you’re stupid if you don’t take it”. So i did. Reason i wasn’t too interested on the unit at first was the non-uniform size of the pedal. I do dig those Yamaha 10MII-series pedals quite a lot, but this one has a lot wider footprint than the other pedals in the series. But am i glad i got it? Yes.

Yamaha-MBD20MII-guts1

As most of the 80’s japanese pedals, there is nothing negative i can say about the design or the board. As usual with the Yamaha pedals, the quality of soldering and box design is very nice to say at least. I couldn’t find a schematic for the circuit, but There is some information about the box on Effectsfreak.com. Apparently, the design has two separate distortions on board. One distorting the lower frequencies and the other for highs. There are two Panasonic AN6555 low noise dual op-amps to give out the gain.

Yamaha-MBD20MII-guts2

The circuit is spread on two separate boards. One for main switching and the other for the controls and a bit more.. The controls are your average distortion box controls, “Out Level”, “Distortion” and “Tone”. With addition of “Balance” which mixes the low and high distortion bands together. There are obious reasons for why the world needs a distortion with blended bands. First of all the low and high frequecies clip differently. So pushing all of the audible 20Hz – 20KHz frequencies through the harmonic clipping diodes witll result in some parts of the range clipping better the others. This is highly affected by the types of diodes used.

Yamaha-MBD20MII-guts3

Even thought the idea of multiband clipping/distortion isn’t offering a huge wow factor, it is still quite ingenious. And of all the pedals i’ve dealt with – this is rather unique method of controlling how the distortion affects the guitar’s signal. Should it be unique? I think not. It is a very good idea and it probably should be used more on the boutique world.

How does it sound?
At first the feeling on the sound is quite baffling. Only thing i count as a plus is the definition and clarity. But more i play with the box the more it gives out. Level, Dist and Tone controls are your standard bread, offering nothing too interesting. Just sufficient output level and and good range on the Tone. The distortion control goes from high gain distortion to higher gain distortion and i wouldn’t call the minimum setting an overdrive anytime soon.

Then we come to the Balance control. From muddy low band distortion to clear, open wide band distortion to cutting high mids/high distortion. Versatility is enough for many purposes from sort of emulating JCM800 driven over limits for rhythm parts and the screeching high gain lead sounds that are able to cut temepered glass.

It does sound good.

Yamaha CH10M II Chorus

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Yamaha-CH10MIIWhat is it?
Yamaha CH10M II Chorus from Sound Device series, made in japan. Datecodes on the components suggest manufacture date to settle at late 1984. The year of the Orwell’s instruction manual.

Can’t help it. The coin-op design box looks real good to me, which is the biggest reason for me to hunt these down. And just look at the traces. Simply beautiful. Design is your standard BBD chorus with two controls and added direct output for stereo use. Nothing new or special. Circuitwise, a standard analog chorus desing with added clean signal ouput for stereo use.

Yamaha-CH10MII-guts

All the boards in this Sound Device series look very pleasing. Acid trip traces with beautiful freehand drawn feeling to it. Soldering is neat and the inside enclosure design is good. These are very solid and recommended effects for your everyday use. Construction is strong enough to last couple of lifetimes.

How does it sound?
Quite mellow and soft with no particular character to it. Standard usable chorus sound that doesn’t lay too far away from mild sounding Danelectro choruses i’ve covered earlier. There is something missing though. The personality and edge. With the compressor, this is probably one the most disappointing boxes in Yamaha Sound Device series. Not bad but doesn’t get too close to the top.

Yamaha FL10M II Flanger

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Yamaha-FL10MII

What is it?
Yamaha FL10M-II Flanger from the 10/Sound Device series, made in japan. Manufacture date unknown, but it seems like 80s build. Looks like a coin-op arcade machine now doesn’t it!

The brand is quite a puzzle to me. Pianos, jet skis, motorcycles, guitars and network routers. Usually i wouldn’t trust a brand that sells coffee machines and snowboards and/or something else completely unrelated. This is one exception.

One of these units that came in as defunctional. In this case, the trimpot responsible for delay time had dried up and stopped working. This time i didn’t even think of replacing the trimmer but just greased it up and the beast flanges on again. Enclosure is very sturdy. Thicker metal than usual 80s things. Black and pink! What could go wrong! Here’s another external shot of this beauty:

Yamaha-FL10MII2

The box makes me feel good – by sound, and by in and out. Almost gives me goose bumps. Just like the guitar i’m using as my main instrument at the moment. It is probably the ugliest Stratocaster ever made (all strats are horribly ugly, heresy, i know). Sounds just amazing. If the sound came from some guitar that was cool looking i would probably just say, meh. But when something goes over the far end limit of being ugly, it usually turns itself around. Like in this case. The box is so ugly that it is on extreme side of beautiful. And there’s more. Didn’t know what to expect when i first opened this up. I wrote on some earlier post how i find these hand drawn acid trip-like traces pleasing. Here we have another perfect example of that – how to draw up circuit point connections with artistic point of view. I could easily live with that board image on my wall. By the way. Note the tension removing plastic addons on in/out jacks.

Yamaha-FL10MII-Guts1

So not that it is beutiful on all sides, it is very well designed too. Insides are made of two individual boards stacked on top of each other and connected together with a ribbon cable.  Bottom board having the switching, jacks and LFO, upper board having the delay and controls.

Yamaha-FL10MII-Guts2

Bottom of the upper board is just as beautiful as the lower one. Just simply pleasing. The boards are thick and sturdy too. The soldering is neat and looks like the person who soldered these wanted to do a good job – and he/she did. As quality of the stomp boxes come, this one needs to be touched to feel just how well it is made. I wish more modernd boxes were like this.

Yamaha-FL10MII-Guts4

As one could guess, the delay is created by MN3102/MN3207 pair. The controls are Depth, Speed, Manual and Feedback. Manual and feedback can do really cool things as the modulated signal is fed back rather than trying to keep it clean. With certain low settings, this can be used as a analog delay too – Very, very short one, but still the option exists.

Yamaha-FL10MII-Guts3

Even the pots are sturdier than what can be found in usual boxes from the era. Two boards are well used. The variety of controls will take a lot of board space, so i wouldn’t even call this overengineered piece of first class japanese stomp box design. So glad i got it. Thanks to Mr. M. Säisä!

How does it sound?
Great! One of the greatest flangers ever. Very wide coltrols from mild, short analog delay to massive, almost velcro-like sweeps and endless feedback. From standard guitarist flange to power electronics style noise guru sweeps. Underrated brand, underrated box and very underrated sound. Definitely a  keeper. I could sell off all the other flangers before this one. I want to hype the aesthetics one more time; Black & pink, Coin-op arcade box, acid trip traces, sturdy components and overall feel.