Gearphoria Vol 4, No 1

Batteries included... Part 1 A closer look at how we power our pedals I’M NOT SURE of the reason the de-facto standard for effects pedal power became the 9V battery. Many low current pedals such as buffers, boosts, and distortions could easily be designed to run equally well on the more common AA battery type if we so desired. I’ll hazard a guess that history has a lot to do with it. If I recall correctly, the Boss, Electro-Harmonix, and other pedals of the day I used in the 80’s, pretty much all used the 9V bat- tery. I imagine this same history has a lot to do with why we are also stuck with the evil center pin negative DC power connector on most pedals. I’m sure Roland must have had a good reason for using this back in the day on the iconic Boss effects, but really, from a product design standpoint it’s a pain in the ass. Anyway, with that stage set, we have our first Workbench Confidential two-parter. Here in part one we are going to look into disposable battery choices, and do some fun calculations to find out exactly how long is this battery going to last in my shiny new Professor Nutboffin’s Windy Cutlass? In part two, we’ll review rechargeable batteries and also uncover if using part discharged batteries really will make my fuzz sound like Eric Johnson. Let’s get started. We are going to try to figure out the best choice of battery for effects pedals and how long they will last in each of our devices. To do this we are going need a few bits of information. Roughly in order of significance, these are: Battery chemistry Device current draw Device cut off voltage Battery chemistry defines the chemi- cal make up of the battery. The most common chemistries for consumer primary cells are Zinc-Carbon (or Carbon-Zinc or just Zinc... it’s the same thing), Alkaline and Lithium. Let’s get a bit of terminology out of the way first. A primary cell is a sin- gle use or disposable battery. These are designed to be used once and then disposed of, preferably recycled. A secondary cell is a rechargeable bat- 26 GEARPHORIA SEP/OCT 2015