|User Feedback Section||Sound Samples|
Build the "Real McTube II"|
Overdrive/Distortion Tube "Stomp-box"
"The Real McTube" is a simple self-contained, one-tube circuit intended as an
overdrive/distortion preamplifier. It makes use of the vacuum tube's relatively soft clipping
characteristics to provide a fuzz-tone or overdrive sound with a warmer quality than afforded
by most such solid-state devices. A dual triode is operated near the bottom of its characteristic
curves to take advantage of the unique distortion of which such tubes are capable.
The project is intended for use with musical instruments, such as guitars and basses, to take advantage of the vacuum tube's distortion characteristics; as such it is not suitable for reproduction applications. If you're after high fidelity, consider my "quasi op-amp" preamp design instead.
The project is best assembled inside a closed case, stomp-box style, for ruggedness. However, there is no reason why you couldn't assemble it into other packages (even bread-board style). This is an ideal project if you have at least some electronics experience, but wish to break into the fascinating world of the thermionic vacuum tube.
of the "Real McTube" circuit
|This project was originally published in Electronics Now, February 1999, based on a submission in 1997 of a circuit I put together in 1993. Since then, several individuals have made suggestions for expanding the text portion of the article, so here is an updated (Jan. 2001) version of this classic and useful design.|
Back-issues of the Feb. 1999 issue of Electronics Now are still available from
Gernsback, should you wish to look over the original
design. Or click
here to view the schematic for reference purposes.
The first page of the original "The Real McTube" article
All contents of this website, including all schematics, text, diagrams and photographs
are Copyright ©1998, ©2001 by Fred Nachbaur, Dogstar Music. All rights reserved.
This site may be freely linked, but none of the contents may be posted anywhere else without
express permission of the copyright holder.
The information presented here may be used for personal, non-commercial use only. Any commercial applications of this design or any part thereof requires previous licensing arrangements with the author and copyright holder, Fred Nachbaur.
2: Basic Tube Theory
3: How It Works
4: Building and Using "The Real McTube II"
5: Parts List
6: User Feedback
7: About Tube Pin Numbering
Following is a listing of available resources for building the Real McTube II. Included are
a printable schematic and this article in PDF format, as well as off-site resources based on
the original 1993 design (published 1999).
A new addition (Jan. 2003) is Francisco Peña's rework of the Real McTube design using a PC board, on his TonePad site. Pre-made boards may be available in the future, contact him for details.
|Full Article (as per 1-5 above)||mctube2.pdf rev. Sep 4 01|
|Schematic Diagram (7.5"x10")||mctube2l.gif|
|Power Supply for 2-diode wallwarts (6"x3")||mct2ps2l.gif|
|Original Real McTube, redrawn Euro-style||AX-84 Project|
|Real McTube redesigned using
(by Francisco Peña, used with permission)
You may contact me regarding this project at
email@example.com. I'd be happy to hear from you, and
any bug reports or suggestions for improvement are always welcome.
"Who's this goof?" ... um...
that'd be me.
Around 1993, the year I developed "The Real McTube"
|To find out what other kinds of trouble I get into, check out my sites listed below:|
Back to Tube Projects Main Page
My main Dogstar Music site
Fred's ZX81 retro computer page
My Theremin Exploits
Original music on IUMA.com
... and on Soundclick. Nice bio.