Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gristleizer PCB

via this auction

Update: group buy at

"This is a PCB to build the famous Gristleizer. Used by the industrial band Throbbing Gristle and many later experimental bands, the Gristleizer is a complex, but simple to build, effect.

It's a filter and a tremolo, controlled by an LFO, or low frequency oscillator. Here are some soundclips to help explain what it sounds like:

Using guitar. First clean, then with the Gristelizer on
Using synths and other effects [video below]

The board is carefully laid out to be easy to build. The part values are all listed on board, and there is an option to board-mount the pots. Included with the board is a wiring diagram for the off-board parts, as well as a bill of materials, and a set of build notes, instructions for tweaking and modding.

This is a bit more complex of a build than a fuzz pedal, so if you have never built any effects before, you may want to start with something a little simpler. Anyone with a little experience building effects should be able to build this fairly quickly and get great results."

Update: To be clear, the following videos are of the Smashing Guitars Gristleizer and not this DIY PCB. Results may vary.

Sold For: US $19.00

King Tut Plays the Gristleizer built by Endangered Audio

YouTube via keepyourkings

"The Gristleizer is born again! Made famous by Throbbing Gristle, raised on high again by Endangered Audio, a small, hand-built pedal company out of Asheville, North Carolina, The Gristleizer is the beastiest effects unit you've ever laid eyes on. Can also be used as a sound generator/synth of sorts, as you will see. For more info, go to:" Be sure to see this post on the history of the Gristleizer

Update: via Taylor in this thread [linked above]:

"Hi guys, I'm not super-active on this forum, so please let me know if this is not where this belongs. I've designed a PCB for the infamous Gristleizer. This was designed in the 70s by Roy Gwinn and used most famously (and named by/for) the industrial band Throbbing Gristle. The circuit is an LFO with square, triangle, up ramp and down ramp waveforms, and a FET-controlled VCA and VCF. For the guitar guys I explain that more in depth but I assume you synth guys know what all of that is, right? The board is 3.3 x 2.1 inches (approx. 81 x 53 mm) and includes the option to board-mount pots. It includes a charge pump to derive -9v from a +9v supply. This is useful for building this as a tabletop or rack unit that will run off a standard single-sided 9v supply, but for modular use you can of course use your own bipolar supply. The board has been built and verified as working. I'm not positive how to estimate a difficulty rating for synth builders. It is a fairly small circuit, certainly in comparison to the gargantuan PCBs elsewhere on this forum, so it should be a quick and easy build. The board has black soldermask with white silkscreen, and all the parts and pads are labeled clearly on board. The boards are $12. Shipping within the US is $2 for one board and 50 cents for each additional board. Shipping to the UK and Europe is $4 for one board and 50 cents for each additional board. Other countries, contact me for a shipping quote. To order, send the total to taylorlivingston |at| yahoo |dot| com, and please indicate that it's for Gristleizer boards, how many, and your username at this forum. The wiring diagram with bill of materials and notes is here."

Update 12/10/2009: via Smashing Guitars in the comments:

"Hi this is Mark Boyd from Endangered Audio/King Tut/the video you have on your site. While we don't have any issue with you using our video to advertise your PCB, we would like you to make it clear that we a) your version likely sounds different than ours b) our PCB fixes the ticking problem without changing its sound c) our LFO has a wider speed sweep and the bias has a wider range as well. We have just dropped the price of our PCB and are working on a price for a full kit. That being said, in response to what has just been said in the comments, it sounds as if our PCB is less "modded" than this one as we did not change the LFO or the audio path. Also our version is the only one sanctioned by both Roy Gwinn and Throbbing Gristle. That being said, good luck with your builds! We don't want to cramp the DIY'ing out there in the least, we'd just like to make those important facts clear so the people who are going in for your PCB group buy know what they're getting into. Thanks, Mark any more questions email to PS: that video isn't the greatest for getting the real sound of the Gristleizer by itself. check out these ones and let us know what you think!"

Gristleizer Stompbox With MicroKorg

YouTube via keepyourkings

"This is the official Gristleizer Stompbox demo from Endangered Audio. Based in Asheville, NC, Endangered Audio recreated an effect unit built by Roy Gwinn in the 70s and popularized by the band Throbbing Gristle. Here, Mark Boyd of King Tut runs the Gristleizer all sorts of ways through, around, and by a MicroKorg synthesizer. The three versions of the Gristleizer now available from Endangered audio include the stompbox, the tabletop, and the pc board. Go to to check them out!"

The Gristleizer Guitar & Organ Demo by King Tut

"This is a demo song featuring the Gristleizer. The Gristleizer was designed by a young Roy Gwinn in the early 70s and popularized by the band Throbbing Gristle. This song by King Tut features the Gristleizer in many different ways. The only instruments not being run through the Gristleizer are the drums and bass. The Gristleizer is 100% analog, hand-built, and made in America."


  1. i would be interested to find out if this is the PCB made from the original - non modded - article which chris used to built the first one, or if this is the pcb from the makers from 'thee gristleizer'.


  2. Hey, I'm the designer of this PCB. It's not involved with "Thee Gristleizer" or anybody else. I just deisgned it for the DIY community.

    The board is based on the original. No mods have been done to the LFO or audio path. The opamps have been changed from 5 singles to one quad and one dual, to make the board much smaller, easier and cheaper to build. There is a flashing led in time with the LFO, and an optional de-tick cap for those whose builds come out ticky (messy wiring, etc.) but the sound and functionality are unchanged. Roy Gwinn (the original designer) has given his approval of all the changes made.

    If you guys have any other questions, I'll check back here to answer.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Dear Taylor,

    We at Endangered Audio would like to voice our disapproval of using our video to advertise your PCB, especially on your eBay site. We would like you to delete the links from both this post and your eBay page. By including our videos you may give people the wrong impression that your PCB is a cheaper version of ours. It is not and likely sounds very different, especially since you have changed the circuit significantly and not included the Bias knob as a pot.

    We're not trying to step on any DIY toes it's just that we worked very hard and long on our PCB and our videos and they are not to be used without permission for commercial uses, especially on eBay.

    That being said we have lowered the price of our PCB and will next week be releasing a kit version from our website

    Thank you for your time, please let us know when you have removed the links.

    Respectfully yours,
    Mark Boyd
    King Tut/Endangered Audio

  5. I'd just like to add that there is a completely free to use PCB layout at which we did quite some time ago. It's an accurate and unmodified reproduction of the original design from Roy's article. We used separate opamps to avoid ticking problems, as did the original design.

    My understanding is that Roy was unaware that his design had become famous until around the time we did the layout at gaussmarkov. My understanding is that our interest in the Gristleizer helped bring him out from hiding, as it were (I worked out that one of the commenters at the site had almost the same name as the then-mysterious designer, and asked him if they were the same person).

    So you've got three options: a free layout (there are people who will make a board for you if you look around), a cheap (as in inexpensive) PCB with some modifications (I've ordered one for fun), and a more expensive 'licensed' version. I wanted to buy one of those PCBs as well, but the postage to Australia was going to be an additional $47, and I didn't receive any replies to my questions about whether or not this was reasonable (Taylor charged $3 to post his $12 PCB to Australia).

    So there's your choices. I'm sure that everyone involved has worked very hard to make the Gristleizer available to anyone who wants one.

  6. On the pricepoint comparison--Ken Stone/CGS did a version of the Serge Voltage Controlled Slope PCB, licensed/sanctioned/whatevered...a very desirable module for anybody that knows their analog bits and bobs, and quite expensive to buy as the ready-made Bananalogue Eurorack version. At USD $25, Ken's board is the single most expensive item on his very long list of PCBs for DIY enthusiasts. Postage from Australia to anywhere in the world was only a few bucks extra.

    I think it's important to realize that the DIY community is very different from the boutique guitar effects market, where nobody seems to balk at paying $175 for a new ZVEX Fuzz Factory. DIY folks tend to know what things cost in the materials sense..i.e. what it takes to make a board, and to buy the parts that go in it.

    The rest of the markup is what you would call "intellectual property", which is a hot topic on the internets these days I've been told. So people doing expensive PCBs, as the SmashingGuitars PCB is by any comparison with the rest of the DIY world, should really consider how far they want to push the market. Especially when the circuit itself is rather simple, and when the effect itself can be imitated (but surely not replicate) with three or four Doepfer modules which many folks have at hand already.

  7. Above said, I do agree with Smashing Guitars that it's pretty cheap to use the video from another designer to promote your own product. Yellow card!

  8. Once again, to be clear, our issue with this post was not that another PCB was being made and sold. If you read what we wrote again you'll see that the only problem we had is Taylor using our video for his commercial purposes. We don't care whether or not he is making a profit off of this board, we just don't want our version confused with his.

    Surely this misuse of our video is not hard to understand nor is it unreasonable.

    Again, we respect all the DIY'ers out there and we don't mind people trying to build a different version. We do want to reiterate that our PCB is of the highest quality and we have received many compliments from our builders as to the functionality as well as the ease of build.

    Thank you,
    Endangered Audio

  9. Thanks. I updated the post here to make it clear the videos are of the The Smashing Guitars version. I think that is definitely worth pointing out. I have no control over the auction of course.

  10. I think that Taylor made a silly mistake that could have been resolved privately. The issue (for me) is that Smashing Guitars have behaved in a bullying fashion to discredit Taylor's work by implying that his PCB is inferior or less genuine.

    My understanding is that all three versions have been seen and approved by Roy. Macumbista's impression that Smashing Guitars has paid or is paying a licensing fee does not seem likely.

    Authenticity is a strange and nebulous quality...if one really wants an authentic Gristleizer, the original article with the original vero board layout is floating around.

    I have no issue with Smashing Guitars selling a completed pedal or a reasonably priced PCB. I might have bought a PCB if it had been reasonably priced. But not now.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. i have to agree with stobiepole. i would've bought the Smashing Guitars pcb already if it wasn't close to 40$. now i have 3 pcb's which i can mod like hell. including modding it too far and throw $12 away - what i wouldn't feel comfortable doing to a $39 pcb.

    let's all please close the subject.

    taylor's mistake was corrected - allthough it should've been done in private where i agree with stobiepole - it was physically corrected at matrixsynth and the customers are all very well aware they have a choice. and if i recall correctly, that's the spirit of a free world ;-)

    (re-post: changed a few words to be more correct myself)

  13. Yikes, I forgot to check back here and now I find a tiny poopstorm. Sorry guys.

    It hadn't occurred to me that I was stepping on any toes with using the video in the ebay auction. I'll remove it right away (in the future, if anybody would like quicker response from me, my email is listed above). I'm a pretty reasonable and friendly person, so if somebody had just emailed me it could have been fixed awhile ago. I honestly just typed Gristleizer into youtube to see what other people were doing with it. I hadn't considered that I was "competing" with anybody so I wasn't thinking in terms of using "the other guy's stuff" for my financial gain.

    To be clear, I have not changed the circuit significantly (from Roy's original design), and I have included the bias knob as a pot. There is no difference in signal path between my PCB and the original design, besides the opamps, which Roy Gwinn himself suggested would make no real difference. I don't know anything about anybody else's PCB and how they compare, but mine has not taken away anything from the original, only added some conveniences and new possibilities. I didn't even know there were other PCBs available until after starting the layout, and mine was never meant to compare to anyone else's - if it was I would've thought to charge more!

    The only changes I made were to add on board bipolar supply, aforementioned opamps, and a flashing LED.

    Sorry to drag this silly drama out any further. If anybody has further complaints, please send me an email. Thanks!

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Oh, and mine is "sanctioned" by Roy Gwinn, inasmuch as he's seen it and made suggestions on ways to improve on the original. He actually suggesting doing away with the 741s.


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