I got this pedal from a friend Dave. He picked this up from the cheap supermarket chain Aldi for a handful of dollars and uses it maxed for a noisy, feedback pedal. He threw it to me and asked what I could do with it and the Frankenstein above is what eventuated…
This range of pedals are under the Livingstone brand (with motto “Music For Life”) but similar pedals can be found on eBay under the Daphon name. These are pedals that have been constructed with the cheapest of parts, and no doubt the cheapest of labour. They are aimed at the beginner guitarist looking for new sounds at a very affordable price. Pictured to the right is what the original pedal looked like. They look very similar to the Ibanez Soundtank series – or 5 series. They featured a number of pedals in the same shaped plastic case, and whilst having a couple of good pedals in the range like the Echo Machine and Auto-Wah, their durability limited their life span.
Since this Livingstone is used for sheer aural abuse, I didn’t go for a Boss SD-1 kind of mod (which this pedal shares extreme similarities to). I decided to push it further and circuit bend the pedal. For the unfamiliar, circuit bending is the non-scientific approach of purposefully creating short circuits to yield a new spontaneous and random noise generator. Bending is very popular in electronic and noise music as it provides something outside-of-the-box. However a number of rock artists including Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson and The Rolling Stones have been known to experiment with these sound generators. Circuit bending does require some basic electronic knowledge or else blown capacitors and ICs will occur, but the craft itself can be very creative and boundless with many of the obsessed benders referring to it as ‘sound art’. For more circuit bending info, check out this link, this link, or the Godfather of Bending Reed Ghazala‘s page here.
So after replacing the fragile plastic on/off actuator with a heavy-duty switch, I began probing around certain areas of the circuit that I thought would truly make this a “feedback pedal”. I managed to find three unique sounds, each of which are controlled by a small on/off toggle switch. Two of the bends provide an octave down and octave up oscillation. The pitch of each oscillation could be controlled by the volume and tone knobs of the guitar for interesting siren-like effects. The third bend provided a big boost in volume and gain, almost like the tone bypass modification of the T-34 Big Muff Bass Mod. This bend gave instant feedback and a raw punk distortion sound. This was a winner. So with that, Dave now has a one-of-a-kind cubisteffects Circuit Bent Livingstone, ready to terrorise his audience at every gig.
If you are interested and have a cheap pedal laying around collecting dust, I can circuit bend your pedal too and create your next inspiring sound.
Here’s a quick loop I did of the Circuit Bent Livingstone.
Clip Details: Fender Jazzmaster> Circuit Bent Livingstone>Line 6 DL4> Marshall JCM 600
Settings: Metronome-like beat made with the Livingstone and looped with the DL4, overdubbed rhythm guitar is neck pickup/rhythm circuit on Jazzmaster also with the Livingstone and looped with the DL4, and feedback through Sweep Echo setting on DL4.
Recording: SM57 > Mbox2 > Reaper