Dunning ∿‌‌ Kruger FX

Effect Pedals and Guitars, etc.

George Washington Slept Here

Literally, in this pedal

On October 4, 1777, following a string of defeats and the loss of the capital city of Philadelphia, the Continental Army engaged the British at the Battle of Germantown. Although the definitive military reference Wikipedia refers to this as “a major engagement,” most of the battle seems to have taken place in the yard of exactly one house: Cliveden, also known as the Chew House (and when your summer home has two proper names, you know you were eligible to vote in the early days of the nation). The fighting was so fierce that at one point, Sir William Howe’s dog, Lila, wandered into the battlefield and George Washington had to call a timeout to feed and groom her and return her to the opposing general. Despite Washington’s attempts to lower the stakes of this battle to those of an impromptu street hockey game, it was not to be a Colonial victory. The main thrust of the Continental Army could not successfully capture the single house, and its other columns of soldiers started randomly shooting at each other instead of the British.

All of the above is well-known to historians, but what is less known is how George Washington escaped the battle. As he passed the Deshler-Morris House (which would later become his temporary presidential residence during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793) on his way out of Germantown, he ran into his old chum Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin’s experiments with electricity had led him to tinker with some primitive versions of effect pedals, primarily as a potential cure for syphilis, and he really wanted to show them to someone (as pedal builders are apt to do). They sounded terrible and could only run for a moment on Leyden jars, but J201 transistors were much easier to come by in those days. While George Washington was aggressively disinterested in guitar effects, he didn’t want to fall into enemy hands and risk being fed, groomed, and returned to his men. He took a deep breath, and with a flourish, used his magical powers as a Deity of the Revolution to shrink himself down to a size where he could comfortably fit inside a 125B enclosure. Franklin ripped off a scrap of handkerchief for him to use as a blanket and helped him into the case, then casually walked to a local tavern. Once safely away from the British, Franklin opened the case, peered in through his bifocals, and found that Washington had fallen soundly asleep.

Anywhere George Washington slept is extremely notable and important.

Details

George Washington Slept Here is based on a Blues Driver and built on a PedalPCB Cobalt Drive board. I think the Blues Driver is poorly named—it kind of pigeonholes itself as if it were built exclusively for bloos bends and light wankery. In reality, it’s a lot more versatile than that and has a surprising amount of gain available (at least compared to other overdrives).

Many people describe these as having an “amp-like” sound and responsiveness. I’m not a wizard (professionally), but my understanding is that the gain is generated by “discrete op-amps.” Most op-amps in pedals come on chips: integrated circuits that might contain dozens of microscopic components internally, packaged up into a neat little box for a given function. This style of pedal uses individual transistors and other components in an arrangement that’s like what’s going on inside of an op-amp chip, perhaps simplified a bit, to do something similar. Electrons obviously love those big components, and it sounds great. I mostly built this because I found some through-hole J201 JFETs that seem to be increasingly rare as the world moves away from that form factor, but the pedal honestly lives up to its reputation, and George Washington may be spending some time napping on my pedalboard.

Vital Stats

JFET Magic
Founding Father Magic
Miscellaneous Magic
Historical Accuracy
Sculpey

Sound

This is a quick and dirty sample that starts with the Coronacaster through a Fender Deluxe Reverb, abruptly cut off by the Junior doing something unrelated.