# A discussion paper about why a cheap carbon battery is best to power your fuzz face pedal

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1 Effect pedals. Reinvented. A discussion paper about why a cheap carbon battery is best to power your fuzz face pedal Copyright All rights reserved. May be freely distributed provided that this copyright notice remains intact. May not be used for commercial gain under any circumstances. Provided with no warranty as to completeness, correctness or fitness for purpose.

2 In most applications it is convenient to think of a battery as a perfect voltage. You connect it to the pedal and it provides current until goes flat. For many pedal applications this is close enough to reality. What s actually happening is far more complex.

3 How we usually think of a battery:

4 Something closer to what s actually going on (Thevenin based model): Series Selfdischarge capacitance

5 This is only an approximation of what s really going on in the battery s chemical reaction, but it is close enough to be a useful model. Let s ignore the selfdischarge it has much less effect than the others on tone. Series Selfdischarge capacitance

6 Every battery will have a different Series,, and capacitance. Copyright 2012 v1 More importantly, these characteristics are dependent on how full the battery is and they will change over time. Broadly speaking, a carbon battery will have higher Series,, and capacitance than an alkaline battery. I ll come back to that Series capacitance

7 Let s see what connecting the battery to a pedal does. Ignore the for a moment and imagine you have a pedal connected with a steady current draw of 10mA. 10mA at gives an effective of the pedal power circuit of 9/0.01 or 900 Ohms (Ω). 10mA Series IGNORE capacitance 10mA Pedal 900 Ω

8 This works out just fine if the battery is full. By definition, the battery being full means that the Series is very low usually in the order of a few Ohms. Copyright 2012 v1 Let s say the Series is 5Ω. 10mA going through 5Ω will cause a voltage drop inside the battery of 5x0.01 or 0.05V. Leaving the pedal powered with 8.95V. All good. 10mA Series 5 Ω (say) IGNORE capacitance 8.95V 10mA Pedal 900 Ω

9 As the battery discharges, the Series goes up in fact, this is the electrical definition of a battery discharging it s not that the voltage goes away, it s that the Series gets so large the battery can t do anything useful. Imagine the Series is now up to 500Ω instead of 5Ω. Everything changes. The is now going across a total of Ω. Giving a current through the pedal of 9/1400 or 6.4mA. This gives x900 or about 5.8V to the pedal. Ouch. Flat battery! 6.4mA Series 500 Ω IGNORE capacitance 5.8V Pedal 900 Ω

10 Now, this isn t all completely accurate from an engineering viewpoint. The pedal doesn t stay at 900 Ohms as the voltage drops and the Series isn t strictly linear, but it is close enough to illustrate a point. The point is this the battery Series will mess with voltage provided to the pedal, and the bigger the Series the larger the effect. If you add the effects of the, and capacitance the overall effect is even larger. Let s talk about, and capacitance for a moment. These are a measure of how much inertia the battery has to changing load. The smaller they are, the less effect there is on the voltage that ends up on the battery terminals.

11 To summarize: Higher Series,, and capacitance will have a greater effect on the battery terminal voltage. Lower Series,, and capacitance will have a smaller effect on the battery terminal voltage. Now, messing with the battery terminal voltage messes with your tone. Higher Series,, and capacitance is a bit like putting a dynamic starve control on the pedal. This is bad for many types of pedal. You wouldn t want it for your delay pedal, for example. BUT. The tone of your fuzzface actually relies on it. Let me state that again. For a fuzzface to sound like a fuzzface, the pedal needs a power that has high Series,, and capacitance.

12 For a fuzzface to sound like a fuzzface, the pedal needs a power that has high Series,, and capacitance. You are probably one step ahead of me by now and have worked out that cheap carbon batteries have high Series,, and capacitance. So the pedal sounds like it should if you use one. It s no coincidence that when the circuit for the pedal was developed cheap carbon batteries were the only thing available Alkaline batteries have very low Series,, and capacitance (bad, for a fuzzface). Regulated power supplies are even lower (worse, for a fuzzface). Can you hear the difference? ABSOLUTELY. Copyright 2012 v1

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