Interview with Fredrik Lyxzen from Parasit Studio

I really really glad talking to you. I learn a lot of how CMOS work for guitar effect by reading your web page, huge thanks! As pedal builder who also selling your stuff why you post tons informations about how you make it on your web?

Thanks for having me! 🙂

I’m very passionate about DIY, which imo should be all about sharing knowledge, schematics, layouts ect. and help each other. When I started to develop my own circuits I was inspired by people that was freely sharing schematics (such as Runofgroove), so I wanted to have the same DIY approach and share my designs.

I didn’t start building pedals for sale until later, when people was starting to ask for fully assembled pedals. These days I build and sell a decent amount of pedals, but i’m still focused on the DIY aspect (PCB’s/DIY kits) and sharing schematics ect. (with the exception of microcontroller code). It’s alot of fun seeing other people build my circuits.

And to be honest, I don’t think that it’s very exciting to build many of the same pedal haha… But I really enjoy developing new circuits, as it allows me to challenge myself and learn new things. It’s what keeps me motivated. Writing the CMOS series was another fun way of cementing my own knowledge.

Youre known as CMOS based pedal scientist, do you have any plan to make CMOS based Delay//Reverb?

A reverb or delay is probably outside the limit of what’s possible to do with CMOS logic chips, but I have designed a CMOS based phaser that I will hopefully release as a DIY project some time in the future. 🙂

I love to design circuits with CMOS since it’s perfect for square wave 8-bit’ish sounds, synths and noisemakers. Alot of my inspiration for sounds comes from old 8-bit computers, game consoles and synths. For a while I wanted all my designs to be 100% CMOS, just as a personal challenge, but nowadays I just use whatever combination of semiconductors, even microcontrollers, to get the job done. The only “rule” I have now is that i’m not allowed to look at other schematics (at least guitar effect related ones) when i’m designing new projects. Makes it more challenging, and alot more fun and rewarding.

At the moment I feels a bit like i’ve exhausted the possible CMOS use, so that’s the reason why I did the Darkadiator (100% discrete/transistor based), and also why i’m starting to have a few Attiny based pedals. It has allowed me to learn programming, which has opened up a world of possibilites. The first microcontroller code of my own that I ever written turned into the Bitbreaker Deluxe (“8-bit” octaver pedal).

Super Arcadiator is my favorite, it sounds awesome, look super cool, look at those button, awesome man, tell me about that pedal?

Thanks! I’m glad you like it. The Super Arcadiator is a square wave fuzz with pwm, octave up and octave down (one or two octaves down). It also has an LFO that will toggle between one or two octaves. It’s basically the same as the original Arcadiator pedal that I designed back in 2014, but I wanted to make a fun version with arcade buttons to match the sounds of the pedal. 🙂

The design challenge was to make the momentary buttons do the same functions as the switches did in the original versions (a couple of the buttons even have 3 functions each to toggle through). I did it all by additional CMOS logic – a shift register + a cmos switch to select the current setting and a schmitt trigger to debounce the buttons and do additional logic. This was before I got into microcontroller programming, which would have made the build much easier. The component count ended up quite high, and it was also difficult to drill the holes for the arcade buttons (I didn’t have the right tools at the time), so I ended up just making a limited edition of 10 pedals.

You also run recording studio right? What is the most crazy experience you did to record music?

Yes. Parasit Studio is actually the name of my studio since long before I started with the pedal thing. I’ve been recording bands since around -2000. Mostly on a hobby level, as I make my living as a sound engineer for live sound (front of house). The studio is located in attic in our house, and one of the corners in the studio is where I do all the pedalbuilding. I have been recording mostly punk and hardcore as I “grew up” in the local punkscene so I know the people involved. My two older brothers (who plays in Refused and D.S. 13) started to take me so shows when I was only 10 years old, and I’ve been playing in hardcore bands since I was 14.

Two crazy recordings comes to mind. One of them was in 2009 when I travelled to China to record a complilation of Beijing punkbands for the label Maybe Mars. I was there for a month recording four different bands. My brother Jonas was with me as a translator, as he was living in Beijing at the time and he speaks mandarin. When I was about the start recording the last band, my brother got sick and stayed at home. No worries I thought, since some of the bandmembers was pretty good at english. But it turned out that nobody in that band knew any english at all. It that was super weird, but we managed to get through it somehow haha…

The other recording was just last year, when I recorded some of the Refused tracks (bass and vocals) for the game Cyberpunk 2077. It was weird having people from CD Projekt Red in my house. One of them was a vocal coach that only cared about pronunciation, and he would dismiss takes that sounded great, perfectly pitched with good timing and feeling, because the english pronunciation wasn’t 100% perfect, and he would approve other takes that didn’t sound very good overall, so that almost drove us insane. But it turned out great in the end. 🙂

You are my teacher man! I dont have any electronics background, just learn from internet, any advice for me??Or for any other kids who want to start their project? How you start it all?

I’m glad that you are finding my blog helpful! I don’t have any background in electronics either, so i’ve been learning from the internet and books aswell. The biggest roadblock for me personally has been the idea that some things (electronics, programming, cad design ect.) are very hard to learn and would require an education. But you just have to have alittle faith in yourself and jump straight in.

I think that the best way to learn is to have fun. Get a breadboard and start putting up simple circuits on the breadboard and try swapping out component values and listen to the changes. It’s not very scientific haha, but alot of fun. Then combine that with watching youtube videos or reading to be able to better understand the circuit. Don’t stick to reading only about guitar effect electronics (that’s won’t get you very far), but try to really dig into components basics of operation in general instead – opamp theory, transistor theory, current flow (ohm’s law) ect. That’s what I did, and eventually I was able to make my own designs. At first they were full of mistakes and questionable choices, but that’s also part of the learning process.