Maestro FSH-1 Filter Sample/Hold

This is another weird effect. It was first made in the early 1970s and has two modes: Filter which operates like an envelope filter, kind of a bit like my DOD 440, and Sample/Hold which makes seemingly random rhythmic patterns while you play. It really caught my eye (or ear) when I saw people talking about it on diystompboxes.com and heard it in this video by chromespherecom. I’ve even seen originals for over $700 on eBay!

So basically it sounds like this: “boo-da-beep-bomp-dee-doo-do-da-beep-bing-dong-dee-da-dong
Anything that makes weird random noises is ok by me, so I thought I’d try and build one.

You can briefly hear it after the solo in Audioslave‘s “Show Me How To Live”:

And also all through the end of the RHCP‘s “Throw Away your Television”:

Here is Frank Zappa using the Maestro FSH-1 in his song “Ship Ahoy”:

I hunted around for a Vero layout, but the ones I found were huge as this is quite a big a complex project – the biggest I have attempted. I ended up buying a PCB for it from Tonepad, which has a bunch of mods built in. Tonepad stuff is awesome quality with great instructions. I’ll definitely buy some more Tonepad boards in the future.

Here it is half built:

IMG_4294 IMG_4367

I had to experiment a lot with different transistors to get it to sound right, so I soldered sockets where the transistors go to make it easier swapping them in and out. I ended up with these values working the best:

  • Q1: 2N5088
  • Q2: J201
  • Q3: 2N3906
  • Q5: J201
  • Q6: J201

Here is the rats nest of wires in a 1590BB enclosure, with fancy electrical tape artwork:

IMG_4376 IMG_4388

It’s all finished and sounds great, now I can boo-da-beep-bomp-dee-doo-do-da all day long.

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