My hand built mechanical expression pedal

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My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by nasticanasta on Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:56 pm

I redid my set-up to match up with what I'm playing lately, and finally built something I had been wanting to build for at least 15 years now. Some here might remember Electro-Harmonix had an mechanical expression pedal that could turn knobs by way of a treadle pedal and a cable, called The Hotfoot. EH stopped production of these back in the early 80's I don't know why, these were great pedals...they go for over $220-$250 on eBay when I see one which is very rare. A while ago maybe 10 years a company called Tone In Progress came up with something similar with a different design, called the "3rd Hand"...I assume EH still has a patent on theirs. Well these TIP's were pretty expensive and went for $150, the company stopped making them and then started up again with a lower price and I think an improvement on the drive belt in the pedal because I read many reviews about how the drive belt stretched out, so I think they put in a better belt. They go for $79.99 at Musictoyz.com whom I do believe is who markets them. Well it inspired me to make my own of which I was toying with 2 different designs for some time now, one electronically and one mechanically. Well I made the mechanical one which is basically a Dunlop Crybaby gutted and using the rack & pinion inside and a cable with ends that allow for an allen screw to grip the pot post. Below are pictures of the EH Hotfoot, the 3rd Hand, and mine in my pedal board I call "The Coolcat".
My current pedal board consists of from left to right in chain is: my "Coolcat", Rocktron Tsunami stereo chorus/delay, Rocktron Short Timer delay, Fulltone Clyde Deluxe, Fulltone Deja Vibe 2.


Thanks to, Hyper Guitars, and MusicToyz.com for the photos.


Last edited by nasticanasta on Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:22 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by The Chad on Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:19 pm

Super cool, let's hear it!

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by corsair on Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:06 pm

Clever idea; so you can alter one of the parameters of the pedal on the fly?! Nice!!

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by nasticanasta on Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:17 pm

corsair wrote:Clever idea; so you can alter one of the parameters of the pedal on the fly?! Nice!!
Thanks I had been working on the concept for some time as I noted, yes the purpose is to be able to turn the knob "on the fly" in the picture I currently have it affixed to the "chorus delay" on the Tsunami ..it "stretches" the delay and "warps" the sound, like electronically bending the note...very cool if I might ad, I really like using it on our cover of Judas Priests "Metal Gods"

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by axecollector on Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:59 am

really cool, very interesting concept there!

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by Next Dimension on Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:53 am

Hey just joined the forum. I've been searching all over for information on making a pedal just like this. I recently bought the 3rd hand and am returning it because it is a real piece of crap, the belt is glued on and came undone the first time I tried to use it. Then when I tried to take it apart and put more glue on the belt broke just from a little wiggling.
Anyways I would really appreciate if you could give me more info on just how you made this thing. I'm so excited to see that I've finally found someone who's successfully made something like this.

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by nasticanasta on Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:43 am

Next Dimension wrote:Hey just joined the forum. I've been searching all over for information on making a pedal just like this. I recently bought the 3rd hand and am returning it because it is a real piece of crap, the belt is glued on and came undone the first time I tried to use it. Then when I tried to take it apart and put more glue on the belt broke just from a little wiggling.
Anyways I would really appreciate if you could give me more info on just how you made this thing. I'm so excited to see that I've finally found someone who's successfully made something like this.

Yeah I mention the fact these 3rd hands break down easy... was yours used...maybe bought off eBay? If so I would say that was their older model which had that exact same issue you describe, if it's brand new, it means they didn't fix the issues in this "newer" design. I have been meaning to post pictures of the insides...I'll try and rip it from my pedal board, (I use velcro strips that are made for carpet layers I found it's the best, and does it hold tight!)...and post pics

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by Next Dimension on Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:35 pm

No it was brand new, they must have not fixed the problem. That would really be awesome if you could post some pictures with a description of how you put it together. I've got a particular sound I'm getting now by turning a knob with my toe but it's really hard to do standing up, even sitting down it's a little tricky, so it would really be awesome to have a reliable pedal that would do this for me.

Thanks again

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by nasticanasta on Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:33 pm

Next Dimension wrote:No it was brand new, they must have not fixed the problem. That would really be awesome if you could post some pictures with a description of how you put it together. I've got a particular sound I'm getting now by turning a knob with my toe but it's really hard to do standing up, even sitting down it's a little tricky, so it would really be awesome to have a reliable pedal that would do this for me.

Thanks again
Good thing I never bought one....I contemplated buying one, but I didn't like the design.. it's awful.. I can't believe Paul Gilbert lends his name to this junk....someone like him could afford the real deal (Electro Harmonix) I see them up on eBay every now and then and they always go for big bucks...This design of mine cost the price of a non-working cry baby, about $15 off eBay the other parts (the end pieces of the cable that attach to the pots) I had made by a machinist friend of mine. Maybe a total of$30 invested into this... probably cost you a little more to do, not much. Not everyone has a machinist friend... I used the concept for the cable that TIP used..make it too long it is too loose and won't work effectively, make it too short and it is too tight and won't work right either. It's coiled steel.

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by Next Dimension on Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:16 am

Yeah it really is surprising that Paul Gilbert puts his name on that piece of junk. It makes me wonder if they built him a nicer one to demo. Because if they had let him use one like the one they sent me it would have broken while making that video.
About how long do you have that cable stretched out on yours? It seems longer than I was able to stretch the 3rd hand, which would make things a lot easier.
I'm hoping to build this thing pretty soon. I'm in a new band and we get a lot of our sound from the way I play with a delay rate knob with my toe. But we are planning on playing live soon so I'll have to get this built before then.

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Re: My hand built mechanical expression pedal

Post by nasticanasta on Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:05 pm

OK better late than never. What I did was just use the non-working pot of a wah and I trimmed part of the gear back from the end with a dremel so I had room to attach the cable. The cable is modeled after the cable that TIP uses, I would suggest writing them to see if you can purchase one. I had to cut a large enough hole on the side so I could slip in end of the cable, I just didn't have enough length to make a smaller hole and then attach the cable afterwards to get it to the machine to crimp it to the cable, so a 3/8 hole was drilled on the side to accommodate the large end. I'm working on an electronic expression pedal but the problem with that is, some pots you may want to control are linear and some may be audio tapers. So then it becomes a "pot" specific electronic expression pedal...or make one for each type.
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