I am building a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary guitar pedal that involves some synth elements, namely controlled voltage. I'm a little confused by something that I suspect is actually pretty basic.

I am pretty comfortable with circuit diagrams for guitar distortion and overdrive effects, but this pedal uses controlled voltage, and I am being thrown off by the "CV1" and "CV2" markings on the linear pots on the upper left. As I have no experience with controlled voltage audio, I don't actually know WHERE or WHAT to connect these leads to. I understand these to be Controlled Voltage 1 and Controlled Voltage 2, but I am uncertain of what these represent in terms of the audio components, and where they lead to/from. As they terminate in X markings, they don't resemble the other voltage markings on the schematic, this is also confusing.

THIS is the circuit diagram I'm working from. enter image description here

This is probably a pretty nooby question, but I appreciate any and all help!


Analog synths are built around a voltage-controlled oscillator. For compatibility between keyboards and oscillators and to allow hooking of synths together a standard control of 1 V per octave became standard. This gave a reasonable range of 8 V for an 8-octave keyboard. So, if, for example 3.732 V gave a certain frequency then 4.732 V would give one octave higher. The oscillators were tricky to design as they needed to behave linearly over a wide range and have excellent temperature stability. On the other hand it made the keyboards simple as the same resistor value was used between each pair of keys.

Keyboards aren't the only pitch controllers, however. Two other common methods are pitch-bend controllers (traditionally a wheel on the left end of the keyboard, sprung to centre) and a vibrato wheel (also on the left end of the keyboard) which introduced a low-frequency vibrato to the oscillator.

Now your circuit should become clearer.

enter image description here

Figure 1. VCO (voltage-controlled oscillator control inputs.)

IC2 is configured as an (inverting) summing amplifier. The output to the VCO will be the sum of signals 1, 2 and 3.

  1. "Base" would be used to tune the oscillator with other instruments.
  2. I suspect CV1 would be used to modulate the frequency as the potentiometer can be used to attenuate the effect. It wouldn't make any sense to modify the keyboard signal in this way.
  3. CV2 is most likely the keyboard control voltage input.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.