Arteffect's story begins in the fall of 2005 when we, Tom and Dan, met through a mutual acquaintance. We talked and discussed music and audio processing, and soon enough we realized that we share a similar view on guitar effects and how these should be. Until then we both mainly did custom work and designs.
Tom was also winding Halo replica wah inductor that grabbed a lot of attention. After a while we have decided to combine forces and work together to push our designs further. At that point, we shared almost 15 years of experience in the fields of audio and electronics but much less in large scale production.
The beginning was pretty modest. Our first project was the Orangen Tone Boost - a Germanium transistor booster, based on the vintage Orange Treble Booster. We made them all by hand one at a time; from testing and selecting the NOS Germanium devices for best gain and performance, to graphic design, to manually drilling the boxes and wiring the entire pedal in Dan's kitchen. The outcome was tonally pleasing, which made us think.
We sure liked the vintage re-incarnated booster and decided to take a shot with an old 1967 Vox wah pedal that was lying around Dan's home. We opened it up and started to test and measure all of the components inside, in order to find equivalent replacements for modern production. All went smoothly, but we then hit a wall: the "Tropical Fish" capacitors and specially tapered ICAR potentiometers had no modern siblings!
After some head scratching we decided that we had two choices - either to let it go and use different caps (AKA the easier and "financially correct" way) or to make our own, as we did with the Halo inductors (AKA the "remind-me-why-we're-going-through-all-this-cr*p" way). At last, we took the trickier path and sent the vintage capacitors for analysis in a lab. We used the information acquired to setup modern production for what are essentially vintage parts made in the 21st century! The same process led to the currently produced vintage-correct, ArtCAR wah potentiometer.
All that research and effort was exhausting, expensive and we even managed to lose faith in the cause a few times along the way, only to be caught in the spell of the wah pedal we managed to create. We feel that the Bonnie wah (currently being produced in its 2nd revision) was worth the trouble and we would do it all over if needed and it's nice to see the folks out there agree with us since we are always backordered! :)
The next pedal we designed was another story entirely. The Zenith Overdrive was conceived with a different philosophy behind it. It was designed from the bottom up to allow massive tonal flexibility unlike anything on the market. We wanted an overdrive that on top of being musical and dynamic should also fit a wide variety of playing styles and work with any amp and guitar. Since the Zenith was designed from scratch, we had the freedom to work with a vast palette of circuit topologies, components and application methods allowing us to get the most out of our overdrive.
The best example is the unique Voice knob which allows unprecedented control over the "flavor" of the drive. Coupling it with a two-band EQ at the output had opened up even more tonal possibilities, and there was rejoicing! Now, we could get some much needed sleep.
But not for long. Around the time we released the Zenith, sales and custom requests were beginning to pile up and so we set out to make our modest shop more capable. The first step was getting an over-built CNC milling machine that is currently being used to drill our enclosures, engrave custom artwork (look at the new Bonnie pedals for examples) and fabricate various parts we need from time to time. Tom upgraded the heck out of it and now it's our main work horse. The second major step was purchasing a professional powder coating system so we can paint our own enclosures! All this allows us greater flexibility in production and better quality control since everything is done under our watchful eyes.
The past year was one of growth and learning. We took a great deal of time to develop new concepts and products that incorporate our experience with the old and the new. We seek to forge classic and modern elements together to extract the best out of both worlds, which in our minds is what effect building is all about. This is our "philosophy" and it guides us as we march forward into the new decade.
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