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When did you first start thinking pedal building was something you would like to do?"
Pretty much after I built my first BYOC kit. Even as frustrating as it was at the time - it was exciting to know I built something that is directly related to guitars and the alterations to it's sound.
Where did you start off building?
It all started around mid-2005 in my "music room" sitting on the floor with poor lighting, the BYOC Kit, and a $15 Radio Shack soldering iron that used to be my brothers back in High School.
Was it hard building your first pedal?
I don't know if "hard" is the word I'd use. I'd call it "frustrating." I say frustrating because I was trying to build a pedal I've never owned and I wasn't too sure on how it was supposed to sound. I went with a "Rangemaster" Clone because of its low parts count and it seemed simple to build. Still to this day I have a hell of a time getting it to sound to what I consider "acceptable." Meaning, I'm not the type of person that will build a unit and say, "That's good enough" or "It will have to do." I'm such a stickler and perfectionist - everything HAS to be spot-on with the tone and feel of the sound it's producing no matter what amp I test it through as well as look spectacular.
Deviltone MKII
Did it work as designed?
It did eventually work but I had a HORRIFIC foot-switch pop. I could add all the pull-down resistors I wanted, yet to no avail - it would still pop LOUDLY through the amplifier speakers. Definitely not a good attribute to have in a guitar's sound. I tried re-building it several times and if the f/s pop was eliminated then the overall tone was complete "dookie."
How did you come up with your company name?
This stems back to 1999. I played locally for a blues band but we were a bit different than the rest of the Houston scene at that time. Most of the other local Blues bands/artists had very simple set-ups and played mostly "True-To-Form" blues. The guitar player's pedal-boards usually consisted of 1-5 pedals (Wah, an Overdrive or two, Tremolo, Chorus , 300ms Delay, and a Tuner - were the usual suspects). So you can assume 90% of the bands sounding pretty similar.
I on the other hand liked more of the Blues-based Rock (Ian Moore, Arc Angels, etc…) and Classic Rock (Hendrix, Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc…), so I naturally liked the sounds of Wah, Fuzz, Uni-Vibes, spacey delays, and guitar notes sustaining into a that glorious harmonic feedback. So you can imagine going to your local bar, seeing a band get up, and expect the usual blues tunes the regulars hear every weekend but get bombarded with Blues songs that were transformed into a classic rock feel. My Dad always though we sounded like "10 Years After" with Hendrix filling in as the second guitarist.
Deviltone MKII
Anyway - the lead singer used to call me "El Diablo" and one night as a joke I put some large Glitter-Letters (from my sister's scrapbook stash) on the faceplate of my amp-head that said "DEVILTONE." Well, the name stuck. Some of my close friends said that it'd be a great name for a company and so I used it. So as you can see - it has nothing to do with promoting "Satan" or whatever. It's just a tongue-in-cheek name.
What type of effect pedals do you build?
FUZZ! I just love the tone fuzz can give but it has a downfall. It is temperamental; especially Germanium based units. So naturally I wanted to see if it was possible to get the more-stable Silicon transistors to sound more in the realm of Germanium in a "Fuzz Face" styled circuit. In a nutshell, it's somewhat possible. I was able to modify the original Silicon sound to have less "sizzle" and shift the tonal quality more toward the lower-mid range - where I think the abundance of the sound should be. Also, changing the "Fuzz" section to somewhat meet the requirements of today's guitar players by making the "Fuzz Knob" more usable. On the vintage unit (or exact clones), the Fuzz knob was pretty much worthless (IMHO) if it was turned down. To me - the tone became muddy and not very musical; not to mention it killed the natural sustain. So, with the help of John Landgraff, Ed Rembold and Andy Carrell - the Fuzz is capable of what I think that more people are looking for in a "Gain" knob on a fuzz pedal. The Jezebel (Both Standard and Custom) and the Magdalene Standard have this feature. The gain can go from a slightly "fat" dirty booster, to low-gain fuzz, and up to full-fledged saturation.
I build several styles of vintage fuzzes that are tweaked and/or modified for optimal tone.
Deviltone Pedal Line Up
My Standard (Silicon) Fuzz Pedals are:
• Jezebel (Fuzz Face styling)
• Magdalene (Distortion-Booster that plugged directly into the guitar from the late-60's)
• Sinner (1-Knob "Fuzzbox")
My Custom (Germanium) Fuzz Pedals are:
• Jezebel (Fuzz Face styling)
• Magdalene (MK1.5 styling)
I also do limited runs (usually 5 units at a time) and One-Offs {i.e. - Custom Shop} - MKII (Tone Bender styling), Buzz Bomb (Buzzaround styling), and other types of fuzzes that have been popular through the years.
I have also been known to rebuild wah pedals and refurbish Fuzz Faces.
Starting out how did you promote yourself?
Most of my business so far has been generated through The Gear Page. I have had some customers contact me through "MySpace", "Youtube", and "from word of mouth." I now have a Website and some dealers.
Did local bands see you using your pedals on stage?
Not really - my friends would check something out and do a "live trial run", in turn - others would see my pedal on their board and inquire about it.
Do you have pedals sold to big artist names in the business?
Doyle Bramhall II has one of my Jezebels. I know he's a super busy guy but I'm still waiting to hear what he has to say about it. My friend Robert (killer guitar player in Austin) has been talking with the guys at Austin Vintage Guitar and they are trying to line up a sit-down with Eric Johnson to check out my units.
Are there any online articles about your products?
As of right now (11-03-09) - I have a write up on a Jezebel on "whatsthatdudeplay.com", a lot of kind folks have left fantastic reviews over at The Gear Page (which I have transferred to my MySpace page), and I'm hoping to eventually get a spread in a published Magazine soon.
How many pedals you build a month or year...
It's hard to say. It just varies. I'd say roughly between 5-20 units a month.
Any new upcoming effect pedals?
I am working on my own design that's transistor based but it's tone is more like a "Class A" amplifier with a hint of fuzz. I'm still not 100% happy with it, so there is no telling when I will release it to the public.
Do you have a workshop?
Well - if you consider the other half of my music room a workshop, then yeah. I do everything at my house from drilling, prepping, painting, logos/artwork, wiring the circuits, and testing. The only thing with my builds that I out source is the clear coat on the pedals themselves, which is done by Ryan Kirkland (Skin Pimp) in Dallas. That aspect does make the wait take a little longer but in the long run - it's WELL worth it.
Deviltone Pedal Line Up
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