Effects Pedals Will Be All The Rage at NAMM 2016

There will be a nice mix of top manufacturers and boutique brands showcasing their greatest and latest in Anaheim early next year. NAMM ’16 is just around the corner and I don’t know about you, but I CAN’T WAIT!

Demand for Personalized Sound Presses Boutique Pedal Market Forward

Craftsmen pedal builders are setting up shop nationwide backed by musicians looking to play their own unique tunes

Courtesy of NAMM

Courtesy of NAMM

Carlsbad, CA, (December 10, 2015) – Demand for customized, unique sound is driving fretted products and effects sales to a seven-year high, while fueling a new wave of boutique pedal builders. Over the last decade, the retail value of the effects pedal category has increased more than 45%, with a 13.7% gain in 2014.

Pedal builders will have a noticeably larger presence at the NAMM Show this January 21-24 as boutique brands including Strymon, Walrus Audio, Chase Bliss Audio and Dwarfcraft Devices join established brands Boss, Dunlop Manufacturing, Inc., Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, EarthQuaker Devices, Electro-Harmonix, Pigtronix, Seymour Duncan, TC Electronic and Wampler Pedals to debut new effects gear at the NAMM Show.

The emergence of hundreds of up-and-coming pedal brands can be traced to new technology and easier global distribution, of both ideas and components. Robert Keeley, founder of Keeley Electronics, Inc., has seen his Edmond, OK business double since 2012. It is now producing more than 2,000 units per month. “Our products are almost completely hand-built and we cater to a group of people who are in the market for specialty-purpose pedals,” said Keeley. Big- name players including John Mayer, Jimmy Buffet and Dream Theater’s John Petrucci are among those who have called on Keeley for customized pedals, with some of those pedals crossing over into a limited-edition commercial run.

Joel Korte, founder of Minnesota-based Chase Bliss Audio has seen sales double in the last year and adds, “Musicians like to experiment with sound using pedals because the experience is very visceral and pedals are hands-on and offer the artist control right away.”

Affordability has also emerged as a major factor in the surge as artists add distortion, phasers and vibrato to their signature sound. The cottage industry of boutique pedal makers offers ways to tweak and discover sounds for an average price of $100-$400 dollars.

Many of these emerging builders, including Akron, Ohio’s family-owned EarthQuaker Devices, have also focused on demonstrating their products for non-traditional pedal players, such as sax, synth and violin players. Julie Robbins of EarthQuaker Devices emphasizes that innovative, specialty-designed sound is a key factor in the company’s success. “We answer the call of experimental musicians who love to create sounds that inspire them to go in new directions,” said Robbins. “Some just want to recreate classic tones, while others use their pedals as a way to actually define their newest album, and we cater to both.”

Demand is also up for pedals that couple long-lasting new technology with “old school” parts to create coveted “vintage” analog sounds. Pete Celi, co-founder of growing Southern California builder Strymon, says interest in vintage pedals has skyrocketed, including tape delays, vintage amp tremolos, pedals from the 70s, but he notes these originals can be unreliable on tour and prices make those purchases beyond the reach of most musicians. “This creates an opportunity for pedals that can capture those sought-after sounds and yet be conveniently and reliably used at gigs,” said Celi.

Strymon employs a one-on-one strategy with musicians, regularly holding open-studio parties. Celi says the conversations are paying off. “We believe everybody is an artist.”

Plan now to join the global music instrument and product industry January 21-24, 2016 at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA. NAMM members are encouraged to register for badges by January 6, 2016, at which point badge registrations will incur a $50 to $100 fee depending on the badge type. Learn about the more than 5,000 brands planning to exhibit at the 2016 NAMM Show here:https://www.namm.org/thenammshow/2016/directory.

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Earthquaker Devices Park Fuzz Sound

Photo Credit: Earthquakerdevices.com

Photo Credit: Earthquakerdevices.com

Named one of the 10 “Must Have” pedals at NAMM by Guitar Player magazine

When I read about the painstaking process that Earthquaker Devices went through during the development of the Park Fuzz Sound, I was very interested in checking out this rare and mysterious device. I wasn’t very familiar with Park Amplification and didn’t know that it was a company started by the legendary Jim Marshall in 1965. I had seen some Park amps in pictures or videos, but didn’t know of their origins. I also didn’t know that they made pedals, specifically the Park Fuzz Sound. In 2013, Mitch Colby resurrected Park Amplifiers and sought the help of the pedal wizards at Earthquaker Devices to reintroduce the Park Fuzz Sound. Earthquaker had an original Park Fuzz Sound and was able to inspect its nuances in order to ensure they got it right. The original Fuzz Sound had some powering issues and was limited in that it couldn’t be daisy-chained along with other pedals, but the clever builders at Earthquaker fixed that problem on their reissue and even added some more fuzz, which is always good. These pedals are handmade in a mythical land in Ohio, named Akron.

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Daily Gear Obsession: Majik Box Body Blow

Photo Credit: Majikbox.com

Photo Credit: Majikbox.com

Today’s obsession is the Jake E. Lee mod Body Blow from Majik Box. I’m interested in this pedal after watching the video of Jake demoing it.

You can buy the pedal directly from Majik Box for $239.99

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Order of the Pedals

IMG_0244I have been playing guitar for 18 years but didn’t start using pedals on a regular basis until the last 5 years. I took a very simplistic approach to things when I started playing. I relied on the distortion of the amp and rarely used the clean. Like a lot of people, I cut me teeth by learning Metallica songs and the first song I learned to play was Sweet Child O’ Mine. I was more concerned with trying to develop my pick attack and not really much more. I took my Epiphone Les Paul, plugged it into my Marshall Valvestate combo, and was on my way.

A few years ago, I took a trip to Truetone Music in Santa Monica and was overwhelmed with the amount of pedals they carried. They had a much more varied assortment than I was used to seeing at my local Guitar Center. I ended up picking up a Fulltone OCD from Truetone and then I was bit by the pedal buying bug. In the weeks to follow I purchased an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff and Small Clone (Cobain used one) to go along with the OCD. I then picked up a a Road Ready pedalboard that looked like a fancy silver briefcase and a couple of more pedals to fill it up. I felt that I now had enough pieces to get me going and give me some tonal variety.

What do you mean they should be set in a particular order?

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