Here's FXDB's interview with Ryan Dunn of ToadWorks:
How did ToadWorks start?
I was into working on old radios and tube amps, and I decided to build a fuzz box for fun. After some experimentation, we came up with something unique, so I made 4 - one for myself, one for Doug, and two extras that I gave to friends. I then put one online to sell it, and orders started coming in almost immediately.
Other than working with a few different EEs down the road, we've never had any outside help.
T-Rex Engineering has been around for a lot of time, making high quality pedals and accessories that can be found on pedalboards all over the world. Although they have a vast range of pedals from delays and modulation to overdrive and distortion, they decided to release a new range of pedals a couple of years ago: Tonebugs.
The Tonebug series of pedals is bringing the T-Rex quality in smaller packages, for less money. The range currently has 10 different pedals. All the pedals come in the same enclosure and have the same look: 2-3 dials and some little switches depending on the model. I also gotta give props to T-Rex for shipping the pedals in a nice box, it makes the pedals a bit more special.
Here's FXDB's interview with Peter Rutter of VFE Pedals:
How did VFE Pedals start?
I started as an acoustic player, then started playing some electric & got really interested in effects. After spending way too much money & going through many guitar pedals, I stumbled upon Build Your Own Clone. I bought a few kits and started with the simple "Confidence Booster" kit they give out for free for new builders. Well, my Confidence Booster didn't work, as I was terrible with a soldering iron. I pressed forward anyway with the Lazy Sprocket, one of the more challenging builds. It took a while, but I finally got it to work. With my background in math & physics, it was not a huge leap to begin to learn the rules that govern analog circuits & start to come up with my own ideas of how to modify or create effects in unique ways.
Early on, I pretty much tried the different mods that were suggested by those on the BYOC forum. After I began to learn more & more about how analog circuits work, I began to branch out more with my own ideas. It's hard to identify where all the ideas came from, as I probably gather bits & pieces from over 100 websites.
Here's FXDB's interview with Brian Hamilton of Smallsound/Bigsound:
How did Smallsound/Bigsound start?
I got into building pedals just as I was finishing college, about 7 or 8 years ago. I studied synthesis and performance and had a strong grasp of signal flow, sound design and different ways to manipulate sound. That turned into a short stint with circuit bending to discover new ideas and sounds, but I became frustrated by the lack of understanding about the circuits and decided to build some basic circuits to strengthen my knowledge. Guitar effects can be very simple and coupled with the fact that there is a large DIY scene with some very smart people, it was easy to become wrapped up in that world.
mallsound/Bigsound came about from making a bass fuzz (which became the Team Awesome! Fuzzmachine) for an old bandmate. It's just been me, myself and I the whole time, though i like to refer to the company as "we" on the website just in case anyone comes aboard!
Primarily, I was inspired and influenced by close friends - most of whom are very talented musicians and artists with really great ideas regarding sound and aesthetics. That being said, I learned a great deal of the basics from two great friends - one of whom is a professor of electrical engineering at a university in Boston, the other is a sound engineer who also repairs tube amps, mixing consoles and builds effects pedals. I also received a tremendous amount of help from the online DIY scene - most notably DIY Stompboxes and electro-music.com - both excellent forums.
Here's FXDB's interview with Chris Bradford of El Musico Loco FX:
How did El Musico Loco FX start?
I have an EE degree in electronics and once I started playing in bands in the 80's I got interested in building gear. I have built lots of things for myself and friends over the years and several years ago had an idea for a portable amp(that I will resurrect in time) and it kindle my interest in pedals. I moved from Las Vegas to Spain a little over four years ago and once here became the local fixit geezer. A friend of mine, Prisco Priscus plays for M-Clan and asked for a few things so it has been a year now actually trying to work it larger than just locally. I just got my first distributor recently too.
I received lots of help from the DIY Stompboxes forum, Free Stompboxes forum, D*A*M forum, Fausto from Faustone, Rick Holt of Frequency Central, Fernando Ruiz (Slade) from Ruz Guitar Gear, Brian from Madbean, Mike from Pedal Enclosures, Steve from Small Bear Electronics, Joe Gagan, Nick De Smith, Gregg Redmond I can think of off hand.
An old guy named Harry Lythall has spent lots of time with me on tube theory over the net.
Bart from EffectsDataBase has been a great help and friend providing encouragement and lots of info for several projects.
Blake from What's That Dude Play? also has plugged my pedals from the start. There are lot more I cannot think of right now but without all of these people I wouldn't be here. Thanks to you all!
Here's FXDB's interview with Steve Williams of Pigdog:
How did Pigdog start?
I studied mechanical and electronic engineering at college during the 80's and I was playing in bands, so always interested music and instruments. About ten years ago I started collecting vintage effect pedals, mainly 60's fuzz pedals.
When engineering took a dive I started to build battery amps and pedals. The first amp was built in 2006, pedals quickly came after that.
David Main (D*A*M) is a great friend and he inspired and pushed me along. I owe a lot to David. But I'll take information and inspiration from anyone and anything.
Here's FXDB's interview with Nicholas Harris of Catalinbread:
How did Catalinbread start?
I got into building/designing pedals to sate my appetite for tones. I got started by taking courses, reading as many electronics books as I could get my hands on (in the process annoying the librarians at the public library to hunt for old edition books), setting to rote thousands of circuits, doing my own amplifier repairs and modifications eventually the first pedal I made was a clean boost, Super Chili Picoso. When dealers asked to sell them, I then had to play business man. Following that came the Teaser Stallion, Supercharged OD, and Semaphore. Currently, Catalinbread's chief designer is the talented Howard Gee. Howard brings to the table his unparalleled gifts as a guitar player and audio engineer and combines these with his analytical and technical mindset, not to mention his insatiable curiosity and desire to make pedals sound perfect.
Craig Anderton, RG Keen, Jack Orman and Mark Hammer were my early DIY inspirations. In short order I discovered the work of folks like Don Lancaster and Walter Jung. Not that I consider myself peers with them, but Z. Vex, Electro-Harmonix and Roger Mayer helped me realize that I could make these little boxes for a living. Brian Marshall of Subdecay is also a good friend of mine. Sometimes I run circuit ideas by him, he has also been a great help for me when I get myself into technical and parts procurement binds.
In 2009, Godlyke proudly announced they would be releasing their own line of effects pedals under the Totally Wicked Audio (TWA) brand. According to the press release, TWA features unique and esoteric effect types that will help set the discerning player apart from the masses. All TWA models are 100% made in the USA using the highest quality components and offer all the features and construction quality expected from a high-end analog device. The flagship model of the TWA brand, the LD-01 Little Dipper was released during the 2nd quarter of 2009. It was a good year for pedalfreaks…
I still remember I could not wait to find out more about this Little Dipper, an envelope-controlled vocal formant filter. Awww, Eeeew, Oooooh...
Well that is more or less the basic sound of an envelope controlled formant filter. The Little Dipper actually is a dual dynamic filter that simulates the vowel sounds of human voice. On top of that, the Little Dipper can simulate the talkbox sound, autowah, sweeping filtered sounds and swooshy phasing sounds. Last but not least, it has a built-in distortion that adds character and harmonics to the effect.
Here's FXDB's interview with Ron Neely II of RonSound:
How did RonSound start?
I started building pedals around 1995. I was renting out my EH collection to a local studio and the mint triangle-knob Big Muff was very popular. I decided to build my own copy of it to rent out instead and that became the Hairpie. I made an exact copy of the circuit board and put it together and it worked! The next one was a Foxx Tone Machine that belonged to a friend. He wouldn't part with it so I borrowed it and copied it. The parts limitations I worked with back then gave the clone (Stone Machine) it's own unique character.
At the time I started I didn't really know of anyone else doing this. My biggest inspiration was Mike Matthews of Electro-Harmonix. I had done an interview with him for a college class and it was really something to hear about how he went from nothing to a multi-million dollar company.
Yeah, so, fuzz is a hard effect to describe. I often wonder what the folks at Maestro were thinking back in the day when they released the first commercially available fuzz pedal. Hmmm, they initially figured it would appeal to country players. Maybe this was because when country artist Marty Robbins was recording his 1961 hit “Don’t Worry”, session guitarist Grady Martin accidentally created a fuzz effect during the session. This is often said to be the birth of the fuzz guitar.