Here's FXDB's interview with Ben Adrian of Ben Adrian Audio.
Ben Adrian Audio is run by Ben Adrian, who currently lives in Los Angeles.
I was hanging around guitar shops in high school and early college as much as they would tolerate me. I studied gear as a hobby. I made my first pedal when I was 19. It didn't work. About five years later I began to get into amps very intensely. I wanted a blackface Fender amp, but there was no way I could afford one. I bought a blown out, barely working Pro Reverb and slowly brought it back to life over six months. Since then I've been addicted to tweaking circuits to produce my exactly desired result.
I began building pedals strictly for myself, to fit a specific need or desire that I had. People liked them, so I made them for friends. That's about the level I'm still at now.
I've always considered myself a builder. I'm not doing any groundbreaking work. I'm simply refining classic circuits, and building them in a robust manner. I have no trade secrets. I just tweak and assemble and try to make my friends and me sound awesome.
My friends always encouraged me the most. Zach a.k.a. Mr. Sage gave me confidence with his Rocket Drive pedal. Scott from Kowloon Walled City helped me develop the KWB pedal, and then that band's success helped me sell tens of pedals. Ian from Kowloon Walled City provided valuable feedback on a bass version of the Bunnydrive. Erik from Euthymia provided a bunch of tech support and info on parts sourcing and such.
The obvious answer is that the company name comes from my name.
It also comes from an internet joke. A long time ago I decided that I would never post online under a pseudonym. Because of this, I would sign Ben Adrian or benadrian at the end of every message board post. Some friends noticed this and started poking fun at me, even going so far as to end some of their posts with "benadrian." When I made my first pedals, they went to these friends, and I'd put "benadrian" on them as a way to take back the joke that was used against me.
Meanwhile, I was doing work as a freelance audio engineer. Using the name Ben Adrian audio allowed me to have an official business name without having to do all the paperwork of registering a fictitious business name and such. The banks would still cash checks made out to Ben Adrian Audio :)
I have a bunny head with nerdy glasses as my logo. I got the nickname Bunny from a very good friend of mine. It came from a place of love and I knew that. Rather than shun it, I accepted it. The bunny logo is just me in cartoon bunny form. It's a bit emasculating when I stop and critically analyze it, but I like it anyway.
What sets Ben Adrian Audio apart from other builders?
My motto is "pedals for my friends and their friends". I really started to make pedals that would work for me, and then I was happy to be able to provide a unique product to my friends. They tell their friends, and it's a slow, natural, organic growth. Most people who use pedals also buy, sell, and trade pedals quite often. I hope to create something that results in a long term connection.
I'm not trying to exclude anyone. I just enjoy working on a one to one level whenever possible, so it may take me a while to get to everyone.
Also, since my pedals can sometimes be hard to come by, I encourage people who do decide to sell my pedals to list them on my Facebook page, so that other fans of my devices get a first crack at buying the second hand units.
All the pedals have something to do with my nickname Bunny. Pedal names are either boring, overly powerful, or sexual. That's fine, and I still get a chuckle at the Big Muff or Swollen Pickle and such. I enjoyed having fluffy bunny names because it was so unlike what I saw at the time.
Can you tell us something about the production process?
Everything is done in house by me. If I ever ramp up to regular production, I imagine that changes will be made, and vendors for things like drilling and finishing will have to be found.
How important is the look of your pedals?
I do like my pedal to look cool, but never at the expense of price or functionality.
Is parts selection important?
My pedals are refined takes on classic circuits. Parts choice is absolutely necessary to get that last 10% of sonic goodness. Because of this, I'm always trying to make little changes to get a better sound. Bunnydrive 001 has some parts differences from Bunnydrive 020 because I've refined the pedal along the way.
Which of your pedals was your toughest build?
I made one spring reverb pedal. It wasn't complicated, but it had a tight layout and a charge pump to ramp 9 v up to 18 volts. In addition, it had an outboard spring reverb tank. I made the prototype for a friend and decided that it was not something I wanted to do regularly. Yes, it sounded cool, but there are a ton of great reverb pedal options. In order to make this a pedal I would be proud to sell, it would drive the price quite high. I'd not feel comfortable selling a pedal for that much.
The Kowloon Walled Bunny (KWB) seems to be my most desired pedal. This is definitely because it's used by Scott of Kowloon Walled City, and his band travels in circles where fans of the band actually pay attention to gear.
What does the future of Ben Adrian Audio look like?
Right now, I'm in a hibernation mode. Due to employment at Line 6 I can no longer make commercial audio products, nor do I have the time. I'm still back-ordered from when I took this job, and I hope to get all those pedals finished in the next few months. From then on, I have no idea.