[interview] Black Effect Pedals: Dennis Dokter

Here's FXDB's interview with Dennis Dokter of Black Effect Pedals:

How did Black Effect Pedals start?

I work as a live sound engineer. I tour a lot with stoner bands and always the same problem pops up. A fuzz guitar sound that totally disappeared in the mix, always clutters up the low end, out of control sustain, tons of gain that's really not necessary and produces only unnecessary noise.

So I thought, if it is not for sale, I build it myself. I had absolutely no electronics skills, so I started reading and studying and after a while I buildt my first prototype fuzz for Rutger Smeets, guitar player for Sungrazer.

At a festival in Italy (with Sungrazer), the 2 Turbulent Ash muffs were used for the fist time. The guitar was spot on, with almost no EQ on the mixing desk.

Where do the name and logo come from?

Black is my favorite color and it sounds cool. Black Effect Pedals.

My girlfriend is a graphic designer, it is her design. she has a great eye for detail. There is no story or deeper meaning.

What sets Black Effect Pedals apart from other builders?

Most builders are guitar players, musicians and electronic engineers.

I'm a sound engineer, so sound wise I build pedals from the perspective of sound engineer.

How do you start on a new pedal?

I experiment a lot at home. If I build something useful, I take it on tour. Normally on every tour, there is a prototype in my bag. They get tested during the sound-check. It takes about 3 months (more or less) and 3 or 4 prototypes before I'm satisfied.

Sometimes, I'm asked to build something. Many musicians have an idea of what they want with their sound but can not find the right pedal.

I start designing based on working with musicians, talking about what they want to hear and brainstorming sessions in the tour bus.

How do you name your pedals?

All my pedals are named after natural/human made disasters or natural phenomena.

The inspiration for the name is generally caused by the sound of the pedal. The sound of the Lava Machine for example, is very thick, hot and sticky. (like a lava flow)

Can you tell us something about the production process?

I build all pedals in-house from the ground up in my little work shop. From ordering parts, soldering the circuit, drilling holes on my big old East German drill press, painting, assembly, testing and shipping. There is no staff or other people involved.

All pedals are point to point wired, enclosures are Hammond, spray painted metallic black and finished with a full surface decal and a tick layer of clear coat.

They are completely hand build.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Very important. They must look like little works of art.

Is parts selection important?

I always trust my ears. When a part sounds good in a certain spot in the audio path, I use it.

For hardware such as pots, jacks and foot switches I use the best quality on the market.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The Lava Machine.

The comment by David Eering (Guitar player for The Machine) after trying the Lava Machine prototype for the first time: "This is exactly what I want". And he was experimenting with his sound for years...

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Turbulent Ash muff. it was the first pedal that I designed. Rutger Smeets has a good ear for detail. I've learned a lot from him.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Mainly stoner/desert rock, doom, sludge en psychedelic rock because I work a lot with bands in that genre as a sound engineer. It's also the kind of music that I personally like.

I am lucky with my work as a sound engineer. I work with many different musicians. At every gig I use the DD-Direct box for bass or acoustic guitars.

  • Rutger Smeets (Sungrazer) uses 2 Turbulent Ash muffs when playing live and I'm working on a special stereo effect loop pedal. I also designed his pedal-board, which is quite unique. The strange routing of the effect-chain and stereo set-up made it a fun and exciting project.

  • David Eering (The Machine) Plays with the Lava Machine

  • I'm also working on a bass muff for Jaap Melman (Bitcho, ┬íPENDEJO!, Revamp).

What does the future of Black Effect Pedals look like?

Designing more pedals and audio tools and make more musicians happy with a cool pedal.

Are you working on any new products?

  • Bush Fire boost: A heavy booster for bass and guitar with a deep low end and a smooth sound. It's finished and soon in production.

  • A fuzz pedal (with no name yet): A Heavy and deep fuzz with a octave down effect. 2 foot switches: on/off and sustain full/gated. It's finished and soon in production.

  • A bass muff for stoner/doomer/sludge band Bitcho. Not quite ready for production yet.

But I have tons of ideas, not just for pedals but also for audio tools. Convenient devices for on the road like splitter boxes, iso boxes, re-amp boxes, tube direct box, summing boxes,...

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