[interview] Boomerang Musical Products: Mike Nelson

Here's FXDB's interview with Mike Nelson of Boomerang Musical Products:

How did Boomerang Musical Products start?

I went looking for a looper back in 1990 and was unable to find one. All the music stores kept pushing delay pedals. Lee and I worked at the same company Showco/Varilite, and began discussing the idea. Lee provided a purpose built hardware system and I developed the proof-of-concept software. After some delays due to personal events the project was taken to the market and the first Boomerang Phrase Sampler was sold in July 1995.

For better or worse, we did it all ourselves. Mike designed the basic chassis shape, button location and functionality. Lee thought up the foot roller volume control, designed the circuits and wrote the production software.

Where do the name and logo come from?

Our first product was a looper, so... you throw out some audio and it comes back.

We wanted roughly the shape of a boomerang. We even thought of making the pedal shaped like a boomerang, but molding custom chassis was way too expensive.

What sets Boomerang Musical Products apart from other builders?

Our pedals are unique because they are designed by folks who have been fulltime players at one time or the other. We are also technically proficient gear heads, so our pedals have desirable features and user friendly interfaces... uh, they're easy to use.

How do you start on a new pedal?

Ideas just pop up because we love this stuff and think about it all the time, but often a product or particular feature is driven by customer requests. If something is mentioned a few times on a forum or in emails we receive, we pay attention. Also we have sent out surveys asking what features our customers want.

How do you name your pedals?

A product that has yet to see the light of day is a Mini Rang looper. It's been discussed and we were thinking of calling it the Joey, what baby kangaroos are called. It would come in a little pouch because baby kangaroos live in their mother's pouch during their early development. I suppose we were feeling fuzzy and cuddly that day.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

We currently do the final assembly & test of all pedals.

Everything is designed in house. Originally we used traditional through-hole technology but have moved to primarily surface mount. The chassis are folded sheet steel. Our buttons are custom molded parts.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Appearance is somewhat important to us, but sound, ease of use, features and reliability are far more important.

How important is parts selection?

Some components are more critical than others, but we sometimes demand certain brands. For example, we use only Neutrik 1/4" jacks.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

All of our pedals have been labors of love and have been well received by the musical community, but the king of the hill, if I have to pick one, is the Rang III looper and Side Car controller combination. It's a freaking power house of a looper.

The Boomerang III Phrase Sampler is also the most complex pedal we've made to date and our most popular product, because it is the best looper on the market for live performance.

Who uses your pedals?

Some notable artists use our gear... Trey Anastasio, Adrian Belew, Axel Rose, Tim Mahoney (guitarist for 311), Jim Campilongo, Guthrie Govan, Eric Mantel, Christian Rover to name a few.

What does the future of Boomerang Musical Products look like?

As of Aug 2011 - We are updating the Chorus*Delay pedal software, working to add MIDI sync to the III and planning to create another effects pedal with 2 or more effects. Tell us what you want. We are also close to releasing a unique volume/expression pedal. It'll be small and versatile.

Are you working on any new products?

The next thing we'll release will be a small volume/expression pedal based on the roller control from the Boomerang Plus looper. Hopefully it'll appear in the fall of 2011.

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