[interview] BSM: Bernd C. Meiser

Here's FXDB's interview with Bernd C. Meiser of BSM.

BSM is run by Bernd C. Meiser in Germany.

How did BSM start?

I was about 13 years and went to an electronics school here in Germany. I read electronics magazines and in one was a DIY kit for a silicon Fuzz (FuzzFace style) and a treble Booster (Rangemaster clone). These where my very first stompboxes. I also learned to play guitar by myself.

I was editor in the German "Gitarre & Bass" magazine and wrote about historical stompboxes. When I wrote about the treble boosters, especially the Hornby Skewes Treble Booster, Ritchie Blackmore's booster), many guys contacted me to ask if I could build this booster for them. By accident, the schematics were not printed, because the column was too long and a few schematics were simply deleted. So, I began to build the first batch of commercial Boosters. This was in 2003.

I work alone since the beginning. Only my stickers for the boxes' surface come from a professional factory. This factory also creates the sticker's design.

BSMWhere do the name and logo come from?

BSM means Bernd + Steffi Meiser, Steffi is my wife

The logo was designed by the same designer, who also makes the stickers for the top of the pedals.

What sets BSM apart from other builders?

My philosophy, I'm a tone conservator.

In my historical copies I use the original transistors, not replacements.

My clients belongs to a niche market inside of classic rock.

How do you start on a new pedal?

My inspiration comes from existing sounds, where I think "wow, what a overwhelming sound". Then, I analyze this sound and begin my work to build prototypes.

I work on the prototypes when the orders are a little bit low, then I have time for development. Therefore, some prototypes take 3/4 years to develop. I cannot predict this.

How do you name your pedals?

Oh, my Boosters' names are most pragmatics:BSM RW-F

  • RW-F = Ron Wood-Faces
  • AP-WA = Andy Powell - Wishbone Ash
  • Albuquerque = Mick Ralph's extra fine '76s Albuquerque live sound
  • ...

Or they describe the manufacturer:

  • HS = Hornby Skewes
  • RM = Range Master
  • ...

Can you tell us something about the production process?

In my house I have two rooms for the building process. BSM is a one-man-shop.

The circuits are all hand made on Veroboards and point-to point hand wiring. I think, it sound better than when the circuit is built on PCB. Making of PCB is faster, but to my ear, it doesn't sound as good as Point-to-point.

The enclosures are Hammond clones that I finish with a strong plastic sticker (made by a different company).

How important is the look of your pedals?

Not really important.

Is parts selection important?

Yes, for my old-style replicas, NOS transistors - off course!

For the new stuff I only use known brands, parts that I tested in the past and which are good for the BSM sound.

BSM RPAWhich of your pedals makes you most proud?

The RPA lines. They produce Blackmore's hard Rainbow sound at any stock Marshall-style amp. The amp doesn't have to be modified for this. Fine thing...

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The "Siver Rocker". It has a lot of electronic parts in a small box.

Silver Rocker was a prototype for a long time and has only left the workbench for a month. One prototype is used by Eric Bell / Thin Lizzy.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The RPA and RPA Major. They produce really fine Ritchie Blackmore sounds.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I think, for a good rock sound, you need only a good amp and in front of this only a fine Booster. Therefore, I build exclusive boosters (and sometimes the type of Fuzz machines that make a good sound).

Users include Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Greg Koch, Roger McGuinn, Andy Powell and some other artists which don't want to read their name in public.

BSM AlbuquerqueWhat does the future of BSM look like?

Since a few years, I see BSM not as a booster factory, more as a "tone conservator". Over the years, my ears have heard some really fine sounds and these sounds I want to re-build. A good sound in 1976 is also a good sound today and it will still be in 20 years from now.

This is my goal for BSM, and the making of e.g. the Albuquerque or RW-F was a result of this.

Are you working on any new products?

Yes, I'm actually working at the NY (= Neil Young) Booster. Neil has live an extra fine rocksound, and since a long time, I wanted to recreate this sound. Now the time is ready for this. I think this prototype will go in production this year.

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