[interview] Celestial Effects: Domenic Mancini

Here's FXDB's interview with Domenic Mancini of Celestial Effects:

How did Celestial Effects start?

Celestial Effects was born out of our 40 year old mother company Thermalogic where we manufacture high grade electronic temperature and process controls for the military, food, semiconductor, manufacturing and the medical industries.

I have been a tone and gear freak my whole life and have been designing and manufacturing pedals, custom guitars and hand built tube amps for the past 20 years. About 3 years ago, Domenic approached Joe Grein (marketing) with the idea of adding guitar pedals to the Thermalogic family as a way to augment sales.

We had the infrastructure and 90% or the parts already in place so it would be a great way and easy to manufacture boutique type effects in large quantities with excellent the quality that Thermalogic is known for.

Joe approached the owners who thought it would be an excellent idea and the beginnings of Celestial effects was born. From there, I began developing the first four pedals (Taurus, Virgo, Scorpio and Capricorn) over the next two years and all the corporate pieces (trade marks, registration of brand name, etc.) where put into place in during the development of the first four pedals.

Celestial Effects was launched on January 1, 2011. We have just celebrated our 1st year anniversary.

The main inspiration for the pedals was born out of the shared love of tone by me and my cousin and cohort in tone Gino Caira, who is a local Massachusetts based guitarist and relentless in his quest for the ultimate tone. Between myself and Gino, the collection of amps, guitars and pedals is staggering and were used to develop the tone response of each pedal.

The Scorpio was the only pedal that wasn't planned on initially. It was born out of a pure "happy" accident while developing the first gain stage on the Capricorn Rock Distortion. Another circuit was chosen for Capricorn and Scorpio was developed as a stand alone pedal and is now the most popular Celestial Effects pedal and used by many guitarist and bassists worldwide. It adds a special "deliciousness" or presence to the tone of any guitar or bass.

Gino and I set out to create new pedal designs initially based on revered pedals we loved but fix certain traits in the pedals we did not like, improve on what was good about the pedal and add "more" or in another word, "versatility" to said base pedal design. They also had to be extremely touch responsive, organic and tone transparent.

When prototypes where completed, we released a limited run of each and asked other close guitarist friends that shared our love for tone and were working musicians to test, use, abuse, try to break and get an overall feedback of the pedal designs.

Using this feedback, the pedals where finalized and released to the public.

Where do the name and logo come from?

Originally, the idea was to call the company Zodiac Effects. Then Star, an employee and Joe's wife came up with Celestial Effects so we would not limit our self to just the zodiac. And we named the first line of effects "The Zodiac Series" which will include one pedal each named after each sign of the zodiac.

From there we can go into different "celestial series" lines with almost unlimited possibilities for ideas based on planets, galaxies, mythology etc.

The logo was created by our in-house artist Kathleen Donahue and encompasses many "celestial" elements including a waning/waxing moon in the "C" and celestial stars.

What sets Celestial Effects apart from other builders?

We don't think ours are "better" than some other reputable builders, instead we are trying to offer the guitarist a different option to create his or her tone. Dom is an avid collector of pedals, guitars and amps and loves them all. His goal is always to provide an alternate tone and not copycat something that is on the market.

How do you start on a new pedal?

  1. Idea creeps into my head.
  2. Circuit is conceptualized on paper that "should" sound like a tone I'm trying to emulate in my head.
  3. The circuit is bread boarded and tweaked and usually morphs with more flexibility than what was originally thought of.
  4. I lay out the circuit and in parallel design the enclosure.
  5. Circuit board comes in and is built and tested. If no mods are needed we proceed in making a project file for the design which includes Bill of Material, layout, build procedures, testing procedures, case design and drawings, screening design and drawings and procurement of special parts.
  6. We then order parts for a prototype run of 20 pedals and distribute them to our team of "testers" for feedback.
  7. Once happy with the design and all changes are made, we procure parts for initial quantity run 100-300 pedals and finalize all documentation and then release to the general public for sale.

How do you name your pedals?

Self evident... all named after zodiac symbols!

Celestial Effects Virgo - Rock OverdriveCan you tell us something about the production process?

All our pedals are built in our Hudson, MA factory and we have 15 builders on staff.

The circuits are all designed here in the factory and must go through months of testing before release. Then they are hand built by a team of assemblers that have been building high end electronic circuits for over 40 years.

Enclosures are built, modified, painted and screened by other companies also in Hudson, MA, the artwork is designed by in-house artist Kathleen Donahue.

How important is the look of your pedals?

VERY and we keep morphing the artwork as new ways of doing things.

Is parts selection important?Celestial Effects Scorpio - Super Boost

Oh yes, VERY important!

All pots are CTS, switches are either C&K or other quality brand, jacks are all Switchraft or Neutrik.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?


But the Scorpio is my personal favorite, though the Sagittarius is going to be my crown jewel once released.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Gemini, trying to get the Vibrato to pitch modulate perfectly with analog only is a challenge!! It keeps wanting to amplitude modulate as well and then it becomes closer to a tremolo and not a vibrato.

Celestial Effects Capricorn - Rock DistortionWhich of your pedals is the most popular?

The Scorpio, Everyone who tries it is just blown away by it and it is used by guitarists and bassists alike.

Outside of Scorpio, Virgo is the most popular with most people but most "high profile" professionals seem to gravitate towards the Capricorn.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

The biggest influence is whatever comes into my head and basically styled after whatever band or music I'm listening to at the time.

Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad fame - The Librarian which is a collection of Mark's 4 favorite CE pedals in one smaller, light weight but sturdy enclosure. Many more in the works but can not say until agreements with artist/manager in place.

What does the future of Celestial Effects look like?

Currently developing the Gemini, Cancer and Sagittarius pedals which will all be totally analog multi-effects units. They should be out by end of summer. Shooting for Summer NAMM.

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