[interview] Chunk Systems: Richard Cartwright

Here's FXDB's interview with Richard Cartwright of Chunk Systems:

How did Chunk Systems start?

Chunk Systems started in May 1995 when I was an electrical engineering student. Initially all the pedals were individually hand-soldered in my bedroom. These days we have an experienced team of professional electronics technicians who put them together for us.

In late 1995 I walked into the old Bassplayer store in Annandale, Sydney and showed them prototypes of my first pedal design, the FZ002 gated bass fuzz. They were very supportive and bought 3 right off the bat. That pretty much inspired me to keep going.

Where do the name and logo come from?

Chunk: We make pedals for bass. Our design philosophy is centered around chunkiness. Although we can do subtle if you want, we tend to make pedals that are capable of producing massively out-of-control rampaging waves of meaty mayhem. The build quality is also chunky. All our pedals are made from heavy-gauge folded steel, the kind they use on gear designed to go down mines.

Systems: I don't really remember. It just seemed a bit incomplete at "Chunk".

The logo is designed to look chunky. We use big square block capitals. From time to time we also accompany it with some pictures of meat. Mmmm.

What sets Chunk Systems apart from other builders?

  1. We only make pedals for bass.
  2. We make a handful of pedals that make amazing sounds, rather than one of every standard effect type in existence.

How do you start on a new pedal?

We start by thinking about what a bass player needs, rather than thinking about what a guitarist might want.

Our pedals have generally taken 6-12 months to go from idea to production.

How do you name your pedals?

Chunk Systems pedal names should be in-your-face and, where possible, contain a pun.

There's an old Australian expression that's used, for example, about a particularly powerful batch of home brew. "That's strong enough to kill a Brown Dog". That's kind of where the Brown Dog thing came from.

Agent 00Funk is obviously a pun on some kind of Agent 007 James Bond-type business.

Octavius Squeezer is just like Octavius Caesar except you have to lend him your rears instead of your ears. Ok, so that was Mark Antony, but we figured the Roman thing coupled with some connotations of analogue squelchiness might be kind of cool.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

All of our production is done using professional contractors who are experts in their field.

Chunk Systems pedals are all made using state-of-the-art professional electronics production techniques. Agent 00Funk mark II and Brown Dog use through-hole components on a wave-soldered PCB. Octavius Squeezer uses primarily surface mount parts and is made on a pick-and-place machine with reflow and wave soldering.

All our pedal enclosures are made in a custom folded steel design. Our metalwork contractor produces them from sheet steel using a CNC turret bunch and hydraulic bending machine. They are professionally powder-coated and screen printed.

Our pedals are hand-assembled and tested.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Very. We have used many different power coating and screen printing contractors over the years looking for the best finish.

Is parts selection important?

Yes, we use close-tolerance, high quality parts. Tantalum and MKT capacitors in signal chain. Low-noise op-amps from well-known suppliers.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

Octavius Squeezer. It's analogue but yet it does everything that a bassplayer needs. It sounds incredibly funky. Bootsy loves it.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

Octavius Squeezer. There is a lot of firmware in there. It all has to be written in assembly to make it fit. That takes a lot of time and effort.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

Octavius Squeezer. Nobody else makes an analogue bass synth with digital presets. It makes squelchy analogue sounds that you can't get elsewhere. It does a lot in a small package.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

We make pedals for bass. We don't do guitar.

Our pedals are designed to be extremely flexible, with extremely wide control ranges, so you can go to extremes that just aren't possible with other gear.

Bootsy Collins says:

Now if you need a little wood on your fire and your pedal is limp and has no desire, then you better call my friend Agent 00Funk that'll put some jump in yo fonk, for real-doe!

If you like a little Pee that carries a Big Sub-Stain, then check out the Brown Dog because he does bite!

Octavius Squeezer is the funkiest funk box since the Mutron release in the early 70's that I based my sound around. The Octavius Squeezer is the new millennia funk box with A Pink leather beaver patch right up the middle, to keep the cream inside.

I will be developing some new fiber optical sounds based around this new Octavius Squeezer patches and manual settings. I will find a way to squeeze the juice out the love between a musician and his pedal. Although this puppy is naked, it does come with pink panties for safety. Watch where you direct your Pee on this One!

Bootsy baby!!!

Are you working on any new products?

We're working on killer next generation firmware for the Octavius Squeezer.

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