Here's FXDB's interview with John De Luca of Compulsive Audio.
Compulsive Audio is run (and founded) by John De Luca, who also designs and builds the pedals. The company is located in Sparta, a small town in the NW region of NJ, USA.
I started the company when I was laid off from my computer consulting job in the summer of 2009. The decision to start a boutique guitar effects business sort of just happened.
At an early age, I was bitten by the electronics bug when a cousin introduced me to a Heathkit electronic kit. At the age of 12, I got my Novice Amateur Radio license and built most of my radio equipment myself. Music has always been an important part of my life as well. I played the trumpet from fifth grade all the way to the end of high school. Playing guitar didn't come until later in my adult life.
My wife gave me guitar lessons as a gift one-day and I have grown to love the instrument. I got into building guitar effects when I was searching for a loop switch for my pedal board to allow me to mix and match my effects chain. I quickly found that what I wanted was not available in the price range I could afford. So, with a little research and my electronics background, I set out to make one myself.
When my guitar instructor at CRP Music saw what I had built, he asked me if I was interested in building effects that they could sell in the store. After that, I started looking at building other types of pedals.
My inspiration mainly comes from requests that friends of mine have made regarding the type of tone they are looking for. They tell me what they want and I play with circuits until I find it.
The name Compulsive Audio comes from the fact that I obsess over every detail of the products we offer.
What sets Compulsive Audio apart from other builders?
Our pedals are unique because of the quality of the components and the attention to the tonal quality of the design.
How do you name your pedals?
Yes, we do have themes behind some of our pedal names. Thor's Hammer is a good example. We named it after a Norse God because we feel it kicks ass tonally. The Heavenly Boost was named because it really makes your tone sound like Heaven.
All pedals are built and modded by me.
All circuits are hand-wired and many are built on general purpose (mil spec) through hole circuit boards. Parts quality is the best I can find. I also try to choose components made in USA whenever possible. Silver solder is used instead of the lead based type. Our high end designs also benefit from component matching (i.e. transistor gain matching).
Enclosure designs depend on the pedal. Some of our pedals are hand painted, some are bought already powder coated and we will add decals. Many of our customers just want a nice painted box with no decals or lettering.
For all of our pedals, the parts quality is top notch. I feel it makes a big difference to the sound. I also try to use NOS parts for our fuzz pedals for the same reasons.
Parts quality is important in all parts of the circuit, not just the audio path. Our pedals are more immune to differences in power conditions then a lot of stock effects you can buy. This is just our philosophy.
For discrete circuits, component matching is important as well. Matched components in a circuit are less noisy and deliver more consistency in sound.
Which of your pedals makes you most proud?
I am most proud of our Heavenly Boost pedal. It is the simplest circuit, yet our customers consistently comment that it is the foundation to their sound. Many customers have it constantly engaged.
Which of your pedals was your toughest build?
The toughest build was the Dimed Boogie. The design was way too complicated amd it is now no longer offered. It was my first attempt at building a pedal that would deliver the Heavy Metal sound. It has since been replaced by the Thor's Hammer pedal.
Which of your pedals is the most popular?
Our most popular product is the Texas Holdem ZZ. It is vey popular because it is a very versatile overdrive that works well with a Tele as well as a Les Paul. You can really get a lot of different sounds from it from Texas Blues to Classic Rock and Roll.
What does the future of Compulsive Audio look like?
We are currently focused on offering pedal mods.