[interview] Erafuzz: Rex Thornton

Here's FXDB's interview with Rex Thornton of Erafuzz:

How did Erafuzz start?

First, let me give you a brief history of my music and electronic background.

I started learning acoustic guitar at the age of 9, and playing electric guitar when I was 15 years old. I started discovering guitar effects pedals during that time. I founded a thrash/death metal band at the age of 18, and played guitar with the band for 4 or 5 years. Years later I played in different cover bands, and now I’m making music.

On the other hand, I started with formal electronic classes at the age of 12 for 3 years. I worked in different electronic projects during that time. Also, in college I attended electronic classes. I have a bachelor degree in Computer Science. After graduating from college, I worked in a power electric company for 6 years developing a bill collector system (ATM like) using the System 500 and System 600 made by Standard Change-Makers. I have worked with computer systems, applications, interfaces, websites, computer hardware and electronics (bill and coin acceptors, dispensers, and electronic interfaces).

Now coming back to the question, I first started asking other effect builders to make some fuzz pedals for me and I liked so much the entire process that I realized that I couldn’t stop doing it. Also, I was/am so interested in finding new fuzz tones that it will be impossible to continue without a financial support.

But even more important, I love music and I want to collaborate with other guitarists to make more music with the assistance of my pedals.

The first fuzz prototype I built was the Buzzaround and I remember that Dave at Montgomery Appliances assisted me in the process of selecting the right germanium transistors. He is a great guy. After that I was on my own doing research everywhere and experimenting with different circuits, transistors, capacitors, resistors, diodes, etc. creating new circuit designs, building transistor testers, etc. to come up with my own signature fuzz tone.

Musically and as a pedal builder I have been inspired by all the fuzz pedals.

Where do the name and logo come from?

The Erafuzz name emerged from the realization that fuzz pedals are now stronger than ever. The sixties and seventies were a remarkably great time for fuzz pedals but I believe we are in the era fuzz one more time.

The idea was to make a classy, simple logo easy to remember but at the same time a logo that represents the company’s vision and mission.

What sets Erafuzz apart from other builders?

Erafuzz mission: to build first-class fuzz effect pedals using the highest musical quality analog components.

How do you start on a new pedal?

Usually I start doing a fuzz research (hunting) when I listen to a band playing with a very cool fuzz, or sometimes when I listen to a fuzz demo on YouTube or another place and I want to reproduce that fuzz tone. Also, it can be just an idea about creating a new fuzz pedal. After that, I do a circuit analysis. I design the circuit on the computer using different applications. Then, I start looking for all the components making an analysis on each one of them. On how each component will shape the final fuzz tone. Then, I build a prototype pedal and test it. Then, I try to improve the fuzz tone by changing different component materials or values in the circuit. Then, I design the pedal’s image using different sources and applications. Once finished, I test it for weeks.

I do so many things to create a new fuzz that is difficult to list them all, but it takes me around 2 or 3 months to build a new one.

How do you name your pedals?

The Erafuzz Civil War name comes from the Sovtek Civil War Muff. Also, if you see the image on the Erafuzz Civil War, you will see the history of the original Sovtek Civil War.

The Erafuzz Revolution is derived from the 1971 Triangle Muff with some changes in the components values. It produces an intense fuzz tone that can be easily described as a fuzz revolution.

The Erafuzz The Grand Dragon name is the name of a song. The original song belonged to an underground speed metal band from the late 80’s, and I called my pedal The Grand Dragon as a tribute to that band.

The Erafuzz The Italian V name comes from the Italian Vox Tone Bender.

The Erafuzz Buzzaround name comes from the Baldwin Burns Buzzaround.

The Erafuzz Sacred Resonance name comes from the movie “Stone” and the belief that there are sounds in the universe that can elevate the human spirit.

The Erafuzz Octavo Stone name comes from a self-description (Silicon Fuzz Octave Machine) and as a tribute to QOTSA.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Yes, I do. No contractors. There is only one builder, me!

All the Erafuzz pedals are hand-wired using a terminal board or a stripboard. Also, they are built using the highest musical quality analog components. Every transistor is measured and analysed by a transistor analyser and tested by ear using a pedal-transistor tester I built. The enclosures are sanded, drilled, and spray painted by me using Hammerite paint, and the decals are made in a durable high-grade vinyl with a clear shield laminate. All the pedals are packaged in a professional quality box.

How important is the look of your pedals?

It’s very important. I think if the pedal looks good, the sound coming from it has to be a lot better. It’s a way to self-impose a responsibility or a challenge for building better pedals each time I make one.

Is parts selection important?

I think every detail in the construction process is of equal importance. I spend a lot of time selecting all the parts, always using high quality brands or the highest musical quality components.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

Every time I finish a new pedal it becomes my favorite. Right now my favorite fuzz is the Erafuzz Sacred Resonance. I really enjoyed the development of this pedal and the results surpassed my expectations.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The toughest Erafuzz pedal to build is the Erafuzz Sacred Resonance because it uses 6 germanium transistors and 2 silicon transistors. It requires a detailed ear-testing on each transistor. Also, the Erafuzz Civil War is difficult to build for all the toggle switches and the point to point wiring connections on the copper stripboard.

Technically the most challenging to build are the ones that use stripboard because I use point to point wiring connections on the copper stripboard to ensure a full circuit performance.

But definitely each one of my pedals represents a challenge in different ways. There are a lot of details in each one.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

I think the most popular Erafuzz pedals right now are the Erafuzz Buzzaround and the Erafuzz Civil War. The Buzzaround fuzz in general is one of the coolest fuzz pedals in my opinion, and who doesn’t like Pink Floyd?

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Erafuzz vision: to create the most inspiring musical hot-rodded fuzz effect pedals for professional guitarists.

I don’t know about a famous guitarist using the Erafuzz pedals but I hope one of them start seriously looking at them.

What does the future of Erafuzz look like?

Erafuzz will continue building and selling all the Erafuzz pedals on eBay worldwide and throughout the Erafuzz dealers: Rainbow Guitars (USA) and Tone Blue (Japan).

In 2012, I will try to find the best dealer in Europe to cover the entire map.

Are you working on any new products?

The Erafuzz Sacred Resonance is a fuzz fusion between 6 germanium and 2 silicon transistors. It generates a unique fuzz fusion tone great for progressive bands.

The Erafuzz Octavo Stone will recreate the fuzz tones of one the most influential stoner-rock bands nowadays. It will be a silicon fuzz that will generate an octave-up tone available from a second footswitch.

Both pedals will be available in January 2012.

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