[interview] Fredric Effects: Tim Webster

Here's FXDB's interview with Tim Webster of Fredric Effects:

How did Fredric Effects start?

I started by building kits and rewiring guitars way back, then graduated to building small batches of effects for friends. You soon realize that building DIY pedals and running a pedal business are two entirely different things. We try to make the most professional, well-built pedals possible, and I'm always trying to improve the way our pedals are put together.

Christian from Magnetic Effects taught me not to fear buffers. D*A*M and Ghost Effects inspire me with their neatness and build quality. MadeByMike sets inspiring standards of customer service. A whole bunch of builders have shown me how not to build a pedal, and how not to do business, but I'll spare their blushes. I think most of the pedal scandals of the last year or so have been down to builders simply lying or trying to cover-up deceptions. Not lying to the customer or pretending there's 'mojo' where there is none is probably a good starting point.

Where do the name and logo come from?

No real meaning. I had the domain name registered and 'Fredric' is brief, memorable and kinda European sounding, which I like.

Wolves and resistors. I used to build a flagship pedal called the Grumbly Wolf, and will again soon... but it'll be a different pedal in a custom enclosure. Stacey is working on a new logo and artwork at the moment. I like pedals with animals on - the Liquid Fox, Do The Weasel Stomp (inspired by Frank Zappa's Systech Harmonic Energizer). I'll put a cat on a pedal soon, I'm sure.

What sets Fredric Effects apart from other builders?

We have cool artwork, don't make stupid claims, and built high quality pedals.

How do you name your pedals?

There's a German expression about stinking like a 'liquid fox'. For some reason that stuck with me.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

All pedals are built in-house.

The circuits and PCB layouts are drawn using Eagle and manufactured by BatchPCB. I buy enclosures in bulk and get them professionally drilled by a local company. I then take the enclosures to another local company who powder coat and screen print the artwork. This way the holes all line-up and the artwork is both hard-wearing and cleanly executed. The pedal is then assembled and wired by hand.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Very important. Stacey's artwork is amazing.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The beige Harmonic Percolator, because it uses cheap NOS Russian parts and sounds almost as good as the original spec one with the unobtainium diodes and transistors. The Demon Fuzz is cool too, because it's so simple, yet the buffer sounds great and so does the fuzz.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

None of my current pedals are a tough build, because I design them with building in mind. The Weasel Stomp is quite time-consuming to build though because there's lots of off-board wiring. The Atomic Clock was tricky because I changed the layout every time I built one, then forgot it before the next. I've learnt my lesson on over-complicating effects now, and the PCB version of the Atomic Clock will solve that problem anyway.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

Probably the Harmonic Percolator because of the Albini connection, but also because they're surprisingly versatile. I sell lots of Unpleasant Companions too because it's an amazingly harsh sound. Not many pedals (and certainly not commercially produced ones) can produce such an unruly fuzz.

What does the future of Fredric Effects look like?

In the short-term, we're aiming to increase traffic to our website, improve the quality of the video demos on there, and increase direct sales. I've looked into selling effects via dealers and online stores, but the cut (sometimes up to 35%) that these places want would push prices up to a level I'm not happy charging. Now that I'm getting the enclosures professionally drilled, powder coated and printed, and the boards also made professionally, I feel we can increase the number we build while still making the highest quality pedals possible. I'd also like to make a range of effects in custom old-school enclosures (think old Shin-Ei). I've found somewhere to fabricate these, so it's just a matter of finding the time to finalize the designs.

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