Here's FXDB's interview with Miro Solkio of FYA Electronics.
FYA Electronics is run by Miro Solkio in Turku, Finland. It is one man brand that's currently completely unincorporated.
How did FYA Electronics start?
I started to build by accident. I've been interested in pedals for a long time and at one point, something just snapped. At the time I was trying out a lot of big brand effects and wanted to try out one that I couldn't find here where I live. I found a kit for the circuit online and tried it out. I didn't have any background in electronics, so the kit was good to try out at first. After couple of successful kits, I just dived deeper and deeper into DIY. Suddenly I noticed I had built couple of hundred boxes. Mostly custom one-offs for people who were asking for them. Next I noticed I had couple of reasonably good sounding original designs on my hands. That's when I figured I needed a brand name. As ugly as it may sound, I'm keeping it.
When I was starting out, the biggest help came from a DIY guru known as |v|ark. He's the man who's still getting a pedal from every original batch I'll build to his mailbox before anyone else gets one. Most of the DIY community are very nice and helpful people. I've been in contact with many DIYers who really know their stuff. And the community that exists only on internet suits me perfectly.
I was planning to keep this piece of information a well kept public secret, but as this is only between you and me, I think I can shed some light on the subject. The idea in the name is based on who I am. I'm quite social person with the people I like and know. But other than that, I'd rather just build, play guitar or listen to records rather than be in contact with anyone I don't already know. One could call me highly functional misanthropist, and he or she wouldn't be completely wrong. So the name is short for "F*** you all". There is some humor in there, but the name is still quite accurate depiction of my view of the world.
What sets FYA Electronics apart from other builders?
Nothing. I don't feel like I'm any better than anyone else.
How do you start on a new pedal?
One way is through my sketchbook. I draw stupid circuit ideas to my notebook(s) and later try them on my breadboard. Some circuits are born like that. Some of my sketches won't work at all but some of them make good building blocks.
Other way is to play a lot with some commercial product I like. In some time I usually find some feature that I want to remove, modify or add to suit me. If I don't, I'm sure to let others know that the pedal is amazing. If I do, and usually I do, I may hunt the one method from that pedal down and build a new design around that. Another way to get some building blocks.
From sketchbook to breadboard to layout to prototype to production pedal... Each of the steps may take the process one step back. I guess it takes from one day to a month. If anything takes longer than month to create, it won't be worth it. That means that I have too many features that won't play well together. That's the time to start over and try again.
How do you name your pedals?
Every production design has its own story behind name. There's no pattern.
Can you tell us something about the production process?
I build everything myself.
The pedals I usually build are hand-wired and all custom made. Even the production models. Those are the same hand made circuits for every pedal, with no CAM involved. Enclosures I use vary from batch to batch. I sometimes buy factory coated New Sensor or some other brand boxes. For the production models I've built in the past, artist Suvi Aarnio has painted the enclosures with oil based paints and I've applied a coat of lacquer afterwards. For some special one-offs I sometimes do paint the enclosures myself with various methods, but that's the part of the building I dislike the most. That's why the factory coated and hand painted finish suits me the best.
How important is the look of your pedals?
It matters. But the pedal should still sound and work right first. Beautiful design on the inside and the outside doesn't quite help, if the circuit sounds like crap. On the other hand, I wouldn't buy a pedal with comic sans on it, no matter how good it sounded.
Is parts selection important?
Depends on the design. Going after the sounds of 60's fuzzes needs NOS parts, while high gainers need the parts to be as low on excess noise as possible and so on. Different designs work best with suitable components. I care more about that than anything else when it comes to components.
The first production pedal I ever did. The Apiformis Fuzztortion. It's a complete overhaul on the fuzz side of the old Roland Bee Baa pedal. Suvi Aarnio painted the enclosures and they turned out really good. Other than amazing looks, they also sound very nice. I still have the first of those on my own board in everyday use and have not found anything I want to replace it with. Even the fact that those are built a long ago from current perspective, I still feel I built them well. Maybe I should do a batch of slightly brighter sounding Apiformis V2 at some point.
Who uses your pedals and for which genres?
I don't really build for specific genres. I build lots of different stuff, overdrives, fuzzes, boosters, distortions and preamps. Including tremolos, compressors, noise boxes and so on. So I don't feel like I'm bound by one or two genres. My own taste would be the most accurate descriptor why I build the pedals I build. Almost every pedal I've ever built is based on the idea that I want to have on my own pedal board. Some of the people I know have been asking for some special stuff, some completely undoable. And that's where I get some of the ideas.
What does the future of FYA Electronics look like?
Current status quo is full of potential to so many directions that it hurts. I'm still deep in DIY and taking the first steps toward pro. In short term I'm planning to keep on reading and writing, educating myself. Maybe even apply to local polytechnic. If all my plans materialize as soon as I hope, FYA will probably be a real company in relatively near future. Either way, I think my tech support day job will become a thing of the past. I know some things already, but I'm not even close to understanding everything I want to. So at the moment, the focus will be on learning more and perfecting the build and design methods.
Are you working on any new products?
Yes. The ones that are making their way to production are good. At lest I think they are. There are two designs that are long overdue to some issues on the enclosures and another production one coming along too. Those are boosters and overdrives, so they do make a nice change from tweaking fuzzes to the extreme.