[interview] Ghost Effects: Ian Sherwen

Here's FXDB's interview with Ian Sherwen of Ghost Effects.

Ghost Effects is run by Ian Sherwen, The company is located in Birmingham, UK.

How did Ghost Effects start?

Around 2003-2004 I was into circuit bending but also made guitar pedals for myself. I got more and more into fuzz pedals and eventually started selling cheap unlabelled versions of the 'classics' on eBay.

Gradually I got better at the construction and design of the pedals reaching a point where it seemed like I needed some kind of name or brand.

I received help from Andy Carell (Soul Kitchen), David Main (D*A*M), Graham Green (collector).

Inspirations were Creepy Fingers, Pigdog, Castledine, D*A*M, Basic Audio, Bryan Blunder, early Skinpimp, early Monolith Fuzz.

Ghost EffectsWhere do the name and logo come from?

I had this idea of clones of old circuits somehow being ghosts from the past, I had to think of something and it was the best name at the time!

There are a few 'logos', I like the Futura font which has connotations with a lot of old pedals. I also really like the 'WEM' Ghost logo that a local designer Mark Murph did, but it's only used on a couple of pedals.

What sets Ghost Effects apart from other builders?

I just try to make the people who hand over their hard earned cash as happy as I can, I build a well constructed good looking piece of equipment in a timely fashion for a reasonable cost. Over the years I have read pretty much every horror story on forums complaining about companies or builders, I think I know how not to behave!Ghost Effects Silicon Pep Box

How do you start on a new pedal?

Depends what I'm doing but usually I get a schematic, breadboard it, do a layout, and then make a prototype.

The Silicon Pep Box was actually pretty quick to do, I had it in production within a month of starting I think.

The 'Sounds of Today' took a while because I kept going back to it on the breadboard, as did the Warmjet V which I worked on and went back to a few times before I was happy with it.

How do you name your pedals?

The 'Sounds of Today' comes from an advert for the original MkI, 'Mind Rocker' is a song by Fenwyck, that my friends Seeland covered.

Ghost Effects Mind RockerCan you tell us something about the production process?

Just me at the moment, I drill, build, design, ship, answer emails, update the website, handle social media, I do accounts, I track down and order parts, everything!

I used to use vero boards for the circuits, but now pretty much only use tagboard, turret board, or tag strip.

I have the enclosures powdercoated by a local firm, labeling is either screen printed (again by a local firm) or a professionally printed vinyl sticker. Most of my earlier pedals would have decal labeling that has been laqcuered, and I do sometimes use this method for one offs.

How important is the look of your pedals?

I try to make them look as good as I can, the powdercoating and labeling is all done by other companies at the moment, I think they look good and are pretty rugged.

Is parts selection important?

Well, I use Germanium Transistors quite a lot so thats a whole area of knowledge in itself. I try not to chase too many of the famous 'holy grail' transistors, but try to use ones that measure well, and sound good in a circuit.

Sometimes a circuit might need to look like an original in which case I might have to choose certain components to achieve this. Ghost Effects Dizzy Tone

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

I'm proud of the Dizzy Tone and the Silicon Pep Box as both took a bit more than just grabbing a schematic from the internet like some of the other classics I do.

I also love the Mind Rocker because of its brilliant labelling design by Sean Wars. Also the MkI.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

An Ampeg Scrambler on tagboard!

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

MkI's and the variants I do are popular, as are the Buzzaround and Dizzy Tone circuits.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

The circuits I focus on are the ones I'm most interested in, and luckily other people are interested in them, but I don't aim for a particular genre of music.

I haven't got Jack White banging on my door or anything, but there are a few bands and artists that I like that use my pedals.

Ghost Effects Warmjet VWhat does the future of Ghost Effects look like?

I want to get the Ghost Effects 'range' sorted, it's a gradual thing and I am very nearly there.

I've also had an idea for a while to do with an offshoot but I can't say much more than that.

I also want to work with my friend Damion who comes from a more synthesis based background, we've talked about doing something collaborative.

Are you working on any new products?

I've just started doing a version of the WEM Project V called the Warmjet V which is VERY interesting as I'm a big Eno fan, and have another treble booster coming out as well called the Aston Community Centre Treblebooster, named after where Black Sabbath first rehearsed here in Birmingham!

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