[interview] Groove Street: Edwin Van Bunderen

Here's FXDB's interview with Edwin Van Bunderen of Groove Street:

How did Groove Street start making effects?

Over the years we had collected a large number of effects in our shop. I estimate there must have been about 300 different ones or even more that have been tested by myself.

A friend called James purchased a boost pedal from the shop. It was my favorite. And in those days the particular boost pedal was no longer available/purchasable to us. And James kept bragging about this effect he purchased! Until one day he came in with the pedal broken... I gladly repaired it ... It permitted me of trying to build the same one myself. Which I gave up.

At the same time my local repairman stopped working. He was an old man. In came a now ex-Fender representative who put me in contact with 'Ed' from Ed's Custom Shop!!! Ed fixed all my problems: he repaired the thing and started designing around that pedal. The first Groove Street Boost was born. Edwin Thoen got me into the effects pedals business! He is the man behind the brilliant designs we came up with. And he built every Groove Street effects pedal I sold ! He has a bright technical background.

Where do the name and logo come from?

Groove Street, it is funny I know, the first part comes from something groovy and the second part comes from 'Sesame Street'. Initially it was not to become a specialized guitar shop but a general musical instrument store. We changed our minds obviously...

The logo is round, red, white and blue and 98 was simply our number in the street, Onderrichtstraat or Rue de l'Enseignement. A round logo because we started designing from a billiard ball idea! The text and numbers are slightly skew or slanted if you want. It just looked better!

What sets Groove Street apart from other builders?

We make the best pedals with our experience testing over 300 different pieces. Our artwork is very basic but that will set apart the early models from the future ones!

Everybody with good hands and ears will notice the difference with stock effects brands.

How do you start on a new pedal?

We compare ideas. Usually we take an existing model as a reference but we do not copy it. Our designs go further than that. 

Basic boosts and distortions take a few weeks. Delays, modulations etc. are more complex and might take up to a year. Only Ed knows why, he does the layouts.

How do you name your pedals?

We have a lot of imagination but keep it simple: the name says what it does.

The one exception is the Anthology Wah. It was designed around the time the Jimi Hendrix Anthology album came out. Of course it is many great wah sounds in one box, like the album.

I think in terms of funny EMMA Electronic tops it all.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Ed is meticulously building everything in his laboratory! I would love to be as competent as him on the matter.

The circuits are point to point handwired, true bypass with the best components we can think of. For the enclosures we are using the classic Hammond boxes, but we are looking for something new. We like the Way Huge boxes BTW...

A French and Belgian artist were approached for hand-painting. That's for the future !

How important is the look of your pedals?

Quite important. We are happy with the industrial look but I am personally in search of a definitive and timeless but modern new package, with the same now famous logo.

Is parts selection important?

Ed just does not use shit: he uses the best!

My opinion is that sometimes the cheesiness of the material is the secret of the sound: I inspected the interiors of many effects models.

I think Ed would not sleep well if the parts we use were not the best and we both want the effects pedals to last a lifetime.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

Hard to say. Probably Ed and I have different opinions.

They are all great but I would pick the Distortion since I use that one the most. And I have sold about 50 pieces of it. That is very unique for an unknown brand in Europe.

A very underestimated effect is the Buffer/Booster. You do not notice it works until you take it out of your chain.

We will be very proud to have a complete range of different effects, not just a collection of different boosts, drives, distortions and fuzzes. That is what so many other brands do.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Delay. Hard to do a tap-tempo on a ping-pong stereo delay. So we changed design as a simple mono echo. It blows the competition out of the water!

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Distortion. It does not have too much gain, it sounds very warm, dynamic and musical with a lot of options. You have a bright/mellow switch and a voicing knob.

What does the future of Groove Street look like?

There is more to come, but that will reveal itself to us first. I hardly know for myself what idea I will have next. We have been talking about an amplifier.

Are you working on any new products?

Modulation and a mixer. Or was it our own version of a modified Tubescreamer? Who knows?

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