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[interview] G.S. Wyllie: G.S. Wyllie

Here's FXDB's interview with G.S. Wyllie of G.S. Wyllie:

How did G.S. Wyllie start?

I began making pedals away back in the early '60's when the Gibson Maestro Fuzztone left its indelible mark on my ears with the Stones' Satisfaction song.

My father was an electrical engineer and showed me how to read schematics from when I was 12 or so years old. We borrowed a Maestro from a music store and copied the circuit. (pirates!) We then drove to the electronics store for the Germanium transistors, caps, pots, etc. I took 18 gauge sheet steel, bent it with a hammer and vise into a similar shape as the Maestro, and soldered it together with a propane torch, flux, plumbers solder. Ran into a big problem with DPDT stomp switches. They could not be found anywhere, so I subbed a toggle for the first few I made, then came up with a solution. I could get SPDT on,on stompswitches, so I installed them very close together and soldered on a steel "cap" to bridge the 2 together. DPDT!

Where does the name come from?

G.S. Wyllie is my name.

How do you name your pedals?

A funny story... When I first cast my pedal shells, I used plaster of Paris for the mold, modeling clay for the pattern. I was casting a shell with a smooth surface using molten pewter, but when pouring it into the mold, it erupted like a volcano, spewing molten pewter everywhere. I hadn't dried the plaster enough, and when water turned to steam, BLAM!

When I cracked open the mold, I had what looked like a Moonrock, and named it so.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Nearly everything I make is designed and made by me. Exceptions are the Wylo, a mutated Tone Bender, and the Rising Sun, a Shin-ei Superfuzz with expanded controls.

The Fuzzmite, Moonrock and OzO are very different from other circuits and produce unique sounds. I spent more time developing the Moonrock circuit then I spent time with my girlfriend and she let me know it!

I used to cast my own enclosures, now the patterns are sent off to a foundry where they are cast using a match plate, making 4 shells at once. It takes a lot to make them into pedals, milling, drilling, grinding, sanding.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Rising Sun is a very popular pedal of mine, it has an etched graphic on top. I also offer it with a polyester film image due to the sketchy way the etching turns out these days. I originally bought enclosures from quite a few companies and got excellent results when etching them, but... now they manufacture them using (I guess) recycled scrap metal amalgam. That makes it unknown from one box to the next just how it will turn out. Usually it will have weak areas and odd spots here and there. But the image will never rub off, its there permanently, forever! I guess it's whats inside that counts and that pedal has all the fuzz anyone could ever want.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Mostly all my pedals have been made for each individual, one at a time, on order. I don't usually make up stock and promote them. Tonefrenzy buys some pedals of mine and stocks them, sells to some major artists around the world.

What does the future of G.S. Wyllie look like?

I sold about 10 of those early Fuzztone clones for $15 when a real Maestro cost $36! Way back then you could get the exact transistor #'s, they almost always sounded perfect, and cost less than 50cents. These days I've managed to keep my costs down and most of my prices haven't changed since 1999.

I no longer make pedals that use Germanium transistors due to quality issues.

Are you working on any new products?

I've recently developed an extraordinarily powerful octaver/fuzz, the R.U.X. Right now it's in a plain small Phase 90 style rectangular case. 3 knobs, 3 switches is just too much to cram into the cast boxes. Its available like this now, and I should have more info on it (sound clips, etc.) on my site soon.