[interview] GtrWrks: Todd Lynch

Here's FXDB's interview with Todd Lynch of GtrWrks:

How did GtrWrks start?

A combination of my father, John Lynch (who is an electronics genius and, among other things, taught soldering schools for NASA in the mid/late 1960's) and Mike Piera began what I'm doing today with GtrWrks.

I began playing guitar as a kid and when I was a teenager and began jamming with friends, Dad began building various effects for me. In part, these came from the Godfather of us all, Craig Anderton and his monthly columns in Popular Electronics magazine as well as Dad's formal education (later in life, and to this day, he designs/builds {wire wrap}/and programs application-specific computers to do various functions - to operate robotics, visual displays, etc). The effects he built me were largely fuzz and boost circuits, but an item of note was a guitar tuner with a segmented LCD display - the circuit is a frequency counter. He had calc'd everything and put a 6 position rotary switch on it labeled with each string name and frequency. I've still got it.

By the time I was a young adult, my father had tried teaching me the basics of analog audio circuits, but I was knee deep into both electric and acoustic instrument repair. I could wire/troubleshoot a guitar, but that was it.

By my mid-30's, I was doing authorized instrument repair for a couple of different brick & mortar shops (servicing Fender, Hoshino/Ibanez, Takamine, Roland/Boss and others). I began doing more and more electronics stuff for Roland (primarily) and began to lean on my Dad for more and more info that I'd not bothered to learn way back when.

In 2001 I bought a Boss SD-1 that had been modified by Analogman Mike Piera. I'm primarily a guitarist and I bought it strictly from a guitarist's standpoint. I'd been using a stock SD-1 for a number of years prior to that. My mother passed away in 2002 and at that time, Dad started going to various shows with me. At some random sound check or something, Dad noticed the red smiley face on my Analog Man pedal - he asked and I proudly showed it to him and bragged about the custom nature of it, etc.

As an electronics cat, his curiosity was piqued and he 'needed' to know what was inside that made it so special. At the first opportunity, he very quickly showed me what was different about it and I was immediately engrossed with the idea of learning more about these things.

Where does the logo come from?

Tony Romano from NetThink21 created the logo. He and I worked together based on the idea of the website as a whole having somewhat of a 'vintage vibe' - this in terms of colors, et al.

Logo specific: the name GtrWrks already existed, so it became a game of finding/creating a font that had a certain visual impact.

What sets GtrWrks apart from other builders?

I don't know the answer to that. I'm just a simple guitarist building pedals that I like to use and sharing them with others.

I build each one with as much precision as one can by hand. I strive for the highest quality in every aspect of GtrWrks.

I'm not doing this (operating GtrWrks) to "sell pedals". I would never ever want a single customer to buy something I've made and be unhappy with it. I want to be a part of the musical community at-large. I want folks to be happy with what I make for them.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Every circuit, every pedal, every everything (save for some shipping duties, which my wife often helps with) is done by me.

GtrWrks is a one man shop - I drill every hole, solder every part, etc. I have the enclosures powdercoated for me and the circuit boards are custom made.

How important is the look of your pedals?

I originally wanted the concept of the company to have a 'vintage' appeal. That is hopefully evident in everything from the colors of the website to the name of the 19 Sixty 3.

Is parts selection important?

Absolutely. I like to use certain parts for certain things. I like to support small businesses, so I purchase parts from smaller retailers as opposed to Mouser, etc. I buy where I need to, but try to support any given local economy.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

There are only two products at this time - they fulfill different functions and both sell at about the same rate.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Originally I was building pedals for my own need as a guitarist. It wasn't until I played some random job somewhere that I ran into someone who wanted to check out the raw aluminum boxes on my pedalboard - I flipped him one and a few days later he called to ask if I could build more and maybe paint them. I didn't know he co-owned a music store. He'd taken the pedal (what would become the GtrWrks 19 Sixty 3 Preamp) and demo'd it at his shop and pre-sold a passel of them (and that's how GtrWrks came to be as a business).

So I build what I need/want - that is the primary thing. The next step is to determine what target demographic would want such a thing. Then decide if there's any demand for such an item. This step here is particularly important.

    Sidebar: In '08 I was building the bV (called the Flat Five at that time) - but I did so at the behest of customers wanting to buy other products from me (I was only selling the '63 Pre at that time) and as a player, I well knew there was a glut of REALLY GREAT overdrive pedals to choose from already on the market. "The world doesn't need any more overdrive pedals" was what I kept saying. So I built a few and just stopped. It was nonsense; I didn't feel the world needed them and I didn't want to be involved with it.

In the spring of 2010, Mr Yoshi Mizui of Tone Blue contacted me asking if I'd custom build a couple of overdrives (the Flat Five) for Kiyotsugu Amano (GREAT Guitarist/Composer). Seems that Kiyotsugu san had found/purchased a Flat Five on the used market and wanted two more - one for a recording rig and another as a back up for his touring rig (I believe that's correct).

I built them and quickly thereafter I was being cajoled into making them again. I decided at that time to 'reinvent' the thing. I revoiced it & restructured the gain a little to mirror the one I was using and decided upon a new 'product' concept (name, color, etc).

Allen Hinds had been using a 19 Sixty 3 pedal for a year or so prior to that - so when the first 'new' bV's were built, I sent one to him. He called saying that he really dug it. I didn't expect him to like or use it - I just sent it as a gift for him to check out. I was really happy that he mentioned that he could make a demo for it, etc (which, by the way, was beautifully directed/shot/produced by the very talented Mr Peter Hastings).

So... While the world surely doesn't need any more OD pedals, I'm thrilled to have had such a strong, positive response to it this second time around.

What does the future of GtrWrks look like?

The current state of GtrWrks is that I'm very busy building pedals. I'm still primarily a guitarist (guitarist/bandleader for Ty England Music as well as normal sideman work) and often production gets halted because of that - rehearsal, travel, performance, etc.

That said, I love doing GtrWrks - one thing I dig about it the most is the interaction I'm able to have with other players.

Are you working on any new products?

I'd like to put together my own analog delay with the Cool Audio stuff, but other than some basic circuit layout, etc, I've not had the time to devote to it.

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