Here's FXDB's interview with James Bennett of Jamés Pedals.
Jamés Pedals is run by James Bennett from his house outside Örebro in Sweden.
How did Jamés Pedals start?
I started making pedals as another way to pass the time. I liked making model helicopters and electric guitars. The helicopters were cool and the guitars were great, but I had made all the helicopters that interested me and guitars were just too expensive to make all the time. Making pedals was a logical choice.
I was inspired by all the other people making pedals. There are some amazingly talented people out there - and I mean both the interiors and exteriors of pedals. They never cease to amaze me.
"Jamés" is a bit of a running joke. It is pronounced "yar-mez" which is how James would be pronounced in Swedish. Furthermore, "mes" is Swedish for wuss. Yes, I understand that this is not very funny. It was a little joke that clearly went too far!
I wish I could make a logo. I have never been gifted at art. Not even the advent of computers has helped.
What sets Jamés Pedals apart from other builders?
I offer a pretty generous guarantee and I am always completely honest - I like to think that this makes a real difference. A lot of work comes from people whose friends have used me before, so I must be doing something right.
How do you start on a new pedal?
When making new pedals, I first think about what I want to do. I then do it. Planning is important for me as it saves so much time.
Most of my pedals are vintage reproductions and so there is little creative design there. I have modified a few, though, and added tone stacks and little things here and there.
A new pedal can take anything from a few weeks to a couple of years to make. It really depends on what is going on in my "real" life. I have a family and a full-time job to consider.
How do you name your pedals?
No, not really. I am a bit silly and like to give the pedals some silly names. I suppose "Treble Booster MkII" was a bit of a boring name, though. I try and make the names tell what the pedal does, though. My "Hey B-ABY" is an ABY box, for example.
Can you tell us something about the production process?
I only ever do any of my things - pedals, mods, guitar setups etc - myself.
Circuits are hand-wired on project board. I have a drawn a few PCBs but not yet made them.
Enclosures are purchased prepainted. I wish I could do them myself, but lack the resources at the moment. I occasionally buy them custom-drilled too to save me time and effort.
How important is the look of your pedals?
I keep the name of the company in same place on the pedal and in the same font. I try and make the pedals look functional rather than overly fancy.
Is parts selection important?
I use the best parts I can find. I have ditched carbon resistors as they made some circuits noisy (although this could just be in my head). I also test the values of all potentiometers and resistors before I use them.
Which of your pedals makes you most proud?
I once made a triple pedal: a distortion, phaser and stereo chorus in one box. I put in switchable FX loops after each effect, so you could always change the order of them if you wanted. It also had a tuner out. I painted it copper orange.
The whole thing had eight jacks, three stomp switches, at least six toggle switches and something like ten knobs on it. I rigged it to take batteries and 9v power. The enclosure was large but it was tightly packed.
Which of your pedals was your toughest build?
Past: an analog delay as it was just so fiddly and complicated. I decided after I made the prototype that it would never be worth making them with the company as it took far too many hours to make and was relatively expensive in parts alone. It sounded great, though.
Which of your pedals is the most popular?
My Treble Booster Mark II. I think it is my best seller because it sounds so good!
Who uses your pedals and for which genres?
I find that most of the pedals I make go to people looking for that "vintage style" sound.
I am not aware of any big names using Jamés pedals and I do not really keep track of my pedals after they have been sold. I know of one being used in a gigging band in Stockholm - this particular guitarist said that the Jamés Treble Booster [Mark I] was a "grym jävla pedaljävel!!!!!" which translates as "fantastic ****ing pedal***er!!!!!" or something along those lines. I used the quote on an earlier website.
What does the future of Jamés Pedals look like?
Goals: make more pedals and start to prototype some ideas I have. I would like to make a few bass pedals I have had in mind for a while too.
Now that we have moved to somewhere permanent, I can start putting some of these plans into action.
Are you working on any new products?
A line of bass pedals. A bass distortion to end all distortions... but it is taking a really long time! I expect to have it ready and in some sort of production in 2014, but don't hold me to that.