[interview] JAM Pedals: Jannis Anastassakis Marinos

Here's FXDB's interview with Jannis Anastassakis Marinos of JAM Pedals:

How did JAM Pedals start?

It really just started from curiosity and just as a hobby in 2005 and very quickly it became my main occupation in about 2007.

My studies helped a lot (electronical engineering), as well as being an experienced musician and guitar player myself. I also got help from a friend, who designed his own pedals too, and from searching all over the internet (DIY forums etc...)

Where does the name come from?

JAM comes from my name: Jannis Anastasakis Marinos, and of course the "musical" word "jam".

What sets JAM Pedals apart from other builders?

First of all the warm and detailed quality of the sound.

Also the fact that many internationally known artists use my pedals, most of them are guitar players that pay a lot of attention to their sound. 

I also believe it's because JAM pedals are hand-made (interior and exterior design).

How do you start on a new pedal?

I try to go for stuff I can't find in the market to suit my needs or taste first, and then my clients.

Usually it takes about a year to maybe a little over two, from conception to the actual product ready for distribution.

How do you name your pedals?

I love playing with words!!! Usually the names of the pedals come out of the type of the effect, the original name of the vintage model the pedal is inspired from, or maybe even the sound of the effect.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

All pedals are built in-house by me and another person's help. They're all hand-wired, circuits are mainly PCB, or point-to-point by custom order.

Enclosures are from the Eddystone line by Hammond and are drilled by hand in my workshop.

All pedals are hand-painted, with an option for custom-artwork orders.

How important is the look of your pedals?

To me the look is very important! I love my pedals to be unique.

Many of the users don't care much about what the design will be. They don't even care if the pedals are painted or not.

Of course there are others who deal with details how their pedals should look. Some of them have also sent me their personal collection of stamps and notes to add them to the design.

Is parts selection important?

I pay lot of attention to the parts I use! I only use the best quality mechanical parts (jacks, 3PDT switches, enclosures etc).

And when it comes to the sound, I check with detail and compare any parts that may sound right. It takes a lot of research to find old NOS transistors and chips, that DO really sound different and better.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

I am actually proud of all of our pedals.

Personally, my favorite pedal is the Ripple (analog phaser), it's so discreet and warm that you don't mind having it on all the time.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

They all were challenging in many different ways.

The most technically challenging are my custom multi-pedals, always making all the pedals work correctly together without any signal loss and retaining the original guitar sound.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

I suppose this is the WaterFall (analog chorus/vibrato). At a first glance it looks like a common old-style chorus, but its sound quality is such, that even guitar-players that hated chorus pedals, ended up buying it.

Nels Cline was SHOCKED that he liked the Waterfall (he hates Chorus pedals) and said that we should rename it! "Don't call it a chorus" :)

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I make pedals mainly for vintage-style guitar players and musicians. Of course the vintage-style effects are used by most guitarists despite their style of music.

I am very proud that all these players chose my pedals to play with :

  • John Abercrombie
  • Nels Cline
  • Anthony Jackson
  • David Hidalgo
  • Cesar Rosas
  • Guy Pratt
  • Greg Koch
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  • Jonny Lang
  • Jeff Berlin
  • Julien Kasper
  • Adrian Legg
  • Bernie Marsden
  • Robert Randolph
  • etc...

A few quotes from them :

"Life sucks without JAM pedals! :)" (David Hidalgo)

"Delay Llama+ just sounds incredible! It's probably the best sounding delay pedal, I've ever used. The HOLD switch is really cool!" (Kenny Wayne Shepherd)

"Around 1980 many of us got into bucket brigade delays, little analog echo boxes. They were a lot less trouble than tape and disc echos. I loved them and the sound imprinted in my mind. Then digital arrived, and as we played with the magical bells and whistles, we slowly noticed that it didn't always feel right. In 2010 I plugged into the bucket brigade Delay Llama and thirty years fell away. I'm home. It feels good." (Adrian Legg)

"It's here! It's gorgeous! I love it!" (Guy Pratt)

"Though still just bubbling under the large wave of boutique effects pedals, JAM pedals' work stands out! I am particularly fond of The Rattler, as I have been on the prowl for toneful yet high-gain distortion. There are plenty of fuzzboxes out there these days (and JAM has some good ones, too) but few distortion boxes. The Rattler has that fat, creamy sound/sustain yet doesn't have to be turned up all the way step out when full-on raging is required!" (Nels Cline)

but my best quote is this:

"...it is a beautiful way to open your sound and your mind. Within the first minute of plugging in I was lost on a journey through my inner space. There were beautiful colours and tiny pink sea horses. Then I played with the switches, the sea sick switches!" (Neal Bond)

You can find more "quotes" on my website

What does the future of JAM Pedals look like?

Making a new pedal right now, and plans for another 2 in 2012.

I am always paying attention to the aesthetic presentation of our company.

Are you working on any new products?

I am almost finished working on a new tremolo pedal. It will be the "ultimate" tremolo with lots of features. Cannot reveal the goodies before it's out though!!!! Sorry :)

I'm also working on a new Delay Llama+ version pedal which will be including a tap-tempo feature!

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