[interview] Mad Professor: Harri Koski

Here's FXDB's interview with Harri Koski of Mad Professor:

How did Mad Professor start?

We started as an amplifier company in 2002. I started a limited company with Jukka Mönkkönen in 2006 and just making the amplifiers was not enough for our goals, we had some great pedal designs we wanted to build, so we expanded into pedal business.

We make only original design amplifier and pedals, these are designed by Bjorn Juhl who just hates to copy anything. We do a lot of testing with various amplifiers and guitars to make sure the pedals works for everyone.

Where do the name and logo come from?

Our designer (Bjorn Juhl) was called by that name by the shop owner, when he ran a amplifier repair shop in a guitar store's basement.

We wanted to have a bold classic timeless logo, just like our products are made to last, we wanted a logo that was not too "early 2000".

What sets Mad Professor apart from other builders?

There are a lot of great pedal companies now all around the world, and that is just great, it gives players a lot of possibilities.

  1. We have what I think one of the best pedal/amp designers in our company. Because of this we do not base our products on some vintage amps or pedals, we build original products. We do not clone.
  2. We use industrial designers and graphic artists to make our products look good now and in the future.
  3. We have wonderful clients all around the world, playing great variety of music.

How do you start on a new pedal?

We usually start from a tone we want to get, or we get requests from customers for a certain pedal. Then we make prototypes and test these with a lot of gear and use some beta-testers too.

It usually takes about 6 months to go into production.

How do you name your pedals?

The first pedal we made was the Little Green Wonder, since that we wanted have a color in our pedal names.

It is not easy to find new names and colors once you have over 10 different pedals... 

When we get orders and questions about our pedals, we hear all kind of funny versions. People remember the color but not the rest of the name.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Our custom shop pedals are built in-house (by 5 builders), for the production pedals we use contractors.

The circuits are both hand-wired and PCB, that's the best production method for the products we make. We buy the enclosures, a few different types of boxes. They're finished with the unique "flame" look (with a transparent paint) and the label is screen printed.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Very important.

Is parts selection important?

We always look for a part that is best for a certain pedal, sometimes it is a NOS part, sometimes something totally new...

Everything in the circuit is important, actually the circuit itself is a component, every inch of wire has resistance, capacitance and inductance.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The Sweet Honey Overdrive: it's a super touch sensitive, very amp like pedal. We have sold it to people who do not like pedals, like jazz players, who want the tone of a tube combo when they go on stage with a solid state amp.

Also the Deep Blue Delay: we were able to catch the magic of my old Echoplex EP3 into a small pedal.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

Our bass pedal, the Blueberry Bass Overdrive. It is very hard to build an overdrive for bass that's very tight and firm, with a very big low end. Maybe that is the reason, there are not many bass overdrives.

We wanted to get the magic of old 70's tube bass amps, into a pedal. That took a lot of time.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Sweet Honey Overdrive must be the most popular, because it is so unique and so versatile.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Mostly our pedals are for "classic" rock, blues, jazz, country, pop... we do not make extreme or "weird sounding" products. We also make touch sensitive, dynamic products for advanced players.

Because of this we do not have a signature tone, the signature is that everyone will sound like themselves.

Our pedals are used by best players in the world, we do not make artist deals or endorsements, every guitar player is as important for us. Here are just some examples:

  • Matt Schofield: "the Deep Blue Delay is the ONLY stompbox delay I like. "
  • Fast Eddie Clarke (Motörhead): "I found the Little Green Wonder to be a superb change from my Boss OD-1, it gives me a little more edge and smoother step up."
  • Kevin Grantt (Nashville bass session master): "I have been in search of the perfect bass wah for several years. My search is over, the Snow White Bass Auto Wah is the best pedal I've ever heard or used! Thank you so much."

What does the future of Mad Professor look like?

We focus on making high quality products for musicians.

  • We will bring more unique pedals for people looking after their own signature tone.
  • More amplifier designs are on the way.
  • In the future, there are possibly other high end Mad Professor products.

Are you working on any new products?

There is a Chorus pedal in the works. I do not like a lot of chorus pedals, I want to build a chorus that I would love to use myself.

Just like with the Forest Green Compressor: I never used a compressor until we built our own and I use it ever since.

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