Here's FXDB's interview with James Granuzzo of Main Ace Fx.
Main.Ace.FX is a small operation run by James Granuzzo, from his garage workshop in Colonia, NJ.
He co-founded Main.Ace.FX with his friend Justin who now handles the art and graphics design.
How did Main Ace Fx start?
I was introduced to pedal building by my friend Justin, who also helped start Main.Ace.FX, and now coordinates all of the artwork. I had been extremely interested in effects pedals for a long time and wanted to know more about how they worked. Justin gave me a run down on the basic functions of the components of a circuit, and showed me how to read a schematic. I put together a breadboard and tried to clone schematics of some well known fuzz circuits (fuzzface, octavia, big muff), and then tried to do some of the more well-known mods I found on the internet. After A LOT of practice with this, I attempted to try some of my own mods and then started creating my own circuits. After doing a lot of building for myself and friends, and getting a lot of positive feedback from people that heard my pedals, I decided to launch Main.Ace.FX.
Dave from Pigtronix has been really nice to me on the few occasions I reached out to him with a question or two. He's a really knowledgeable guy and makes some of the most ridiculously amazing circuits around!
As far as inspiration, you can't say the word effects without mentioning Mike Matthews... the man is legendary! Also, Devi Ever... She makes really amazing sounding pedals, and has become really popular. As a boutique builder myself, it's great to see someone reach that level of success.
There isn't much significance to the name other than when Main.Ace.FX was just getting started, the phrase "main ace" was a bit of an inside joke among friends, so I started using the name as a working title for the company...then the name just stuck.
There is no official logo, other than using a specific font for the name. There are a few more interesting logo ideas on the table for a new logo soon.
What sets Main Ace Fx apart from other builders?
All of my pedals are built to order. This is not unique to Main.Ace.FX, but it is one of the strongest reasons for the reputation I am trying to build. I believe that every pedal deserves its own level of personal attention and care.
How do you start on a new pedal?
Main.Ace.FX pedals start in my breadboard, and the majority of pedals have come from mistakes made or random things I've done while tinkering. Once I have a basic idea I am happy with, I try to fine tune the sound by swapping components, and then try to see how far I can push the circuits capabilities, either adding pots for different variable controls, or wiring some of the circuit's components to toggle switches to further alter the pedal's sonic options and functionality.
How do you name your pedals?
I have referenced Edward Gorey in a number of pedal names (Awdrey-Gore, Jasper, Ortenzia). I've been a fan of his for a long time and use the names as a sort of tribute. Also, the style of his illustrations is very similar to the art on some of my pedals. Expect more of this connection in future pedals.
Can you tell us something about the production process?
I do all of the building myself, and Justin handles all of the artwork. The only thing not done in house is the power-coating of the enclosures.
All Main.Ace.FX circuits are hand-wired, point-to-point, on blank perfboard.
Enclosures are bought powder-coated from the supplier from their available stock. Colors vary with each supply order, and each pedal is built with a different color enclosure and LED. This gives each pedal, even standard production models, its own unique look.
All of the artwork is hand-drawn in black and white, adhered to the enclosure, and then sealed with polyurethane spray. Artwork is all from local artists. Main.Ace.FX was born out of a DIY background, and it is important to continue that attitude and support local art.
How important is the look of your pedals?
Obviously it's what's inside that counts... sound is way more important than looks, but the appearance cannot be ignored either. The look of Main.Ace.FX pedals is important because it is all done by local artists, and it means a lot to me to support their work.
Is parts selection important?
I pay most special attention to the germanium transistors I use. They are all NOS parts and I am very particular about where I source them from.
Which of your pedals makes you most proud?
I am most proud of the Awdrey-Gore. It was the first circuit I designed, and really was the start of Main.Ace.FX.
The FuckFace is the most difficult pedal to build. It is a two-channel pedal which means extra wiring, switches, and pots. I use germanium transistors which need to be gain tested and biased to work properly, and the results of this testing may change some of the other components in the circuit. It's also a positive ground circuit, and I constantly have to remind myself to wire the polarity backwards...made a lot of mistakes forgetting about that in the past!!
Which of your pedals is the most popular?
The FuckFace is the most popular. The two-channel design offers a lot of versatility and the NOS germanium transistors give it an authentic vintage sound.
Who uses your pedals and for which genres?
There are two types of people in mind that I mostly build for... those wanting the ability to get exactly what they want, and those looking for a solid pedal that won't break their wallet in half. That's why every pedal is built to order, so even production models can be customized, and priced reasonably, so you don't need to empty your bank account to get that new fuzz pedal you've had your eyes on.
We don't have any famous users yet, but I hope that will change soon. (any interested artists, call me anytime...)
What does the future of Main Ace Fx look like?
I hope to keep things at Main.Ace.FX going strong into the future. There are some new designs on the way that I'm really excited about. If there's anything I would like to see in the near future for Main.Ace.FX it would be to see increase in popularity and brand recognition, without having to sacrifice the DIY aesthetic and personal time and care I put into each project.
Are you working on any new products?
There are a few new designs on the way that should be available soon. The first is a tremolo pedal, which is my first pedal that isn't a fuzz/OD/distortion. It has the standard volume, depth, and speed controls that would be found on any tremolo, but one this has a second footswitch that switches between two speed ranges, one double the speed of the other, allowing the player to easily vary the tremolo speed while playing, while not diverting off-tempo.
The other design is an OD/Distortion that I am really excited about... really versatile and great sounding pedal. It was originally designed as a custom job for a friend but it sounds too good to stop at just one. It works really well with guitar and bass, especially with the tone mode switch that drops the frequency for killer subterranean bass rumbles. This pedal works really well with our Ortenzia pedal, so a combo of the two may also be released soon.