[interview] MG Music: Marcelo Giangrande

Here's FXDB's interview with Marcelo Giangrande of MG Music:

How did MG Music start?

I lived in Los Angeles, California, in the late 80s through the late 90's and got involved in the vintage guitar business and the amps market! There I started to love equipment from the 50's, 60's ,70's and decided to start a company over there. I had some wholesale accounts with the major guitar and amp parts retailers and came back to Brazil and started MG music with a friend.

I should say that for pedals, Way Huge was a big influence to us! Great sounding pedals!

We were also inspired by a mix of vintage pedals that were around at that time, early guitar effects forums discussions and some ideas I had in mind to make the vintage pedals match the needs of today's guitar players.

I have to say we were lucky in many ways... we discovered some features while trying to achieve something else, but we found a different sound that turned out to be a lot better! That happened a lot, thank God!

Where do the name and logo come from?

The name comes from my initials: Marcelo Giangrande.

The logo was inspired by the Velvet Underground's album cover with the banana, as bananas are a typically Brazilian fruit. But in our logo there's a bite from it, just as in Apple's logo. So it's just a mix of all of this!

What sets MG Music apart from other builders?

I think a few things make us different from everybody else!

  1. We make boutique pedals in Brazil not in Europe or the USA. You can't find anything like Germanium transistors, 3PDT switches, knobs, enclosures, jacks, pots, etc... here  so it is a struggle from the start to the moment we ship the pedals! That motivates us when we are working on something to give 200% of what we have to make it work.
    So, we LOVE what we do... That's VERY VERY important to make our products MAGICAL!

  2. We choose THE best parts available... from pots to ICs to screws... whatever is the best!

  3. We are always looking for EXTRA SPECIAL sound wise...

    If it is an overdrive, how can we make it sound more like a tube amp or give it a special character?

    If it is an analog delay, how can we achieve that special ambiance, sound the closest to an Echorec or have a special feature that a 2011 guitar player can relate to?

  4. Another very important thing is that we use our on MG Oil Caps in all our pedals. That makes the pedals sound sweeter and more lively to begin with!

All of this helps us to get OUR sound and OUR character!

How do you start on a new pedal?

When I'm looking for a type of effect we want to make, like a vibe pedal, I already think about the artwork: what kind of joke or message do I want to give with it, does it have a relation with the sound like we did on the That's Echo Folks with Pigs Tail,...

That's the first thing, after that we do the sound tests, make the board, enclosure and pretty much we have everything we need to make our unit.

From there to a new product on the website I'd say it takes 50-60 days to get it all done.

How do you name your pedals?

First of all I should say I really respect Andy Warhol's body of work and the whole Pop Art movement.

That was where we based our projects on, trying to match old Brazilian and international company logos with the name of the guitar effects.

For example:

The next one in line is the MG 9000: 3 extra delay times and a chorus (Space City version) plus a pigs tail to control all that with decay and sensitivity! You can use MG 9000 with a regular That's Echo Folks with Pigs Tail or on the Space City. The artwork shows Stanley Kubrick's HAL 9000 computer featured in the "2001: A Space Odyssey" movie!  To be release in 2012...

Can you tell us something about the production process?

We have 3 guys building the pedals. We make the board, we wire the whole pedal, we glue the vinyl art on the enclosures, we make the wrapped paper boxes and add fake fur to the inside of the box for a cool look and to protect the pedals.

So practically we do everything in-house!

The circuits are hand wired, sometimes PTP and when we use boards, we use a fiber glass board.

We order the white pressed steel enclosures and add our vinyl decals!

How important is the look of your pedals?

Everybody says that our pedals look as good as they sound!

Maybe along with Z. Vex we were the first ones to make a guitar pedal look different, taking care of all details. There's a saying "God lives on the details" and we take that seriously!

Whenever you're playing on a stage and you look down to your pedal board and see the Pigs Tail with Porky Pig looking at you with his psychotic look in pink color, it gives you some kind of cool vibe, which will inspire you and automatically apply that vibe to the guitar and that affects your playing A LOT and goes on and on and on a insane loop.

Just try it!

We are dealing with ARTISTS, sensitive artists that are fed with inspiration and LUST!

Is parts selection important?

We use whatever is THE BEST! From the vinyl decal to the IC's and oil caps!

If we find a better resistor in RUSSIA we go get it... we are 100% sure what you've been using. Most of the problems we have with returning pedals is because the bad care they get on Brazilian post office or in the shipment. Never because of a bad part, construction, mistakes, etc.

Our construction now is safer and tougher than ever! But of course we can't control users who plug 220v into a 9v pedal.

We've been using FEDEX more often and that helps a lot to ship outside Brazil.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The pedal that makes me most proud is the That's Echo Folks with Pigs Tail! Great great sounding BBD analog delay pedal with cool features, like controlling delay time with the sensor, double feed back in real time! The sound of that pedal is something different.

I think Space City is Insane, unique , and has many more feautures but without the That's Echo Folks with Pigs Tail we would not have the Space City.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

That's an easy question: the Space City was the craziest one to build and design! So many wires and things going wrong, but after a long journey we finally made it! We had to rebuild the 3PDTs the way we want them to work for that specific project. We had to make 2 That's Echo Folks with Pigs Tail plus a  Mono Vibe work as one pedal!

Though one!

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The most popular pedal is the Mono Vibe, some people say it's the best vibe around. I don't care if it is or not, but it does sound great and real! It's very warm and has that Leslie-like feel. I guess that's why they like it so much!

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

We started with the thought of making pedals for vintage guitar players market. We were influenced by brands from the 60's and 70's and then we made these cool mods and added weird features on them that the Shoegaze and avant-garde noisy bands, like My Bloody Valentine and others, love.

And now we kinda of go to that direction... even though we have blues players, classic rock and jazz guys buying our stuff as well!

The first famous guitar player who used our pedals was Noel Galagher, I'm really proud about that!

The Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, My Bloody Valentine, Foo Fighters, Brian Eno, producer David Sardy, producer Dimitri Tikovoi,... are some of the artists that are using MG pedals now!

What does the future of MG Music look like?

The biggest goal for MG Music is to keep the best of art craft world, but make our pedals in an assembly line kind of environment to keep up with the demand and have products in stock. That's hard!

We make products that are on the same level of craftsmanship as the legendaries Swiss watches! That's a hell of a task to us!

We keep working hard on the line of guitar speakers and now we have one of the best vintage Celestion type of sound speakers (10",12" and 15") and we're working on the Alnico model now!

Are you working on any new products?

The MG 9000 is the next one! A controller for Space City and That's Echo Folks with Pigs Tail: 3 extra delay times, each one with its own 3PDT switch plus Space City's chorus, all controlled by a built-in Pig's Tail (though we won't call it Pig's Tail because there's no Porky Pig on it, but it's the same cable) and it has a Decay and Sensitivity control for the Pig's Tail. Nice!

The idea is to include tap tempo, so you can change the tempo during a song. 3 extra tempos can be helpful! You will hookup MG 9000 in the Pig's Tail input on the Space City and That's Echo Folks with Pigs Tail!

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