[interview] Mojo Hand: Brad Fee

Here's FXDB's interview with Brad Fee of Mojo Hand:

How did Mojo Hand start?

Our history is a little different than most. Mojo Hand functions more as a collective rather than being based around one person's builds. The original pedals were part of the Tone Factor custom shop, before we decided that it made more sense to just make it a separate company altogether.

Totally. The original builders were Joe Delisi, Brian Marshall of Subdecay and Jason Carr of Kaden Effects, all of which still do work for us to this day. We could never have made it without those guys. Plus we've had some help from others along the way like Robert Gillan of Six String Effects, Nicholas Harris from Catalinbread, Bob McBroom of Pedalworx, and Robbie Wallace of RGW Electronics.

Where do the name and logo come from?

A Mojo Hand is an old timey good luck charm. It was popularized in song by Lightnin' Hopkins. The song says "I'm going to Louisiana to get me a Mojo Hand". Since we're all originally from Louisiana the name just seemed to fit.

Our logo is a simple hand print. No deep meaning, the hand print just made a better logo than a little bag filled with stuff (which is what a real Mojo Hand is).

What sets Mojo Hand apart from other builders?

I think the main things that set us apart from some of our competitors are:

  1. Sound- That's the number one goal. It needs to sound good. Everything else is secondary.
  2. Simplicity - We don't go out of our way to include bells and whistles. We want it to sound good when you turn it on, without too much fuss.
  3. Affordability - We try to keep our products in the price range that normal musicians can afford. We should definitely charge more for some of our pedals, but it's important for me that they be a great value.

How do you start on a new pedal?

The main thing is just identifying a need or want. The name choosing process it different every single time. Sometimes I ask around, do polls, etc, sometimes I just pick something from thin air. The design and production time also varies from pedal to pedal. We always try to spend the time to get things like we want them to be, but if all goes well it's on average 3 months or so to get something from an idea to a finished product that we're happy to sell.

How do you name your pedals?

We don't really use any kind of procedure. It's just whatever hits us at the time. We've had pedal naming contests in the past, but I don't think that anything currently in production came from those. The Mule is based on the Red Llama, so we just named it after another pack animal. The name Sugar Baby comes from the Evil Dead movies (Gimme some sugar,baby!). For the Colossus we just wanted something that sounded "big", and so on...

Can you tell us something about the production process?

It really depends on the situation, but most of our builders aren't under the same roof. We always use the same staff, but we're not all in the same location. The main things that are done in house in the past are drilling, screen printing and packaging, but we're gearing up to do our own powder coating soon as well.

Our circuits are hand assembled. No robots or wave soldering machine. We use die cast enclosures, that are professionally powder coated and screen printed for a more durable finish.

How important is the look of your pedals?

It's became increasingly important over the years. Much of the past year has been working towards a more cohesive look. I'm always tweaking things like that, though.

How important is parts selection?

Sure. We try to use the best components that are readily available. I don't get too wrapped up in vintage snake oil, I just want high quality and durability.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

I'm probably most proud of the Rook. It has a classic overdrive tone, but address all of the issues of common overdrives. It's incredibly pleasing to the ear.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

Without question it would be the Luna. It's a ridiculously complex build, and it's been evolving for years.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

Over the years it's been the Analogue Filter. I expect that one to be surpassed by the Colossus soon, as the Colossus has had the best release of anything that we've ever done.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

We have tried to make pedals to fill specific gaps in the market. For example during the big "Johnny Greenwood" craze several years ago a lot of people were snatching up old DOD 440s. So we put out the Analogue Filter in response to that and it was received really well. The Colossus was sort of inspired by the resurgence of 70's inspired "stoner" rock (for lack of a better term). It's always been one of my favorite styles and I wanted to do something that would work well for it, and surprisingly it's been accepted in a variety of other applications and turned out better than we could have ever hoped.

We haven't made anything specifically for an artist, but we have modified some things based on suggestions by pro players, etc.

What does the future of Mojo Hand look like?

Currently we're moving forward with several new designs, as well as a website relaunch and increased promotion. We've been working closely with several professional musicians trying to make sure that our pedals fit their needs. The recent release of the Colossus has been fantastic, and I expect the same thing from the Rook Overdrive release. We'll have two new pedals coming out before the end of the year, and hopefully on to bigger and better things. We want to firmly establish Mojo Hand as a brand unto itself rather than a piece of something else. The builders work very hard on this line and we want to get more of them into the hands of players and into other countries, etc. That's our main focus right now.

Are you working on any new products?

We're currently working on a delay, as well as a couple of other top secret designs.

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