Here's FXDB's interview with Monte Allums of Monte Allums:
How did Monte Allums start?
I originally got into modding pedals as a hobby and instantly got hooked. From there I started designing circuits and the rest is history. I started somewhere around 2004.
Chad Matthews of CMATMODs and I have worked together for some time. He has been a big help in my pedal designs. He does all my layouts for me once I finalize my designs. Chad's a great guy and a very good pedal builder also. We work very well together.
That's my given name.
What sets Monte Allums apart from other builders?
Tone, of course. ;-) Everyone designs based on their own needs and wants and according to how they hear tone. I am no different. I've been fortunate that others like my designs and buy them. It's really very simple. Build a pedal or design a mod with great tone and people will buy them.
How do you start on a new pedal?
The OD-308 was the result of a RAT 2 mod I created a few years back. After I created the mod I was intrigued how much I loved the RAT 2 after the mod. It became my go to pedal in the studio and live. I also had a contact at Pro Co and was able to get my hands on an authentic RAT 2 schematic. We took the schematic and created a new layout based on the mod I created. I then continued to play with the circuit for several months. After several changes and modifications to the circuit it eventually became the OD-308. Nothing I have modded or designed has equaled it for what it does. However I do keep trying. I have even tried refining the circuit in an attempt to make it better. So far it has remained unchanged. It is IMO "The Perfect Pedal" for what it does and it does it very well. It still puts a smile on my face whenever I kick it in.
The OD-308: "OD" OverDrive and the 308 because of the "LM308" chip that is used in the circuit.
The VersaDrive was named as such because it is such a versatile pedal. It'll do overdrive, boost and cover a lot of other tonal acreage.
Can you tell us something about the production process?
My two pedal designs, OD-308 and VersaDrive are hand-wired PCB layouts. I sell both DIY kits and assembled pedals at my site. I use high-quality litho decals for all my pedals.
How important is the look of your pedals?
It was very important to me personally. I didn't try and do anything fancy. A pedal is like a person. It's what's on the inside that counts but aesthetics are important also.
Is parts selection important?
You bet. I use nothing but the best components and materials I can find. It's the small things that set a pedal apart. It's always a sum of all its parts.
The OD-308 and VersaDrive. They are my only two designs so far. The OD-308 is the most popular but the VersaDrive hasn't been in the market as long. That will change once word gets around just how really great the VersaDrive is.
Which of your pedals was your toughest build?
The OD-308. I wanted my first design to be perfect and the first production run was not. I had to incorporate a buffer in the circuit to solve an issue that existed when running the pedal straight from the guitar into an amp. It was rookey mistake. And it won't happen again. It's all part of the learning process. But it was a lesson well learned.
Which of your pedals is the most popular?
The OD-308. It's the perfect dirt box!
Who uses your pedals and for which genres?
I design pedals to please one person. ME! The same way I design all my mods. I must satisfy myself first. It's a self-discerning talent that I have cultivated over time. My ear is my best attribute. I do however take all suggestions into account from others. And occasionally if I feel the designs need to be altered I will make the necessary changes. But this is the exception and not the rule.
There are famous users, but I am not a name dropper. I am very proud to say some very well know artists use my mods and pedals. I'm always a little skeptical of some of the paid endorsements I see for products. If you go to my site you'll notice I do not have any banner ads or affiliate ads. IMO they ruin the credibility of a site. Don't get me wrong, I understand why people advertise these banners. But you'll never see any at my site, Never! I don't have to advertise or pay for endorsements. My products sell themselves. If a popular artist uses my designs I'll add a link to their site from mine but that's it. A very well know amp maker for some of the Nashville players uses a OD-308 in his personal rig. As a result some of the very well-know Nashville players had heard it. He says it's the best pedal he's ever played or owned, that's good enough for me. Once money enters into the endorsement mix things get sketchy IMVHO.
What does the future of Monte Allums look like?
I am always looking at ways to think outside the box. As a guitarist of some 44 years I am first a student of the instrument. But not only a student of just guitar. With me it's all about trying to master and explore all aspects of playing (guitar building, amps, pedals, tuning, technique, etc.). It's such a multifaceted instrument and I am always looking for new ways to enhance my playing experience.
Are you working on any new products?
Right now no. I am taking a few month off and focusing on creating mods for existing pedals.