[interview] Moody Sounds: Albin Roslund

Here's FXDB's interview with Albin Roslund of Moody Sounds:

How did Moody Sounds start?

The story behind the start is simply that I was unemployed after my studies in electronics and physics and spent my free time on building pedals, this was in 2004. I made a copy of a sound machine that my dad gave to me in 1976, when I was 1 years old. It turned out to be a interesting circuit and I developed it a bit. I called it "Baby Box" and asked a studio in town (Tambourine studios) if they could use it. They bought it and this encouraged me to go on with building pedals, that it could be possible to make a living from it. The Baby Box Noise Machine, which it is called today, has been developed much since then, it is the best selling pedal today (serial 250 in October 2011). It is still built by hand.

I have looked into a lot of vintage pedals and searched schematics on the web. My dad is into electronics (see above) and he has passed some tricks to me.

Where does the name come from?

I called one of the first guitar pedals I made Moody Fuzz, and the controls were called "temperament", "mood",... instead of "fuzz" and "tone", I thought it was a funny thing. My friend suggested all pedals could be called "Moody": Moody Tremolo, Moody Boost and so on, and so I decided to call all pedals "Moody" and the name for the company came with it.

What sets Moody Sounds apart from other builders?

Assembled pedals: I try to find new sounds and add new features to pedals.

Kits - I thought it was a great idea to offer the pedals as kits and give the builder many suggestions how the circuit can be modified and tweaked towards a certain sound. The Moody kits have an extra bag of components for this purpose and an article for download describing what affects what.

Parts - if a DIY builder want to make a custom box we provide single parts, knobs, components, pcbs (combined with manuals and articles for free download) to let him or her build a custom pedal, we also "custom drill" pedals boxes.

How do you start on a new pedal?

It is different, an idea comes from somewhere, where? After the idea, I spend some time with a board, change components, add trimpots, plug in guitar, and listen. When all is right, I draw a pcb and produce the pedal. At best the whole process takes 1 week, sometimes (and often) it takes longer.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

We have 1 full time worker, 1 extra part time builder - all pedals are made beneath the fan at the small location in Malmö (which will move to Hässleholm soon).

The pcb's are drawn in a CAD program and another company produces them for us when the layout is ready. Components and wires are all connected by hand, one by one. Enclosures are drilled at Moody's. The painted boxes come from another company.

Is parts selection important?

After some years in the business I have found parts that are good and at the same time fairly low cost, the Neutrik jacks for instance are good price and excellent quality. This is the thinking behind the choice of components in both assembled pedals and kits, good quality, best price. I would never use bad parts in the pedals.

I respect the hype with rare transistors and diodes, but if the sound is good I can use a common silicon BC547 in a pedal... and enjoy the sound :)

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

This would be the Baby Box even though I didn't do the main circuit myself. I developed it to become more like a pedal: input, fuzz unit, delay and stereo out, bypass switch, and added the star signs on the knobs instead of having names like 1st oscillator, 2nd oscillator and so on, I also housed it in a metal box (the first was in a wooden box) to make it easier to duplicate.

2nd on the list would be the Mushroom Echo. This is just a simple nod to a regular echo really, an LDR resistor in parallel to the interval knob, to achieve the oiiraaaawwhhh sounds of turning the interval knob, by covering the LDR instead.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

I have had some custom pedal requests that were quite tough. One was a spring reverb pedal, it had to go in a wooden box because of the size of the reverb unit. And the customer wanted extra features like delay and mix control. It was a bit tricky to get it all look nice, partly because I am not used to working much with wood (I build the box myself, with saw and hammer).

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

I add serial numbers to pedals that are sold at some quantity. The Baby Box sells best, 250 pieces today (October 2011). Second is the Mushroom, 150 pieces. Third is the Hjärt Muller Bass Drive, which is the best selling Moody kit (no numbers on the kits).

I think the Mushroom and Baby box stand out because there is nothing like them, at least not that I know.

Hjärt Muller stands out because of the name for it :) and because it has the knobs on the side to allow them to be changed with the foot. It sounds like a traditional overdrive for guitar but with much more low frequencies.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Hmm, I guess I look upon pedals as "it is good if I could have a use for it myself" so I make pedals for progressive rock and blues, but since noise artists found use for the baby box noise machine, I also do this one.

I know the members of the band The Ark a little, and I have made some pedals for them. Once they where doing a gig in Finland and part of their equipment was sent wrong with a different plane. The guitarist carried the pedal I had made in his bag and it was all he had on stage. Unfortunately I had forgotten to tighten the nut on the output jack and a big BANG came out in the middle of the gig, a fairly big concert as I understand it. Embarrassed, I heard of it after, I fixed the pedal easily.

What does the future of Moody Sounds look like?

Pedal building is still inspiring to me. I like to try to push the limits and create new and experimental effects. Sometimes such pedals sell and if they do, there is a point in building many (well "many" considered Moody Sounds has one full time worker and that all pedals are hand made). So the plan here is to keep building pedals people like, and experiment with new sounds and, if something is good enough, build a pedal out of this too.

The Moody kits are also doing well, and plans for the future is to develop new kits with lots of suggestions for modifications. Plans include also to keep on writing articles, visit guitar shows, give workshops, do DIY!

Are you working on any new products?

I want to do a phaser with a sound similar to the Small Stone and I want see if I can use a dual OTA instead of a CA3080 if possible, to keep down the costs and making this a kit to a reasonable price. This will be my next project.

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