[interview] Morley: Bill Wenzloff

Here's FXDB's interview with Bill Wenzloff of Morley:

How did Morley start?

Morley was a brand of Tel-Ray electronics (owners/brothers Marv and Ray Lubow) Ray was the inventor and designed many unique devices that led to the Morley pedal line. Morley was sold to current owners in 1989 and designer Scott Flesher redesigned and improved on designs to make them sound better, easier to use, affordable yet still unique is their designs.

Scott Flesher does all design work but we have had some assistance from artists such as Steve Vai, Mark Tremonti, George Lynch that led us to release signature products. It was invaluable to get their experiance and ears in creating new products.

Where do the name and logo come from?

A play on words, Tel-Ray electronics created rotating pedal devices to compete with full size Leslie Speakers. They used the tag line "Why get less from your Leslie when you can get more from a Morley."

Our "Morley Man" logo was created back in the 70's. He has Morley pedals for feet and was known as "The Freak" back then. He has gone through some updates over years (like losing the striped bell-bottomed pants) and is now simply known as the Morley Man.

What sets Morley apart from other builders?

Our designs are unique, our quality is excellent, our business philosophy prioritizes good product over profits. Our customers are very dedicated to our brand once they try it. Most of all, our staff adds the right balance of passion, hard work and service that our customers deserve.

How do you start on a new pedal?

A new product comes from a need we identify, customer requests or an ongoing improvement. It has to be something that musicians will need, it has to be affordable and it has to work and sound great. The name, look and packaging happen organically much in the same way a songwriter builds a song. It's a mixture of inspiration, ability, creativity and hard work.

How do you name your pedals?

After the Bad Horsie Wah (named after one of Steve's songs), came the Little Alligator Volume while it was also named after another of Steve's songs, we weren't sure if we should use the same naming method for yet another pedal. But after all this is Steve Vai we're talking about so of course we went for it. Now both Bad Horsie Wah and Little Alligator Volume are extremely well known by their respective names. Thanks to Steve for those!

Can you tell us something about the production process?

We build pedals in house with a group of dedicated and experienced assembly workers.

We make hand wired PCB boards using environmentally friendly components and solder. Our enclosures are made of cold rolled steel with powdercoating and silk screened graphics.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Just about every other Wah or volume out there has a similar look. Morley definitely has a unique look and has maintained that appearance since Morley started out. The look of a Morley stands out and is immediately identifiable.

How important is parts selection?

Every component we use is scrutinized and thoroughly tested before it makes it into the design. We are very picky when it comes to component choice and NEVER use something simply because it costs less. On some components, like our inductor, we were so unsatisfied with off-the-shelf brands that we custom made our own.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The Steve Vai Bad Horsie Wah proved that even an age old pedal like a wah could be refined, redesigned and given the mojo that makes a product truly landmark. Having a name like Steve Vai associated ensures it will sound good as Steve is well-respected and has impeccable ears for tone, however it has to be durable, affordable, good quality and work with a wide variety of gear choices. The optical circuit, switchless design and great wah tone delivered and it became an instant best seller - and still is 15 years later.

Which of your pedals was your t

oughest build?

Certainly working with Steve on the Bad Horsie Wah was a good challenge. Steve is an extremely talented musician and has well-trained hearing for every little nuance in his tone. It took us about 2 years and countless samples before we were able to get the tone, throw and sweep just right for what Steve wanted. In the end, it forced us to keep raising the bar on our own designs, that helped us to improve our entire line and gave us experience and education that will last a lifetime.

Which of your pedals is the m

ost popular?

Believe it or not, we sell ABY pedals by the boatload. It is one of those products that is commonly used and since ours is priced right and designed well, it just sells and sells and sells. When you hit the right combination of functionality, practicality, price and quality, users will cast their vote with their purchase - and by that standard, everyone loves our ABY.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

As many of us are musicians ourselves, some pedals ideas are created out of a need we see in our own gigging. Other ideas stems from our user base asking for certain types of pedals. Then, other products come from our desire to continually refine and improve existing products.

I remember when we were finalizing the tones and features of the Mark Tremonti Wah, Creed was at the peak of their popularity and here we were with Mark, testing pedals in his home. He had a selection of amps there that he wanted to run through but it felt kind of surreal tweaking pedals in his home.

What does the future of Morley look like?

Our goal remains the same as it has always been: to make the best quality pedals, switches and devices that allow musicians to find their voice and make good music.

As a brand, Morley has been around for over 30 years, as long as our products connect with musicians, we will continue.

Are you working on any new products?

We're always working on something new. We probably have more ideas that get "shelved" than get released. We're also careful to not talk about anything were working on until it is truly ready to be released.

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