[interview] OnkartGromt: Oyvind Mjanger

Here's FXDB's interview with Oyvind Mjanger of OnkartGromt:

How did OnkartGromt start?

I started out with the first prototyping in high school. I studied production electronics and had good opportunities to make pcb's and stuff like that. But it wasn't until my bachelor degree in electronics that I really started to make working effects. I made many prototypes for myself and for others who ordered them.

After a while I came up with the first series of effects; Grombass, RokkeRolf, TurboTore and Gromguten. I also made special ones. Later I teamed up with my classmate, Anders Nesheim Vinje, and together we made SvingeSvein; a really good tremolo effect! It has MIDI sync, stereo out, tap tempo, expression pedal input for both frequency and depth, changeable ratio, and custom modulation waves (in addition to sine, square, saw and triangle). It's analog, but has a microprocessor that generates the modulation curves.

I have mostly get help from musicians who have a good ears! I am not that good to hear what is the best sound, so I am very glad for all feedback! Good or bad!

Where do the name and logo come from?

It's a dialect from the western part of Norway and is a combination of two words: Onkart (something) and Gromt (fat/awesome), so it means "Something Awesome".

The logo is a tractor. I grew up on a small farm where we had a tractor called "Grombasen". It was an icon for me as a kid, so it was natural to include a tractor in the logo. I have to thank Petter Olav Kirkeholmen for the design!

When one of my first effects was the "Grombass" (bass distortion), it was a match! I also use the dialect - nynorsk- on the labels for gain (hardleik), volume (lydmengd) and so on.

What sets OnkartGromt apart from other builders?

The design is very nice! And the inside match the outside =)

So it is a quality sound in a nice box.

How do you name your pedals?

The Grombass is named after my dad's Grombasen tractor.

The RokkeRolf is a name that is quite common for jokes.

The Gromguten is named after an Norwegian wrestler that competes in folk dresses with a ham in his hand.

And I try to use names that begins with the same letter and includes a persons name like TurboTore (booster).

Can you tell us something about the production process?

I build most of the models myself, but use contractors on part of the production at this point.

I use Kicad for PCB design. It is very good and free! In the startup phase I made the pcb by hand, but now I order them ready made. That improves the quality of the product very much!

For enclosures I use die-cast aluminum boxes and ready made steel boxes.

The painting procedure has also gone through several stages and right now it is both powder coating and spray paint with a protective layer of acrylic.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Very! They all got the white stripes over it and the font is the same as well. It is a distinct look that is easy to recognize.

Is parts selection important?

I buy the components that are needed to get the job done the way I want. I don't buy an extremely expensive HIFI opamp to distort the sound... But I use good parts where it is advised to do so.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The SvingeSvein was technically the most challenging, it had a lot of issues... Noise problems, get everything to fit all the functions and so on...

It took many rounds to get where it is today.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Grombass is the one that most users love! It is a very all-round effect. You can choose different clipping diodes (silicon, germanium and LED) that gives different colors of the sound. And it also capture the bass; actually it doesn't clip the lowest frequencies and that results in a FAT sound with a lot of bass!

And it has many famous users as well (mostly Norwegians): Bootsy Collins, Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion), ICS Vortex (Lamented Souls, Borknagar, Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir), Nikolai Eilertsen (BigBang), Jon Bakker (Kampfar),...

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I sell most of the Bass distortion effect. I thick that is because it is very good and there are not that many competitors there.

The legendary Bootsy Collins found a review of Grombass in the Bass Player magazine. Here's his statement about it:

Well I sent up a few Boot-Signals and Onkartgomt heard my plea. I said I'm tired of these peach fuzz pedals, give me something that's hard, that's loud, and that will funk the top of your head off. So they sent me the "Grombass" and now my funked up life is complete. Grab one or two before I grab them all, it is funkin' hardcore. Bootsy baby!!!

He used it much on his latest album: The funk capital of the world

What does the future of OnkartGromt look like?

I am married to my fantastic wife, Elisabet, and we have 3 kids. They are born with 1,5 years in between and the oldest one is 5. And I got full time work at EltekValere in the Renewable R&D department. So I don't have that much time... I do the orders I get, but I don't advertise. And unfortunately I don't have much time for new ideas.

But I have some ideas that are almost finished:

  • a filter effect à la SvingeSvein
  • a wireless A/B/C/D switcher
  • a 50W amp in a stomp box

Are you working on any new products?

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