[interview] Orion Custom: Orion Rosas

Here's FXDB's interview with Orion Rosas of Orion Custom:

How did Orion Custom start?

I was searching for a specific wah pedal tone and couldn't find it. I decided to teach myself how to build them and what everything did inside of the pedal. It took a bit longer than I thought, and became an infatuation (the science behind analog pedals and amplifiers). Eventually I came up with what I thought sounded perfect. With the more experience I got, I became more innovative with the design and came up with some pretty damn cool shit. A guitar buddy mine was blown away and told me I needed to start selling them. I took his advice and started selling a few on eBay. It grew immediately and I was back ordered almost up to a year at a certain point.

It was me alone at first.

I was given some technical advice on winding my inductors by Scotty at Pro Analog. I was mostly just inspired by my favorite tones from the pros of the past.

Where does the name come from?

My name (Orion) is unique and I make custom effects and amplifiers.

What sets Orion Custom apart from other builders?

I began for myself, not too make money. I built most of my products with a tone I wanted for my music in mind. The products I made to achieve a certain popular sound didn't sell as well and were taken off of the market. I just want the best tone out there and that's all I really care about. I know other business owners, and it's funny how different many are from public opinion. Most of them can't play the guitar worth a shit either.

When selecting components at first, I used to go for the exact same materials and component make up as what was used by an inspiring artist. After a much more thorough understanding of how everything works, I know exactly what I need and select components based upon durability and exactness and if it makes an impact (only certain components in effects do), tone.

My clients are all professional guitar players at the moment.

How do you start on a new pedal?

I start with an idea and a layout from scratch of how to make the idea. If there is something really similar (say a Vox Clyde McCoy or Marshall JTM MKII), I will use that as my basis and modify it to what I'm looking for. Usually it ends up completely different.

There's no real timeline. That's why I just don't give timeline on orders anymore. I don't like it to leave my workshop until it's really good to go and I don't work well when I'm rushed.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Right now I'm alone again.

I've experimented around through the years, and decided to take my products off of the market during my experimentation for a few years because I didn't want people to buy an inferior product. Right now everything is done on a hand made PCB, the enclosures are bought, paint is powder coat, and decals are a sticker. This may be a negative, but I don't really care much about the appearance of my effects.

How important is the look of your pedals?

It's not to me.

Is parts selection important?

For effects I don't do NOS anymore unless it's requested or for my inductors (I have a large supply of NOS inductor parts that I use). Vintage magnets actually do have a different tone in inductors and transformers. NOS components don't make a difference in tone (their drift is what fools people) and nor does material for the most part. I choose components now for low noise and a tight tolerance. I use some weird values, so sometimes I have no choice in manufacturer.

For amps I use 1/2 watt metal oxide resistors, and usually polystyrene or polypropylene capacitors (depending upon availability) for medium values, multi-layer ceramics for small values, and audiophile electrolytics if necessary in the signal path. Circuit design is even more important than components, but I make sure that's perfect before I choose components. Cost is not considered, just as it's not an issue to the extremely passionate guitar players that buy my products.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

My first, blow me on to my ass, completely innovative production was the Liquid B Wah. I won't ever forget how I felt when the idea for the Sag Implicator came to me and worked right away.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Sinner was my most difficult because it had to be tuned perfectly and each one was different.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

Right now I'm only doing one-offs on request when I have time. Actually right now I'm in Afghanistan so I'm not doing shit, but when I'm back in the states, it's one offs until I feel like I want to get back into business. Before my most selling was the C-Wah and the Liquid B Wah.

What does the future of Orion Custom look like?

Right now everything's been on hold and has been for the last 2 years. I joined the army out of a sense of duty, but plan on putting together a big expansion in products. My focus will be shifting from Texas blues tone to 80's metal and Texas blues. My two favorite genres of music. I don't make anything I wouldn't use.

Are you working on any new products?

Yes, but I can't tell you more about that.

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