[interview] PedalWorX: George Blekas

Here's FXDB's interview with George Blekas of PedalWorX:

How did PedalworX start?

PedalworX is made up of two guitar players who have been playing guitar for close to 80 years combined and along with that came the need for tools of the trade. I was using a 100 watt evil Fender Twin Reverb and wanted to get it to break up, which it never would on it's own at any volume, and spent two and a half years tweaking a Tube Screamer circuit until I got it right. The Texas Two Step was born out of this and once again the name was coined by our friend and colleague Don Rusk. The idea for the toggle came from Bjorn Juhl, of BJFE fame, and the rest is history, as they say.

To the South Bob McBroom was tuning the fuzz circuit to work equally as well with Fender and Marshall amplifiers. Not until this pedal came on the scene did a fuzz work equally as well with both amps so the McFuzz broke new ground while being a very useful tool for many.

PedalworX is friends with many builders and buff from around the globe and we are almost hesitant to say who for fear of missing any of our friends but will give it a try.

  • Don Rusk (Donnerbox) - the name, idea and painter of custom guitar effects boxes. Don has become a lifetime Internet friend!
  • Bjorn Juhl (BJFE) - BJ has been our friend from the beginning and our brother from a different mother from the other side of the pond.
  • Greg Howard - Guitar Tech to the Stars for getting our pedals on some very fine pedal boards.
  • Jack Orman (AMZfx) - for being the electronics guru and gatherer of electronics knowledge for the masses
  • Teddy Rausch (MusictoyZ) - for being our first dealer and really great guy in general
  • Paul Cochrane - for the late night electronics conversations and huge amounts of electronics knowledge. Paul is a gem of a guy!
  • Larry Rosen - for his support and getting PedalworX a foot hold in California.
  • Joe Gagan (Nine Volt Nirvana) - for his ability to think outside the box, electronically!
  • Geoffrey Baker - for pushing me to build things I would not have built without my ever knowing him.
  • Scotty Smith (Pro Analog) - for his electronic ideas, friendship and those late night chats on the phone.
  • Mike Pierra (Analog Man) - Analog Mike for tweaking my first tweaked Tube Screamer and being a fellow Porsche lover!
  • Bob Sweet (Sweet Sound) - for his friendship and building the finest Uni-Vibe clones available
  • Barbara Sweet (Sweet Sound) - for the same reasons as Bob..Barbara is a total sweetheart!
  • Sean Dunnigan (Lovepedal) - for the groovy chats and toneful pedals.
  • Geoffrey Teese (Real McCoy) - the Wah Master for his pedals and friendship.


  • Mike Fuller (Fulltone) - for being one of the first to get into this boutique thing, building quality effects and being a total gentleman when it counts!
  • Tom Schultz from Boston fame for being an electronics genius along with a guitar player
  • Mike Matthews (Electro-Harmonix) for being the grand daddy of all boutique guitar effects builders. This guy is off the wall in such a cool way!
  • Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush for building much of the gear that he plays through.
  • Pete Cornish for all that he has done, continues to do and to still be there to chat gear with!

Where do the name and logo come from?

The name was first coined by Don Rusk with Pedal meaning guitar effect pedal and Worx aluding to the love for fine German engineering in the automobile industry. PedalworX always has the the last letter, "X", capitalized as a sign of our fondness for our first dealer, which happens to be the biggest on line dealer in the world, MusictoyZ.

Originally the PedalworX logo paid homage to the Rock God Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The logo has since evolved along with our clientele list and types of player that currently use PedalworX effects.

What sets PedalworX apart from other builders?

  • Customer Support and our customers are #1 with us at PedalworX!
  • PedalworX builds using the best parts available and often use hard to find parts.
  • PedalworX has a stellar reputation because we treat others as we would want to be treated.
  • At PedalworX it's a "Product before Profit" philosophy that makes our Line of FX so special.
  • We design our PCBs and back our pedals even if through user error!
  • We have been in business for coming up on 12 years now so have a track record.
  • We also work with other builders be it PCB layouts or helping in design problems.
  • Did I mention customer support? :>)

How do you start on a new pedal?

First we find a need to be filled and then the bread boarding starts. Time is not a consideration here and it's function first.

How do you name your pedals?

We have actually had on line contests to pick names and that was pretty fun! The Cactus Crunch got its name that way thanks to Troy T. Blues! ;-)

Texas Two Step came from the influence SRV had on me. From the first time I met him I knew he would make it, even though at the time he was using pawn shop gear... you know TS-10 and Cry Baby wahs... Anyway, it all came down to the Texas influence... including ZZ Top, Johnny Winter, EJ etc etc.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

PedalworX pedals are all hand built one at a time by either Bob or George. Being boutique we fine tune each pedal by ear right here in the Good Ol' U.S.A.!

At PedalworX we do hardwired as well as PCB circuits, depending upon the job requirements.

Enclosures are all powder coated and silk screened unless they are very limited run and those would be powder coated and we would use a paint pen. 

True bypass is a rule.

How important is the look of your pedals?

I think more and more as time goes on.

We have been working on a more antique look with the current line of Cool Machine Wahs and may bring this look to the rest of the line. The way this works is you start with black powder coating and then over coat this with a copper vein look. Pix to follow but these are very cool and boutique looking with no two looking exactly alike! So, I suppose boutique would translate to being unique!

Is parts selection important?

Parts are primary as is wiring.

The matching of transistors, choice of capacitors used, voltages used are all considerations.

  • Tropical Fish Caps are very cool tone devices used.
  • Carbon Comp resistors do make a difference in some spots in a circuit as well as tone, in some cases.
  • Metal Film resistors and caps are also chosen depending upon need.
  • In OD's caps are all measured as well as transistor gain 

All pedals end up getting a final test which often includes tweaking parts while critically listening.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

We are proud of every pedal that we put out. If we weren't proud of it we wouldn't put it out! 

The Cool Machine Wah is one of the coolest because it is the first of its kind and took a bunch of R&D to get right. We built what was never before built without even knowing if there was a need or not so it was based upon an idea. ;-)

It's made to sound as organic as possible while also being very quiet. Currently I am building these with tropical fish caps for an extra sweetness in tone.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Silas was one of the toughest pedals to make.

This was two different circuits along with a switch to chose which came first.

  • 1/2 the circuit ran at 18 volts and the other half at 9 volts.
  • 1/2 the circuit was point to pointed with the other 1/2 pcb.

This was a limited run pedal where all profits went to pay for hospital costs for a baby named Silas. Thank God that little guy is doing well today! :>)

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Texas Two Step, McFuzz and Cool Machine Wahs are the big sellers.

The TTS for the way it works with Fender amps. No other TS derivatives are tuned like this one!

The McFuzz for the way it goes from Fuzz to OD tones and everything in between with a twist of a knob. 

The Cool Machine Wah for its uniqueness and tones!

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Pedals have to be musical to us and usually fit the Rock, Jazz, Country and Blues formats. There were a few pedals that were high gain enough for Metal or Grunge.

We prefer our pedals to not sound like an effect is even on in our over drive, distortion and fuzz lines. The idea was to make pedals that sound as amp like as possible along with displaying very low noise.

We are grateful to all that have put their faith in our pedals and put our pedals at their feet!

What does the future of PedalworX look like?

Building and repairing gear is how we relax so PedalworX will be around until the good Lord decides otherwise.

The idea was and always will be tone. This has nothing to do with size or cost to us so often we build some expensive things that we don't list on our web site or in our store. Each piece is hand crafted one at a time here in the U.S.A.

PedalworX means boutique and boutique, to us, means that we use the good stuff on the inside. We now see stuff that looks boutique coming out of China but none of that sounds as good as the pedals they are trying to clone. You simply do not get something for nothing and this goes for all types of things and not just guitar effects.

Recently we have gotten into refurbishing water damaged gear and with the crazy weather this could be a big help to many. Refurbishing vintage wahs has been a main stay here at PedalworX where we try to keep things as vintage as possible while not hacking up vintage gear.

Vintage FX repairs are also a main stay so if you have something you need repair drop us an email and we can go over the costs involved.

Are you working on any new products?

I am working on a two speed tremolo right now. I also have a Leslie for guitar in the works, maybe a volume pedal and I'm also experimenting with panning chorus pedal... also part of the Leslie experiment.

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