[interview] Pfeiffer Electronics: Duane Pfeiffer

Here's FXDB's interview with Duane Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Electronics:

How did Pfeiffer Electronics start?

It all started when my son wanted an effect pedal that gave him that Jimi Hendrix sound. It was a Roger Mayer Octavia that he was after. However, they are rather expensive so we purchased a kit and built it ourselves. We had so much fun doing it that I started building more pedals.

I would never have been able to build pedals if it wasn't for the internet. Some of the main contributors are: Build Your Own Clone, Small Bear Electronics, Geofex and many, many more.

Where do the name and logo come from?

Pfeiffer is my last name. I feel that the products I produce are high quality and I'm not afraid to put my name on them.

My logo is a collage of two of my favorite things... music and electronics.

What sets Pfeiffer Electronics apart from other builders?

  1. We produce a high quality product at a very low price.
  2. We are the only builder to produce a digital volume pedal called the Leveler.
  3. We are the only builder using laser printed lettering sealed in a polymer coating.

How do you start on a new pedal?

Most of my inspiration wells up from what I personally want and either I can't find it on the market or it is too expensive. Other times I just think it would be a fun or interesting build.

I take quite a bit of time to design and build a prototype. I may build several prototypes before I'm happy with the build. Then I write up a build procedure document that lists all the materials and steps needed to build a pedal or amp.

How do you name your pedals?

I've deliberately named our pedals by function so that most everyone will know what it does rather than a theme that makes it difficult to know what kind of effect it is.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

We build all of our pedals in-house. Currently there is one builder on staff.

All of our products are hand-wired. Some are point-to-point and some are PCB. Our effect pedals are through-hold PCB components.

We make all our own enclosures. For pedals they are laser printed and sealed in a polymer coating... a very unique process.

We will be building tube amps soon and will be creating unique fine wood enclosures for them.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Very important. I think we make some of the most unique and attractive designs.

Is parts selection important?

I believe that most passive components (resistors, capacitors, diodes etc) don't matter. The important thing is that you have the correct values (i.e. voltage ratings, ohms, capacitance). I also believe that matching component values is very important. Also circuit layout is important.

On the other hand, I think switches and jacks and tranformers etc are very important to get a high quality product. 

So it all depends on the product being built and the component in question.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

I'm most proud of the Leveler Volume Pedal. It was born out of my need for a volume pedal that could produce consistent volume levels. I designed it from the ground up and there is nothing else like it on the market.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The toughest build is the Leveler Volume Pedal. The reason is because of the 7-segment LED display. We have to cut a rectangular hole for this. Then we have to glue the LED into place before we apply the polymer resin for the top. Also, the leveler has more components on the circuit board than some of our other pedals.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The most popular pedal we build is the Pfeiffer Phaser. It is nothing new, however it is special because of our careful matching of transistors that give it a really great sound. We also have a knob for feedback that is unique among phasers. Similar phasers go for well over $200. Ours typically sell for around $150.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

We don't make pedals for specific genres.

There are no famous users that I know of. Hopefully I'll hear about one some day.

What does the future of Pfeiffer Electronics look like?

We are still alive and well.

Are you working on any new products?

I've been working on an Analog Chorus for sometime now. I'm currently waiting on parts for a prototype. Maybe 1st quarter 2012.

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