[interview] Plutoneium: Ed Quek

Here's FXDB's interview with Ed Quek of Plutoneium:

How did Plutoneium start?

I told Todd I had an idea for a really small wah pedal and asked him if he would be interested to help build it, since he has a degree in Electronic Engineering. He said yes and then the next moment "if it's to be small, it should be called Chi-Wah-Wah!". That kind of sealed the deal. So, we have both been involved from the start.

No - we didn't get any industry help per se, but we did outsource some of the production such as metal fabrication, which obviously would have been very expensive to set up ourselves. If we were inspired, it was by friends in unrelated industries who were setting up companies and businesses of their own. We wanted to do that to and it just happened we were passionate about guitars and effects.

PlutoneiumWhere do the name and logo come from?

The name Plutoneium comes from us wanting to have a name that signified the high quality engineering and materials/parts used in our products, so we initially started with the regular spelling of the element 'Plutonium' with the tag line 'Weapons Grade Sonic Engineering'. We figured we could also work in the word 'TONE' in the middle for a bit of an awful pun, but it seems to have worked.

The logo is really the brand name 'Plutoneium' with the tag line 'Weapons Grade Sonic Engineering' beneath it. We went for a military style stencil logo and the TONE word is highlighted in a nice radioactive warning yellow color in the middle.

What sets Plutoneium apart from other builders?

We don't yardstick ourselves against other builders, we do what we think is right for ourselves and what our customers would like.

Plutoneium Chi-Wah-WahSome things we believe in:

  • customer satisfaction is our primary concern
  • how our products sound is of paramount importance from a product perspective
  • discerning customers want very well designed and built products
  • our products are disruptive or unique compared to many current offerings

How do you start on a new pedal?

It depends. We begin with identifying a need or opportunity. Our first product took 18 months to bring from ideation to market availability.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

We build all pedals in-house, ourselves, so there's two of us. Occasionally we get some casual help.

The circuits are hand-wired through hole using military spec components.

Plutoneium Chi-Wah-WahThe housing of the Chi-Wah-Wah is unique and is designed by us with a CAD program then manufactured by a metal fabrication company. It is done using stamping/pressing method. We needed to have custom tools made for each of the individual parts - it's incredibly complex how those guys take the design to finished product and the tools are these massive slabs of metal that are put into presses that can apply up to 200 tonnes of pressure to the high-grade rolled steel to give the parts.

The Chi-Wah-Wah is finished with a tough powder coat.

How important is the look of your pedals?

The function dictates the look largely, but we did spend a lot of time on both the internal and external appearance. The proportions of the unit have been carefully judged as have the finishes, color complements and parts such as control knobs and the rubber treadle. All have been chosen to complement the overall sturdy build quality with a suitably tough aesthetics that says 'I mean business'.

Is parts selection important?

Almost every part has been carefully selected for performance - particularly in the circuit - or appearance/durability for external parts. We have used branded parts such as Switchcraft and Neutrik for jacks, pots, etc. - not because of their names, but because of their reputations for reliability. Certain models of the wah include the Fasel inductor since some people attribute some mojo to this part, but we think our custom inductor sounds as good, if not better.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?Plutoneium Chi-Wah-Wah

The Chi-Wah-Wah pedal. It is very unique, extremely well built and we believe has a very elegant ergonomic design.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Chi-Wah-Wah pedal. Getting the 'slope' of the effect between the physical manifestation and the way this modified parameters in the circuit took many months to callibrate.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Chi-Wah-Wah pedal.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Our products are suitable for any genres.

No famous users yet.

Plutoneium Bass Chi-Wah-WahWhat does the future of Plutoneium look like?

Plutoneium has been selling for about 16 months now and we beat our first year's forecast of sales. We have just launched the Chi-Wah-Wah Bass pedal which has been building interest and reputation with bassists gradually since then.

Are you working on any new products?

We currently have two other products in R&D, the next of which will hit the shelves in about 6 months. We have nothing to disclose about those at this time.

For now, we are committed to building high quality wah effects and other kinds of expression tools.

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