[interview] Revolt!: Ki Joyo Sardo H. Hutauruk

Here's FXDB's interview with Ki Joyo Sardo H. Hutauruk of Revolt!:

How did Revolt! start?

In 1998 I was a guitarist in a band playing songs from Jimi Hendrix and Grand Funk Railroad. We love vintage style music and vintage tone. But there were no amps or pedals that had those vintage tones around us. At the same time, I got a book about making guitar effect, most of its content actually came from internet. I soon got really interested to build a Fuzz Face and succeeded (pictures here). Then it was just like a drug addiction: I made other clones...

In 2001 I shared the idea with some friends and made a team of 3, later 4, people, but it was not easy and after a while they left. By 2004, I was working alone. In the same year, I got married and my wife decided to quit her job and help me with my business until now.

When I started internet was the only way for me to learn about electronics and effect pedals. RG Keen and JD Sleep have been my "online personal gurus". I owe them a lot. The musicians were another important factor for Revolt. I got guidance about tone, or what people seek, from the many musicians involved in the evolution of Revolt. Just to mention some from the  early years:

  • Rama Satria and "Gugun" Muhammad Gunawan
  • Age from "Apes on The Roof"
  • Baron Soulmate
  • Danial Sigarlaki
  • etc.

Revolt!Where do the name and logo come from?

The name Revolt! comes from an idea about the situation here in Indonesia around the years of 1998. Indonesian musicians could not get the pedals they wanted, because of the limited availability of musical products here in Indonesia. So I realized that I could revolt against this situation by making pedals and helping musicians get a good tone at a reasonable and affordable price. That's the idea of Revolt! It was also a hard situation for me, since I didn't make enough money to make a living from it. So my parents and family strongly opposed this idea. It was a really-really hard situation for me to set up Revolt, even until 2006.

The Revolt! logo has to reflects "strong and tough" feelings, because at the time I set up the company, it was a really hard situation for me. At first I just made the logo with Revolt! with red Arial text in a red frame with gold background:

  • Gold: noble goals (building pedals people could not afford otherwise)
  • Red: strong, tough, brave, considering the hard situation

Then I changed the logo with "steel-like" text on a golden shield.

  • Gold: noble goals
  • Steel: strong, tough

What sets Revolt! apart from other builders?

We make affordable high quality pedals for my people in Indonesia. We focus on Indonesia, but we also want to go international. We have to be useful for, at least, our nearest people. So it's a bit like "think globally, act locally". I'm an internationalist in philosophy, but my products have to be useful for the people around me or who interact with me. And that is mostly Indonesian people.

How do you start on a new pedal?Revolt! Solid Steel

Either from my own idea: usually from reading something, an incidental discussion,... or from a request of a musician that came to us.

To finish a pedal it can take from 1 month to 8 years!! Yes it does happen!

How do you name your pedals?

Each pedals has its own story, there's no connection between those names.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

I build all pedals in-house. I design the circuit and PCB, I make the PCBs by hand with my wife, my wife populates it.

The enclosures are either bought (for the mini series) or made by me from sheets of metal. I also finish the pedals, usually with stickers, something paint/airbrush/chrome/... and do the final assembly.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Very important. For us, it's the most challenging struggle inside Revolt!

Is parts selection important?

Yes. I don't really focus on brands, but mostly, each part has its influence on the tone.

We use 50pF capacitors  in both the Big Butt and the Solid Steel pedals, but we use a ceramic 50pF capacitor in the Big Butt, while the SOLID STEEL uses 50pF silver mica capacitor.

Revolt! RoboFaceWhich of your pedals makes you most proud?

The RoboFace, fuzz pedals were my first obsession. I made the prototype around 2002, but it took ten years to get to the point where I finally was satisfied with the look of it.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The Solid Steel and American Muscle. It uses a transistor with a specific value, I have to select each transistor by hand.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

  • 2001 - 2005: ASIA, the most affordable TubeScreamer clone around :)
  • 2005 - 2008: Amp Mutator, the most affordable hi quality (cabinet simulated) Amp Simulator around :) 
  • 2007 - now: Big Butt, most wanted "clean to crunch tube amp tone" in a box

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I make a lot of pedals for blues as that's my own favorite style of music, but I interact with a lot of musicians, from a lot of genres and they helped me developing new products.

For example:

  • my delay is the result of a very intense cooperation with a shoegazer guitarist.
  • my hi gain distortion is the result of a very intense cooperation with a heavy metal guitarist.
  • my hi gain amp simulation is the result of a very intense cooperation with some modern metal guitarists.

Some famous Indonesian guitarists use my pedals. The last signature pedal from Revolt is the "Tjahjo Wisanggeni Overdrive pedal".Revolt! Amp Mutator

What does the future of Revolt! look like?

I don't have any very important plans, I just try to develop new pedals.

Are you working on any new products?

I'm designing a spring reverb pedal. I'm expecting it to be done in 1-2 months.

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