[interview] Ruppert Musical Instruments: Jacques Ruppert

Here's FXDB's interview with Jacques Ruppert of Ruppert Musical Instruments:

How did Ruppert Musical Instruments start?

I tried for years, specifically from 2003 to 2009, without success to find a studio grade, flexible bass preamp/DI in pedal format: nobody wanted to built such a pedal for marketing reasons: the price range of a pedal satisfying my needs is considered not interesting by marketing specialists. Of course there are builders around that could build such a pedal if they wanted but it would be more expensive for them considering their distribution network.

In 2009 I decided that enough was enough and I founded Ruppert Musical Instruments 2009 with Jean-Claude Bintz (a passionate musician like myself), specializing in the development of non compromising pre-amps and direct boxes. Since then, we have not only built a new type of pedal we also had to rethink the distribution to keep the price relatively reasonable and mostly deliver directly to dealers.

Our aim is to deliver to the bass and acoustic instrument player community products of unbeatable authenticity with the highest build and sound quality that give them the certainty to be ideally prepared for both live performances or recordings.

To achieve our goal we only use best brand components that insure optimal treatment of the electrical signal and manufacture in Germany for maximum reliability.

What we do would not be possible without the help of Burkhard Georg Lehle. There are other people involved but Burkhard is the most important one. Ruppert Musical Instruments specializes in the fields of development and marketing and cooperates with Lehle Gitarrentechnik in the fields of engineering and manufacturing.

I am very inspired by Bob Gallien from Gallien Krueger and the EQ set-up on my pedals from right to left instead of the usual from lefts to right is a wink to him.

Where do the name and logo come from?

The name comes from my family name and from my admiration for Leo Fender who created Fender Musical Instruments.

The Logo was at its origin a stylized B and W for Basswitch, later as other projects where quickly emerging and as this was already a protected logo, we decided to use it as the brand logo for Ruppert Musical Instruments as well.

What sets Ruppert Musical Instruments apart from other builders?

The Lehle true sound technology (powering, switching, transformer) and the quality of the components used (gold-plated relays, Wima capacitors,...) make the pedals unique.

How do you start on a new pedal?

I start by carefully selecting the functions and writing down the technical specification we want to achieve. Then I make a first layout of the exterior aspect of the pedal showing all buttons, knobs, in and outs needed and the place were I would like to see them.

This process takes up to a year from the moment I have decided to build a pedal.

These elements are presented to the industrial designers Simon Busse and Kostas Medugorac and to (Guru) Burkhard Lehle.

From there an iteration process starts (technical feasibility, size, weight, look,...) that can take up to 6 month until the (rough) interior and exterior are available in form of a 3D CAD representation and a paperboard model.

Then Burkhard builds the first prototypes in roughly 6 month time. In the case of the Basswitch IQ DI we had to build 3 prototypes before being happy with it.

After that we make a field test with some beta units that are as we want to build the series pedals later. That takes another 6 months.

If that test is successful we go into production.

How do you name your pedals?

Basswitch stands for bass preamp, switcher and for the bassists' (good) witch.

Acouswitch stands for acoustic preamp, switcher and the acoustic players' (good) witch.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

All parts are built to RMI specifications mostly by European subcontractors except for some standard electronic components.

The transformer for the DI has been specifically developed and is built by Lehle.

The pedals are hand assembled and tested in the Lehle workshop.

The circuitry is double layer with SMT (surface mount technology) and THT (through hole technology). Material: FR4; 1,5 mm, copper (final): 35um.

The (steel) enclosures are designed by Studiodiphol and are specifically built and painted for RMI.

How important is the look of your pedals?

I feel that the look of the pedals is our only way to visualize the sonic difference of RMI pedals with pedals that may look similar from a functional perspective.

Is parts selection important?

As you may have noticed we pay attention to any and all detail: from the user manual to the enclosure and packaging and nothing is off the shelf.

In the audio path only the best brand components are used everywhere and Burkhard's presence guarantees for superior circuit design. We also pay attention to buy domestic European as far as possible.

We do not consider cost of components a relevant factor, we will use what it takes to match the specifications we want to achieve, limited only by what is technically feasible.

We try to keep cost for the end user reasonable by selling directly to dealers as far as possible

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

The Basswitch IQ DI, because it was my first pedal, a technical challenge made an immediate breakthrough in the tests, in the market and in its endorser list

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The Basswitch stands out because it is unique, a kind of studio grade channel strip in a foot pedal that nobody dared to produce before.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

The pedals address the professional and semi-professional bass instruments and acoustic instruments player community .

Several famous artists are using our products. Marcus Miller, Paul Turner, Ken Taylor, Dave Marrotta, Damien Erskine and some others in the top twenty bass players who I am not (yet) allowed to quote.

Are you working on any new products?

We are working on the Acouswitch and some other things for which it is too soon to talk about.

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