[interview] Small Bear Electronics: Steve Daniels

Here's FXDB's interview with Small Bear Electronics of Small Bear Electronics:

How did Small Bear Electronics start?

From our Background FAQ: I had built many gadgets, including pedals, as a kid. I returned to my hobby in the late '90s and found that the parts were just as hard to find as they had always been, so I started a "one-stop-shop" on-line.

A major source of inspiration, help, ideas, etc. was, and still is, Aron Nelson’s Forum, DIY Stompboxes. Some of the experts there, especially Mark Hammer and R.G. Keen, have been very supportive. The on-line buzz has long been such that I have not had to advertise in any of the usual ways, and the forum offers volunteer tech support that I could not possibly provide. As Small Bear grew and made it easier for DIYers to find specialty parts, a numerous other businesses emerged, supplying parts, PC boards and kits for classic designs.

There's also long been a symbiotic relationship between SBE and numerous small- to medium-size pedal makers. From our early days, these shops requested bulk quantities of parts. That demand both drove and enabled larger purchases, and ultimately encouraged us to buy directly from factories overseas as well as invest in made-to-order items.

Where do the name and logo come from?

From our Background FAQ: It arose from private jokes between me and my much-beloved wife, Judy, concerning my appearance and demeanor on getting out of bed.

Given the name, a slightly loopy, guitar-playing furry creature seemed obvious.

How do you start on a new pedal?

I think about what kinds of sounds I didn't know how to create as a kid, then breadboard an idea.

Is parts selection important?

My goal has always been to allow individual DIYers to create, at home, pedals that sound at least as good as their commercial rivals and use many of the same OEM parts and construction techniques.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

My tremolo, the Tremulous Bear, has made a lot of builders happy. It does a lot, and it's very quiet.

What does the future of Small Bear Electronics look like?

Short-term goals: Continuing to grow the business Slowly, spending more time developing kits, possibly doing some limited production.

From the beginning, I was more interested in offering kits than in manufacturing and selling pedals. The latter takes an enormous amount of capital and marketing to dealers, bands, etc. Designing kits gives me a way to show what is possible, and the buzz from successful builders helps the sales of parts.

Are you working on any new products?

I have done a clone of the Maestro FZ-1A that sounds like "Satisfaction" but is friendly to a modern pedal board. The kit will be available shortly.

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