[interview] Smitty Pedals: Mark Smith

Here's FXDB's interview with Mark Smith of Smitty Pedals:

Where does the name come from?

My wife came up with the name. You would think that it is called that because my last name is Smith but actually I don't like to be called Smitty. Smitty Pedals is named in honor of my dad who died of cancer at a pretty young age. He was always called Smitty.

What sets Smitty Pedals apart from other builders?

I try to treat my customers the way I would want to be treated and answer all emails quickly. My pedals are all completely hand built by me. Nothing is outsourced. My prices are also very reasonable.

How do you start on a new pedal?

I spend all of my free time browsing the world of pedals on the internet to get ideas. I'm pretty obsessive about it. Usually I'll find a vintage circuit that interests me then try to reproduce it as exact as possible. Then, from personal use and customer suggestions,  many evolve over time into something similar but improved.

How do you name your pedals?Smitty Pedals Smitty Fuzz

My very first Smitty Fuzz (Maestro MFZ-1 clone) that I built was by customer request. He wanted it called the Kitten Fuzz with a picture of a cat on the top. I did as he asked.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

I do everything myself. No outside contractors.

All my circuits are hand wired in perf board. I purchase bare enclosures and drill and spray paint them myself. My wife Kimberly hand paints all the lettering which I then seal with a clear coat.

How important is the look of your pedals?

I think Smitty Pedals have a unique look all their own that stands out. I'm personally more interested in what pedals look like on the inside so I take a lot of pride in making my guts not only work well but look good.

Is parts selection important?

I try to use a good balance of quality new parts and vintage parts where it is appropriate. The most important factors are that the pedals are quiet, sound good and that the sound is consistent from one pedal to the next.

Smitty Pedals Fuzz-ToneWhich of your pedals makes you most proud?

My Fuzz-Tone Maestro FZ-1S replica. It is a pretty challenging circuit to hand wire. It's also my most popular.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

I would probably have to say my David Gilmour inspired Ram Driver which is a Ram Head spec Big Muff and my Smitty Driver together in one box. 7 pots, 3 footswitches and effect order switch make it a tough, time consuming build. So far I have only built one but plan to build more when I can find the time. It sounded great.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

Again that would be my Fuzz-Tone Maestro FZ-1S replica. It has a unique sound and most people have never played through or even seen a real one. To the best of my knowledge I am the only U.S. builder currently building it. The only other I have seen was just recently in the UK.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I don't build for anyone specific. I just spend a lot of time browsing the internet and researching vintage effects and when something gets my interest up I look into build possibly building and possibly improving on it. If other people like it that's just a bonus. I do occasionally get build ideas from customer suggestions too.

Sold 2 pedals to Obie O'brien (engineer and sometimes producer for Bon Jovi and others) for use in his recording studio. Also sold 2 pedals to Henry Kaiser.

Are you working on any new products?

I always have new ideas floating around in my head. You'll just have to wait and see.

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