Here's FXDB's interview with Nate Garcia of $uperpuma.
$uperpuma is run by Nate Garcia
in Sacramento, CA.
How did $uperpuma start?
Late 2003, I began to dabble in musical electronics and built a few things for myself. Word got around in my local musical circle and I started building a few things for others. In 2007-2008, I began doing contract for another company and began building Trotsky Drives with the blessing of Dano "Beavis" Haught. I was influenced and encouraged by many in the DIY community. R.G. Keen was a big help to me in the early times, I was fortunate to talk with him a few times in person at the Dallas Guitar shows. Very nice guy. Tim Escobedo and Dann Green (4MS pedals) were also very helpful early on.
I think a lot of the smaller shops, and one man operations like mine came to fruition as information from such geniuses as Craig Anderton, RG Keen, Jack Orman began to become easily accessible in the internet. I am not afraid to admit that a LOT of my knowledge came from Aron's DIY Stompboxes forum, and if a lot of the current "boutique" builders were honest, they would have to say the same thing. It's a rich resource of information for those with the patience to dig. Other people's trials and errors save you time and money, and when people willingly share that info, it makes for a nice community.
Current Builders who inspire me? There are a ton of builders out there now, and I'm privileged to have met or become friends with a lot of them. The inspiration to take over the Trotsky Drive and make it my own was from Dano "Beavis" Haught. So I owe him a lot. RG Keen always managed to find time to answer my tougher questions and I love talking to him at the guitar shows. Dave Gill at Montgomery Appliances does spectacular work. Marc Ahlfs (Skreddy Pedals) has a golden ear that I envy and he has become a good friend (we are local to each other). There are a lot more... who have helped me along the way too... Brian at SubDecay, Nic at Catalinbread... I could go on all day.
The name is derived from an old nickname I've had for a little over a decade. When I was trying to decide what to put on the pedals, Dano Haught (Beavis Audio), suggested just going with my nickname/forum screenname. I really didn't start putting a logo on pedals until very recently.
What sets $uperpuma apart from other builders?
It's hard to be "special" in this saturated "boutique" market. The niches have niches. I just try to make well-build sound devices that do what the customer expect from it for longer than the customer expects. The pretty etched graphics are nice looking and durable, but I'm not the only one doing it.
Can you tell us something about the production process?
I am the only employee. And "in-house" isn't just a figure of speech, I build them in my house. :)
Almost everything to this point is done by hand. drilling, soldering, box finishes, etc. The acid etching of the graphics on the Trotsky Deluxe is also done by hand. Only just this year will I begin using manufactured PCBs.
I think the look of a $uperpuma pedal is part of the allure, but ultimately a pedal gets use if it sounds good, so that is the primary goal. Good sound.
Is parts selection important?
I have settled in to a few parts that I like to have in my pedals, but there is no singular mojo component that cannot be replaced.
Which of your pedals makes you most proud?
The Trotsky Drive Deluxe is an example of beauty in simplicity. The artwork is simple but beautifully done. The circuit is simple but very useful. I approach life and my pedals the same way. Keep it simple.
Which of your pedals is the most popular?
By far the Trotsky is the most popular. Much of it has to do with the respect people have for Dano. But Dano is a circuit tweaker and a dreamer... he doesn't have a lot of patience for mass production, so to receive his blessing to build this circuit meant a lot to me. And I should note he hasn't asked for a single dime in return. He's a great guy.
Who uses your pedals and for which genres?
My main goal is to try to get the sound in the customer's head to come out of the speaker. I hope that some of the products I build can do that for some players.
P.O.D., Relient K, The Phuss, Coalesce, Constant Seas
Well, I basically took 2011 and most of 2012 off from building pedals. I moved to California from Texas and sort of started over fresh. This year, 2013, has been a great year so far. I am contract building for a couple other companies and have been working with a lot of great musicians and doing fun custom work. I have also been working on the re-release of the Trotsky Drive. I am now building production units of the Trotsky again and have some great things in the pipeline for later in 2013 and 2014. The Trotsky Drive is officially back in production after a 2 year hiatus, and I am building a production model of Tim Escobedo's UglyFace circuit. This pedal is called the Theoplex, and it is a monster. I am currently working on a really nice fuzz circuit and a boost/EQ. So, things are back in full swing and I love it.
Are you working on any new products?
As I said before the Theoplex is now in production, and I am working on two new pedals for late 2013, early 2014. The fuzz is a very useful intense fuzz with some octave elements, and the boost is mostly to add some shine to your sound and maybe add some extra gain.