[interview] Torch Effects: Mike Torchia

Here's FXDB's interview with Mike Torchia of Torch Effects:

How did Torch Effects start?

I started building pedals in 2001, but I've always been interested in taking things apart, fixing them, and putting them back together. I dabble in tube amps and am starting to do a good amount of outside repair work on both pedals and amps.

I have received a lot of help over the years from the guys at DIY Stompboxes. They are the greatest group of dudes on any forum hands down and have taught me tons.

Where does the name come from?

My nickname is Torch.

What sets Torch Effects apart from other builders?

I have a lot of experience building and modifying pedals and amps, as well as an exceptionally strict QA department- me. I am an extreme perfectionist and nothing goes out unless it is perfect.

How do you start on a new pedal?Torch Effects Vintage Radio Simulator

It all depends on how busy my personal life is, honestly. I'm a dad, a firefighter/medic, play in two active bands, and am full time in RN school. When a female gets mixed in, pedals somehow seem to get pushed a little further down the list ;) I also have to leave time for my other passion, motorcycles! I currently own a vintage Yamaha RD 400 and a Honda XR Enduro which I race a few times a year.

To answer the question though, anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks is average.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

I've enlisted three beautiful part-time pinup girls to build pedals. No, of course I'm kidding... I'm a one man army.

Most of my work is either perf or point to point, like the tube circuits. Some enclosures are custom painted, but most are powder coated with black lettering or use surplus Civil Defense enclosures.

How important is the look of your pedals?

I try to set off my pedals by their tone and appearance. I have sold some things in plain, unfinished aluminum enclosures but I think every artist who uses one of my pedals should have at least one guy approach them at a show and go "dude, what IS that thing?"

Is parts selection important?

I use certain brands of components due to their proven reliability, and most of my tube products use vintage tubes whenever possible. The Valvecasters sound 100 times better with 60s RCA tubes than with anything in current production, and if I buy carefully I can get them for the same price as a new JJ or GT.

Torch Effects ValvecasterWhich of your pedals makes you most proud?

I couldn't put my finger on just one, but I am really proud of my version of the Valvecaster I've been building. It's really selling well and sounds incredible.

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

The toughest build was an Ugly Face, but I attempted it way before I should have. I think I spent half my life debugging it ;)

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

The version of the Valvecaster is quite popular. It sounds amazing and looks really cool in the bright yellow Civil Defense enclosure.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I make whatever interests me, and what sells!

No famous users yet, but I'm in the process of tracking down Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. I've been fans since 2003, they're also from Akron, and I think my pedals have a sound he would like.

What does the future of Torch Effects look like?

I am still deciding if I want to make pedals for profit at this point. Who knows what the future will hold!

Are you working on any new products?

Nothing at the moment, but only time will tell!

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