[interview] U-Sound: Oleg Vorokha

Here's FXDB's interview with Oleg Vorokha of U-Sound:

How did U-Sound start?

I'm not a young man... Suffices to say that  I have been working with the guitar and guitar equipment for 40 years and built my first pedal in 1971.

I'm friends with Ostap Custom, Yerasov and other manufacturers in Russia. There are a lot of friends and users in other countries.

Where do the name and logo come from?

The name "U-Sound" came after talking with my old friend, Vladimir (Necaster). One evening we were sitting drinking tea and talking about the different guitar theme. In particular, the name of my new company. Suddenly he exclaimed, "Dude, all the people that you are looking for. Some people are looking for gold, others looking for a new uncharted island, we are looking for the name of the company - but dude... guitarists, guitarists look for a unique sound! Your sound and easy-U Sound. So on U-Sound."

All artwork (logo, pedals,...) is designed by my friend Ilya Lipkin.

What sets U-Sound apart from other builders?

I can recognize all my pedals, even after years. The fact is that every part touched my hands, I listen to good music while making them, and have put that music's soul into this work. For me it's less business than creativity. It is even possible that I'm a little out of my mind :)

How do you start on a new pedal?

Some pedals are born in just a few days, the majority - a few months. And, for example, my Antarctic Chorus pedal started about 10 years ago and was in development for about one year.

How do you name your pedals?

This is a long story, and not always logical. All my pedals are in a series - Crazy Animals, Classic, Aliens,... and are named after that series. I try to have an association between the type of pedal and it's name, Hipp'O Comp for example is a bass compressor.

I think naming the pedals is very important and devote a lot of  attention to this.

Can you tell us something about the production process?

I made all of my pedals myself. Everything - from the procurement of components, design, solder, settings,... to testing with the guitar.

I use a software package called PCAD-2006 to create schematics and PCB's. This is a professional tool which I use for almost 10 years. I think this is a necessary tool for the creation of major projects.

I order parts from a military enterprise, where quality can not be "average" and only "excellent". I use ready-made aluminum boxes that are powder-painted with modern equipment. The multi-colored labels are printed on metal (metalografika). The paint and labels are resistant to temperature, acid and mechanical impact.

How important is the look of your pedals?

The appearance, design of my pedals is, together with quality workmanship, one of the main characteristics of my pedals.

Saying your pedals "have to be black" is no more than a show-off and gives away your inability to make something beautiful.

The Russian writer Maxim Gorky has a very good phrase about the necessity for a man to live a complete life, "with all the power of his soul and body". I think it should also be applied to pedals, and cars, and even to food.

Is parts selection important?

I believe that the savings in component costs affect the final sound of any effect. I use the best capacitors, metal film resistors (often carbon comp in critical areas), often NOS transistors. The sound is also made by good wire, solder quality and serious preliminary work on the schematics.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

There are pedals that I can be proud of, that are unlikely to have counterparts and competitors around the world, like the Antarctic Chorus, the Crunch of Clubs and the Tube Tremolo "Re-Stoned".

There are also a pedals that are more popular, like the Morse Code, the Ripper, the Baby Drive, the Baby Comp and a lot of others. I won't name my favorite pedal :-)

Which of your pedals was your toughest build?

It was hard to build a pedal like the Jelly Phaser, although it was worth it. The Crunch of Clubs, Antarctic Chorus,... were not easy either.

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

That's a difficult question to answer...

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

I try to take into account the wishes of each customer. Of course, I have my preferences in guitar sound: rock and roll, classic rock, jazz rock, blues (while listening to the teeth crushing thrash).

I made pedals for many famous guitarists in Russia, and not only in Russia... and received only positive feedback about them.

What does the future of U-Sound look like?

I have plans for many serious projects with tube pedals like my Crunch of Clubs preamp, but I can't say more about that yet.

If there are serious proposals to work with foreign colleagues I'll go to Belgium, Denmark or Holland (I love this country) with pleasure, but I love my country more, so I don't go away for a long time.

If I ever stop doing this, then I'll go to the village to fish and play with my grandchildren.

Are you working on any new products?

I am working on a new series of pedals with miniature tubes of the Soviet military complex (NOS, from the years 1963-65). It will be 2-3 pedals: overdrive and modulation. The characteristics: a full tube sound in a small box.

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