[interview] Vibesware: Markus Pahl

Here's FXDB's interview with Markus Pahl of Vibesware:

How did Vibesware start?

It started with the idea of the Guitar Resonator that has been originated a couple of years ago when I joined a band that played exclusively with earphones. All instruments plugged in the mixer. Amazing transparent sound and with DDrums we could play all together in an apartment without any trouble. Session recording was easy like never before.

But it was a real challenge, because getting a powerful guitar sound was not easy that way. I found an acceptable way after weeks of experiments with special designed speaker simulators for my tube amps. But I still missed this typical smooth passing into feedback of a turned up amp and speakers interacting with the guitar strings.

As for many guitarists, feedback playing has always been a key element for me. So I was looking for a natural sounding, totally controllable way
to get this feedback at any sound volume. It should work with standard guitars, because I hate guitar modifications and wanted to sustain the flexibility of playing with different guitars. I also wanted to get feedback of multiple strings and with different pickup selections. And of course playing with both hands should be possible, no playing restrictions at all.

However, I didn't found "my" solution on the guitar effect marked. So I started with my own experiments and some weeks later the first prototype
of the Guitar Resonator was born. The basic idea was to find a similar way to speaker feedback where you can move the guitar neck to the best feedback position. A more expressive way rather than a static effect. In fact a new playing technique.

All of us were impressed by the gorgous sound and its new possibilities. Later I patented the Guitar Resonator and it still took some years to
develop it further. Finding the best circuits and the best materials for getting a strong powerful string driver. In this step I also added the LED's
in the Resonator Head to provide an optical control of positioning and harmonic mode status. I wanted to offer a robust and easy to use device for
recording and live on stage likewise. The GR-1 is hand-crafted in Germany and we also offer individual customizing on request. We do a final check of each device.

Where do the name and logo come from?

I invented a new category of guitar effects called "Guitar Resonators". During a close cooperation with some famous Guitarists it proved more and more not to be only a new effect but also a new playing technique. "Sustainer" does not describe this effect appropriately, the approach is too different to the Ebow and built-in guitar sustainers.

We were looking for a company name based on "Vibe" (focusing on good vibes, vibrations,... as a central element). But it should be more general, not a single effect name like "Uni-Vibe". This was important because in fact, we are still working on other interesting devices... So finally (perhaps after some beer, I really don't know :-)) Vibesware was born...

To emphasize the central elements of Vibeware's products, we registered a brand label / logo that symbolizes vibrations on strings centered in a frame with a distinctive shape.

What sets Vibesware apart from other builders?

It's interesting for us that the Guitar Resonator is not only a "new effect" but a new way of playing. What is important for guitarists today? You can buy almost any sound. Outstanding sounds are created more by playing styles than by effect stacking and programming of parameters. Sound means playing technique. Simply trying something new and crazy that touches our hearts.

Here's a piece from the SOS review in July 2011:

"Alternatives: The Moog Guitar definitely deserves a mention here, as it offers various types of sustain and lots more besides — but apart from that, the E-bow, and the Fernandes system mentioned in the review, I can’t think of anything else that performs the same sort of string energizing sustain. Really, those three all have their own unique features, as does the Vibesware — they all do a similar thing, but in very different ways, and there are things you can do with each that you can’t do with any of the others."

Can you tell us something about the production process?

Mainly in-house, with hand selected materials and every device is extensively tested before delivery.

How important is the look of your pedals?

Product design and usability is very important for us, we normally cooperate with designers and artists to optimize both.

Is parts selection important?

We spent a lot of time in component/material selection, matching the components and design the most effective circuit. This is the key factor for these devices in order to get rich harmonics. From the helicopter view, perhaps it seems to be simple ("Ebow on a stick ?") but it's like guitar pickups very complex if you are going into details ("a guitar pickup is simply a permanent magnet and a coil") ...

Which of your pedals is the most popular?

In general we sell the GR-1 and the GR-Junior in equal measures. The GR-Junior is offered with an interesting price point, where professional guitarist normally prefer the more robust-on-stage GR-1 which offers the foot controller option and has more power. It should be mentioned that most of our customers who bought the GR-1 added the optional Foot Controller later.

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

Our business is not genre driven, but we do customizing on request.

We are very proud that famous guitarist like Uli Jon Roth (Ex Scorpions), Ian Crichton (Saga), Frank Marino (Mahogany Rush), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings), Kee Marcello (Ex Europe), Roy Z (Tribe of Gypsies) and many others started playing with it. You can find it on the latest recordings of Uli, Ian, Kee and Roy. Test devices have also been sent to David Gilmour and Jeff Beck. Actually Ken Hensley showed very interested in this new way of playing and will use it in his next recordings.

The philosophy of Vibesware is to develop in close cooperation with famous guitarists but its not our target to enter into this usual commercially "endorsing". But we are always happy to get some feedback :-) It should be mentioned here that in the last four years I worked closely together with guitar legend Uli Jon Roth. It started with some invaluable suggestions Uli gave us on further improvement of Guitar Resonators. In the meantime we are still working on other interesting projects.

What does the future of Vibesware look like?

We are happy, that the community of Vibesware is growing continuously. So we are planning a distributor roll-out wordwide next year (it's mainly direct distributed so far).

We also want create a completely revamped, community-driven website including the option of uploading user mp3's,...

Are you working on any new products?

A new Guitar Resonator model will be released late next year.

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