[interview] Zinky Electronics: Bruce Zinky

Here's FXDB's interview with Bruce Zinky of Zinky Electronics:

How did Zinky Electronics start?

Started playing as a kid, as such, had no money for amps and effects. What money I had was spent on parts and used garage sale items and those were re-configured into pedals and amplifiers. At first, some things went up in flames, but I got better at it...

I got some good advice (mostly about business) from Jim Demeter and Stevie Fryette, but mostly, it was the reaction of musicians that guided our products and taught us what was necessary and proper.

Where do the name and logo come from?

The Latin word for awesome.

Logos are advertising. You want something that stands out and represents you and your products. We didn't want anything too pretentious or tacky, so Zinky® has an oval, Supro® has a vintage logo, and Smokey got the benefit of a fan who was a designer of great logos. All of them represent quality USA made products, which is all we do here.

What sets Zinky Electronics apart from other builders?

The AMPLIFIER determines how the PEDAL will sound. Read that again. An amplifier that sounds buzzy and fizzy at low volumes is just a bad sounding amplifier, and will not be improved by a distortion pedal. Because of this, many pedals roll off all signal after 2 or 3 kHz to eliminate the buzz and fizz. This makes for a very smooth sounding distortion, but it will not cut in a live performance, and so, for an actual musician, is a failure.

Because so many amplifier are flat out terrible, this makes the pedal makers neuter their products to sound "smooth" with the wide range of faulty amplifiers out there. This does no one any favors. 

While we DO make some pedals, mostly, we make amplifiers, because I hate to hear whiny bastards snivel about how bad their sound is with our pedal and someone else's shitty amp!

How do you start on a new pedal?

The prophet bequeaths the design to me. Like you mother said, "If you keep pestering me, you get none!".

How do you name your pedals?

God's Zodiac Ice Cream sounds like a good name for a pedal...

Can you tell us something about the production process?

All of our major work is done in house. We design all of our own chassis, cabinets, circuit boards, and circuits. We make our own cabinets. Metal chassis are made in St Louis. Some cabinets are produced in California. All circuit boards are made in USA, and stuffed and soldered in house. Transformers are precisely specified for performance, then produced in the USA by folks with many decades of experience. We've found that the way transformers were produced in the 30s/40s/50s yields more efficiency and better sound.

We'll do whatever is necessary to enable artists to create great music. We'll use any technology that delivers great sound and performance.

Hand wired is for sucks who don't know how to engineer proper amplifiers (or pedals). It is antiquated and substandard. If it weren't they'd be using that technology in space (hint- They're not).

How important is the look of your pedals?

They've gotta work. Styles (and everything else in life) will change, so I can't get too wrapped up in the cosmetics we're using right now.

How important is parts selection?

Everything matters. Some things matter in ways that are not obvious. Durability is the most important. IF something sounds great but then fails, it's a failure.

Which of your pedals makes you most proud?

Accelerator pedal, Brake Pedal, Clutch pedal.

Probably the Accelerator pedal, because it produces the GO. I think the brake is more important these days, but hey, you've gotta go with a winner".

Rolling Stones and ZZ Top (about the same time). And AC/DC. Seeing Angus play our gear on his website was pretty cool.

Which product was your toughest build?

Superfly. You try attaching a computer to a tube amp. Keep all circuitry 100% high voltage, analog, and nothing but tubes, transformers, capacitors, resistors and relays. Still cool.

Which of our products is the most popular?

Our most popular product is the Smokey amp. It's hand made in USA, cheap, sounds cool, and has a million and one uses... How do you top that?

Who uses your pedals and for which genres?

We make gear for working musicians. Other than the Smokey amp, we don't make cheap gear. We are a tiny company, and we're limited in what we can produce. Essentially, all our gear will faithfully reproduce what the player is doing, and translate that into sound that stirs up emotions in the listener.

All of our users are notable, some are just a whole lot more famous than others.

What does the future of Zinky Electronics look like?

1) Destroy!
2) Autofocus
3) That's an Ellipsis, aka "Suspension Point". (sung)- "I am so smart. S-M-R-T".

Are you working on any new products?


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