The MD of TheGigRig (opens in new tab) and familiar face of That Pedal Show (opens in new tab) talks about his inspiring journey into the world of effects…
1. What was the first pedal you built and how did the design come about?
“It was an MXR Phase 45 clone. I wanted to start on something simple before I built TheGigRig’s first product, the Pro 14 [switching system]. I’ve still got that phaser. It doesn’t sound great, but it’s all right! I’ve built a few pedals, but I worked out fairly quickly that what I really wanted to do was focus on controlling effects, because there were so many amazing pedals already out there.”
2. What do you think it is about TheGigRig that makes it unique?
“I started my own journey into electronics back in Australia around 1998 to ’99, and TheGigRig started in 2004, but it’s not just the experience of working in electronics that’s valuable. The experience of being a touring guitarist with a fascination for the sound of analogue vintage effects helped me identify something that might be valuable to others as well: the ability to have presets with programmable loops and preamps.
“The two things that rob your tone the most are the quality of your signal and the quality of the power that’s going to your effects pedals. We’re completely militant when it comes to making sure that neither of those is compromised.”
3. What’s your bestselling product and why do you think that is?
“It’s the G2 [pedal-switching system]. It’s one thing to do all the marketing speak, but word of mouth is completely different. When people started to experience the difference with the G2 on their ’boards, word really started getting around. Our customers are like family.”
4. Is there anything new on the horizon with The GigRig?
“There sure is! We have a little mixer coming out in spring 2019, called the Wetter Box. You can plug two mono or stereo pedals into two effects loops and blend between both in parallel using either a knob or an expression pedal. For example, imagine that you have both a long delay and a short delay: you can blend them in parallel, so the short delay isn’t feeding the long delay, or vice versa. It’s really cool.”
5. Tell us a secret about effects…
“That feeling of connection to your sound is really important. When you feel inspired, it comes from your soul and goes through your hands, the instrument, and the speaker. When you hear that, it creates a loop that feeds back into your body and soul. You’ve only got to break one link in the chain and your creativity will suffer.”
6. What’s your best tone tip?
“Listen to more music and open up your mind!”
7. Name some common mistakes that guitarists make with effects…
“I think the most common mistake is believing there are mistakes.”
8. What new pedals trigger your GAS the most right now?
“Anything by Red Panda. I’ve just grabbed their Tensor tape effects pedal. It’s unbelievable! I also love Chase Bliss Audio’s new pedal, the Thermae.”
9. What’s your favourite vintage pedal and why?
“I’d have to go with my [Electro-Harmonix] Electric Mistress. It’s a 1977 model, I believe. It was a pedal that opened my eyes. Before that, I had a preconception that state-of-the-art technology was, tonally, the best. The Electric Mistress changed my life in a matter of seconds. From the first chord, I had to revaluate everything I believed about guitar effects.
“Electro-Harmonix was making magic in the '70s. They’re doing amazing stuff now, but that particular era was unprecedented in terms of effects pedals. Mike Matthews is such an icon. He’s worked with some brilliant designers, too, like David Cockerell and Howard Davis.”
10. What are your favourite effects moments heard on record?
“The [Maestro Fuzz-Tone] FZ-1A in The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction. My favourite effects-pedal moment is hearing him turn it on! If you listen, you’ll hear him switch it on in between the chorus and the verse. You can actually hear the click of the footswitch. I absolutely love that!
“The Police were also a very important band for me. When I first heard the Electric Mistress, there was something about it that I instantly connected with. It was that sound - that Andy Summers thing. Anything where he’s using the Mistress is awesome. Because it’s thin and wiry and does that complex comb-filtering thing, it gets rid of a lot of bass frequencies, and when you hear the Electric Mistress in a rock context it just works so well.”