Tuesday, December 27, 2011

For The Love of Gear!

Anyone who's ever bought an old stompbox - be it on Craigslist, eBay or what-have-you - has probably come to the realization that most vintage electronic music equipment that you come across has been subjected to decades of neglect and abuse. Most of it only needs a little expert TLC to be restored to its former glory. That's exactly what we do here. Every vintage pedal that comes into the FMO Gear Shop is thoroughly inspected and tested before it's listed. We fuss over every piece that comes in, performing whatever routine maintenance may be required - cosmetic detailing, tightening loose hardware, cleaning pots, touching up cold solder joints and loose wires, minor repairs if necessary, and the occasional complete overhaul. Because that's what we do... for the love of gear!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thanks eBay!

So apparently, unbeknownst to me, it appears I was part of a large class action suit against the behemoth online marketplace that is eBay (or at least, my eBay account was included in the suit). Looks like it has something to do with overcharging on final value fees. I had no idea, really! Then out of the blue, I receive this check from the Yingling vs. eBay Settlement Fund for a whopping sum of (ready for this?)... TWELVE CENTS ($0.12)! The timing couldn't be better too - this will definitely come in handy with my Christmas shopping. Thank-you Mr. Yingling (stop snickering) and thanks as well to your friend and mine, eBay.com.

ADDENDUM: Here's the first paragraph of the letter that accompanied the check.
Dear Class Member:
As described in the notice sent to you regarding Brice Yingling d/b/a Alamo Auto Sports and Andy Scott vs. eBay, Inc., Case No. C-09-01733 (the “Lawsuit”), via email and/or postcard in January 2011, below please find your pro rata distribution from the net Settlement Fund. Payment was calculated based on Final Value Fees you paid between April 21, 2005 and August 26, 2009 (the “Class Period”), for non-store inventory format items sold in the parts and accessories categories on eBay Motors. Additional details about the Lawsuit and the method of calculating your payment are available on the case website, www.ebaymotorsfeeclassaction.com.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The FMO weBlog has a new look.

No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. I decided to try a new layout for the For Musicians Only blog this past weekend. The old one wouldn't allow us to widen the margins, which used to drive me nuts since it felt like all our posts were confined to a tiny center portion of the page. Of course, this opened another can of worms because I then had to go back and tweak to layout for most of the old posts. One thing that's immediately apparent is that the new layout is a whole lot roomier. A small step in the right direction, I think. We'll see...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

That's right, I paid $20 for Mennen Cool Spice on eBay

Yup, it's me. I'm the idiot who paid $20 for the 10+ year old Mennen Cool Spice Speed Stick deodorant on eBay. And to me, it was worth every penny. I should probably point out that these were brand new leftover stock from some drugstore. The product has dried out slightly over time, so it shrunk a bit inside the stick. But it's very minor and 100% usable. In fact, I'm wearing it now! It smells just the way I remember it, and now I'm blissfully reliving memories of my teenage years.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Special Edition Black Cat Halloween Pedals!

Halloween is just around the corner, and this is the BEST time of year to have a Black Cat cross your path! To help celebrate our favorite time of year, we made a small batch of Halloween themed OD-1, Super Fuzz, Mini Trem and OD-Fuzz pedals. The artwork features our notorious Black Cat, accompanied by flying bats and a witch on a broomstick, all silhouetted by a giant yellow harvest moon.

Our super talented graphic designer Sarah Radawich wasn't available to help with this one, so I ended up doing the graphic myself. The process was more painful and took much longer than having it done by a professional, but I eventually came up with something suitable. It really forced me to face my fear of vector graphics and aversion to Adobe Illustrator. I'm sure Sarah would've come up with something better, but I'd say it's not too shabby for an amateur attempt. Whaddaya think?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Black Cats in White

What's black and white and all around awesome? How about these custom color (?) Black Cat OD-1 and Mini Trem pedals. Our dealer in South Korea requested a batch of these cats in white. We had them done locally by the same place that does our standard production enclosures. I looked at about 152 different shades of white paint samples until I was snowblind. I finally found this frosty cold and creamy shade of goodness for them to powdercoat the boxes with; the boxes were then silkscreened in black. They turned out better than I had imagined and make a rather striking appearance. Who knew the absence of color could make so bold an impression?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How To Blow Up A Battery: Part 2

Here's a message that's worth repeating: MAKE SURE YOU USE THE PROPER POWER SUPPLY WITH YOUR PEDALS!

A customer recently sent us a pedal for repair, and the cause of the problem was pretty easy to figure out. We've seen the damage that can be caused from not using the proper power supply, but this one was a doozy! The entire bottom of the 9V battery was blown out. We've never seen anything quite like it, so we just had to show you.

Upon examination, it appears that a 9V battery (or at least a Duracell alkaline battery) contains six AAA-sized 1.5V batteries inside. Who knew? Just another random bit of stompbox trivia, courtesy of the FMO Gear Shop.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Customer of the Month - 8/11

It seems we've given the majority of our attention here lately to things related to Black Cat Pedals, but we've had some increasing activity on the retail end of the FMO Gear Shop as well. Empress Effects, Lava Cables, Moogerfoogers, and Trailer Trash Pedalboards have all been selling very well for us. But the vintage effects are what's really happening — that is our specialty, after all.

We have lots of great customers and vintage effects fans from all over the world, but once in a while we get a customer who really stands out. Ben Chapman from the UK bought a few nice vintage stompboxes from us over the past few months this past summer. There's nothing so unusual about that. But Ben has just been an absolute pleasure to work with; always so polite, friendly and extremely enthusiastic in all his correspondence. He always sounds SO incredibly psyched about he pedal he just got, or the one wants to get next. I can't help smiling whenever he sends an email. It's the kind of thing that makes my job fun. Thanks Ben!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Black Cat Ladies Tees!

We just got a new shipment of Black Cat t-shirts with a new design. Not only that, but this time we ordered some for the ladies as well. We've gotten many requests for Black Cat ladies tees; one of those requests came from our own Black Cat Sara, who couldn't wait to try hers on.
The new black shirts we got all have the new graphic (we have some of the old black ones leftover in XL and 2X). The new ash gray shirts still have the original graphic. Black Cat Pedals t-shirts are available now at the FMO Gear Shop (click link).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Even More Black Cat Videos!

Hey everybody — long time, no post. Sorry for the lack of updates, we’ve had a really busy summer. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have news! There’s plenty of that, starting with a bunch of new videos that some nice people have made of Black Cat pedals...

Let's start with this one, from Just Nick at Rock N Roll Vintage, featuring the Black Cat Bee Buzz.

Here's another from Nick, giving the most insightful explanation I've yet seen of the Black Cat OD-1 and how it works.

There aren't many demos of the Black Cat Bass Octave Fuzz, but this one from MrExcane is a great example of what this pedal can do on bass.

Finally, here's a truly entertaining demo of the Black Cat Bee Buzz from Evan at Prymaxe Vintage.

Well, that's enough video for now. But since we have such an overabundance of news regarding both Black Cat Pedals and the FMO Gear Shop, we decided it's high time to keep this blog updated to the tune of at least one new entry every week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Videos of Black Cat Pedals

There have been a bunch of new Black Cat demo videos posted on YouTube recently. First of all, we made a couple of "Quick & Dirty" demos of the two newest Black Cat products, the Black Cat Mini Trem and Black Cat Bee Buzz. These are posted on the Black Cat Pedals YouTube channel, but you can just watch them here:

The guys at Jet City Music also made an awesome video of the Bee Buzz and Mini Trem together, which you can see below:

Finally, Jonathan Moody made this nice demo of the Mini Trem on bass:

So there you go. That's almost a whole lunch break's worth of entertainment right there. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ninja Fuzz Face

It's been a while since we posted anything, so we're due for an update. There's no shortage of things to report, that's for sure. Here's one I've been meaning to post for a while. I call it the Ninja Fuzz Face.

A few months back we got a request at the FMO Gear Shop from Vincent to make a replica silicon version vintage Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face. Vincent really wanted to use a round Fuzz Face housing, and I happened to have an empty Dunlop JD-F2 enclosure that I was saving for some future rainy day project.

The funny thing about that enclosure is that the rubber tread has no "smiley" graphic like the originals did — I always hated that, and I though it looked pretty stupid on with the red finish Dunlop used. But when we painted it black and added some black knobs, it turned out to be pretty slick looking. This stealth black Ninja Fuzz Face definitely means business.

The inside is even more impressive. Greg had some of the phenolic material that was actually used to make the original Fuzz Face boards in the sixties. Then he populated the board with NOS 1/2 watt carbon comp resistors, period correct Philips capacitors, and a pair of BC108 transistors. Of course, the addition of the bias trimpot deviates from the original design, but is incredibly useful for fine-tuning the fuzz tone. We should have registered this Ninja Fuzz Face as a lethal weapon — it's a Killer!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I meant to post these earlier, things have just been a little hectic around here lately. Anyway, here are some pictures Sara took a couple of months ago outside the FMO Gear Shop.

This is after Snow Storm 2011 hit New England and covered us with mountains of snow (I even got snowed into the shop one night!).

Over the next couple of weeks that followed, the pile of snow on the roof of the building slowly started to melt, forming these large and lovely stalactite icicles that looked ready to impale us as we walked through the door of the shop. A maintenance worker for the building knocked most of these down shortly after these pictures were taken.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Black Cat OD-1... Our first official demo video!

Here it is! Our first official Black Cat Pedals video, starring our own Black Cat Spokesmodel, Black Cat Sara. We'll be doing more video demos of all the Black Cat pedals as soon as we're able. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My one-of-a-kind Analog Man King of Tone

Check out my custom, one-of-a-kind Analog Man King of Tone (artwork by yours truly). I built this myself, and I guarantee you there’s not another one like it in the whole universe! Okay, so you’re wondering what the deal is with this thing. Well, it’s quite a story. So get your milk and cookies, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you.

It all started sometime around the end of 2003, back when I was working at Analog Man. Analog Mike had just come up with the King of Tone. I remember him spending a lot of time working on the prototype with Jim Weider. Due to revisions based on input from Jim and from Mike’s Japanese collaborator, Obayashi San, the first production model was actually KOT Ver2. I believe King of Tone serial #1 went to Brad Whitford of Aerosmith.

I was on a kick of wanting to design artwork for the Analog Man pedals. I had recently designed a graphic for the Bi-Comp (the short-lived “gigantic white sun” version). Mike was quite fond of using rubber stamps for the graphics, which definitely made sense for all the custom work and one-off stuff. He picked out a rather nautical looking stamp for the King of Tone, which he seemed pleased enough with. But I want to see if I could come up with something better.

The graphic kind of evolved over time, becoming more and more elaborate. I spent weeks tweaking it and fussing over at. When I finally got a version that I thought was good enough, I showed it to Mike. He said he thought the king looked evil, and didn't seem all that into it. I didn't realize at the time that he felt like he wasn't even finished designing the pedal, much less ready decide on a graphic. He was reluctant to even sell the pedal until he got a chance to work out all the improvements he wanted to make. I think that was a big factor for how the waiting list got so long. Anyway, by the time I finished perfecting my King of Tone graphic, Mike had come up with a new five-knob version (KOT Ver3), which totally messed up the four-knob layout I had made. So I put the idea aside and just figured I would use it when I got to make my own King of Tone.

I had this running deal with Mike where he would let me make my own Analog Man pedals for my own personal use as long as I paid for the parts and didn't bother his techs too much. But when it came to the King of Tone, he thought it might not be fair to the customers on the waiting list if I jumped the line, even if I was going to make the thing myself. So basically, I got on the list and waited just like everyone else.

Sometime late in 2005, Mike was finally able to come up with a version of the King of Tone that he was happy with (KOT Ver4). It required a new PCB and had six knobs, so it would need to be housed in a larger box. In the meantime, he was offering people on the list the option of taking the current version right then, or waiting for the new one. A lot of people opted to wait, which meant that parts were finally available for me to make my own King of Tone.

I was excited at the prospect, and dug out the Photoshop files I had saved of my custom artwork. I spent even more time tweaking it and fussing over it. All in all, I think I have about 300 hours of design work into this thing. I redesigned the layout for a five-knob King of Tone. But I wanted to leave plenty of room for the graphics, so I decided I wanted to use one of the new larger boxes (I think that technically makes this a Ver3.5. Like I said, it's one-of-a-kind!) But by this time, I had already left Analog Man and started For Musicians Only. So the project sat in limbo for a few years while I worked on the business. I recently came across the old Photoshop files for the graphic and decided it was time for this king to finally take his throne.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The toaster oven is broken...

... and this is what I get for trying to rig it. Sometimes, if I know I'm having a late night at the shop, I'll get a sandwich to save for later on. Then I can warm it up in our toaster oven, except ours has a little problem. When you press the button for Toast, it shuts off after about 30 seconds. My solution was to tape the button down. Of course, I forgot all about the sandwich until I smelled something burning. So here, for your entertainment and amusement, is the result. And no, this has absolutely nothing to do with guitar effects pedals or any other gear, other than it happened at the FMO Gear Shop.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Introducing the Black Cat Mini Trem!

Sorry for the lapse in blog posts everyone, things have been a little hectic lately. But at least now you'll know why. We've been hard at work finishing up our latest creation, so here it is – the Black Cat Mini Trem!

The Black Cat Mini Trem is a dual function tremolo /clean boost in one pedal. Part of the legacy of the original Black Cat line, the new Mini Trem sports some additional features and a spiffy new look. At the heart of this pedal is a classic, sixties-style tremolo with Speed and Depth controls. The circuit also incorporates a clean FET boost with controls for Boost and Tone. Finally, we’ve added a second stomp switch that allows for half-speed/double-speed switching, and an LED that flashes in time with the rate of the tremolo.

The new Black Cat Mini Trem uses premium quality components to reduce excess noise and eliminate the inherent bleed-through and “thumping” found in many tremolo devices. The tremolo and clean boost effects can function independently of one another, but the Mini Trem really shines by using the combination of all four controls, which yields the widest variety of tones and timbres available in any stompbox tremolo. The Black Cat Mini Trem lets you “voice” the sound of your tremolo, from a deep and swampy throb to a sharp staccato stutter.

* Durable powder-coat “Gold Sparkle” finish
* Cool Black glass epoxy PCB with yellow silkscreen
* Metal film resistors and audio grade capacitors
* 3PDT true-bypass switch and Switchcraft jacks
* Uses 2.1mm Boss style power jack, or internal 9V battery
* Hand-wired, Boutique quality, Made in USA
* LED flashes in time to tremolo rate
* Two footswitches – one for On/Off and one for Speed