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