NAMM 2018: Interview with Fuzzrocious pedals

NAMM 2018: Ahead of the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim this weekend, we had a chat with Ryan from Fuzzrocious Pedals - who'll be showcasing at the event and using Eastwood guitars!

Fuzzrocious pedals

Like  most guitarists, we are obsessed with FX pedals as well... so we are happy to see new boutique brands such as Fuzzrocious doing well - and we're happy to have them using Eastwood guitars during this year's Winter NAMM Show. Fuzzrocious can be found on Hall D at Booth #3848, and to showcase their FX pedals they'll be using an Airline 59 2PT and a Surfcaster bass.

Fuzzrocious booth at NAMM 2018

Pic: Fuzzrocious booth at NAMM 2018 (Hall D at Booth #3848)

We had a chat with Ryan from the NJ-based company - a small-scale, boutique FX pedals brand operated by him and his wife, a true dynamic duo bent on creating some really amazing and unique FX pedals.

Ryan from Fuzzrocious

HOW DID FUZZROCIOUS START? WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN FX PEDALS?
I was playing bass in a band (2007/8ish) with friends who had pedalboards with what I would come to find out were boutique and DIY pedals. I was encouraged to make a General Guitar Gadgets BMP, which is their Big Muff clone. My dad came over and over some beers (and tears from my newborn son), he taught me how to solder. It was truly a bonding experience. After we fired the pedal up and it worked, I was determined to make more pedals.
My wife, Shannon, majored in Fine Arts - Painting and was happy to paint my new DIY pedal for me and since I was hooked on building and ordering more kits to build, she was happy to paint them all. I contacted my friends who were still in touring bands to see what we could build/paint for them and had a great response.
In short, we started a glorified build service, but soon enough, I was sick of making someone else's stuff, so I started practicing on veroboard to make my own clones, which eventually evolved into making original effects.
THERE ARE A LOT OF CHEAP, GOOD-ENOUGH SOUNDING "MINI" PEDALS ABOUT... BUT IT SEEMS THERE'S STILL A GREAT DEMAND FOR BOUTIQUE FX. WHY IS THAT? DO YOU THINK  THIS IS A TREND THAT WILL KEEP UP IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
If we look at pedalboard trends, they kind of predict sizes. In the 1990s, pedals weren't "a thing" like they are now, so pedalboards weren't a thing. In the 2000s, as pedals got more popular, we started to see companies like SKB and Gator, then Pedaltrain, who were making instrument cases start the pedalboard trend and man, there were some big boards for those big pedals and now there were some boutique companies popping up.
Then came the boutique pedalboards, which because they were almost always made of wood, couldn't be too heavy, so there was a demand for smaller pedals. With huge pedalboards and medium/small boutique pedalboards, there was a call to fit as many things on a board as possible; hence, mini pedals.
More Fuzzrocious
Now, with all of that out of the way...mini pedals are great for saving space, but most musicians with half a brain care about where their money is going and they want whatever they spent their money on to look cool. Typically, mini pedals are factory made with very little human touch in or on the pedal. Boutique brands usually have some "human factor" to them on varying levels and look cooler than a cheap, foreign, factory made clone, so people still buy boutique.
It's kind of like the "shop local" idea. It feels better to buy from the local mom and pop grocery store than Amazon.com. I hope a lot of trends go away and mini, factory made pedals is one of them.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ALL-IN-ONE MULTI FX LIKE THE HELIX? DO YOU THINK THIS SORT OF THING MIGHT (EVENTUALLY) THREATEN BOUTIQUE FX COMPANIES?
All-in-ones have their place. For some it's a trashcan; for others it's their whole board. Mutis can be cool, but they also limit the user to a specific sound, even in versions that allow users to fine tune, there is still a limit. Eventually, users will need to look elsewhere for new sounds, so eventually they come back to pedals.
There will always be a market for boutique brands, but with the advent of so much more DSP technology showing up, it makes the boutique brands work harder to maintain some foothold in the market.
HOW DOES A BOUTIQUE FX BRAND SURVIVE TODAY? WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU OFFER TO SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE THINKING OF STARTING THEIR OWN FX BRAND?
I am still struggling with this one! Shannon left education in June 2014 to paint for Fuzzrocious full-full time and I left in March 2015. Things were good! We could pay all of our family's bills and all that jazz, but the market took a major shift in the last year. Is it the over-saturation of effects companies, is the economy/country's administration and all that comes with it, the fact that it is insanely easy to jump on Reverb.com and get that thing you want in a heartbeat on the used market for less than direct/from a store, or something else?
I don't know what it is, but we made a family decision that Shannon would return to teaching, which she was already yearning to do, to ensure we could make ends meet. I am now running 90% of Fuzzrocious on my own, pretty much and it is a true GRIND to pop in the market. We don't have tons of money to spend on ads/marketing or travel to and afford to do every convention. Our money we do make after taxes, goes to our mortgage, insurance, and the kids. A lot of other companies and part time brands don't have the "overhead" that we have, so they can take more risks.
The short answer is that I have NO IDEA how to survive in this market without putting my family and home at risk.
Some tips for someone starting a brand:
Don't do what everyone else or your favorite brand is doing. Do you.
Focus on what you are good at, not what you want to do. In your free time (ha, what is that?!), practice and work on what you want to do.
Don't start selling your brand and line until you have everything in place - the look, the sound, etc. Know what you're making, don't just grab a design off the internet and replicate.
Don't be a dick. If you are combative, mean, negative, and into being an internet bully/complainer, then don't do this. Be willing to work together instead of complain and piss of the "competition." Healthy competition can be fun; even more so when you are friends with those competitors. Working together rules, working alone sucks. Don't suck.
WHAT ARE YOUR ALL-TIME FAVOURITE FX PEDALS EVER?
Moog Freqbox and EHX HOG are the coolest sounds ever for me in terms of playing an instrument for me.
HOW IMPORTANT IS NAMM FOR YOU GUYS? WHAT NEW PEDALS WILL YOU BE SHOWCASING?
At this point, NAMM is integral. It's a great time to meet a lot of new people and show them what we do. Dealers are out in great numbers, so getting them on board to work with us is a major component of NAMM. Lastly, it's a great way to garner some publicity to tell the world about your new thing coming out. The flip side of this is that NAMM and getting to NAMM is insanely expensive, so it's a major gamble.
We will be showing a DSP-related drop-in mod to our entire line that will open up some exciting possibilities for Fuzzrocious users, a new collaboration pedal with a popular podcast, and maybe even another prototype for folks to test out.
WATCH: Fuzzrocious Demon King Demo
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