Category Archives: Interviews

Q&A: Mark Wentz From Black Arts ToneWorks

QA-BLACKARTSState your name and business!
Black Arts Mark, head monkey @ Black Arts Toneworks, we deal in Monkey Business.

Where is your company based out of?
We are in Chattanooga, Tn., or more accurately, a few steps from the TN/Ga border.

Favorite color?
BLACK. With Black highlights.

What is your favorite effect pedal of all time?
Historically speaking, I’d have to say the Big Muff.  But I’ve surpassed that with my Pharaoh. Its my favorite.

What do you think is the most influential pedal of all time?
I really have no idea. I’m not a pedal nerd or junky. I haven’t owned a ton of pedals, and really have no idea what the lineages of today’s popular pedals are. From a fan of rock music‘s point of view, it seems that a tubescreamer might have had a lot of influence. Since my favorite sounds are typically Marshalls from the 70’s, I’d bet a lot of cats used a TS in there somewhere..but fuck if I know.

What is the first effect pedal you ever built?
I actually didn’t spend any time building pedals until recently. I cut my teeth fixing and modifying my own stuff. Guitars,Amps, and as far as pedals ;crybabys, Rats, Muffs..That sort of stuff.  I was typically a guitar/wah/delay/amp guy. As I got a few dirt pedals I found that I really didn’t use them. So there was no loss to me in hacking them and seeing if I could figure out how to make them sound good to me. Over time, I figured out some things, and then when I got the internet, it all came together with the wealth of information available online.  So, taking what I knew and what I had read online, I developed what became the Pharaoh pedal. But I had no intention of ever being a “pedal builder”.

Is there another company or builder out there that you admire or has influenced you in how you design your effects?
I suppose all do to a certain extent. Again, I’m not really a pedal buff, so there may be a certain “ignorance is bliss” in my stuff. While not in a vacuum, I certainly don’t’ look at what other people are doing and apply that to myself in anyway. I just go for what I like and what sounds good to me, to hell with the conventional mainstream.

In your opinion, are there such things as “magic parts” like germanium transistors, hand spun inductors, or ICs from a certain year or is it all hype?
For me, no. I don’t find majik in anything. But I think for some people trying to cop certain “specific” tones, there probably are.  For me, it’s all utilitarian. I see pedals as tools of tone. The special part is the player. Majik is being able to convey emotion or meanings. Circuits can’t do that. How we interpret circuits and apply our talent is where it’s at.

Do you have a favorite Spinal Tap saying?
Geez, this is the hardest question…I live a few of them..”none more black”..”These go to 11”.” You don’t do Heavy Metal in Doubly”, But maybe my favorite is the conversation between David and Nigel where David says “there is such a fine line between stupid and uh…and Nigel finishes, “Clever”. Yeah a fine line between stupid and clever.

Buffered or True bypass?
I’ll go with TB.

What is your most important piece of equipment or tool on your work bench?
The Amp. It tells no lies.

What circuit/effect have you made that you are most proud of?
Gotta be the Pharaoh. The life giver. The Pharaoh has made a lot of things possible in my life.

Any advice for people just starting out building effects?
I wish I had something to give. I think my situation is quite rare from what I’ve been told. What advice I will give may just be a bunch of shit, but I’d say trust your ears. If it sounds good, it is good. Regardless of what’s convention or what visually and logically seems right. Do your thing and not try to appeal to the masses with generic vanilla stuff.

 Where can people go to purchase your stuff?!
I have a bunch of good dealers online, and a lot of brick and mortars carrying my stuff. If that fails, I am on social media..I’m easy to find. I have a website that’s built, but I haven’t published it yet in fear of getting more work. I’m at 100% capacity right now.

 

I’d like to add a special thanks to the whole crew at Mammoth for giving me this soapbox and for also always being there when I need them with great service and never dropping the ball or bitching at me when I ask a dumb question. THANKS!

I’d also like to thank humanity for their interest in what I do here at Black Arts. It’s really humbling to have people give you hard earned money for your work. It’s really humbling to get emails from weekend warriors who praise my work. It’s really humbling to see some of my favorite pro musicians playing through my stuff. I owe the rock community my sincerest thanks.

Q&A: JIMMY NEILSEN FROM EL REY EFFECTS

QA-JIMMY

State your name and business!
Jimmy Nielsen – El Rey Effects

Where is your company based out of? 
Cincinnati, Ohio

Favorite color?
Orange…definitely Orange

What is your favorite effect pedal of all time?
Man…probably this fuzz/wah I found at a swap meet when I was a teenager…no idea what brand it was, but it was great!

What do you think is the most influential pedal of all time?
That’s tough because it’s so dependent on what music you’re playing…I’m going to say the Cry Baby Wah.

What is the first effect pedal you ever built?
It was probably a very crude boost/eq. I’m not really sure if it really added anything great to my sound, but I remember always using it cause people would ask “What’s in the box?”

Is there another company or builder out there that you admire or has influenced you in how you design your effects?
As for the actual build side, I love looking up old schematics…what were the pioneers doing? How far back can I go and find sound tweaking.
I find that stuff interesting. As for the modern guys, Wampler and Zvex are a couple of the really good ones.

In your opinion, are there such things as “magic parts” like germanium transistors, hand spun inductors, or ICs from a certain year or is it all hype?
Some yes and some no. It really depends on the part. With the inconsistencies of manufacturing you’re going to always have some components that create different sounds solely on the fact that tolerances will allow for such variations.

Do you have a favorite Spinal Tap saying?
They really can’t dust for vomit

Buffered or True bypass?
Buffered for delays, True Bypass for others…

What is your most important piece of equipment or tool on your work bench?
Has to be my Iron. Nothings getting soldered without it.

What circuit/effect have you made that you are most proud of?
Probably the Fuzz de la Muerte. It’s really versatile and a lot of fun to just sit and tweak on.

Any advice for people just starting out building effects?
Reach out to other builders for advice and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Most builders are really friendly and willing to help out those that are just starting. Karma…it’s all about karma

Where can people go to purchase your stuff?!
We have a few different retailers carrying our pedals. The best way to find out who has our stuff is to visit our website at www.elreyfx.com