Today I wanted to talk about Godlyke Distributing. I had an opportunity to send over a few questions to Kevin Bolembach of Godlyke Distributing to learn more about what they do. Below is what he had to say. Additionally, be sure to check out Godlyke on Facebook and MySpace.
– Can you tell me a little about Godlyke – What exactly does it do? Are you just a distributor?
We started business in 1998 as a wholesale distributor, bringing the Guyatone brand of effects into the USA from Japan. In 1999 we took on Distribution for the Maxon and Bixonic brands as well, and the business grew exponentially from there. Around 2004 we released our Power-All brand of digital power supplies for effects, which has been very successful for us and took us in the direction of design and manufacturing. In 2009 we launched the TWA line of boutique effects – we design and manufacture all the TWA products right here in New Jersey, so now we’ve got our hands firmly in both cookie jars of distribution and manufacturing.
Even as a distributor, we take more of a “hands-on” approach to the business and we handle a lot of marketing, promotion and artist relations for the brands that we carry – it’s a LOT of work, and a big challenge to juggle so many brands, but we see the benefits and strengths that each brand has to offer and try to play to them.…
– What are some of the products you distribute?
In addition to the brands mentioned above, we also handle EMMA Electronic from Denmark, HAO from Japan, Chunk Systems Bass Effects from Australia and just recently we added Providence effects from Japan – Pretty much just effect pedals and related accessories. There’s no real rhyme or reason to how we select a brand – sometimes they approach us and other times we find them. Or course, they have to resonate with us on some level in order for us to be interested in working with them…
– Since this is a pedal site, can you talk about some of the pedals you distribute -?
– Maxon – Maxon started in 1968 as a guitar pickup manufacturer. In the early 70’s they branched off into guitar effects and came out with a product line that was loosely based on the vintage MXR pedals of that time, albeit built in Japan. This series of pedals also included the OD808 Overdrive, which went on to become the legendary TS808 Tube Screamer. Back then the Yen exchange rate was really weak against the dollar, so these pedals were really inexpensive yet very high quality. Hoshino got wind of this and asked Maxon to manufacture the pedals under their Ibanez brand for export into the USA – of course these pedals went on to become quite legendary, and for almost 30 years Maxon had an agreement with Ibanez not to export Maxon-branded products outside of Japan. This agreement terminated in 1998, and then we took on the line shortly thereafter. Maxon no longer manufactures Ibanez products, and is doing their own superior-quality versions of many of the better-known Ibanez models, such as the world-famous 9-Series pedals from the 80’s.
– TWA – Totally Wycked Audio (or TWA for short) is our house brand of high quality, made-in-USA effects. I love all the brands that we work with, but sometimes you just get the itch to create something unique and special that is all your own. Most of the brands we handle have a more traditional approach to pedal design, but I’m more of a tweaker and also a bass player, so I’m looking at things from a different perspective – I love synths and filters and octavers, anything that will make your instrument sound like something else! So far we’ve released three TWA models – the Little Dipper formant filter (a very vocal-sounding envelope filter), the Triskelion (a type of parametric EQ/distortion that is pretty intense) and the Great Divide (a very powerful and versatile octave pedal). We have many more designs pending and hope to eventually have a full-line of crazy effects for everyone to enjoy!
– Guyatone – Guyatone started as a guitar manufacturer way back in 1947 – they were one of the first companies to have instruments built in Korea. In the 70’s and early 80’s they were pretty well known for affordable, high quality products, but once the Japanese Yen got very strong in the late 80’s and Chinese manufacturing began to take hold, a lot of export of Japanese-made products into the USA stopped.
We were drawn to Guyatone by their very cute but totally functional Micro Series of effects – the Wah Rocker Envelope Filter in particular was very appealing to us. We started importing them in 1998 and they quickly became a very popular “alternative” brand to the big three of Boss, Ibanez and DOD. Since then many companies such as Dan Electro copied the Micro Series concept. Likewise, Guyatone has been moving in a more high-end direction with their products, and have created two really amazing pedals called the Ultrem and Ultron – these pedals just have unbelievable sound quality and a very unique feature set – they are really designed for tweakers and professionals, with a price point to match. Guyatone also recently re-vamped their Micro Series line (now called mighty micro) and upgraded the circuits into a new, sturdier chassis with true bypass switching.
– EMMA Electronic– As with Guyatone, I ran across EMMA during my endless search for the ultimate Bass Envelope Filter! EMMA was making the Discumbobulator, and I bought one from their distributor and was blown away! Years later they were looking for new U.S. distro, and we managed to convince them that we were the best guys for the job! EMMA engineer Jan Behnke just has a really great ear and a unique approach to circuit design – so much so that they pot all the circuits, much to the chagrin of the DIY community! There’s no arguing with tone though, and EMMA’s Reezafratzitz and Pisdiyauwot distortions are some of the best we’ve heard – and hardest to pronounce!
– Hao – We ran across the HAO brand because our Japanese distributor for the Power-All was handling the line and they were looking for U.S. distribution. HAO was the brainchild of Japanese engineer Toshi Torii, who had worked for many big companies including Roland in their guitar synth division. HAO was one of the first brands to do analog “amplifier emulator” pedals that were based on the sound of a specific vintage amp. For example, their Rust Driver is designed to sound like a ’69 Marshall Plexi, the Sole Pressure like a ’59 Bassman, etc. Nowadays this is pretty commonplace and tons of boutique builders are doing this sort of thing, but HAO was really one of the first companies to pursue this idea, and we still feel they are one of the best at it.
– Providence – Providence is one of Japan’s premier boutique effect lines, and the most recent line that we have begun to distribute. Head engineer Yuki Hayashi is quite famous in Japan and nothing short of a genius – he has a very good ear and a very exacting design method along with a tireless work ethic. Providence pedals offer many unique features such as “single-contact” True Bypass switching (signal only travels through one switch contact when bypassed), Switch guard to prevent damage to the bypass switch when hit too hard, and their Vitalizer circuit, which is a type of buffered switching circuit that emulates the sounds of a 15-foot guitar cord when the effect is bypassed. Providence is probably best known for their SOV-2 Stampede Overdrive, which is used by guys like Robben Ford, Carl Verheyen and Matt Schofield. They also make a line of very functional and versatile signal switchers and routers as well as a line of high-quality cables that are used by Larry Carlton, Michael Landau, and Steve Lukather.
– Chunk Systems – Chunk is a line of Bass-specific effects pedals that are made in Australia
by one Richard Cartwright, who’s an engineer for Dolby. The Agent Funk is a very flexible and versatile envelope filter that can do some pretty whacky stuff, and the Brown Dog Gated Fuzz is great for creating techno-like synth bass lines. The Flagship of the line is the Octavius Squeezer, which is an analog Bass Synth with digital programming – it has 50 presets and over 56 different parameters that can be tweaked, stored and recalled, making it one of the most comprehensive yet compact effect units ever manufactured.
– I also see you create your own products like the Power-All line. What motivated you to start creating your own products?
We started doing the Power-All because we had been distributing a similar product from Germany, and the company that was supplying it to us was really just impossible to work with. We saw the potential for packaging the digital power supply along with cabling (which no other company was doing at the time), making it a very easy and affordable method for powering up a pedalboard.
We came into the market at pretty much the exact same time as the One-Spot, but the Power-All had a higher current rating and the kit format with the cabling proved to be very popular. Visual Sound has since copied these features and the One-Spot has been very successful for them, but the ideas originated with the Power-All.
We designed some of the Power-All accessories in answer to grievances that customers had about using a daisy-chain power supply with their pedals – for example our Iso-Pump voltage converter takes the fixed 9 VDC output of the Power-All and converts it to 12, 18 or 24 VDC to power pedals that need these voltages. Likewise our Ground-Hound isolator allows the user to power up pedals with positive-ground to chassis, such as Fuzz Faces and Tonebender clones. We even came up with our Cable-Caps for unused power leads because customers were asking for them!
As far as TWA goes – that’s more about creating pedals that I’d like to see – I still play out and have always gotten a lot of compliments on my bass tone, which consists of a wide variety of synth type sounds. Over the years I’ve spent thousands of dollars on vintage and boutique pedals, and wanted to throw my hat in the ring and create something that I thought sounded great and was usable.
– I want to talk about Power-Grip. I’ve seen your video on this in the past and was blown away. So what’s the secret without telling the secret? Isn’t velcro.. velcro? Obviously not… so how does the power grip hold on so tight?
Well, Velcro IS Velcro, but Power-Grip is not Velcro – Velcro, or “hook and loop” fasteners have a male and a female side, but Power-Grip only has one surface which mates to itself (hermaphroditic?) – It has interlocking “mushroom” stems that lock into one another. The male side of Hook and Loop can get dirty and clogged with debris, and the female side can lose its gripping power over time – this does not happen with Power-Grip as the stems are too far apart to allow debris to get caught but they are firmly woven in place and won’t break off with extended usage.
The reasons Power-Grip holds so well are twofold – One, the stem count or “amount of stems per inch of material” has been carefully tested and determined to be the optimum for holding an object in place without making it too difficult to remove. Secondly, the backing adhesive on Power-Grip is of a certain composition that is designed to be temperature and weather resistant. It can withstand heat in excess of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you leave your pedalboard in the trunk of your car the Power-Grip won’t peel off the backs of your pedals or pedalboard ( a VERY common problem with the cheapie hook & loop that most pedalboard companies provide with their product).
In addition, Power-Grip is woven, where other similar fasteners such as Dual-Lock are molded – this allows Power-Grip to be more flexible and to expand and contract along with temperature changes, which puts less stress on the adhesive and allows it to last longer. All these elements combined make for a very strong yet flexible bond that is easy to work with and will last a lifetime….
– How long as Godlyke been around?
We started business in October, 1998 so we’re going on 13 years now…
– How did it start?
I was working at Electro-Harmonix and really didn’t see any room for advancement there. I was looking at a variety of possible opportunities and I came across the Guyatone Wah Rocker on Analog Mike’s website. I bought one and really dug it and thought “what else does this company make?” I had a friend in Japan and she sent me a Guyatone catalog, which had dozens of different products from effects to amps and P.A. systems, harmonica mics, lap steels, etc.
I crunched some numbers and it looked like there was the potential for a business, so I spoke with an old friend of mine and we put together a business plan. We then contacted Guyatone and the rest is history…
– Where are you located?
We’re in Northern New Jersey right outside of New York City – you can see the skyline from here. It’s a good location as we’re close to a major urban area and most bands tour through here, so we have a lot of contact with a variety of artists. We can also make it to Philadelphia within 2 hours if necessary….
– Can you purchase through the site? Or is it recommended to go through a dealer?
For many years we didn’t have a e-commerce on our sites, but you can’t fight progress. We offer the ability for consumers to purchase direct, but we always try to T/O them to our retailers first. However, you always have guys that just have to have the item “yesterday” and in this day and age retailers are stocking less and less product. So, we do what we have to do to get the product into the hands of the people who want it….
– Any new manufacturers coming down the pipe? Or any new developments in the Power-Line we can look forward to?
No, I think that we have more than enough to juggle right now! Over the years we’ve been approached by various companies to carry their lines, but we really want to focus on TWA and getting our own ideas out there. Providence was the last line we took on, and the only reason we did so was because the product was just exceptional.
Moving forward we’ll be focusing on promoting the brands that we currently handle while building the TWA brand into a name that people recognize. We also have some new Power-All products in R&D, and we hope to release some of those very soon…..
Thanks for allowing me the time to rant! Please visit our website at www.godlyke.com or e-mail me Kevin@nullgodlyke.com with any specific questions…