I first have to say the Loud Button Electronics WTF pedal is one of the craziest pedals to come through EffectsBay. Initially I was expecting a distortion box, but noticed the low-frequency oscillator label on the enclosure and thought it might be a little different. When we plugged that thing in… it was like WTF!
In a nutshell, the Loud Button WTF provides synth/noise tones, but you can dial it in to be quite playable as well, or you can adjust to get to the insane/crazy/lazer world. I think your imagination will be your guide with this pedal. How to apply it for that special something in a lead, rhythm or intro/outro section of the song, etc. If you’re looking for that WTF type of pedal.. this could be the one.
Controls are very straight forward. We have Attack, Gate, Volume and Frequency. The Gate does some interesting things. All the way counter clock wise will choke the signal, but all the way clock wise, you’ll get full low oscillation when no signal is present.
For this demo, I called up Jimmy Rolle, and he ran it through the paces. He is again playing his Les Paul Custom Shop Elegant into a Germino Lead 55 through a Marshall 4×12 cabinet. Guitar is mic’d with a Fathead Ribbon Mic and a Shure SM57 mic. Nothing between the guitar and amp besides the Loud Button WTF.
You can listen to the high quality MP3 clip via SoundCloud
For this demo, I had a chance to send a few questions to Shawn at Loud Button Electronics, and this is what he had to say:
So how did the name of “Loud Button” come about and become the name of the biz?
In the grand tradition of suggestive guitar pedal names, I wanted to choose a risqué name for the business. One night, my wife and I were tossing around various business names and when one of us pitched Loud Button, it stuck. There’s a button and the circuits provide amplification so it’s a fitting name. For more information on the pop culture reference, please see the online urban dictionary.
How long have you been building pedals as Loud Button?
Loud Button was founded in June, 2009.
What inspired you to start working on circuits/electronics?
It began in early childhood. I’m a throwback DIY-infused “space age”,(1950’s & 60’s). I’ve been a tinkerer all my life and was always mesmerized by electronics. I’m a former motorhead – focusing on the shortcomings of most things mass-produced. Over the past 20 years as a guitar player, I’ve thrown untold thousands at hyped claims and celebrity-endorsed equipment. Moving into modifying effects was a logical move and it led to building “from scratch”. I’ve spent the past couple of years doing nothing but experimenting and reading. I have a huge appetite for learning and electronics is such a challenging discipline. It’s my passion. It’s so satisfying to help someone find the sound they’re looking for. That excitement is compounded by seeing the pedals proudly shown off on albums or at a live show.
With pedal names like “Balls Deep”, “Bongwater Fuzz”, “Trem-o-fo” and “WTF” do you have a hard time coming up with the names for future pedals? Or do they just come out naturally?
The risqué and in some cases downright obscene names spring from my mind as well as close friends who are also customers. For the record, I didn’t name the “Balls Deep” overdrive pedal. But I ran with it. If it makes me blush, I know I’m onto something.
Are you working a new design now? If so.. what is it?
I love the design phase and I tend to get caught up in development and tweaks so I have to strive for balance. I have around twenty circuits in development and I’d love to release them all to production. Based on popular demand, I’ve got a clean blend mod for bass players. There’s also a sample & hold circuit that’s just getting out of control in terms of complexity. I’ve got a high-quality, transformer coupled A/B/Y switch that I offer by word-of-mouth as a one-off. Basically, I can build anything to customer request. People come to me with really imaginative ideas for effects and I love the challenge of pulling it off. I’m not interested in offering more of the same. In order for a circuit to make it to production, it has to offer something special.
What type of musician are you trying to reach with your pedals? Meaning is there a specific style or genre that these pedals are ideal for?
Ideally, I want to appeal to musicians of all styles and genres. I do have a wide variety of customers in terms of style. Minneapolis has a very vibrant music scene. My pedals are on the boards of country players, indie rockers, noise-pop, shoe gaze, classic rock and death metal. Bass guitar players are a massively under-served market and I spend a lot of time modifying and developing circuits that serve their needs. For example, Loud Button pedals are designed to work well with guitar or bass.
I see you have handmade circuit boards. Do you etch your copper or do you a CNC to cut the traces?
The boards are etched 1 oz. FR-4. We do it the old fashioned way with Ferric Chloride. I solder all of the traces – that’s another throwback to the 1960’s.
What would you say is your “flagship” pedal? And why?
The WTF certainly put me on the map. Everybody loves that thing – no matter their playing style. I built the prototype for a close friend who wanted a noise/synth effect. I still get carried away playing through them as I test every one before shipment. There are so many possibilities with the WTF. Every setting yields an inspiring and unique effect. It’s come to my attention that the WTF does “Dub Step” bass tones. I had to look it up on YouTube because I’m aging but I understand it’s a very popular genre. I get a lot of feedback from customers raving about audience members asking, “WTF are you doing to get those sounds?” The music business is all about standing apart from the crowd and the WTF can help that happen. I mean, who doesn’t want a pedal on their board that makes their guitar sound like a laser and says, “WTF” in large block letters?
What is one thing that absolutely pisses you off about other pedals? Something you try to avoid with yours.
I respect the differences between different manufacturers. Whatever they want to do is none of my business. I’m honored to be a part of the musical instrument marketplace. There are many impressive pedals out there. If someone’s product doesn’t measure up then it won’t survive in the marketplace. And then the discontinued product becomes rare and sought after by future generations who will pay obscene amounts of money just to have one. Lol!
I see you also do Pedal Modifications. Are there any modifications that you specialize in?
Most often, customers come to me with a pedal and a wish list. I just take it from there. I’ve done some amazing things for bass players in particular. Loud Button offers everything from the obligatory but cool DS-1 mods to Post-Phase Inverter Master Volumes on tube amplifiers.
How is the future looking for Loud Button?
The future looks very bright. I recently left my job to focus on Loud Button on a full-time basis. Loud Button also offers repair and modification of amplifiers, rackmount effects, mixing consoles and just about anything electronic that’s worth fixing. I also specialize in vacuum tubes – particularly testing and selection. The repair side alone is a constant flow with only word-of-mouth and I’m currently negotiating service deals with some major retailers. I’m just beginning to focus on marketing. It’s just my wife and I building the pedals. We’re a natural team and she burns circuit boards like nobody I’ve seen.
Can I buy your pedal direct from your site.. or do I have to find a dealer?
Direct from the website is currently the only way to get a Loud Button pedal. I’m currently working with dealers to get Loud Button into really great guitar shops.