This all started after creating my Instagram account (wha.. did you not know I was on Instagram? If not, give me a follow). I started following Pedal Projects and was seeing some great looking pedals being made. Definitely check out their website – Pedal Projects. I wanted to learn more and sent Ásgeir Helgi Þrastarson some questions for a mini-interview post. This is what he had to say:
How did Pedal Projects come into existence?
It’s really simple, I initially wanted to see what was going on inside the pedals that I already owned. At the time I had no idea what a single component even did. I started researching online, joining forums, asking questions and reading a lot until I got a basic grasp on a simple circuit. I decided to try and build a few simple pedals for myself but it ended up being so fun that I decided to sell them off and while I did that, I expanded on my knowledge and kept learning by building more complex circuits. Troubleshooting is a huge factor to the learning curve, for sure!
When I received the Owly I was excited to see you were from Iceland. Are there many builders in Iceland?
I’m the only builder who does it full time but there are guys who experiment and build for themselves and maybe occasionally for friends
I know basic components would be coming in from other countries, but are you able to source local parts/services for your pedals?
I actually don’t source a single part here in Iceland. The only thing I could claim to be locally sourced is packing material, which I get from a local furniture shop. Instead of them throwing it out, I reuse them to keep the pedals safe in the box. I’ve spent a lot of time sourcing sellers all over the world to get the best prices I can find. This is in fact a lot cheaper than buying anything here.
What got you interested in electronics?
I’ve always been fairly handy and a very quick learner, no matter what I do. If it sparks my interest, I won’t have a tough time learning it. Like I mentioned in the first answer, I wanted to know what was going on inside pedals so that’s basically the reason for it. Also being able to fix pedals and build for myself is great!
When you design/build your pedals, are you targeting a certain type of musician?
No not really, like with my latest release “Growly” I didn’t have any specific type of musician in mind. I just wanted a good sounding overdrive with a unique twist and add my Owly booster to it for versatility. In the end, I’d say I make what I think sounds good so if other people like it too, that’s great!
Are there any musicians playing Pedal Projects that a few of these readers might know?
Yeah I’m happy to have a bunch of great guys using Pedal Projects products. It’s a blend of production pedals and custom pedals. Ben Weinman of Dillinger Escape Plan has two, Daniel of No Bragging Rights has a few, Rhett Smith has a custom pedal and then a bunch of Icelandic guys that probably wouldn’t be considered worldwide famous but they’re keeping busy here. I had a chance for the guitarists of “Of Mice And Men” to have an Owly each for their current tour but USPS messed up a shipment so they didn’t get there in time.
One thing that catches my eyes about your pedals.. are your circuit board (PCBs). Frankly, they’re works of art. The Growly is a perfect example of this. Why do you put this much attention to cosmetic look of the board.. that is rarely seen?
Oh yeah they’re lovely, aren’t they? I don’t design the layout myself. I have a guy who lives in Finland who does the PCB designs for me. I hand him the schematics, we discuss it and throw ideas back and forth and end up with a nice design. His name is Teemu and he will be launching his own pedal business under the name Manala FX, that’s something to look forward to! Anyways, I think having a nice looking PCB is a good thing and people like to see that there attention paid to the design of the PCB. If there’s anyone who know’s how to make beautiful PCBs, it’s Jack Deville of Mr. Black Pedals.
When you’re designing pedals, what are the important points you’re trying to always achieve.. or avoid?
Hmm, well I want something that sounds good and is visually appealing so I guess that’s the main thing. I’m also all for simple circuits if possible but if the pedal calls for a complex circuit, that’s fine too. I generally don’t like internal trimmers or switches but in the case of the Klone, there’s a switch to select buffered or true bypass mode which I don’t think should be external. The Growly has an internal gain trimmer because I wanted to take the attention away from it. It’s the most used knob on an overdrive and I want people to interact with the pedal from a different perspective and use the other knobs to shape the tone. The pedal is also very responsive to different playing styles and guitars.
What is your favorite pedal.. that is not yours.. and why?
Oh man, that’s a tough one! I’d have to say my Retro Mechanical Labs 432 Distortion. It’s such a cool pedal, features a vintage meter on it that reacts to the pedal. It’s super versatile and well made!
How can people purchase a Pedal Projects pedal?
They’re only available through me. For the standard production pedals, they’re available at www.pedalprojects.com if they’re in stock. For custom pedals, people need to contact me and discuss details about it.
Do you offer custom services? If so, how do you go about it?
Yeah that’s pretty much the way I started off, by making pedals the way people wanted them. I moved into making standard production models later on to keep a steady flow of builds and sale. The process is simple. People contact me about what they want and we bounce ideas back and forth until we’ve settled on something that the customer wants and that I can do. Because I build every single pedal with my two hands, I can only build so many at a time. That means there’s a wait for custom pedals and right now it’s 5-7 weeks but that might change, depending on how many orders are on wait.
Do you ever say ‘no’ to a custom build? And why.
I hardly ever do it but after getting to know other builders, I don’t want to clone their pedals out of respect for their work. It all depends on what the customer wants in the end. I won’t say no to any kind of artwork though.
Do you have a new design in the works? If so, can you give us a clue what’s next?
I have some ideas in my head but I’m not working on them until I’ve converted all my pedals to PCB designs for now. I’m focusing on that and getting all models in stock so that people don’t have to wait for them. It’s a slow but steady process. Once that’s all done, I will be releasing some new stuff. I want to cover all the range so you can expect to see tremolos, possibly chorus, delay and more drive-type pedals.
Definitely take a moment and check out Pedal Projects. He’s making some great pedals!!!