One of the great benefits for me to having this blog is to continually meet new people out there. Sometimes those people are builders, and that can get really exciting. I’m always amazed the number of people that are creating and starting shops around the world to effect a guitar signal in some way. I always find it inspiring – because the passion and drive to do this high, and often the payback is little – especially as they’re starting out.
Recently, I received an email from Alejandro Sauter of eQ.circuitos. He wanted to let me know what he was up to and after checking out his website, I was super into it. Often times, you listen to the pedal with your eyes first. I have to say, I’m a sucker for the look of his pedals. I loved the punched lettering and the orange knobs. Stylistically, they look great and appreciate the consistency in their appearance between models.
But how do they sound? Alejandro sent me sound clips:
Here is the Phuzzer:
Here is the Vibrato Coral:
But as you know.. I absolutely love Knobs videos, so I was especially excited about this video:
So, as you can see/hear, they sound pretty great. But I wanted to know a little more about the guy behind eQ.cicuitos, so I sent Alejandro a few questions to learn more about the business. Check it out:
Talking with Alejandro Sauter of eQ.cicuitos
– So where are you located?
Playa Herradura, Jaco, Costa Rica. 3km from the beach.
-What is it like being a pedal builder there?
Its kind of isolated but also exciting.
I’m pretty sure I’m one of the first ones to build pedals and sell them, so there’s not many people to turn to for advice or inspiration. Getting materials is kind of difficult. But it is exciting to be able to offer something unique to the local musicians, and to offer new services that weren’t available before, like custom builds, modifications, repair.
– When did eQ.Circuitos start?
I started the company like two years ago. First only locally for Costa Rica, but last year I made the move to go international. And it has been well received in other countries so I’m really happy to be able to keep doing this.
– What got you interested in building pedals?
Well, when I got into playing electric guitar, pretty quickly I began to be really interested in effects, emulating the sounds of records, figuring out what those sounds were made of. My major effects machine was a Boss ME50 (I still have, played it today actually), and with that I had access to many effects, and it had kind of a “separate pedals” feel to it, so it got me wondering into switching to getting individual pedals. Then the problem and solution came. Problem: no money. Solution: I studied electrical engineering, which I chose because I thought it was the career that would get me closest to Recording Engineering (a career that was no available in Costa Rica back then), so I had the knowledge necessary to get into building my own pedals. Then a real passion and obsession began (and it keeps going and growing…)
– What was the first pedal you fell in love with as a musician.. and why?
Crybaby Wah. I used so much I got named “The Wah Abuser”. Some of my friends were not to happy I got that pedal.
– What was the first pedal in your line? And why did create that particular pedal first?
The Strahl Fuzz and Vibrato Coral were the first two pedals I launch as line pedals (before I just did custom pedals, and one offs). The Strahl is my interpretation of the BMP style fuzz. When I got to sound good I felt in love with that circuit. I twisted it to have some real meat in it, and I put a Mids control (called “charge”). The latest version also has a density switch, so you can choose from super meaty (super saturated and full of low end), medium (saturated and with a little bit less low end to get it to have a more focused sound), and thin (very little low end, sounds like an overdrive).
The Vibrato Coral is my lo-fi PT2399 modulated delay machine. It has some real unique character, and does some real twisted pitch warbling, can do chorus, vibrato, and some space like modulated delay.
I launched these two pedals first because they represent my design, style and preferences well: fuzz and delay (my two favorite effects I might say), both have more option than regular fuzzes and delays out there, and they are pretty experimental.
– Do you have a particular philosophy when creating pedals? focus on NOS components, build quality, etc
I want to create something unique, usually with more options to tweak the sound than most common pedals, I want it to be an instrument by itself, something that makes you experiment and search for new sounds and new ways to play, andÂ I want the circuit to be experimental and give you the opportunity to find the “errors” in the pedal, those beautiful glitches and noises that give character and texture to the sound.
– I absolutely love the look of your pedals – punched lettering and orange knobs. What led you in that direction?
Well, I love the industrial machine look of many recording equipment and from other pedals too, that’s why I chose the bare metal with stamps look. But I also love knobs, color, and some kind of humor, that’s why I chose those vintage orange knobs, to make the pedal stand out and not look boring. Maybe I’ll play with some knob color variations and some graphics in the future.
– Are there any notable players using eQ.Circuitos?
Right now my clients are more on the underground or local scene. But I did give Janek Gwizdala a Vibrato Coral, and I know he has it in his pedal collection, so maybe he is using it (he definitely liked it when we tried together).
I hope some other notable players get interested and give eQ.circuitos a chance to help them find new sounds.
But after all, my main goal is to give all kinds of musicians a pedal they get inspired by and create new music. My clients might be guitar players, bass players, synth players, sound designers, DJs, electronic music producers, etc…
– Are there any new pedals planned for the future that you’re willing to talk about?
I have a couple of designs ready to launch real soon. One is a tremolo, with some choppy sounds and cool modulations. The other is a pretty radical compressor that lets you do some stuff that normal compressors don’t let you do.
– With your business, looking back, is there anything you would have done differently – and why?
Not really (although I have made mistakes for sure)…I’m still learning and growing everyday, so I am not really looking back right now, I am just being here right now and looking forward.
– Besides yourself, are there any pedals/builders that you admire? And why?
Oh, for sure. Fairfield Circuitry (Meet Maude), Dwarfcraft Devices (Eau Clair Thunder), Earthquaker Devices (Fuzz Central), WMD (Protostar), Mantic Conecptual (Flex), 4ms (Noise Swash), Industrailectric (4046)…and all the crazy inventors, innovators and creators out there.
eQ.circuitos is making some great stuff. It’s priced well. Sounds and look fantastic. If you’re looking for something the other guitar players in your world don’t have, you might want to take a serious look here. For more information and to make a purchase, check out the links below:
Please let me know what you think by commenting below!
6 years ago
I like that there are decent products of this nature coming out of Latin America. It’s an underrepresented region in terms of design, construction and marketing. Every culture has an interesting take on creating their version of an existing product and that makes for new, formerly unheard of sounds in our arena. The return is the creativity that player was imbued with on hearing the novel sounds. Now of course I realize that these are not hugely different or new sounds than what 100 others offer. Yet it’s those nuanced differences, like how one diamond differs from another in splendor; the difference in how one facet was cut can make all the difference.Reply