Trained as an electrical engineer but with a passion for music Mike Piera aka Analog Man is the perfect guide to the extremely dense world of effect pedals. He started by repairing desirable vintage pedals which led him to modifying, reproducing, and eventually manufacturing his own line of Analog Man Pedals. We visited with Mike in early March 2020 for this SLN podcast where we discuss the ever expanding world of effect pedals. His shop-office is a veritable museum of vintage pedals and musical ephemera. It is also the production line for his Analog Man line of pedals. If “Boutique” was a tern stolen from the fashion world let’s describe Analog Man pedals as “Bespoke” which means “Made to Measure” because Analog Man doesn’t build them until they are ordered. “Snake Oil” and “B S” are rampant in this corner of the music industry but Mike is the rare exception a straight shooter who knows his subject and tells it like it is.
You’ve been warned his pedals are highly addictive.
To Answer the U S made Gibson Maestro Fuzz Tone, Macari’s Music Exchange of Denmark St. in London commissioned the Tone Bender. It was a favorite of the early UK rock guitarist, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Mick Ronson and Pete Townsend. The circuit and housing /brand changed over time. The Sun Bender is Analog Man’s answer to that answer.
Everyone wanted more output and sparkle (treble) from their amps. Which had been Fenders sound from the beginning. Vox added “Top Boost Circuit” to some of their amps. Another U K way to achieve this was the Rangemaster Treble Booster. This unit predates “Stomp Boxes” intended to sit on the floor. The Beano Boost is Analog Mans way to get you there.
Forever held in high regard because of Jimi Hendrix use of them the Fuzz Face was sold in vast quantities. It’s safe to assume that in the Analog Man homage The Sun Face the original’s problem of picking up AM radio stations has ben solved.
Ahh The Ibanez Tube Screamer. You can spend a lot for an original and still not know what you’re getting. Much easier to get one from Mike that he’s optimized and be sure. If ou want a deep dive into The Tube Screamer go to Analog Mans website and check out his tube screanmer lore.
Mike’s tribute for the in demand Ross Compressor is his Analog Man Bi Comp. 2 count em 2 compressors in one! The Ross Compressor on the left and the MXR/Dan Armstrong on the right usable separately or together.
Mike tells us in the podcast that the chorus was the first pedal he produced for the Analogue Man line. Like all of his pedals the build quality of this pedal to say nothing of the rich sounds more than outpaces the competition.
Les Paul was one of the first to manipulate the musical signal of his early electric guitar to create recordings. “How High the Moon” and “Lover” had high pitched overdubbed parts resulting from sped up magnetic tape. To use in live performances, he directed the Gibson company to make 2 miniature replicas of his then current “Gold Top” guitar model. The guitar is one piece of mahogany neck and body with a rosewood fingerboard and headstock veneer. These small guitars allowed the audience to believe Les was actually playing the high pitched sounds on his recordings. In fact he may have actually used them since they are completely playable.
Another early effect with a sound all it’s own is the DeArmond Tremolo Control. Not electronically advanced today put still a marvel of mechanical engineering. It achieves its distinctive “warbling ” effect by routing the guitar’s signal through a glass vial of electrolytic solution that is vibrating. This vial of liquid is attached to a rubber edged wheel that is held by a spring to a tapered shaft that emerges from the center shaft of an electric motor. The speed of the motor is controlled by the “Speed” pot and the wet to dry depth is controlled by the Pot labeled “Increase” All very Gyro Gearloose.
If you’ve ever watched the great You Tube “Uncle Doug” you know why he’s our Mister Rogers. In the attached video he builds a replica DeArmond Tremolo Control, an absolute Must Watch for gear heads.
So what’s the deal with Clyde McCoy and why is this trumpet players name on the Wah Wah pedal used by guitarist ? In the early 1960s in Southern Calif. The Thomas Organ company were the importers (and eventually manufactures] of UK designed and produced JMI Vox amplifiers. Brad Plunket their engineer developed the pedal with an eye to marketing it to horn players who routinely took the rubber end from a “plumbers friend” which they held in their hand and fluttered in front of the bell of their horns to achieve a vocal like “Wah Wah” effect. For an endorser The Thomas Organ Co settled on local trumpet player of some note, Clyde McCoy. After all it worked for Gibson with Les Paul. Mr McCoy had nothing to do with the design or marketing of the device. The first Wah Wah pedals were made in Italy and featured a portrait of Clyde on the bottom soon to be reduced to just his name.
To see the Purple Peaker effect plugged directly into his Fender Jaguar, you’ll have to kook in the extreme lower left corner of this photo of Ry Cooder performing at the Ritz in NYC late 1980 . Dan Armstrong designed a line of 6 effects all housed in these small square boxes. The Purple Peaker had 3 positions : a hump in the treble, a hump added to the bass and no humps at all but still a low impedance signal for noise reduction and boost of low output but still good sounding pickups. This was a great show. Bobby King on vocals and John Hiatt who fooled the entire audience with a story about thanking Mr Cooder for hiring him on a work release program because he had been found “Guilty” by 8 men and 4 women “Guilty by the Jury of Love”.