This is Fuzzrocious: Know Your Pedal Smith

Fuzzrocious represents everything we love about handmade, boutique guitar gear. Each pedal is made with a dedication to the craft of pedal making and a passion for the music it helps create.

We recently talked to Ryan from Fuzzrocious about his pedals and heard also from some of his most notable fans about why they love Fuzzrocious effects.

What is your favorite non-Fuzzrocious pedal? How did it influence your approach to pedal creation?

The pedal that I have owned the longest at this point is the Moog Freqbox. In layman's terms, it turns your guitar or bass into a synth. It has envelope filter, waveform, drive, frequency, blending, and fuzzy modulation features to help the user dial up a lot of cool dirty synth sounds, but most importantly it has expression outputs in the back to let you operate one of the pots (knobs) via an expression pedal to let you sweep a frequency or make an envelope sweep scream!

This pedal opened my tone, sound, and playing on bass in unbelievable ways allowing me to be different that most other bassists in bands. It's been with me for around 6 or so years now and it's something that I still use from time to time in personal writing (when I have time to do so in PLUTONIAN). The Freqbox inspired me to make a short-lived pedal called, "The Terrordactyl," which was a fuzz/envelope filter. In the big picture, it reminds me to keep making fun, weird, noisy, dirty pedals that sound awesome on every instrument a customer can plug into it.

What is your favorite pedal type?

I love delays and reverbs most of all because the add texture to what a musician plays and influences how they play a song or part of a song. A close second is "dirt." I love making fuzz, overdrive, and distortion pedals because I like what they do to an instrument. I don't like unaffected guitar/bass in what I play and the bands I listen to. I want to hear dirty tones most of the time and it's a dream to be a part of making people's clean tones sound dirtier than they would without our pedals.

What song/album featuring Fuzzrocious pedals makes you most proud?

Oh, come on...now you want me to name favorites?! Fine. The top three that immediately come to mind are:

  1. O'Brother "Poison! (Alternate Version)" from Basement Window - when the bass comes in around the 45 second mark, our Demon with gate/boost DESTROYS. I don't care how cocky that sounds! The gating of that dirty bass sounds like NIN incarnate. Just nasty.
  2. Queens of the Stone Age Like Clockwork - the cake is knowing that thousands upon thousands of people dig this band and when they play Like Clockwork, our Demon (with some special mods built in) is used on the some of the most key parts of the album. The icing on said cake is that Troy van Leeuwen from Queens believed in us and brought us into the Queens' camp introducing us to the band, who also use our gear, and the crew that helps them bring their vision and sound to the masses in the studio and live. Being accepted with open arms into this group of people (including the techs and production team) is special. Being a part of the music that a band makes is cool, but growing a friendship and having your pedals heard by "the masses" is extra cool.
  3. Russian Circles "309" from Empros - When Brian Cook's bass get eeeeeeextra dirty on 309, I want to take off from the stage and run across the crowd's collective heads. When I lose my balance and fall on top of the crowd, my fists and feet would leave no face untouched. I am 6' 4" and 175 lbs. You're all ****ed.
  4. A very, very close fourth is the bass on "Field of Zzzz" by Young Widows. The whole song is next level bonkers for me and the bass tone in that song SCREAMS Rat Tail.

What trend/technique/style really bothers you in the pedal industry?

So many companies lack the personal connection. I hear from customers often that they are surprised that we replied so quickly (usually within an hour or three during the day or 12 hours if sent overnight) or that we replied at all! When I write to or call a company on the phone, the last thing I want to get is no reply or a stock/automated response. We are people and so are you, so why can't we talk like normal people? If you listen, are understanding, helpful, honest, and polite, usually people will reciprocate. It's pretty simple.

Other than that, the relationship between consumers/customers and many companies on social media and forums is a broken, but mendable process. I see a lot of negative language, posting, etc. from the consumer and either no or very little response/action from companies. The internet isn't going away and even though there are so awful aspects to internet life, the positive is that it opens ALL of us to the opportunity to talk together. To the company - be prompt, be present, and be helpful. To the consumer - remember that the people who are making a product are people who may have a family hinging upon the income generated from said product, so reach out to the people who are part of the company you're unhappy with and think before trashing the company or product. You could be ruining someone's life over something as trivial (in the big picture of life and living) as gear.

Why do we use pedals? how would you describe a pedal’s value? One criticism of guitar pedals might say that they are crutches for guitarists with weak chops? that they have as much to do with guitar talent as Instagram filters have to do with photography. How would you (ryan) respond?

People like use pedals for many reasons - for fun, to be weird or different, to help a song or part of a song shine based on that "thing" that a pedal can do, or to cover up minor playing mistakes. I have fallen into these four categories before...hell, I have fallen into all four of these categories on a song that I used effects on! When it comes to the argument that pedals are crutches, that's a subjective argument. Yeah, some of us use fuzz to cover up our mistakes in playing, but at the same time not all of us want to play perfectly. I am a fan of happy mistakes and sometimes pedals make accidents into sonic gold. Anyway, if you break your foot, you don't HAVE to use crutches. You could limp, use a cane, use crutches, or use a wheelchair. With pedals, you can play without effects, add them digitally in post, or play with effects - it's all about what the effect does FOR the player or song. Fuzzrocious isn't out to change a person who doesn't believe in effects into a pedal junkie. We'll just be here if s/he is ready to open his/her mind and give us a chance!

A pedal's monetary value combines a lot of different factors - length of time it takes to build (or in our case, paint), amount of parts, availability and sourcing of rare parts, amount of employees...the list goes on. Our biggest factor in the cost of a pedal goes back to how much the pedal costs to make and how much of my and Shannon's time is worth. We don't add value to a pedal with mojo parts or cool factor. We have to make some profit to pay bills, feed the family, and provide our children with as comfortable a life as we can give them, but we also keep the price as low as we can to squeak by.

A pedal's worth in terms of how important it is to the music world or the tone world is up to the user(s) and shouldn't be on the creator. The joy of this job is to make cool shit for people and get a little something in return to keep the gears turnin'.

What would you tell an amateur pedal-maker about getting into this business?

Start slow and stay slow until you can afford to move faster, be present for customers/potential customers, be willing to make mistakes and learn from them (and admit mistakes to your customers), have a sense of humor, let go of your ego, be supportive and friendly to other pedal builders, be present for your family, have a backup plan if pedals don't pan out, and don't be a creep to musicians.

Fuzzrocious Artists

Mike Hranica

Mike Hranica - The Devil Wears Prada

Pedals of Choice: The Demon, Custom Grey Stache

"For my Demon, I run volume at about one o’clock, tone at nearly three, and drive at around eleven. I’ve of course fooled around and adjusted, but I’ve set and kept the pedal at this for a while. It sounds awesome and gives great character for a high gain sound in front of my Verellen Skyhammer."

Brian Cook

Brian Cook - Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes, Botch, Roy

Pedals of Choice: The Demon, Rat Tail.

"I distinctly remember getting my first pedal--the Rat Tail--from them in the mail. I plugged in with it, didn't even touch the settings at all, and hit a note. Right off the bat, it was like "yesssss." There was no searching for a sweet spot, it was already there. My Demon is on for 75% of the set. It's just my standard tone, and sometimes I'll stack the Rat Tail on top of it for a really blown-out distortion."

Brian Southall

Brian Southall - The Receiving End of Sirens, Boysnightout, Fordirelifesake, The Company We Keep, Pagoda

Pedals of Choice: Every damn pedal they make, forever.

"In recording, I've used the pedals on drums, guitars, synths, and vocals: all with great results. For live use, I typically have each pedal set for different phases of the heavy. I've known Ryan and Shannon for years and they know exactly what I want when it comes to tone and custom art. Where else can you get custom fat 1990s wrestlers on your fuzz pedals?"

Stephen Brodsky title=

Stephen Brodsky - Cave In, Solo, Mutoid Man

Pedals of Choice: Heliotropic

"I crank both knobs on the left, set the 2nd knob from the right between 3 and 4 o'clock, and the knob furthest to the right around 10 o'clock. Sounds like "Wolverine Blues" caught in the wheel of a breaking train…It's the Ratajski family's talent and generosity that makes them such a force to be reckoned with in the world of electronic goodies."

Jonathan Hischke title=

Jonathan Hischke - Dothacker, Sweethead, Broken Bells, Hella

Pedals of Choice: Dark Driving, Heliotropic, Rat Tail

"There are many settings on the Heliotropic that are unique to it. I couldn't pick just one! I love the Dark Driving for recording situations that require some furriness, and the Rat Tail for live shows- cutting through everyone else's muck!"

Ronald Petzke title=

Ronald Petzke - Bongripper

Pedals of Choice: Demon King, Custom Demon/Grey Stache

"When it comes to Bongripper, I don't turn my Demon King off...with our latest record, Miserable, there isn't a note on that record where the bass doesn't have the Demon King on. I'll roll back the volume on my bass occasionally to clean it up, but you're not going to hear my bass without some sort of dirt going on anymore, and for the last few years, all that dirt it is coming from a Fuzzrocious pedal."

Matt Armstrong title=

Matt Armstrong - Murder By Death

Pedals of Choice: Rat Tail, Grey Stache, Broke Dick Peanut Gallery

"I work with Fuzzrocious because they're great people making great products. I prefer to work with companies that care about their products and the people using them. You don't get that from some big faceless company. I love the family aspect of the company and you have always taken great care of me professionally and as pals."

Nick Reinhart title=

Nick Reinhart - Tera Melos

Pedals of Choice: Demon King

"My demon king has a momentary switch for the feedback loop (there's also a latching option available). When it's on you get a blast of feedback that's tunable via a knob on the pedal. Then you can mess with that sound by tweaking with the volume control on your guitar…. It works great as a sweet overdrive to a full blown heavy distortion for me live and in the studio. The gate/boost switch also makes it a little nastier sounding- kind of a broken distortion pedal sound, which I'm really into. So it's kind of three pedals in one- an overdrive, broken distortion and a weird synth."

Dave Ed title=

Dave Ed - Neurosis

Pedals of Choice: Rat Tail, Grey Stache, The Demon

"They're my non-clean tone, recording and live, and replaced a (Civil War) Big Muff, Tube Screamer, and Metal Zone I used previously....Critical ears that heard something lacking in our sound, but conceded that all pedals have some sorta "tone-suck" factor happening when bass players dared to sizzle their signal with a guitar pedal. No longer true thanks to [these] little wonders."

Jeff Klein title=

Jeff Klein - My Jerusalem

Pedals of Choice: The Demon, Grey Stache, Custom MXR Blue Box Clone, Afterlife

"First and foremost, the quality of the craftsmanship is fantastic. Every pedal can get a variety of tones, from creamy to bone shattering. There are a lot of unique spins on classic ideas. The customer service is also unbeatable. If you have any questions, concerns, or hair brained ideas, Ryan is eager to help. And I love that it's a family business. Shannon's artwork is just as great as Ryan's wiring, having their kids involved in the process is fantastic. I put my heart and soul into my music and I like knowing they do the same with their pedals. It's a perfect match."

Henry Kohen title=

Henry Kohen - Mylets

Pedals of Choice: Tremorslo

"The dual speed function rules and you can get some pretty gnarly, Aphex Twin sounds by alternating between the fastest and slowest settings. Ryan (and Shannon) have been nothing supportive of me, even far before we had met or I was using their pedals, so it really meant a lot when they brought a pedal out to a show for my birthday."

Taylor Madison title=

Taylor Madison - Superheaven

Pedals of Choice: Custom Demon King

"I use my Demon King live as my main drive pedal, but we also used it on our new record and it sounds great. It's my sound now…We work with Fuzzrocious because not only do they make excellent pedals, but they're great people too. Extremely easy to work with. Nothing better than a good ol' family business."

Josh Newton title=

Josh Newton - Sie Lieben Maschinen, With Knives, The Damned Things, Every Time I Die, From Autumn To Ashes, Shiner, Glazed Baby, Reggie and the Full Effect

Pedals of Choice: Envelope Filter, Custom Demon, Custom Delay Freakout

"I love team Fuzzrocious. They are good people doing things the right way. Their efforts are appreciated. Having people I believe in making my stuff is important to me."

John LaMacchia title=

John LaMacchia - Candiria, Spylacopa

Pedals of Choice: Vagina Dentata, Tremorslo

"I work with Fuzzrocious because it is a family owned and managed business and I know that there is a ton of love and dedication going into every single pedal that is sold. I also love the product itself, Fuzzrocious offers some of the best sounding effects pedals you can buy and the prices won't break the bank!"

Jesse Matthewson title=

Jesse Matthewson - Ken Mode

Pedals of Choice: Demon King

"Live, I utilized it as my primary overdrive on our recent Euro tour and festival appearances, which was a godsend when I'm not using my regular rig. I started on a recommendation, now it's just because the product rules and those guys are too nice."

Nick Cageao title=

Nick Cageao - Mutoid Man

Pedals of Choice: Custom ABY

"The pedal allows me to run a "dirty rig" (sound city x188 into Marshall superbass 412) and a "clean rig" (peavy mark 4 into marshal superbass215) with a Db boost on the clean channel."

O’Brother title=

O’Brother - Johnny Dang, Anton Dang, Tanner Merritt, Jordan McGhin, Michael Martens

Pedals of Choice: Two Demons, Custom Grey Stache, Rat Tail, Custom Demon King, Ram The Manparts, Custom Disillusion Feedback

"Since we started using Fuzzrocious Pedals, we've written and based a few songs off of the gate alone. That's always been the thing that I've personally liked most about my Demon, aside from the heavy tone. When I drone a chord with the setting I use with the gate turned on, it sounds like my amp is blowing up. When I mute the guitar or turn on a kill switch, it sounds like it's fizzling out, almost like a fuse is blown. Then it comes to complete silence like the amp has died."

Travis Shettel title=

Travis Shettel - TS and the Past Haunts, Piebald, Totally Travis

Pedals of Choice: Demon King, Rat Tail

"My Rat Tail isn't labeled, because it is awesome and personalized, but I usually like the top row of knobs at 7/8, 1/3, and 7/8 and the lower row both at 3/4 giving me those J Mascis-esque screeching guitar tones in both settings."

Jake Woodruff title=

Jake Woodruff - defeater, dreamtigers

Pedals of Choice: Demon King

"Fuzzrocious Pedals’ pedals sound gnarly! They are the definition of a family-run small business. And we drank some kind of weird vodka kool-aid the summer we met, that kind of sealed the deal."

Dan Briggs title=

Dan Briggs - Between The Buried and Me, Trioscapes

Pedals of Choice: Ram the Manparts, Terrordactyl, Rat Tail

"I was really looking for a fuzz that would sound like the utter end of the world, speakers breaking, all that good stuff. The "Ram the Manparts" was exactly what I was hearing in my head. It was freaky when I hooked that up first in the studio and it was like "Well, that's it!"."

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