"If I Wouldn't Use It, I Won't Make It.": Stuart Tate on Tate FX's Handbuilt Pedal Ethos

Best known as the drab backdrop to David Brent’s antics in The Office, Slough is far from a hub of the British music scene. However, Slough-based boutique builder Tate FX are producing some of the most talked about UK-built pedals for quite some time. Since January 2017, founder Stuart Tate has seen his company grow from a hobby into a full-fledged brand.

Tate FX Raise The Dead Fuzz

Sharing his origin story, Stuart recently told us, "I fell into pedal making by accident really. I wanted a Fuzz Face and it was before the new mini ones had been released. Coming from an engineering background, I thought, 'It can't be that hard to make one, can it?' Three failed Fuzz Face attempts later, I had a working Fuzz Face and also some burnt fingers! Pedal building became more of a focus when I made it my New Year's resolution to start a pedal company."

Though each Tate FX pedal has a very distinctive look, Stuart credits their success to what is going on inside the pedal itself.

"I liked the idea of making a quality product and having fun with it," he says. "The pedals have to sound amazing but also look aesthetically pleasing. I want people to hear the sound created by the pedals and hopefully hear that I have taken time, effort and a perfectionist’s mindset to make them sound that way. I would like to think that the high quality parts, design of the circuits, and precise component selection make Tate FX pedals stand out. Who knew that my compulsive, pedantic nature would come in useful?"

When creating new pedals, Stuart looks to improve on established classics by taking user feedback and incorporating it into his design decisions. His current pedals include the Rat-style BMB Overdrive, the JFET-based Booster clean boost, and a utilitarian true-bypass Buffer.

"Part selection is very important to me" - Stuart Tate

"I set out to make something that I would use myself. If I wouldn't use it, I won't make it. Part selection is very important to me and I'll spend hours swapping out different manufacturer’s versions of the same component until I'm happy with the sound. The recent designs have been out of a need to fix a problem. For example, I love fuzz. However, my favourite fuzz pedals don't always play well with other pedals and buffers," he says.

"Taking a classic fuzz tone and making it work with a modern pedal board was another interesting project for me, and resulted in the Raise The Dead Fuzz. For the artwork, I am lucky to have some very talented family and friends who can take my original concepts and turn them into high quality designs."

Each Tate FX pedal is handmade

With a number of highly regarded effects already available, what is next for Tate FX?

"I hope Tate FX will continue to grow and produce more interesting and unique offerings. I would like more people to be inspired to create music with them. It is the best feeling when a musician picks to record something using my effects."

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