Less Stock, More Rock: The 5 Best Pedal Modding Companies

Modding pedals wasn’t exactly a common practice, even after Brian Wampler penned what is essentially the DIY pedal bible, How to Modify Guitar Pedals. This book, albeit incredible, failed to grab the public’s attention; luckily, several builders got the message. Soon, pedal mods were all the rage, and it seems like almost everyone was taking in lower-cost units, hacking them apart and refitting them with better parts and a renewed sense of purpose. Mods were and are cool. Several years later, the amount of companies doing it has dwindled, and only the cream largely remains. Here are the five creamiest:

Analogman

What it does: If there’s one logo around the boutique pedal industry with staying power, it’s the Analogman Sun Face. Any player who’s ponied up and gotten serious about his or her pedals knows the Analogman logo and the mythical touches it imparts onto any pedal lucky enough to grace it. Analogman’s Mike Piera is widely regarded as one of the godfathers of the boutique industry and the company has stayed largely independent, mostly foregoing dealers and opting to sell its products on its own website. Since its inception, Analogman has steadily built up to a line of original boxes including a slew of chorus pedals, compressors, fuzzes, overdrives and even a delay, but in its modest beginnings, it found itself as one of the only pedal modders out there, and the company is often cited as imperative in the industry because of it.

The brand’s website is filled enough knowledge to satiate even the hungriest pedal nerd, and contains a particularly juicy section highlighting the ins and outs of all things Tube Screamer. It should come as no surprise then, that Analogman’s bread and butter lies in this realm.

Coolest offering: TS-9 Silver Mod

With all the gear to which Trey Anastasio of Phish has access, Analogman’s Silver Mod beats them all. In fact, the tone is so great, that the man has two of them on his board, and it is one mod recipe that has eluded the DIY community.

Keeley

What it does: These days, it’s impossible to talk about gear without Robert Keeley’s name coming up. The man was one of the first out of the boutique gate, offering up mods and whatnot to bedroom players and high-profile guitarists alike. Chances are, the term “true bypass,” as well as blue LEDs, likely owe its popularity to the man. The eventual release of the Time Machine Boost, and subsequently, the two-knob Compressor, catapulted Robert and company to elite status among gear slingers. Lately, Keeley has released a large number of boxes, but the mod work never stopped. In fact, Keeley is one of the rare companies that sells new, pre-modded Boss and Ibanez pedals, and due to the ubiquity of these pieces, they remain some of Keeley’s best-selling items. Between a large swath of Boss and Ibanez mainstays, such as the DS-1, MT-2, TS9 and others, Keeley has been at it longer than most, and as a result, some of his mods—though they have individual names—are just known as “the Keeley mod,” because the name is synonymous with quality.

Coolest offering: DS-1 Seeing Eye Mod

Though people know the umbrella of Keeley mods as “the Keeley mod,” the man offers two DS-1 mods. One, the Ultra Mod, involves no changes to the cosmetics of the pedal, but the Seeing Eye Mod does. Robert drills out the “O” in the word “Tone” and installs an LED that lights up as players strike the strings. Though it’s visible, it’s actually a clipping diode, which is extra cool.

JHS

What it does: While many companies focus on a handful of pedals on which to impart modding expertise, JHS currently offers mods for 61 different pedals. Unlike many widespread mod operations, JHS only offers some pedals brand new, offering the other mods on pedals bought, paid for and mailed to JHS headquarters. In offering so many mods, JHS is bound to touch on many mods that other solderjockeys just don’t offer, such as mods to the Klon KTR, Rockett Archer and Electro-Harmonix C9. Some pedals, such as Tube Screamers, have a huge amount of mods available, from higher-gain reworkings to true bypass and voicing mods. Of course, JHS has a wide array of proprietary circuits as well, but this humongous mod shop isn’t going anywhere.

Coolest offering: Meat & 3 (Soul Food mod)

It’s tough to choose anything other than this, simply because the mod sounds great and is seen on many boards. It adds to the Soul Food a vital control: bass contour. When combined with a setting that switches the stock diodes with germanium parts, it’s easy to see why it’s a winner.

Fromel Electronics

Fromel Electronics Boss HF-2 Hi Band Flanger Modification Kit

What it does: Seattle’s John Fromel has been at the helm of Fromel Electronics for quite a while, and in that time, he has partitioned his eponymous company into three areas: original circuits, pedal mods and amp mods. Fromel’s original circuits are all great, if not (unfortunately) lesser-known. Its Velvet Vice pedal is an incredible compressor and the Shape EQ is a highly versatile tone-sculpting tool (and likely Fromel’s best-known device). The pedal mods Fromel offers are of the kit variety; would-be modders buy a bag of parts from Fromel along with a diagram which details what part goes where on your own pedal. Because of a mod to a woefully underrated pedal to be named later, real pedal nerds know that Fromel’s mods are the real deal, and the man’s name is quietly whispered among tone geeks as a man whose word is to be taken without quibble.

Coolest offering: Boss HF-2 mod

Real pedal nerds know that the Boss Hi-Band Flanger is among the company’s greatest modulation pedals. In fact, there are few people that know of any other flanger in the Boss line aside from the BF-2 and BF-3. Unfortunately, the HF-2 was left in the dust, with its devotees grabbing up all they can in the used marketplace. While Fromel has figured out a way to make it better (and succeeded, mind you), the fact that Fromel recognizes its tonal greatness and improves so vastly on it should be considered as a testament to his golden ear.

T1M

What it does: T1M, acronym for This 1s Myne, has been a fixture of the pedal game for longer than most people have been in it. For a long time, Dan of T1M offered just one original circuit, the Pearl, but has expanded his circuits to boosts, overdrives and voltage doublers. T1M’s bread and butter has been small “utility” boxes, such as tap tempos, signal routers and true bypass loopers, of which he has sold a large amount. In fact, over 20 of these types of boxes are currently for sale on T1M’s website, leading one to ask if there are really that many utility boxes that exist in the world. Such is T1M’s market cornering of this category that all these types exist, but that hungry customers will wait extended periods of time for some of them. His pedal mods are nascent but very cool. One of them involves installing a second set of knobs on an Electro-Harmonix Micro Pog along with an extra footswitch, essentially giving the Micro Pog two pre-set knob configurations. In this vein, his coolest mod is likely…

Coolest offering: Eternal Moon (Mr. Black Supermoon preset mod)

The Mr. Black Supermoon is a modern classic reverb pedal, combining an outstanding sounding reverb with a hint of modulation that can span many seconds and fully flesh out a dull track. Several players employ two Supermoon pedals because one setting is simply not enough, and bending down to adjust the knobs mid-set is wholly impractical. The Eternal Moon mod adds a separate footswitch while moving the other one elsewhere, along with three concentric potentiometers for a second set, just like the aforementioned Micro POG. This adds what amounts to two Supermoons in one, a must for space-starved players.

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