Reverb Interview: Ryan Baucom of Tapestry Audio

If your pedalboard is no stranger to delays and tremolos, then you’re no stranger to the fact getting these effects to sync up perfectly can be one of the most aggravating parts of playing live. With the minute precision of tap tempos housed in different pedals, the difference of a few milliseconds can feel like an eternity. You might as well add “Tap Lessons” to your practice regimen with all the footwork you’re likely to do on your pedalboard.

The maverick minds of Tapestry Audio confronted this issue and created a solution: a pedal to synchronize effects with a universal BPM. These guys are no one-trick pony though; Tapestry boasts a range of effects solving problems musicians encounter in live settings. We spoke with company Owner and Founder Ryan Baucom about the challenges of synchronization, starting a business from the ground up, and what it’s like when a Harley is a few feet from your pedal workspace.

I’ve never seen products like what you guys are making. For those in our audience unfamiliar, could you describe what you make?

All of our current products are solutions to problems I have had playing guitar live and in the studio. The Time Traveler is the world's first tap tempo BPM controller that allows you to tap or set your tempo and save it to 10 presets. You can see the BPM you tapped in and fine tune the exact BPM using the knob. Once you have done that, you just click the knob to save the preset and use the left footswitch to scroll through the 10 presets. There are a lot of extra features like subdivision output (1/4, 1/8, dotted 1/8 and triplet), how many times you want the tap signal to be sent out, display brightness, number of presets and some other advanced functions. This allows you to sync up multiple delays, tremolos, and anything else with tap tempo so you can focus on playing and not tapping a bunch of pedals all the time.

The Time Track is fully functional click track pedal. Although it is optimized for live use, it is also a great tool to have for practice and in the studio. It's functions are very similar to the Time Traveler whereas it has 10 selectable presets which are all set to a BPM and time signature. Along with an audible click track output, it has a tap tempo out (like the Time Traveler) and a MIDI clock out (like the Midwife pedal). This pedal makes integrating a click track into your live setup easy and affordable.

The Wife is a remote tap tempo controller. It has one input and 4 isolated outputs that are all controlled by their own relay. When used with the Time Track or Time Traveler it allows your to sync up even more tap tempo effects.

The Midwife is a MIDI clock generator. It has a tap in and a MIDI output. When used with the Time Traveler it allows you to send out a MIDI clock signal at any BPM with preset subdivisions. It also can be used with a standard tap pedal instead of the Time Traveler.

The Knob Stop is the first device we have released that does not fall into the tempo syncing world, however, it is a solution based product as well. This device replaces your standard potentiometer knob and allows you to adjust the tension of your pedal's knobs or lock them down completely so when you kick your effects or throw your cables on top of your pedal board, the knobs stay where you left them.

What inspired you to create universal tempo pedals?

The idea for the Time Traveler happened when several of us who played music together found that our foot was always less accurate than the click track we were playing to. My friend John Paulo (who loved his boutique pedals) had an idea to have preset BPMs control all of his favorite pedals. Shortly after mentioning this, I realized how many times I would tap and re-tap pedals during a single song. It started to become maddening that I could never get everything to line up perfectly. So, we went to work and teamed up with some awesome engineers that helped develop the Time Traveler.

How did you create technology to synchronize BPM between separate pedals?

A good friend of mine, Liz Taylor (not the movie star), was in school for design and taking some classes in programming. I approached her to help make the original prototype, but soon her father, Tim Taylor (not the tool man), was involved and became the lead engineer on the project. He saw the project all the way through the Time Traveler V2 and the Wife V2 and I am forever grateful for his hard work and patience for a young guy who just wanted to create something that would hopefully assist people in their guitar playing.

Soon after releasing the Time Traveler V1, I was approached by kid in school named Josh Phua. He said he had been developing a similar product and ended up sending me videos of a new product that would become the Time Track 2 years later. Now we are good friends and he flies down from Chicago every couple of months to hang out and work on new pedals. Somewhere in those 2 years he designed the Midwife as well. During this whole process, my two best friends and business partners Alex Kauffman and Mike Moyer were actively involved in making all of this happen.

Since we had just opened up a motorcycle dealership around the same time, we all decided to work on both Tapestry Audio and the motorcycles together. It was interesting to be changing the oil on an old Harley and building pedals all in the same room, but we did it as long as we could until we eventually sold the dealership. Shortly after, Mike started a YouTube blog about finances which took off ( and Alex got his contractor's license and started Kauffman Construction in Sarasota, Florida. Also, Ryan Parker has done all of our graphic design and Rita Hinton has done all of our videos. I guess to answer your question, it has been a huge team that I am so thankful for.

Is the synchronization compatible with all pedals?

The Time Traveler can sync with NO (normally open) and NC (normally closed) pedals, which pretty much covers the bulk of them. With the use of the Midwife, you are able to sync most MIDI devices and have since been able to sync sound boards, lighting consoles, keyboards, and even our DAW software.

With the incorporation of electronic elements into live music, what are the possible applications of universal tempo not only between guitarist and pedals, but between guitarist and band?

With the use of the products we have available, the sky is the limit. Syncing aspects of live music has been something I have been doing for the last 7 years Suncoast Community Church (where my dad is the pastor). Currently at Suncoast, we have the click, backing tracks, lights, and words all automated off of one source. This means there is no light person, no word person, and a whole accompaniment of sounds happening perfectly every weekend.

After implementing these systems, I found that it is hard to look anywhere beyond automation when it comes to live performance. The products that I am looking to produce will continually further that synchronization that I feel has allowed people on a budget to improve their music and do things that were not possible before. When you want a vocal delay to ring out perfectly on time without having to tap in a tempo, or a synth's arpeggiator to switch from 120 BPM 1/4 note to 120 triplet in the middle of a chorus by clicking a button with your foot, these tools will become more and more used. With the Time Track being an all in one solution to these issues without having to buy a computer and software, I can see artist taking these tools and doing things consistently that would have taken so much effort a few years ago.

How can a musician use the different Tapestry Audio models in tandem?

The Time Traveler and Time Track could essentially run any and every tempo based effect, instrument, and console that is used in a live performance. From one of these devices paired with multiple Wife and Midwife pedals, you can sync an infinite number of things simultaneously. There is really no limit.

How can the Time Traveler or Time Track be manipulated in real time for more experimental effects? Can the BPM and click rate be actively altered during performance?

Both pedals are made and conceptualized by musicians who play out in many bands multiple times per week. We feel that is important because we understand what it actually feels like to actively use these products throughout a set. Since both pedals have 2 switches, this allows the musician to have the ability to spontaneously tap in a tempo, or select a new preset in the middle of a song without having to lean down and use your hands. With the subdivision output, for example, you can tap in a dotted 1/8 tempo into effects that before did not have that ability.

Any new frontiers in the Tap Tempo world you hope to conquer next?

Developing new products is the most fun and exciting part of Tapestry Audio. We have a couple of products in the sketch book that we hope to see in the near future. Some of those include new mechanical tapping technology that has not yet been seen, and also more live automation devices. The newest product that will be released though is a small active volume pedal called the Bloomery that is not driven by gears or string. I am planning the launch for later this year.

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