Seller Spotlight: Vick Audio

Since opening his Reverb shop in April, Mike Vickery of Vick Audio has been selling up a storm with affordable, hand-wired effects that capture the tone of some of the all time classic stompboxes. We recently talked to Mike about the Vick Audio pedal line-up, his influences, and what goes into designing a line of boutique effects pedals.

Vick Audio Fuzz Box image

How did you get started in the pedal making game?

I have my son to thank for getting into pedal making. I have always been fascinated with pedals and decided to try my hand at building some to give to my boy as Christmas presents one year. This turned into a small obsession with pedal making, which turned into Vick Audio.

Do you have a background in electronics?

I have worked with electronics for a while but I do not have a formal education. By profession I am a computer programmer and database designer. My first foray into electronics was wiring up a pickguard for my Strat and hacking my Wii console.

Lots of Vick pedals channel the classic dirt effects of the '60s and '70s. What is it about this era of guitar effect that inspires you? What stands out about these types of tones?

I grew up in the Detroit area around the '80s and at that time there were four or five great classic rock radio stations. I never really embraced the '80s pop music so I was pretty much weaned on classic rock. My tastes have expanded over the years but '60s and '70s classic rock and '90s grunge will always be special to me. The guitar tones of these eras had a dark aggressiveness that I have tried to emulate.

What players or bands have most inspired your pedals and the sounds you try to create?

From the classic rock era I really have been influenced a lot by Jimi Hendrix and Dave Gilmour. From the 90’s Jerry Cantrell’s work in Alice in Chains and The Smashing Pumpkins Gish tone stand out to me.

Are any Vick Audio pedals particularly adept at a specific style? Is there one, for example, that works best for metal? How about blues?

Vick Audio Tweed Tone

When you design a pedal there is always going to be a give and take. Some of my pedals are one trick ponies and some are more versatile. As an example the Tweed Tone is the pedal I use to get a Blues tone. However, it's a strictly a medium to medium-high gain range pedal. It was designed to sound like an old tweed amp driven to within an inch of its life. It does not have any low gain or super high gain tones, however it should work well with all guitar equipment.

The Black Bird Overdrive is probably my most versatile pedal. It has a ton of output and at lower gain higher volumes you can use it as a dirty boost. At medium gain you get a nice bluesy break up and if you crank up the gain all the way it goes to a very aggressive fuzz. However this versatility comes at a price. If you have very high output pickups and you want to crank the gain all the way it is just going to be too loud even at lower volumes. That being said if someone was looking for a bluesy sound I would steer them towards a Black Bird or a Tweed Tone.

If they wanted a vintage classic rock tone I would recommend one of the Classic Big Muff Reproductions the Fuzz Box or the Astro Fuzz. If they were looking for a little more modern voicing on their effect I would recommend the Lucky No. 13 or the Pagan Fuzz.

What's your all-time favorite guitar effect (not including the ones you've built)?

The Big Muff is my favorite pedal hands down. I cannot think of a pedal that has had more influence in Music over the last 50 years. Many of my favorite artist have used Big Muff extensively and many of my favorite albums were recorded using Big Muffs.

You've had a lot of success selling on Reverb. Any tips for other independent builders getting started on our site?

Build the best product you can and stand behind it 100%. If people get a great product with outstanding customer service word will get out.

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