TC Electronic Pulls Controversial Preset from TonePrint After Outcry

TC Electronic made news earlier this week, when controversy arose surrounding the name of a signature artist preset available on the company’s TonePrint app. Made by guitarist Satchel from the comedic glam metal band Steel Panther, the “Pussy Melter” preset could be downloaded from the app for use with the company’s classic Flashback Delay pedal.

Guitarist Jessica Fennelly started the conversation on Monday, when she posted an Instagram photo of the Pussy Melter’s listing on the TonePrint website. In part, the TC Electronic listing read, “When we met up with Steel Panther’s oh-so-humble guitarist, he had only one condition: that the tone be as wet as the ladies on the front row!”

Fennelly’s caption explains that she stumbled across the preset (which was unveiled in March of last year) while researching the Flashback 2 pedal for a review article she was writing for an unnamed outlet. Fennelly encouraged people to sign her petition, asking that TC remove the preset from its site. The petition calls the preset’s name, description, and marketing “extremely vulgar and unnecessary,” “offensive,” and “obviously sexist,” and Fennelly further questions TC’s judgement in working with Satchel at all.

Before long, Braids tweeted a link to the petition, writing “What f*cking year is this ??? … As a female guitarist and just a female in general this makes me super disappointed !” Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast and Emily Reo also tweeted their disappointment, with Zauner writing, “This is fucking disgusting.” Reo said, “...i thought making pedals that break all the time was bad enough.”

Satchel "Pussy Melter" TonePrint for Flashback Delay

She Shreds Magazine—a publication dedicated to women guitarists and bassists that's proven a major advocate for egalitarianism in the music industry—also contributed to the dialogue, asking their readers in an Instagram story whether or not they felt the preset's marketing was offensive.

While many have flocked to criticize TC Electronic over the partnership, many others have defended both the brand and the band. Being that Steel Panther is an over-exaggerated ‘80s comedy band with song titles like “Gloryhole” and “It Won’t Suck Itself," fans have argued that this is the same kind of parody the band is known for.

Still, TC Electronic recognized the name as a misstep and released a statement to Music Radar yesterday, acknowledging that the "material was inappropriate," apologizing, and promising to remove the preset from the TonePrint website and app (which it has since been done).

Though the most topical example right now, this isn't the first time that the guitar industry has turned to sexual and arguably sexist branding when it comes to naming and marketing new products. Ever-popular pedals like the Big Muff, Radial's ToneBone, and the questionable names of plenty of other gear make it clear that this is a well-worn practice. But that doesn't mean that the convention shouldn't change, especially when the buyers in these markets (at least for Fender) are 50 percent female.

In tweeting his response to the "Pussy Melter," musician Ted Leo touched on this salient point, expanding his criticism of the situation to include the guitar market as a whole. “Count how many ‘balls’/’ballz’ names there are, too. Bros marketing for bros. HIRE WOMEN and consider that YOUR MARKET SHOULD ALSO BE WOMEN.”


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