At the same time as I formed Barkhausen (as a band) I was also planning to start producing guitar pedals and/or Eurorack synthesizer modules. This enterprise was to be called Barkhausen Effects.
I’ve given up the idea of making electronic products. It’s hard to imagine how I could have made it a profitable venture in New Zealand, where there are enormous input tariffs on imported goods and the dollar is weak against foreign currencies. The price of my products would not have been remotely competitive. I could have had them produced in China or somewhere where labour is cheap but ethically I couldn’t countenance that. And then there was the prospect of actually hand-building hundreds of objects, all that soldering and such. It would have taken up a huge amount of time and energy.
I enjoyed the journey but in the end I’d rather just make music.
The rest of this post (which was originally written in 2015) relates to Barkhausen Effects:
I was originally planning on calling this enterprise Vollgas Klang Effekte, which translates from the German as “full throttle sound effects”. It had that gruff (vulgar) Germanic ring to it, especially if you said it in a Heavy Metal-inflected sorta way. Despite it sounding good it was silly. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but I was looking for something that actually meant something to me. And I found it. More… Was ist das Barkhausen?▸
It’s not like me to start with something simple like a three transistor distortion box — the world does not need another one of those. So I’ve been reading books like Don Lancaster’s Active Filter Cookbook and Texas Instruments Op Amps for Everyone (both apparently kinda classics in the field), though I suspect that latter title is a bit enthusiastic. I’m learning a lot, which is fun.
Starting a guitar effects company must rank up there with opening restaurants as one of the riskier of business ventures, well, before we head into the territory of loan sharks and bomb disposal (everything is relative). People often invent things to solve their own problems — in my case I’m looking to create sounds from a guitar for Barkhausen that can’t be created by existing pedals (yes, I am doing this out of a fundamental need).
I’ve got quite a number of design ideas, just figuring out how to focus on one of them is a challenge. My plan is to initially produce an initial build of twenty pedals of a first design sometime in the first half of 2016.
I’ll be blogging about the progress of my first pedal design over the coming months. I hope you’ll tune in.
PS. the pink box (the featured image above with sixteen knobs) is a modified 4ms Sweptoner I built over the winter. I added a PT2399-based echo (the white knobs) into the mix. Successfully tackling such a difficult build was one of the reasons I thought about doing my own thing. I’ll cover building the Sweptoner in a future post…