I’m privileged to have worked for several companies in audio electronic design, manufacturing engineering and as an acoustic consultant. During the early 1990s at BSS Audio as a production engineer who build and professional audio signal processing gear to studios and live venues all over the world to artists such as RUSH and Peter Gabriel. I have over six years acting as a consultant advising on acoustic treatments for reverberation control and sound insulation in theatres, halls and studios. My fascination for designing tube gear, especially the quest for the ultimate overdriven guitar sound culminated in the formation of Effectrode in 1996. My design philosophy – to create new designs that utilize vacuum tubes to create bigger and richer sounding effects with a vintage twist.
I had to teach myself everything about the physics of vacuum tubes from dusty 1950s & 60s texts, I uncovered from the darkest recesses of backrooms in small, secondhand bookshops. I began repairing, modifying & ‘hot-rodding’ tube amps – Fender Twin Reverbs were a specialty and a pleasure to work on. I also recall a friend asked me to take a look at an old Rogers Cadet – the Cadet was an older push-pull, hi-fi amp, not exactly what you’d describe as an audiophile amplifer, but it did have a sweet & musical tone. Being a student of science and engineering, I was somewhat skeptical about claims for superior audio performance of electron tubes over relatively recent developments in solid-state Bi-Polar and MOSFET technology. I’d always accepted that technically there’s no doubt that well designed solid-state amps measure well, however, to my ear they sounded either harsh or clinical in comparison to tube amplification. Other custom projects include rebuilding and modifying the original ‘Copycat’ tape echo units, tube based 16mm projectors & design of tube RIAA phono preamp stages.
I first began repairing transistor hi-fi amps and building effects pedal kits at age 14. These amps were invariably used and abused by mates who played guitar through them and usually burnt out the output transistors. This helped me develop patience, deductive fault finding techniques and earn some extra cash. A year or so later I began to learn guitar as it was the cool thing to do at school, so long as you played heavy rock. My playing was and still is greatly inspired by Alex Lifeson the powerful and textural guitarist from the Canadian power trio Rush. A friend from college coined the term ‘wrecking’ for jamming sessions, which was her way of expressing respect for the fantastic wall of sound that could achieved with a guitar, amp and a handful of cheap Japanese stompboxes.
As a kid, I was fascinated by science and electronics. I can only blame my parents for this as they deliberately added fuel to the fire by giving me a chemistry set and electronics kit on my birthday. This rapidly escalated into a larger scale chemical production facility and construction of dozens of different types of storage batteries which bubbled merrily away in my bedroom. When I was twelve years old I was allowed my first soldering iron which led to the construction numerous crystal and transistor radios that never ever worked along with an evolving pattern of interesting burn marks on my bedroom carpet.