The Goose, the Middleman, the Idolmaker and Gomer Pyle.
Now that I look back on it all it becomes clear to me what I got myself in to. Basically two different cultures, outlooks, lifestyles, dreams - I don't know - whatever, collided years ago and it just took this long to play itself out. Two different streams came together, merged and, now, split apart again.
You can call me Gomer. For my part I was, I am and I will remain a guitar related electronics hobbyist. I built gear for my own needs and I built/rebuilt/refurbished the gear of other local players when they sought me out through word of mouth and I could fit it into my schedule. I did no advertising. My bench fee was zero. Nothing. I only charged for parts. Most of the work was on vintage amps which I just liked looking into, looking inside, which was enough to satisfy me and make it enjoyable. After so many Deluxe Reverbs or Bassman's I'd quit working on those and would just wait until something different came along; some other model needing work done and I'd do it; again just for parts cost and the opportunity to look inside at a piece of history. It wasn't a "biz", I already had a well paying job which I liked and I was good at. Audio electronics was a hobby and a self-directed study. I don't understand why it can't just be that anymore.
There are plenty here among us who have run through old amps or fixed broken pedals - the work, usually, is pretty simple. Get it up and running safely while leaving as much as the original as possible. This can be as simple as changing out the electrolytics. If you've got to do more extensive work you let the guy know what it is you need to do, what it's parts cost will be, get his go ahead and you do it. If it was a pedal and I couldn't find the schematic I drew it out myself. It it was gooped I ungooped it. When you're done you bag/box and label all the parts you've replaced and you give them back to the guy whether or not he knows what they do. You tell him to keep these parts because he'll never know what a buyer down the line might want when he goes to sell it, if he does. That's it for me. That's all it was ever meant to be. That's all I wanted to do. (For the record I have only asked for a schematic one time and I already owned the one I asked for... I wrote Doug Hammond several years back under the pretense of getting a schematic of a his. I already had the schematic but it was the only way I knew how to say hello. I wanted to meet him and get to know him and I'll be forever thankful that I did)
I wandered into a local music store one year and talked to the amp tech there. (Rough estimate '97) A nice enough guy at the time. No big discovery. We had an honest talk about transformers and winding pickups as I recall. He was doing pretty much what I and several of my friends were doing except he was doing it as a "job". No mention of pedals/effects really except that he had done some work with a guy named Pedalman on modding 808s. Effects weren't really on the radar screen at that time. Nowhere near where they are now, at least. Mass internet use was just gathering steam and the earlier emphasis as I recall, or as far as I could tell, was on amplifiers. Kits were coming out which were cheap and cool. The amp tech was riding that wave as far as I could tell; slapping together amps from kit parts, relying on a healthy dose of TUT, and refurbing vintage amps. The "boutique" effects thing was hidden but nascent. The "pearl necklace" years. About the only info you could find effects-wise was through Anderton's book which, as good as it is, doesn't really dig too deeply into the arcane world of the electronic operations in each design.
I go on my way - the amp guy goes his. Years pass. (rough estimate '99) I eventually find my way, through the internet, to a strange collection of misfits who had spent years (decades for some) gathering and collecting bits and pieces of information on effects. They were sharing it, analyzing it, building new things around the information. It was fascinating, as such, to me. No more than that. It was just good reading. I didn't contribute to the dialogue and still rarely do; because I can't. It was just a good education in that you could patch together information from these guys and fill gaps you might have missed sleeping through a tech classroom or which a source like Anderton didn't cover. I learned a lot about the basic operations of effects from the members of that group. I still do. Many of them are still here. The amp guy in the meantime was still floundering at the music store when I visited again but this time there was more emphasis on effects. Nothing new again but in retrospect the timing seems more than just coincidental. Tweaking the basic OD. There was a lot of info about this particular OD becoming available and there was a movement on toward hacking it and building "companies" basically based on it. The "biz" was starting to jell. I shook my head then about it as much as I shake my head now about it. It was silly from the beginning and it's gotten even sillier. Grotesquely so. The "drama" wasn't there so much. Not nearly what it is now i.e. the pedal building soap opera which has become commonplace. I knew virtually nothing though about the emerging buyer/seller spam sites masquerading as "EFFECTS" discussions ala TGP. The little I knew was where to find the dweebs, the dorks, the geeks who were talking and teaching about effects/gear as as an electronic circuit in and of itself. I knew nothing of the emerging "tone for 50 bones" spam/shill game.
Cut ahead a couple of years. (rough estimate '01) I'm back in this same music store and I come to find out that the amp tech has been "discovered". He's apparently built some dynamic OD pedal and is taking the Japanese market by storm (not too hard to do I later found out). It's so successful that he's "designing" a pedal for more distortion; "mo' D" so I'm told. He's also got a never before heard boost pedal coming out. A "clean boost". All original so I'm told. He's building "killer" new amps too. A 20 and a 50 watter. All new designs so I'm told. Tweaked to perfection so I'm told. It was cool with me. I didn't figure he was tapping the same barrel everyone else was. I took it on good faith and his word that he was designing new gear, his designs, and wished the guy well even though now he was just a tad bit standoffish. Less accessible now, at least to me. I wasn't interested in buying anything. I was interested in talking about the gear. This he didn't have time for now, he didn't want to get into it. It was enough for me to be told that none of that really mattered anyway. This guy had had a life altering experience wherein he had "lost his high end hearing" altogether. This loss of a percept in one sense created an even more bountiful psychic instinct and insight in other ways which were inaccessible to those of us who were "only" interested in circuit anaysis. It was a "gift". He had it - I didn't, was the implication. I would never understand. It was difficult for him to explain to the uninitiated I suppose. The circuit didn't matter I was told, when you had this gift you could just feel your way around. I was assured that he knew all that "technical" stuff too but he didn't have to rely so much on it like most of us do. I was taken aback just a bit at how his disposition had changed.
OK, then. At least he might be some help to me I thought. I came back about a week later to get some advice about reducing the carrier noise I was getting with an effect I was trying to finish. The guts were sprawled out inside a piece of Tupperware. Not pretty but it was enough to get the effect from point A to point B, plug it in and sample it for troubleshooting purposes. I met the newly emerging guru again that day figuring, in good faith, "Hey, this guy knows something I don't. He's a successful effects builder who might be able to help me with this." The look on his face was classic. He had no idea what I was asking yet his eyebrow arched, his neck stiffened and a smirk came over his face. "You don't need that" he said, "that's a waste of time. Hold on a second…" and he left the room only to come back with a strangely painted pedal. Glossy and swirly it was. He held it up in front of me and informed me that this is what I needed. His OD pedal. I'd better get it now though because he was going to have to raise the price. A Japanese rock guitar hero had picked up on it and they were moving like the proverbial hotcakes. He was big league now and I might not get my chance again for an incredible deal. $265 if I recall correctly. He was now a Goose who's eggs were golden. That was the point where I knew this guy was full of baloney. He knew that I felt that way too; I told him right there. I left the store.
I came to find out that this builder's success reaped a windfall for the music store owner, Mr. Middleman. The pedals were built by the builder and sold through the store. Typical arrangement I suppose. The store owner had a lot riding on the deal, his cut, and the hype was heaped on. The pedal/amp builder brought in a cabinet maker who saw the opportunities ahead for himself if he could just hold on to this Goose with the golden eggs too. This Goose was going places. The push was apparently on by these guys to frequent the emerging spam/shill sites to beef up the American side of the market using the internet as the market place. The Goose's pedal was on a spamsite roll.
Move ahead again. (Around '03) Trouble in paradise. The Goose decided his cut wasn't big enough. He cleared out of the store and moved his amp shop to his newly bought home. (It was the house with the new Benz in the driveway, the Goose reminded me later). He'd decided to fill direct orders himself and just feed in a handful of gear to Mr. Middleman. Profits slowed, target sales weren't being met, the Goose proved to be quick to to cash a check yet slow to make a delivery. Mr. Middleman and the cabinet builder became very disgruntled. Very. I had no idea at the time that all this had transpired. It only became known to me later that when I stepped through the doors of that music store again in '03 that I had fallen down the rabbit hole.
As I walked into the store that day I was met with some rather sad faces. Mr. Middleman and the cabinet builder were conferencing at the counter as I had my usual look around. The Goose was no longer there. His bench fee had gone up, way up; his other work was so much more important that amps needing work were starting to pile up in the corner. Orders for the Goose's pedal, the orders which came through the store and which mattered to Mr. Middleman were not being met. The Goose had taken a lot of money and was in pretty heavy arrears. The cabinet builder hadn't been paid for his work. Life was a mess for these guys. The Goose was slipping away. Money was slipping through their fingers. There was something even worse, it seemed, at play for these two miserable men which I only recognized later. The Goose was the "Player". The one with clout. The one who mattered. Without the Goose, clawing to (what was in their minds) "the top" would be difficult if not impossible.
When I strolled up and said "I can take a look at those amps in the corner if you want and see if there's anything I can do with them" I had no idea what was playing itself out behind this scene. I just wanted to look at the amps. One was an Ampeg Revrocket as I recall and it seemed interesting. There may have been a Blues Deville too. The response I got was was a somewhat lukewarm but slightly needy "Sure Gomer. You work on amps?". "Yes, when I want to", I said. This conversation led us into a back room where I was introduced to the Goose's $2000 (at that time) 20 watter. This was one of the Goose's masterpieces I was told. It looked immediately familiar to me. Silkscreened Weber Chassis, chicken head knobs in an easily identifiable config, Fender glow light, sitting in a tweed repro cab built by the cabinet maker. "Can I look in it?", I asked and I was allowed. What I saw sort of sat me down hard. It was a stock, and I mean bone stock 5E3 except that it had been modded to take 6L6s. The tag board and the parts layout were right off that ancient Fender layout sheet. When I looked up at Mr. Middleman and the cab builder I realized they didn't have a clue and that no one, as far as I could tell, even knew or cared just exactly what it was they were selling or buying. It was all steeped in mystery. This stock Tweed Deluxe was the Goose's Masterpiece. It was magic to these men. And they sold it as such. Unfathomable magic.
I looked long and hard at that thing before me and then it dawned on me. I stood up and asked "Do you have one of those OD pedals here? Can I look at it too?". Timing was everything with this. Now I'm sure that if the Goose hadn't taken his marbles home to play his own game with himself leaving these two holding debt none of this would have happened. Ties had been cut and these guys were left hanging. Out comes the glossy, swirly pedal. It took, literally, one minute and I knew what it was. "Shazam Sergeant Carter, are you kidding me? Do you know what this is?", I asked (sort of). And of course they didn't believe it and more to the point, they really didn't care. What was a surprise and somewhat of a shock to me was irrelevant to them. It's a reaction/response I've come to know well in the last four years. Two worlds colliding.
Gomer, the new Goose?
Mr. Middleman lost interest and drifted back into his business worries. Losing the Goose really had an impact on him. He strayed from the path of this story until some time later. The cabinet builder, on the other hand, had a different response. Not so much dealing with what was or what wasn't this or that or the other. He didn't care about that. In the end, he never would. He wanted to know specifically if I could replicate the Goose's $2000 masterpiece amp. Cheaper of course. He wanted one but the Goose wouldn't cut him a deal even though they had been business partners and friends. Business is Business, so the saying goes.
I built the amp. It was a piece of cake. $450 as I recall, slightly modded (how, I don't remember) and it worked great. It was every bit as good as the Goose's. How could it not be? It was a 5E3. This came as a jaw dropping revelation to the cabinet maker. He asked for 4 more at roughly the same price but with different mods, variations on the theme. I thought we had become friends so I considered it and did it. It was fun for me. I enjoyed that build. I felt like I had found a decent friend who shared a gear interest too. We had something in common. I made it clear that I was pretty much just a one-off wonder and that I liked to move around the gear field. There were just too many different areas that I wanted to cover electronics wise not even necessarily guitar related. I was rebuilding a Toyota MR-2 with a friend at the time and needed to spend time on that too. Four more 5E3 amps were built for him, all as good as the Goose's for a third of the price each. Again, he was astonished and again I said something to the effect of "dude, relax... it's just a 5E3". Then he brought me amps to fix. Bassman's, Supers; vintage classics and a bunch of Public Address conversions. Again, he was astonished. How could this be? he wondered. I was just some dude hobbying in my garage. I was a "nobody" in his mind. He had hung around the Goose too long. He had discovered gear shill sites and been sucked into the mythologies. His mind had been poisoned by spammer hype but he didn't see it as spam. He saw it as Truth. These guys being praised and fawned over had something special. He wanted to be considered something special too. He wanted the praise and accolades. He wanted that special place at the table of hype. That is what leads to the cash. The long-term hard cash flow. That coveted place at the table is what's needed first. Everything else will follow in due time. He longed for it. This is when the light bulb came on for the cabinet builder.
Could I possibly build the Goose's pedal? In his mind at that time it was highly unlikely that I could. How, after all, could magic come out of this Gomer's garage? He went ahead and dared to ask anyway. An idea was developing. A big, fat, cash filled idea.
It was here where I opened up the world of DIY hobbying to this unsuspecting, spamsite-addicted-wannabe-a-bigshot-gear-shilling-playa'. From Spamsite Darkness to DIY Dorkness. He came over to my garage and I had dozens and dozens of modded pedals. My path with DIY diverged somewhat from what was typical. As much as I learned from all the input for design/mods etc. I couldn't see why one would have to build the basic effects from scratch or buy a board for a modded this, that or the other when most of what had collected on my effects shelves over the years already had the basic ingredients in them. I had a collection of cheap pedal discards which the buying community deemed not worth having. I was a collector of the "sucky" pedals. The ones which sold on ebay for 10 - 50 bucks plus shipping. All you had to do was reverse them to find out what they were and form a plan of attack on modding them. There was a smalller shelf of one-off designs and a somewhat larger shelf of logic switching configs to run effects options through a debounced foot controlled switch getting rid of the ever increasing toggle options. Hard switch toggles, "quality parts", "fine tuning by ear" etc. etc. had no interest to me.
So we sat down and we played. My objective was simple. I just wanted to get this guy to see that you could do a lot with just a little. These sit-downs, discussions, taste-testings etc. where, in my mind, just two guys sharing gear info. An attempt by me simply to cut through the Mr. Middleman type of businessman shilling bullshit. It was hard going. I could set up 3 different pedal brands (say, for instance, Peavey, DOD and Johnson) with pretty much exactly the same tweeked circuits and when you put them through your cranked 50 watter you couldn't really tell, or "feel" the differences. You could but you couldn't either. I mean there were differences but they were just ever so slight that you'd be hard pressed to quantify them. You could play one on one day, dig it over the other two yet mistake it the next day with one of the others. It was futile anyway in that the mere sight of the cheap brand name led to a flat out dismissal of whatever it was. He wanted the Goose's pedals. All of them. Not these "toys". But he didn't want to pay the going price. They had become too expensive now and he was still pissed over a few of his past transactions with the Goose.
"Alright, alright, alright... you win. Bring me what you've got of the Goose's. I'll see what I can do", I said; and here they came. This was the first time I actually had the "magic" in my hand, at my desk. All provided to me by the cabinet builder. The Goose's "friend".
It took about an hour total on all three.
Boom - Tubescreamer - 3 parts swapped
Boom - Rat - no changes. None.
Boom - SHO - in line gate resistor added.
He really wanted the magic, blessed TS the most. That was the one by which all others were judged. Bear in mind that my pointing out that it was a TS (or a Rat or a SHO) meant absolutely nothing to the cabinet builder. He knew literally nothing, not one thing, about electronics. His ear was king. He had that typical self-serving, rarely-proved-and-so-often-blown-out-of-the-water-with-proper-testing-techniques "I can hear the screws changed out of my speaker cabinet" approach to electronics. His ear would be the decider. OK, this should be fun, I thought. We'll just see about that. Bear in mind too that at this time I wasn't interested in being an "effects builder" any more than I am now. Not one bit. This was just an exchange between friends. It was just a lark for me. An opportunity maybe to help a friend get his mind around the fact that what had become of the world of boutique OD effects was just one big steamy pile of self promoting poo.
The Maker of Idols
I built the magic circuit, "verbatim" so to speak. Exactly like I saw in the blessed pedal. I called the cabinet builder and informed him the circuit was done. Expectations, excitations, imaginations... all ran amuk. Christmas was here, oh holy day! A plan had formed in the mind of the cabinet builder. A vision was coming to fruition. This was the moment of truth for the cab builder.
I had one small problem though. The circuit was done but I didn't feel like cutting a new box for it. It was just a "tester" anyway. I stuck the circuit in one of those Rat Shack $2.99 boxes with the screws on the sides. It had been drilled/cut a couple of times in the past as a temporary home for trying new circuits. "No biggy", I thought. This temp arrangement would do. So, into the ugly box goes the heart of the Goose's magic; a 3-parts changed Tubescreamer. I set the Goose's real magic pedal up next to my version and several other TS modded pedals (one other being, I remember, a Keeley modded TS "Deluxe" or something, I had). An hour or two later of cranked blind testing in my garage through different guitars/cabs/speakers/amps and it was done. There were piddling differences which I couldn't even keep straight. I might get it right one time but I'd miss the next. This crap was finally over though and I could convince my friend that he'd mistaken a molehill for a mountain.
I met with the cab builder and presented the pedal. His face immediately fell. It was a "what the hell is this?" look. Just take it and play it, I said. Give it a chance. He did and he was not impressed. It wasn't the same, and it looked like shit, by the way. That it did, I admitted. Ok, then. Back to the drawing board. I'd take it back. I'd redo it all over again and try again to catch the magic.
Like hell I would. It was just a flippin' tubescreamer. There wasn't much else to do with it. I took it home. I cut a custom box especially suited to stroke the cab builder's ego. It had a King Kong on the Empire State Building graphic and it said "Gomer Pyle Effects" on it. I put the same exact circuit board in it and I waited a week or two, called him up, made like I was tired from hours on end of "redesigning" efforts and he took delivery of it.
"This pedal kills" was the response. "THIS PEDAL KILLS". Yeah, man... it's entirely different from the one you had before. He could tell it was. Totally different "response". It had the feel, the magic; this one did. The Goose's pedal had met it's match in this one. The two were" totally different" and his "King Kong" pedal was declared the victor. Great, I thought. You like it? Take it, it's your's. Now we can move on. Who says you can't play the paint? My point was made even though he didn't know it and I couldn't care less whether he did or not. I knew it. That was enough for me.
This was dawn for the Idolmaker. Little did I know it but he had found a new goose. "You need to bottle this shit and sell the piss out of it. I know just how to do it". If I heard this once I heard it 100 times over from the Idolmaker. A trite, somewhat condescending, homespun colloquialism; pregnant with the implication of his controlling a new pecking order.
We would meet, after that, in my garage and I'd go through my ragtag batch of modded pedals but he had a different view now. I had potential. I just needed "direction". "You need to get structure in your life" he would insist. My life wasn't "structured" according to the Idolmaker. That was the simple phrase which, eventually, led me to the realization that I had mistaken a business relationship with a friendship. It was said one too many times and ended up having the clear and unmistakable meaning of this: "You need to get your shit together and start delivering pedals".
I'll try to speed through the rest.
The Innocent Guitar Player
I was asked to build a pedal for a great player I didn't know. The Idolmaker set it up. I was to build the new "special" pedal on the Idolmaker's board. I did. I built it, the 3-parts-changed tubescreamer the Goose considered his pedal and the Idolmaker considered totally different and new; and I threw in two other pedals from my one-off shelf. I built them for free. The great guitar player picked one of the other two pedals as the one he preferred. I let him keep them all. I really didn't care. I didn't know which one he chose. I went on. Life went on. Everything was boringly normal. 6 or so months later the pedal becomes public at some kind of Tone Fest nonsense the shill guys put on. Who built that pedal? "Gomer Pyle" says the great guitar player. The Idolmaker steps in and takes charge. He knows Gomer. He can hook you up with Gomer. He'll make a list. He can take the orders. He's in the game now. He's a Player. He let's me know that it's all been set in motion and that I shouldn't blow the opportunity. I need to get structure in my life. I say "no". He pushes. I say "no" again. He pushes again. On and on until I cave. He wins but not completely. I say "I'll do a one-time build, 50 max and that's it". My feeling then as it is now was simple. The world doesn't need another OD pedal. I certainly don't need to spend my life cranking them out. There are plenty of designs out there given for free which can do pretty much anything you'd need. Learn to build your own or mod the one's you've already got or just learn enough to see that there just isn't that much of difference circuit wise, especially as it pertains to all theTS type pedals in the boutique world. If you do hear a difference it just might be time for you to reassess the information you recieve. Gain a little knowledge about what it is you're using. Get a little wiser to the shill game - save a lot of money. The 50 came and went and I did just as I said. I stopped building them. The prices climbed for whatever reason, I don't know. They just did. The Idolmaker couldn't stand it. He was getting impatient. Surely I wasn't going to blow this opportunity. The opportunity was slipping away and I was screwing it up every time I piped in with a post saying that all I did was promise to build the 50 and that would be it. He would get on the spamsite effects section and drop a shill line and I'd have to tell to back off and let it go. The deal was done and there wasn't going to be anything else. I only kept the promise. I didn't intend for all this to happen. I didn't orchestrate it. I've made another post about this part so I'll skip it here. I donated the bulk of the proceeds to charity. With all the resale profitting which happened there were only 2 guys who wrote to me and offered to give me back some of the money their aftermarket sale gave them. One was Fatback. Many of you know him. He does very nice demo videos. The other one was a guy named Tyler. They both offered me money back after their sales. I declined and I requested that they put the money toward a charity. As I recall one was for Alzheimer's patients and the other was for a Children's Servere Burn Unit. I still have both the reciepts they sent me. They both have my thanks for me even getting the chance to know them. I remember those guys, and a few other honest guys, as being the silver lining in that whole ugly cloud. If I knew then what I know now I would have built only 10 or so pedals for the guys who ended up really liking it and wanting to keep it and I would have given them for free.
Mr. Middleman Returns
I half-heartedly went along with an idea the Idolmaker had worked out with Mr. Middleman. It was more out of curiosity than anthing though I must admit that the bait had me tempted. The promises of easy cash made me hesitate, made me doubt myself. Mr. Middleman had a Japanese "connection". He wasn't cashing in with the Goose's pedal so much anymore so he decided "we" would launch "Gomer Effects" and dump these into the Japanese market. They were waiting hungrily. I just needed to lend my name to it. I just had to come up with pedals. Which pedals? It didn't matter to these two what the pedals were. They didn't know or care. Anything. The Idolmaker had been fascinated with a couple of pedals I had modded years ago which just sat on my shelf. One was the DOD Vibrothang. This pedal, modded, had freaked him out. "You need to bottle that shit and sell the piss out of it, son". He took to calling me "son". Nevermind that it really wasn't mine. Another one was an opto-compressor. He loved it. It gave his copped blues licks "that" sound. It unfortunately ran on a bipolar 18 volts and was a bitch to work the bugs out with a charge pump. It took too much of a current draw. It needed a true bipolar supply. That wasn't really the problem though that I had with it. It was too closely related to Jack Orman's and Midwest Analogue's retake on the Anderton Compressor for me to feel comfortable in using it other than just for myself. "Huh? What?" said the Idolmaker. "I don't care where it comes from, you need to bottle that shit and sell the piss out of it... son". Through the months we piled up a handful of these "sell the piss out of them" circuits. They were to be sold on the Japanese market by a Japanese distributer as "Gomer's Effects" through Mr. Middleman's Music Store. Every ripped off one of them. A fact which nobody, not in the slightest, seemed to care about. This was Business.
I found myself sitting across the table one evening with the Japanese Connection. I was squeezed between Mr. Middleman and the Idolmaker. Plans were being formed. The Japanese guys were very nice, I must say. Extremely polite and well mannered. They treated me with the greatest respect which I believe to this day was sincere. I don't really know though. My question to them was simple. Why me? In fact, why any of this? Why this intense interest in circuits which actually go back 30 years in some instances and originated in the minds of Japanese designers? True engineers and true electronics experts? Why do you guys pay so much money for Americans to rip off your own circuits and resell them to you? The rather sad thing was that the older man (there was an older man and his traveling mate who was the guitar playing demo tester) knew this though I don't think anyone ever straight out asked him. He looked slightly embarrassed but he took the time to go on and try to explain the situation in Japan to me.
In a nutshell, Japanese youth is as propagandized as the rest of us. They are ignorant of the roll their own fathers have had in shaping the industry for musical equipment gear. They believe too that someone like the Goose is offering something never before seen. The poison has been very effective. There are voices of dissent I did discover later when I got the chance to correspond with 2 bona fide Japanese electronics engineering experts. They know full well what guys like the Goose, and other such bullshitters with "5 Year Business Plans" are doing. You think AG is heated about this? These guys are too. More so even because it's steeped in a kind of Nationalism. A pride in what their own countrymen have done and a general lack of appreciation for their own past by their own youth. This may sound odd but they resent the pilfering of their own heritage's IP in terms of electronics innovation. I completely understand this and I cannot say that I blame them. Freestompboxes.org isn't the only place you'll find that this kind of crap just burns the hell out of some people.
I grudgingly gave my consent and the dinner ended. I was to be the new Goose. The next night, to my surprise, the older and younger visiting Japanese gentlemen showed up to my gig. To my even greater surprise the first Goose came along too. The younger man, Jun, sat in with us and he was an excellent guitarist. Before he left we went through the pedals on my board. He really liked them a lot but it was hard to tell what they were by just looking at the board. There was one particular "pedal" he was interested in. It was six circuits in a cake pan. All run in series. I unscrewed the cake pan from the piece of raw wood it was sitting on and the young man's eyes grew large and wide. "Dan-erectro?". Yeah, man... Danelectro mini pedals. All the non OD/Distortion ones which interested me. I love them. "Ohhh", he said... "Sound good!". Yes, they sure do.
He also like my gutted, modded, truebypassed, toggle switched to hell Peavey Hotfoot Distortion - my Rat pedal... my own personal "'Mo' D" distortion costing a grand total of $28. He wanted that one. I gave it to him and he took it home with him back to Japan.
The next day I told the Idolmaker about the exchange. His response... "There you go son, that there's our pedal lineup. You need to bottle that shit and sell the piss out of it."
Gomer goes to Alabama
This is the end of the story. The meeting with the Japanese had happened in January '07. It was expected that I would start small with anything and build up the whole "lineup" over time. "Product" was due in May. What "product" was I to build? Nobody cared. It didn't matter. Just build anything. I built nothing. This set the Idolmaker off. I needed to get serious with this. I needed to get structure in my life. I was screwing it up for everyone and time was wasting. Eventually, after being badgered almost weekly by the Idolmaker about my lack of progress and my lack of life structure, I collected all my bodged, hand drawn circuit diagrams and modded schematics. Smudged, sloppy, half finished - I put them in a makeshift portfolio. I hopped a flight on a PA28 Piper Cherokee with a friend of mine to a place in Alabama to meet with an industrial designer. My friend would drop me off there, I'd take care of business and he would return to pick me up in a few days after he visited his family in Nashville.
I was dropped off at the destination airport. I rented a car, got a hotel room and then headed out to my meeting with the schematics engineer. He was very patient and helpful. $1000 and a day and half later my shoddy portfolio of half assed modded circuits; circuits which, in my mind, weren't even rightly mine, had been transformed into an impressive array of professional level, factory production ready work. I'd recoup some of the money through the boards ordering. All that was left to do now was to give them one last go over, making sure all was correct because once the schems went out there was no turning back. Any mistakes made would be just tough luck and I'd have to fix the miscues afterwards.
I sat in that hotel room for 3 days due to a problem on the return leg with my friend Jim. It wasn't his fault. It couldn't be helped. I decided to wait because he needed help with the rental costs of the plane. In the ensuing 3 days I flatly, finally decided to trash the whole idea. Once and for all, for good. I couldn't live right with the "plan". It wouldn't let me rest. It was a blatant lie. I was going to be selling pedals which weren't my designs, through people who didn't even care and didn't even really like me. I was just the new Goose. The past six months had shown the plan coming apart and it had made these people I mistook for friends very unhappy with me. This was to be a Business after all and I was just born, maybe bred - I don't know - to be incapable of going along with this kind of thing. I fought it the whole way and in the end, deep down inside I considered it an illegitimate scam. The company I was keeping was with liars and scammers. They of course did not see it that way in the slightest. They were Businessmen. They had a vision. They were going to be players. The were going to have clout. They were providing a service people needed. They were Professionals. All that crap. All that total, pure, salesman crap. Didn't know what they were selling. Did care in the slightest. They just saw sheep and they wanted to be the shearers.
The Idolmaker ended up finding someone else. He had to have. This was the guy who six months earlier watched as I used a multimeter to check for speakerwire continuity with stark wonder. "What's that beeping noise mean?".
He has set himself up as the Goose. He's free to do this. I'm free to ignore it and move on. I expect that he should leave any connection with me out of it. May he lay eggs-a-plenty.