“As a nerd, I think I spent more time learning about gear than learning how to play well”: Anasounds’ Alexander Ernandez

​Hear from the head honcho of French firm Anasounds, which has established itself as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies in the industry.

Alex Ernandez
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How did you get into guitar?

“It’s a family story: my brother makes a living singing and playing piano; my father plays guitar, and transformed a valve radio into an amp; and my grandpa was a cabinet-maker, and built an SG clone for my father in his spare time. So I was born into a musical and handy family, and it was natural for me to try the guitar at some point.”

When did you start building or tinkering with effects?

“As a nerd, I think I spent more time learning about gear than learning how to play well. At 13, I worked with my dad so I could save some money and buy a Boss GT-8. I spent a year with it, creating my own presets so I could play Muse, Daft Punk, Nirvana, AC/DC. I got all of those tones at home through headphones. At 14, I decided to build my first fuzz – and it never worked. At that time, DIY kits were not as fancy and not as available as they are today. After that, I did more experiments with guitar wiring and pickups, etc. But it was only at 21, when I was at engineering school, that I had enough knowledge to understand the schematics, so I decided to try again. I started with a PCB clone of a Small Clone and, with all that I’d learned, found it really easy.”

Anasounds Spinner/Ages/Silver

What was the moment you realised you had a viable business?

“It wasn’t clear at first. In 2013, I was just prototyping pedals for myself when I was still at school. It was a good period to sell gear on eBay. I realised that people were willing to pay a couple of euros for my brutal clones. Then, between 2013 and 2015, I was 100 per cent into prototyping, with the aim of developing a product range and gaining an understanding of the market. Then, in 2016, I finished my studies and said to my colleague [co-founder] Magali Goullet that it was time we took this thing seriously. We both quit our day jobs and started Anasounds.

Did you have any external investment or support starting out?

“You need to invest in yourself first of all, that’s why we saved some money before we started. We are lucky in France – the government also helped and gave us a grant.”

Anasounds Element

At what point did you feel like you’d nailed your branding?

“People always recognise our brand because we try to make our pedals stand out. One of the ways we do this is by using laser-engraved bamboo on the top of the pedals. This is really different to what the competition presents and people like it. We also try to innovate every day and propose different approaches. We love to re-use vintage concepts in more simple or modern ways. This helps people bring back those gorgeous vintage tones but without all the constraints. We also launched a DIY section, because it’s the way we started, and we want others to discover it too.”

How did you come up with your best-selling product?

The Element was a cool surprise. We arrived at NAMM 2019 with a very classic product, a spring reverb. We didn’t realise how big a success it would be. For about 300 euros people get some spring tanks and a true analogue/mechanical controller. It’s a convenient system; it’s modular and can be mounted on your pedalboard, your cab or anywhere you can dream of. It was really surprising for us, to the point that even today we’re still producing a lot of Elements and are still out of stock. We’ve counted more than 1,000 users of Element in less than a year.”

Anasounds Element

What’s your proudest moment as a maker?

“Our masterclasses are my most exciting experiences. It was a dream of mine to run a class for electronics students. Finally, I’ve found a way to combine electronics and guitar passion and am able to share it with even more passionate folks.”

What are the biggest opportunities for the guitar industry in 2020?

“I think that guitarists have a lot of possibilities today – maybe too many. We still need to innovate and create new, funky tones and features but there are too many copies and similar products. The media needs to find a way to interact more with the community, to teach us more about how to use it effectively and how to understand it. As a builder, we receive a lot of similar requests.”

What’s next for Anasounds?

“Our challenge for this year will be, in association with other French YouTubers, to create a new and innovative French media by linking YouTube channels and ecommerce, with a new approach to gear, totally independent, honest and full of passion. It will be called Palf for Pédale à la Française. Regarding Anasounds, the team is growing, even in research and development, and this gives us the opportunity to work on more and more interesting projects, such as new pedals and other related gear.”

Find out more at anasounds.com.

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