What is the future of pedals? The top makers weigh in

Do you look forward to pared-down simplicity or ever-expanding digital power?

In an outtake from its Pedal Movie documentary, Reverb.com has posed the question “what is the future of the pedal industry?” to a number of top pedal builders.

Using their expertise to look to the future were the head honchos at Red Witch Pedals, JHS Pedals, Old Blood Noise Endeavors, Way Huge, Analogman, Craig Anderton, Meris, Chase Bliss Audio, EarthQuaker Devices, Source Audio, Keeley, Strymon, Gamechanger Audio, Wampler, Malekko, Dogman Devices, ThorpyFX, Caroline Guitar Company, and Spaceman Effects. Reverb’s resident demoer Andy Martin also weighed in.

Many builders looked to the technical innovations they plan to make or see others making: incorporating design ideas from a range of philosophies Some wanted to focus on simplicity, such as Earthquaker Devices’ Jamie Stillman. “A majority of musicians that I talk to kind of wish that everything that they liked had one knob and a switch… that is more and more the direction that I, personally, am gravitating towards.”

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On the other hand, builders such as Roger K Smith of Source Audio touched on the power of complicated digital systems controlled by the same interface as traditional pedals, and how “seamlessly” digital units can interact with each other and share presets.

A number of builders also noted that the industry needs to change – not because of any trends or demands, but because guitar pedals often use technology that’s been discontinued or in some way surpassed in all other areas. Mike Piera of Analogman said that the availability of obscure and discontinued parts can be a “nightmare,” specifically citing a kind of capacitor used in the King Of Tone.

George Tripps of Way Huge and Dunlop said he felt knowledge of these old components is being lost: “there aren’t a lot of guys who can make bucket brigades anymore,” he explained. In his view, this will make specialised analogue technology much more expensive, and therefore “digital is the future.”

JHS’ Josh Scott, meanwhile, kept an incredibly open mind: “I have no clue,” he said. “That’s the honest answer.”

See the clip below.

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