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matta
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« on: November 30, 2009, 11:53:30 am »

Hi Guys,

I'm not sure how many are familiar with the concept of True Bypass Loop(er)s, but essentially for those that don't know it allows you to have a chain of effects in a 'loop', allowing you to switch off each chain within the loop, which could be a single pedal, or a multiple pedals.

The benefits are that you don't have extra noise/buffers in your signal path when you are not using a pedal/chain. It also adds 'true-bypass' to pedals that don't have it, which helps clean up your tone and also eliminates an issue should a power supply in one pedal malfunction thereby cutting off the signal to the rest of your chain as most non-true bypass pedals are FET switched like the Boss and Ibanez for eg.

These loopers come in various shapes and forms from the high end midi controller-able Voodoo Labs System, a mere R16,000 for 8 loops and the ground control, to a more affordable Carl Martin Octoswitch (8 loops), which I think is around R3,500-R4,000, to lower cost hand-built solutions from the likes of Loop-master, Timon Klein etc, which range from around R1,000 for a 4-5 loop option.

I'm looking to do something similar for my own set-up and had in mind to go as small as possible to take up less space, have it be narrow & longer rather than fatter & shorter, running in front of all my pedals, 4-5 loops seems to make sense as you can always daisy chain 2 together for larger pedal set-ups, and in many cases guys will put their drives/distortion in a single loop, not each pedal in it's own loop.

Now one can just buy an aluminum extrusion and self drill it, but I'm prob going to go the more professional punched/milled method with power coating and will pro go with mild steel over aluminum for ruggedness.

I've had interest from one or 2 other clients and am wondering if this is something worth offering to fellow guitarists? Is there a need for such a product? I'd also like to aim for the R1,000 retail mark, but it comes down to manufacturing costs, on small runs it tends to be alot more expensive... also handwiring them takes a little longer than most pedal builds as they are all off board wires.

I've also thought about offering a small 'nano loop' which can be configured to be either a single switch looper, an A/B switch, a amp channel switch or a tuner mute (any function, but only one at a time) for around R400-500.00.

Any thoughts? Time is somewhat limited for me so I need to try focus my resources and this Forum is invaluable for asking these kinds of questions and I thank Alan and Norio for providing guys like me with this kind of a platform, and you all of you for your input in shaping my business and ultimately your tone.

Cheers

Matt
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2009, 12:05:30 pm »

I've been looking for such a thing, so I am very much interested. I had a look at the Carl Martin, but I'll wait to see what you do first... Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 12:12:50 pm »

I've been looking for such a thing, so I am very much interested. I had a look at the Carl Martin, but I'll wait to see what you do first... Smiley

Well to be honest what I have in mind is something SIMPLE, just good quality solid 3PDT switches, hand wired together in a series of loops ala Loop-Master/Timon Klein etc. The Carl Martin/Voodoo Labs are different beast and not the market I'm looking at as anyone who can afford those will, also I plan to have 4-5 loops over 8 and they won't be assignable. They will run in series from right to left, input to output, but will be a more cost effective solution.

Cheers

Matt

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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2009, 12:26:50 pm »

I've long thought that loopers and switchers were a bit of a hole in the market locally - not many shops seem to stock them. There is a market, they are simple to build and in smaller production runs can be made cheaper and of a much higher quality than many affordable commercial units. Five loops are enough for most people and a long narrow format is perfect.

But even the simpler switchers like A/B and A/B/Y are hard to find (other than the horrendous active Boss one) - and are invaluable tools for the gigging musician. I built my own A/B to "switch channels" on my Vox (which usually requires unplugging from one channel and plugging into the other) and also ended up using it to switch amps (so I can use the Twin for cleans and the Vox for dirty tones). For a lot of guys, an A/B switcher can also be used to switch between two guitars quickly and simply. Most don't use them because they can't find them or haven't been told about them.

Even a single loop switch can be very handy for the guys that like a simple pedal setup and don't want to modify a troublesome pedal to true bypass - they can just pop it into a loop and switch it in and out when needed..
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2009, 12:29:08 pm »

Quote
something SIMPLE, just good quality solid 3PDT switches, hand wired together in a series of loops ala Loop-Master/Timon Klein etc.
That is what I want aswell. Those Carl Martin one's will be overkill for me.
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matta
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2009, 01:58:09 pm »


Hey Alan,

Yeah this has been a HUGE surprise to me as well, for years i owned a DOD A/B which was invaluable for switch guitars/amp channel/silent tuning etc, I went DOD because it was cheaper than the Morley at the time... these have almost long disappeared from music stores shelves, and the options that DO/DID exist are/were expensive like the EHX Switchblade, R600+ for a SINGLE A/B switch, no LED, 3PDT switch and just A/B... alot of cash for something like that!

As you may have seen in other posts I've been doing a fair bit of modding to various Tube Screamers, most models come with FET switching which guys want replaced with a True-Bypass switch, this mod costs a fair bit because I have to drill into the enclosure, remove the FET switching part of the circuit etc, a single TB pedal would solve this problem and keep the pedals in an drilled state, and be more flexible as it can be used as an A/B pedal as well (just don't use the return) and not cost much more than what I charge for the mod.

I had a bad experience with the BOSS myself, firstly it runs only on a battery, no 9VDC input jack, and is FET switched, so no power equals no output... not very gig worth and also isn't THAT cheap.

I defiantly have both in mind,a simple, small  'nanolooper' and a larger 4-5 loop strip in mind, maybe be a few months till I'm at a point where they will be ready for the market, but worth investigating...

Cheers

Matt

I've long thought that loopers and switchers were a bit of a hole in the market locally - not many shops seem to stock them. There is a market, they are simple to build and in smaller production runs can be made cheaper and of a much higher quality than many affordable commercial units. Five loops are enough for most people and a long narrow format is perfect.

But even the simpler switchers like A/B and A/B/Y are hard to find (other than the horrendous active Boss one) - and are invaluable tools for the gigging musician. I built my own A/B to "switch channels" on my Vox (which usually requires unplugging from one channel and plugging into the other) and also ended up using it to switch amps (so I can use the Twin for cleans and the Vox for dirty tones). For a lot of guys, an A/B switcher can also be used to switch between two guitars quickly and simply. Most don't use them because they can't find them or haven't been told about them.

Even a single loop switch can be very handy for the guys that like a simple pedal setup and don't want to modify a troublesome pedal to true bypass - they can just pop it into a loop and switch it in and out when needed..
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 06:05:46 pm »

I owuld be interested adn to begin with particularly in the small nano loop with the channel switcher.
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 10:23:41 pm »

I've been using True Bypass Loopers for a few years myself. Not necessarily to clean up my tone (my pedals are all true bypass anyway and I have a good quality buffer in the chain), but to simplify my live tap dancing routine with my dirt pedals. Things like the Carl Martin Octaswitch or theGigRig are cool options, but impractical from a size point of view and overkill for most people, myself included.

Currently I'm using a Will Sledge FX 3-Channel TB Looper:

The build quality on my looper did leave something to be desired though as I had to have it re-wired to get it to work properly. Angry

It might be an idea to also offer a simple high-fidelity buffer pedal/ unit for sale along with the looper as well. I find loopers larger than 4/5 channels definitely need a buffer in front to push the signal through all the cable and relays (or after), otherwise the loss of treble detail can actually make your clean tone worse than it was before, even if it was running through a bunch of crappy buffered bypass pedals.

The problem with a bigger looper for me is that I can't easily step on more than one switch at a time. Most of the loopers on the market have their 3PDTs all in straight line which makes this quite difficult. The looper I have has staggered switches that make stepping on multiple switches easier, but it would be cool to find something bigger that is similar.
I understand this isn't something most people would care about, but perhaps you could offer it as an option.

Also, +1 on these ideas:
Nanolooper
A/B Switch
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2009, 10:39:03 am »

I've also been looking at a looper design for a while now. Shelved it due to other commitments (My tube amp project.... Cheesy Cheesy)

I think there is definitely a market for a basic looper.
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2009, 10:48:01 am »

YES MATTA! sounds good i have been looking at all these voodoo labs/carl martins etc. im still trying to find a "gigable" way of switching. most times i have a drive on,then i want to click ONCE to get my clean with delay with another effect..,so yeh hook us up! Smiley i know you can do it Smiley


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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2009, 11:09:56 am »

Ok... so I should SOOO have been working on other things, but worked on this till 2am this morning... that said..

I now present the 'Nanoloop(er)' prototype, it REALLY is nano, it uses a Hammond 1590A enclosure, you can see how small it is in relation to the Tube Screamer, but perfect for taking up little space on a pedal board, you could even have a few scattered around the board for separate loops instead of a single bigger looper.

This one was hand drilled, not perfect, but not bad for someone who loaths metal work... apologies for the bad pics, the camera is dead so the cell phone was put to use  Tongue





The big debate now is the finish, my thoughts are to have them powder coated, thinking black with the blue LED looks slick/professional and then having them milled/CNC'd rather than hand drilling each enclosure... BUT this adds about R100 to the cost of manufacture... are those options worth R100 more to you guys?

Again I'm kind of doing this as loss leader, I seriously won't be retiring any time soon and the best I can do once I work out my materials costs is around R350 in the stock form you see, or R450 if I go powder coated/CNC drilled... I think it is more than reasonable compared to say the Keely Looper which retails just shy of $100, and then there is the Burris Chalooper, which is essentially the same as mine which is $85, that BEFORE shipping and duties to SA.

The one not so great thing is that I put the DC jack on the side, the reason being with milling most places don't have a 5 axis machine so they need to turn the box each side they drill, which adds to the costs... having them drill 3 sides is cheaper than 4 etc... the downside is now there is no way to fit 2 x 90 degree jacks side by side on the power side... well it can be done, but I feel there is too much strain on the DC jack and misplaced foot could easily break the DC jack off.

As shared these can be used as an effects loop, an A/B switch, tuner mute and or amp switcher, so they are quite versatile little beasties. In order to get it that small there is no space for a 9V battery... heck there is not much space for ANYTHING else... but since it is 'True-Bypass' it doesn't need power to work, the power is purely for the LED to let you know when the loop is active.

Cheers

Matt
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 12:15:47 pm »





I think you just opened a wormhole in spacetime!
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2009, 12:23:53 pm »

but since it is 'True-Bypass' it doesn't need power to work

Why not use a mechanical indicator to show the current position and forgo the power requirement altogether?
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2009, 12:50:34 pm »

Quote
The big debate now is the finish, my thoughts are to have them powder coated, thinking black with the blue LED looks slick/professional and then having them milled/CNC'd rather than hand drilling each enclosure... BUT this adds about R100 to the cost of manufacture... are those options worth R100 more to you guys?
I think given the smaller numbers I would go for hand drilled and either sprayed or use a sticker/overlay on the top surface only. The power jack really does need to be on the top IMO. So if/when you get up to moving large numbers of the things you can start factoring in the milling and powder coating and bump up the price accordingly (which will be lower if you are doing them in significant numbers). I don't think it's worth it until that point as it doesn't really offer any significant advantage.

I'd also prefer a standard sized enclosure to avoid offsetting the jacks, fit a battery inside and so it fits on the moulded Boss pedalboards.

Price - I don't think anyone would begrudge you for selling these at R500. Loss leaders are fine for supermarket chains, but as a smaller manufacturer, you need to make something from every item you sell otherwise they fall by the wayside when you get busier. I can build (and have built) things like this myself, but if I needed one and am given the chance to pay an extra R150 for a ready assembled and well assembled unit, I'd jump at it - saves me time and I have a recourse if anything goes wrong (i.e. I can throw it back at you and say "fix" Smiley).
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2009, 01:30:34 pm »

Maybe this helps you out...

I recently bought a Electro Harmonix switch blade when I bought my Nova delay. The case is not powder coated or even sprayed. It's very basic and cost $37 (+- R300).

I would however rather have one that uses a battery or power to show you that it is switched on. I would also have rather paid you R450 for it than paying the yanks that money.

This is a picture so you can see the size relative to my other pedals (FYI - as was Alan's suggestion on the size)



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