Garth from Whimsy Machines looks at the impact of parts shortages in the the guitar pedal industry as supply chain issues bite...
Hi, I'm Garth from Whimsy Machines, a small, family-run electronics manufacturer specialising in analogue audio paraphernalia based out of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
We started working on a line of guitar pedals in 2016, then went public in 2020 with our first 3 designs - Short Stack, Jeff & King Spark - and we're quite proud of them!
In that time, we learned many painful lessons and made quite a few eye-watering mistakes. But the response has been amazing and we're lucky enough to have branched out to a small collection of retailers spread across four countries.
All in all, we've learned which variables we can control and which we cannot. One of the biggest variables we can't control is the availability of parts...
Some parts were hard to find even before the chip shortage we're currently experiencing. The supply chain issues are affecting the entire electronics industry, and that includes us guitar pedal builders.
For example, the MMBFJ201 - the twin sister and surface-mount version of the ever popular (and over-hyped) J201 is non-existent right now. Our "Jeff" uses 5 J201's and our yet-to-be-released "Sweet Tooth" uses 8...
All the pedal builders are squirrelling away their nuts. With a 51-week factory lead time for the J201, the wait is incredibly long between batches. Electronic components distributor, Mouser claims they should receive 250,000 J201s in September - but who knows whether this will happen on time.
Take a look at this screenshot from octoparts.com. Octoparts is a search engine for individual electronic and industrial parts, providing retailer stock and price info for whatever thingamabob you're looking for.
No, this isn't your friend's NFT portfolio, this is the availability of MMBFJ201 transistors over the last 12 months. Yep, down 100% availability.
I've always disliked sourcing parts and for me this was the moment I realised I needed to change things up. At least in regards to Sweet Tooth, using eight of these transistors. Sweet Tooth started out as an over the top multi-stage preamp featuring those pesky transistors along with a complex two-knob tone control circuit. Tinkering led to one thing and one thing led to another, and now Sweet Tooth has morphed into a weird and heavily modified Klon Centaur drive stage with a Pultec EQP1A inspired two-knob tone control stuffed inside.
The need to “adapt or die” led us to design an even cooler circuit, something we really think is special. Before, Sweet Tooth was just another “nice sounding preamp”, however, after some tinkering and playing around we now have something really special using 100% easy to find parts. We're way happier with the circuit and how it sounds. We'll take it as a win!
Shop Whimsy Machines Pedals
[product=whimsy-machines-jeff-v2] The Whimsy Machines Jeff V2 is a Muff-style fuzz - but not as you know it! For a start, the JFET gives this some beautiful amp-like overdriven sounds, but it can get incredibly Muffy too. The V2 builds on the first version with some truly unique features. There's a switchable pre-amp oscillation control, a clipping boost, and a Sweep control to focus your EQ. [/product]
[product=whimsy-machines-the-great-fantabulizing-whatsitdo] The Great Fantabulizing Whatsitdo is a recursive octave fuzz that can generate over 300% harmonic distortion in a fantastically musical way. The harder you dig in, the stronger the effect. [/product]
Whimsy Machines are stocked exclusively in the UK by Boost Guitar Pedals (well, the pedals which Garth actually has the parts to build...!)
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Add in that Boost shipped it out quickly and it arrived with a nice note written on the invoice, is there anything else you could ask for? Definitely will be buying more from both Boost and Bleak District in future.
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