I was a french teenager in the sixties. I’ve been fed on british pop and blues : sharp and toned sounds, top boosted, or fat and fuzzy… Like many young people, I went tinkering electronics : disassembling old prewar tube radios to retrieve parts, trying to transform them in guitar amps… Sound equipment was extremely expensive at that time and it’s been the best reason to learn how to build my own stuffs.
I went in a scientific High School. I was fast persuaded that the best way not to make my gears smoke was to learn how to calculate them. Besides, I was lucky to be at the crossroads of two positive technologies : the peak of tube technology and the development of the first germanium transistors. Since those early years, hot and mild sensations remained in my ears.
Get your own sound !
Learning to handle my guitar, to use my ears, and to design the equipment of my bands, all this came simultaneously… It took me years to progress simultaneously in guitar and in the soldering iron ! The aim was to make the instrument get its whole own sound, and the group too. Meanwhile, I became a professor of product-design. I have had to think about the reasons and the identity which determine a product. It protected me from fetishism, commonplace marketing, and techno freaks.
I understood why such brand or such model had become referential : a bit of intuition, simple but essential circuitry, typified components, and a lot of tests in real conditions…
At the end of the seventies, many new amps and stompboxes came on the market. Most of the second generation concepts were born at that time : evolved overdrives and saturations, phasings and flangers etc… English manufacturers were still creative, but they were a little masked by american and japanese products. The small japanese stompboxes were attractive. They seduced for a few weeks after the purchase, but set apart certain cult models, they often smelt like pharmacy. On the contrary, american stompboxes were often more basic, but even their defects were nice, and they were musically more cultured.
A conflict raised in the eighties and nineties between clean and synthetic sounds on one hand, dirty and organic sounds on the other one. It was deeper than a competition between guitars and synthetizers : on the technological level as on the musical one, there were two schools rising against each other. Little by little, I looked less for trebles and began to explore more grainy soundings…
The last glory days of black LPs, lots of compilations on CD and the growth of alternative labels, all this put juicy sounds in our ears: I re-discovered early Rock and Roll, Chicago Blues and Soul classics, extraordinarily recorded and mixed despite poor technical resources… They were both dirty and elegant sounds, the amps reacted as a living body at the wood of the guitar, at the fingers of the musicians. I just had to keep on working in this lively and sensual way.
But my job took all my time, and if I have progressed in guitar and electronics, it’s been more slowly than I would have wished… Now I am at last free. I’m 64 years old. I look at all this experience, and at the big stock of electronic components I have patiently acquired…
I decided to become Guitar Poppa :
to design and build without haste hand-made equipments,
just to please the guitars and harps.