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 gears.
I went in a scientific High School. I was fast persuaded that the best way not to make my gears blow out smoking was to learn how to calculate them. Besides, I was lucky to be at the crossroads of two fundamentals 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 !
As a design professor, I had to consider on the reasons that determine a good product. It protected me from fetishism. If some brands had become benchmarks, it was by associating essential sound intuitions and simple circuits, and after much testing with musicians…
At the end of the sixties, we tweaked the sound following two opposite trends: treble boosters for sharp sounds lovers, and fuzz for hairy sound lovers… In both cases, circuits were easy to create and ideal for learning …
At the end of the 70s, a lot of new materials came available. English creators have been somewhat masked on the marketing level by the Americans, and especially by the Japanese. Japanese pedals were small, practical and sexy. They seduced for a few weeks after purchase, but apart from some “cult” models, they often smelled like pharmacy. Conversely, the American pedals from Electro Harmonix, although less neat, had some nice flaws, and were musically more cultured.
In the eighties and nineties, a conflict has set in: clean and synthetic sounds on the one hand, organic and dirty sounds on the other. It was beyond the guitar-synth quarrel: technologically as well as musically, two sound sensitivities were clashing. I continued to love the chiseled sounds, but found they they could be as well full curvy.
There was also the recording revolution of the end of the XXth century: Through the multiplication of compilations on black discs and CD, then on the net, we could easily (re)find everything and gorge ourselves with juicy sounds: the reissues of classic rock n ‘roll, blues and soul, the remastering of jazz recordings from the 30s and 50s brought back sounds that were extraordinarily taken and mixed in spite of summary means.
Sounds both bally and elegant, amps that reacts like a living body to the fingers and lips of musicians …
I re-learned to work in this organic and sensual process.
But my professional job took up all my time, and while I have well progressed in guitar and electronics, it’s been slower than I would have liked … I have finally been on retreat a few years. At 69, I became aware of all this experience, and I look at my stock of patiently acquired vintage components …
I decided to become Guitar Poppa :
to design and build without haste hand-made equipments,
just to please the guitars and harps.