Why arent we cool?



Why arent we cool?

Postby echodeluxe » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:29 pm

ill make this brief: right off the heels on NAMM, i'm feeling a bit discouraged. it seems like no one cares about Wattson FX at all. yeah we have dealers and we sell a decent amount, but no one talks about us or our pedals anywhere. there are tons of "boutique" companies out there rehashing shit and putthing them in painted hammond enclosures and they all have crazy high acclaim.

we have been slaving away not only building stuff to insane quality standards, but we have the enclosures custom made for us, to our design.

so im missing something. why arent we cool? are our pedals not weird enough? should we put skulls on our enclosures? should we just say fuck it and use hammond bricks instead of making rad enclosures thj\at are more rugged? help!!!
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Chankgeez » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:34 pm

echodeluxe wrote:... there are tons of "boutique" companies out there ...
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby D.o.S. » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:57 pm

Tourbox?
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Jero » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:11 am

^Tourbox's aren't a bad idea^

What stands out most to me is the limited number of designs. They are also of pretty commonly reworked circuits. That being said, you have gone above what many do, and you do have cool custom enclosures. I think the engraved look and colorway of the Escape Velocity is great as well. So I don't know. Perhaps get some new, non dirt, circuits going.
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby hazelwould » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:54 am

I'll bite.

To be in the now competitive market that is pedals... You've really got to ask yourself how different is what your putting out from everyone. And more importantly does anyone care (true proof of concept)? This is standard practice for any smart business. What you do has to have a creative edge that will get people to become interested and ultimately buy your stuff.

IMO, Wattson isn't super interesting. First off, you have only a couple of pedals... And pedals that other people make "cooler" variations of, nonetheless. There are some things I've read in the past that stopped me from trying your original super fuzz. Namely, the volume drop issue. No matter what you spend on packaging (which to me is very important), your circuit better be PERFECT and/or better than the original. You have to make a good first impression. The details count.

And take your queues from other builders. The Octane 3 (being a notably improved SF pedal) has been out for years... Alan Sparhawk and other cool players have pimped it out. And I'd be willing to bet it's only a small % of Zvex's sales. That could be a sign that the general guitar public may not really care to much about Superfuzzes. As a matter of fact, market research could be scrolling through the thousands of pedal board pics and figure out what % are Superfuzzes.

Your new tubescreamer one... Sounds cool. But a day late and a dollar (too much) short IMO. Too many competitors in that area. Market saturation it is. Look at Lovepedal... Do you think he's the "giant" moneymaking cloner he once was? I doubt it.

The people getting bigger (Catalinbread, Strymon etc.) are innovating, and slowly convincing guitar players that digital isn't a bad word. This could be good or bad depending on your perception and growth strategy. They've been willing to step outside of the box, and take risks. On the other hand, their (Catalinbread) whole... "We don't give shit what you like, we make them for ourselves" attitude is exhausting.

Which brings me to my next point. Be careful what you say on the internet. Especially if your repping for a company. That stuff stays out there, and every time someone googles "Wattson," they might see some snarky inside joke on HCFX that would be near impossible to understand and even harder to take seriously. It's cool to have friends online, but I'd have two separate names to keep your PR stuff in check.

Take note from the ILF builders. These guys work hard to provide great prices, innovative concepts, cool looking shit, and they always keep things super cool from a PR perspective.

Finally, it's cool you guys take quality seriously... But as a consumer, I've had tons of cheap shit that just works. If you were in a different industry where quality control was a bigger issue. Then I'd focus on quality. But, for the most part I don't see that as a big deciding factor on a pedal purchase. I kinda expect it. If this were 1995 when your options were flimsy/expensive vintage stuff or not many boutique options. Quality would be good. See KLON.

Anyways, that's all I got. :hug: I say this merely as an observer and wish you guys well. :hug:
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Hyphen Nation » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:29 am

I am a focus group of one, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Also, I am super tired so I apologize if some of this isn't super well thought out or articulated.

Edit: I think hazelwould was writing as I was writing, missed his reply until after I posted…I would fully agree with his perspective on this.

Custom Enclosures: awesome that you are doing this. The bulk of your pedals are based on the Shin-ei. Your names don't clarify what is different about each one that much, and the form factor/color/materials/finish says "retro authentic." Is retro authentic the place that is blowing up in boutique pedals, or is "new takes on the old/new territories to explore" doing better? I would wager it's the latter. I don't see analog man [whom I have mad respect for, and love quite a few of his pedals] getting as much hype as a lot of other folks who appear to be trying to push the pedal platform into new spaces. Is the Shin-ei fuzz a big enough market to have three versions of, especially when your product line is only 4 pedals? Until I became fuzz obsessed, I didn't really know much about Shin-ei. How much cultural awareness is there? How will demos help you clarify to people what is distinct about each pedal? I think there are one or two BeeBaa clones coming out this year. Do they have enough awareness out there to sell on their own? Are they labors of love? The BlackArts naming [black sheep] and demo does a great job raising awareness of those who know what the BeeBaa is, creates a distinct and memorable name AND they pay it off with a video demo to tease out how rad it is to someone who may not know what that is all about, but knows and loves Black Arts.

Here's where I am going to give you some real criticism: typography. In a lot of applications on your pedals it just doesn't feel all that considered. The result is the high quality product you actually are delivering reads as less than premium. The words are on there, they are doing their jobs, but it doesn't have as much personality and consideration as maybe the pedal enclosure, or the special brushed panels and knobs on some. You may be comparing yourself to "generic hamond enclosures" but the interesting thing to me is the considered artistry and diversity that you see within that limited format. I am not going to buy a pedal based on looks [mostly] but if a person's product line sounds good and looks incredibly considered all the way through, I am going to feel more gooder about it. Look at INFANEM, or Fairfield for examples of minimal, well considered, innovative, and incredibly good sounding. They are smaller batch makers off the top of my head, but there are tons of larger quantity builders doing the same thing. If you look at all the pedal boards that just went up on here [BILF], there's some fucking spectacular work being done, from etches, to minimal typographic treatments, to custom paint, etc. There's a lot to be said for every aspect of a pedal being considered and thought through. That is true of all product design.

Product Range: it would be really interesting to know what is in fact selling in the pedal market overall. I feel like I don't need another Tubescreamer, even though the Escape Velocity felt like one were the whole thing came together to offer something premium, where your team's vision for what would make an awesome TS pedal came through. On the three Shin-ei variants, I may recommend cutting it down to two. The most accurate one, and a super version that captures all your customizations. Three feels a bit confusing as to why I'd buy one over the other.

Lastly, what does the market want? For me I am looking for creativity, vision, distinction, memorability, some new tools that help create a sound I've never been able to make before, or give me control that I've never had access to before, or a quality version of an old sound [Caprid, Pharaoh, Hoof] that just sounds better than all the rest in a box that makes me smile, or feels considered in all aspects. I personally am not motivated to sound like the classic rock station. I am guessing if you look at the BILF or other board threads you'd see that we are outliers as guitarists. If you look at what got press at NAMM other than all the awesome new pedals coming out, the guitar category is making a nostalgia play. "Let's make the same 10 designs that we came up with between 1950 and 1962 with new colors or features you don't want!" I am betting that most of the folks on this forum are kind of anti-guitar industry in a lot of ways. In an era when electronic music is the global music, creativity in guitars is going to percolate on the fringes, fueled by the builders who are popular on this site.
There is a reason EQD has the following it has. I can get a great sounding fuzz, check. I can get something that sounds like a fairy riding a unicorn shitting rainbows, check.

Go talk to the guys who buy and sell LOTS of pedals. You are already in tons of great places like ProGuitarShop, etc. Get their opinion. They may have some good insight. I am pretty sure the guy who runs PGS [it's near my house] totally gives some of the builders advice and direction. All and all, don't give up. Definitely be careful how you frame this conversation on line. You clearly have a vision for what you think excellence sounds, looks and feels like. Amplify that and make sure people know. On a simple level, get your website updated. Your tumblr is doing a much better job of showing what it is you guys do, how you run, what your vision for awesome is.
Last edited by Hyphen Nation on Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:01 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Chankgeez » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:45 am

Since the gloves are off, how come nobody's mentioned the ugly website?
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Hyphen Nation » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:06 am

Chankgeez wrote:Since the gloves are off, how come nobody's mentioned the ugly website?

hahahah…I was just updating my post to say that…last line of a long opinion piece…

I always feel like an asshole when I write a post like I just did Iike I should probably just delete it…these guys are out there sweating to make it work every day…I get it…It's what they are pouring their life into, but if it was my company, and I asked for opinions, I'd probably want the truth? I dunno…I get paid to be an opinionated bastard…hard for me to turn it off…

Thinking more about this, are we even the audience for these pedals? Yeah, we are fuzz obsessed, but when I look at the boards on here, and the overall culture, I wonder if we possibly not the target market. "Why aren't we cool" as the subject line…makes me want to ask, do you want to be the cool kids on this forum? Do you want to be hot at NAMM? Do you want to be cool at GC? What is your goal? How is the OP defining success?
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Tristan » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:01 am

For me you guys make nice pedals with the wrong options.
I mean, no secondary footswitch on the EFY-6 means less directly applicable sounds, less functionality, that means it's not going on my board so I won't buy it.
The other Superfuzz ones I won't even look into because of the large enclosure, again it won't go on my board so I won't buy it, I'd much rather have a 1590BB enclosure to be honest.
Guys like Fredric Effects at least put both the FY-6 and FY-2 in those big enclosures, more functionality, but again I think it's too big for my board so I won't buy it, if they'd put all of that in a 1590BB enclosure then I'd be way more interested.
I don't know about the tubescreamer thing you guys brought out, too big, way too expensive for a tubecreamer, if you'd fit it in an MXR style box and it would cost $150,- then maybe more people would be interested.
Overall Wattson FX got a bit boring I guess, especially with the new tubescreamer thing, so maybe that's why people aren't talking about it that much, I don't know.
I agree with the other guys that the website and the artwork / lettering on the pedals is quite bland / ugly, besides there aren't any quality pictures on the website so you can't really see what's going on with the pedals anyway.
Sorry if this comes across as harsh, this is my unfiltered opinion about it, honestly I have thought about buying the EFY-6 in the past but in the end because of all things mentioned above it has slipped a bit under my radar.
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby AxAxSxS » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:25 am

After reading the comments I went and looked at the website.

Pictures man. Pictures.

The page the link takes you to has nothing.
then when I clicked around to find what the pedals looked like.
Yeah man, I have to echo what has been said about the enclosures. Kinda boring.

I actually (kinda) knew you were involved with an effects builder, but never paid much attention to it because you have mostly been going on about some silly thing or another. Which is fine, but does not scream "I AM SELLING A COOL PRODUCT THAT WILL HELP YOU SOUND BETTER!"

When I think about the builders I follow, regardless of whether or not I own anything they have done-

B.A.T. Mark has always been about the people buying his stuff. Custom? can do. New stuff on a regular basis? you bet. Lots of different colors and graphics? on it.

Dr. Scientist. Dude loves pizza and makes The Elements. Enough said. (again, lots of cool options with the enclosures, a constant dialogue with customers, some custom work)

Tom/Fuzzhugger. Laura Bennet painted boxes! Rad super secret fuzz for forum members with just mind blowing graphics! again, is an innovator and is willing to do weird shit because it sounds cool and fun.

Heavy Electronics. Dude makes one pedal, one way, but he's one of the coolest guys around, always willing to help people, very involved in the community and just an all around nice guy. It doesn't hurt that the One knob wonder/ Ape Blaster just plain delivers. that thing is awesome.

Dunwich/Nick I just bought my first pedal from him on preorder, But he is the perfect example of how to treat people. I have several amps that work pretty much solely due to his help. Sometimes he eactly called what they needed, sometimes he just set me on the right path to making what needed fixed, fied. He's very involved with what everyone is doing and he obviously has some true passion about the music. again, custom, user driven innovation that s made to the highest standard and just plain works and looks amazing.

And really that is what all these people share. passion. Love for the craft and the music that it enables. I'm not saying you dont have it, just that it's not really showing.

I looked at the website and it seems to be made for corksniffing old people. I like class and simplicity, but try to make it more fun! Not every pedal that sounds as good as the Bluebeard Fuzz is going to take off like that in a plain enclosure,

Note: there are a ton more builders I love, especially on this site, these are just a few examples to help me make my point.

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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Jwar » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:19 pm

First things first. Comparing yourself (which I assuming you guys are relatively newish?) to other longer established builders will not be a good starting point. You need to build a name for your company. None of the builders on this site would started with a shit ton of orders. It happens over time.

I give you a few examples. Brian, Tom and Ryan are the top 3 on this site IMO. Why? They are personable, reasonable and their customer service is amazing. They treat you with respect no matter how dumb your ideas sound and are willing to work with you on lots of different levels. I've had custom builds from all of these guys, and I am absolutely IN LOVE with the way they conduct themselves. I wish I could be a savvy as these fellas!

That being said. Here's my thoughts on your business as I see it from an outward look (don't have any other way to look at it).

The look of the pedals are absolutely fine IMO. They look slick, clean and well built. That's not an issue at all as far as I'm concerned. You could do fancier enclosures or graphics, but it's not an absolute must. Most ILF people would enjoy it more, but I like pedals both ways. Sounds quality is MORE important than anything. But it doesn't hurt to do special runs.

Your demos. Seems ok. Maybe the intros could be a little better with less techy stuff, because most people don't understand that. But really, they aren't bad as a whole. Sound quality is good, player is good. Seems fine. Maybe you could get someone like my buddy Excane to do some awesome demos as well, to show a different playing style. Not trying to talk for him, but I think he's normally pretty open to this.

The website. I will disagree with those saying anything about your site. It looks ok to me. Who really gives a fuck about a website anyway? Look at Alan's site from Mountainking. It sucks balls, and people are fucking obsessed with his stuff.

Tourbox. Great idea. YOU HAVE TO DO ONE. You just got to. That way people will get to see them first hand.

Going to Namm. Bold move, probably not the most financially intelligent one though unless you got at least 5k in sales from it. I have to say that's a tough decision to make. I'm thinking of buying a booth at an upcoming NAMM as well, but am trying to get other ILF peps involved. Maybe Ryan and a few other builders. EDIT: Just saw you shared a booth. So maybe not so bad. Get some exposure. Not a bad thing.

Don't give up. These things take time. I've been working on Acid Splash Designs for a year and a half and I'm still not where I'd like to be. I've got mad competition and I love the guys I compete against! Danny, Laow are both gents and I'd love to own stuff from both of them! So make your competition your friends! It's great to bounce ideas back and forth and help each other.
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby skullservant » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:15 pm

Here is a little bit of feedback from me personally-

I think your builds are cool! The custom enclosures are spot on. They look super professional/pro-grade which is excellent, and I don't think you need super flashy graphics to woo everyone over. There is something to be said about simplicity.

I will echo the sentiment that you do not need to have 3 varients of the same fuzz. That in itself has put you in a little bit of a niche market. You currently only have really 2 base circuits that you are offering. I agree that a reduction to one super fuzz that can cop original tones plus have switches or whatever you need to access the mods that you have between the other two would probably be A) more cost effective for you, and B) more appealing/less confusing for customers trying to pick between them. I know I personally would really have to spend a lot of time deciding between all three to make sure I made the right choice in what I wanted if I was going to shell out the money.

My advice? Branch out into something that you aren't entirely comfortable with in terms of a design. Whether it be a pedal that you wouldn't ever see yourself using, or a circuit that you thought you hated, and make it into something that you enjoy and SELL people on it. Put it in different contexts. SHOW people how something they never thought they would ever need NEEDS to be in their life. Look at the Rainbow Machine/Boss PS effect. It'd been forgotten by most before EQD brought it back and now a TON of people have something that is weird as hell, even if it's just for 5 seconds of one song. Why do they have it? Because EQD showed how it could be used in different contexts. How it could go from subtle, to extreme, etc. Make people want your stuff and explain why and how it is different.

Explore different circuits in general- whether it be adding to existing well known pedals like you have with the super fuzz and tube screamer, or coming up with something on your own.

As far as your website goes, I don't think it is horrible, but I would like to see more pictures in general of the pedals you make. Show off those enclosures. Show off those guts. Show off your wiring. Your website is your space to brag!

Lastly, I do agree that you should have two accounts- one for business and one for personal if you are wanting to work on the large scale/grow as a company. I dont know of any super large company (EHX, EQD, etc) that have the people in charge talking about personal stuff/goofing off in public very much.

That's all I've got for now. I might add some later. But don't give up! Things can be slow, it may not be entirely you. I go through dry months and I go through months where its like WHY DID I TAKE ALL OF THIS ON. Just like tides of the ocean man.
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby D.o.S. » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:56 pm

jwar wrote:The website. I will disagree with those saying anything about your site. It looks ok to me. Who really gives a fuck about a website anyway? Look at Alan's site from Mountainking. It sucks balls, and people are fucking obsessed with his stuff.


To be fair, Mountainking (and Sonny, who's also the fucking man) are both working from a position of their existing endorsements gaining them a large foothold in the pedal nerd community.
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby Chankgeez » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:01 pm

D.o.S. wrote:
jwar wrote:The website. I will disagree with those saying anything about your site. It looks ok to me. Who really gives a fuck about a website anyway? Look at Alan's site from Mountainking. It sucks balls, and people are fucking obsessed with his stuff.


To be fair, Mountainking (and Sonny, who's also the fucking man) are both working from a position of their existing endorsements gaining them a large foothold in the pedal nerd community.


Those pedals speak for themselves. They don't need fancy websites. Other pedals aren't so fortunate.

(Not a knock of the Wattson pedals themselves.)
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Re: Why arent we cool?

Postby hazelwould » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:41 pm

I think to piggyback on everyone else...

How you sell is important. Think like a marketer/customer not an electrical engineer. You need to market to the general public with those kitschy buzz words and phrases. Your not going to sell pedals to electrical engineers and make a living.

Look at Walrus Audio... Those guys came out of no where and are very recognizable and seem to be doing pretty well. It's all about marketing. Those guys just have rehashed circuits that are pretty common, but talk about them like they're the coolest devices ever. Whether we all believe the hype is another story. :whateva: :lol:

Someone who seems to have generated some buzz even though he seems pretty old school is Barber. Those small compact pedals are affordable, look cool, and supposedly capable of a bunch of different sounds. I've almost bit, but don't really need more OD. :)*
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