#1
Hi Guys,

Several days before I posted about a project I am working on right now, but I did it stupidly by posting a link and the thread was deleted as expected, I am really sorry about that just beeing too enthusiastic about it. So I will try to explain it:

The concept is simple.

Most analogue distortion/OD pedals have repeating schematic blocks. Assume that you have small boxes with those repeating schematics that snap to each other so you can construct a new combination in a minute like playing with LEGO. For example you can make distortion with TONE and EQ, and use it with amp without EQ. If you go rehearsing with different amp you can remove the EQ or add CAB simulator. Or you may decide to put OD before the distortion.

I can share a youtube demo if it not violates with the rules.

What do you think about this idea?
#2
Zvex has done something in that vein with the Inventobox, which has not proven very popular, and Devi Ever went bankrupt developing a similar product. That's not to say that it's necessarily a bad idea, but those are not exactly small or inexperienced builders and they were not able to create a successful product. Both units received quite a lot of interest before they were released.

Modular designs tend to be expensive, because you have redundant costs for a lot of things. The enclosures, for example, are often the most expensive single part of a pedal, and your design is going to require not one large enclosure but many smaller ones, which is going to add to the cost. On top of that, wiring pedals isn't terribly difficult, and the kit and modding community is so healthy, that anyone with a reasonable amount of interest in making their own pedals is just going to do it with a soldering iron and a bag of parts. Your product lives in a middle ground between (convenient, expensive) and (inconvenient, cheap) but suffers from being less convenient than pre-made but more expensive than homemade, and without any clear advantages besides a small amount of flexibility. That's a tough sell.

Most guitarists who are into pedals are already going to have an overdrive, distortion, and EQ pedal if they need those things, and will have picked them out from the thousands available. You can walk into any guitar shop on earth and have your pick of a whole display case full of distortion pedals. Your design forces people to use only the blocks that you've made available. If your distortion block sounds decent, but they hate your OD block, they're going to feel like they've wasted their money. People who want a lot of flexibility in a smaller footprint are going to simply buy a multi-fx, which gives all of the functions of your device but with far more capability than you'll be able to offer with analog circuitry. Or, for those who insist on analog, there are many custom shops and small, individual builders out there willing to build anything you could possibly desire. If you offer only traditional circuits, you will be providing nothing that cannot already be bought in some combination already. If you offer unique, unusual circuits you are going to have a hard time selling unproven, unfamiliar circuits that may or may not sound good.

Pedals themselves are already modular. I don't know that breaking them down into more granular pieces gives enough advantage to overcome the drawbacks. They're still not going to be as flexible as making your own, the number of 'blocks' will be limited and limiting, fairly expensive, and will not result in truly innovative circuits or pedals.

This all sounds very negative, but it's not meant to say that you shouldn't do it. It's just a list of why such a product has not been successful, even when undertaken by some very capable and established pedal makers. The idea has been thought of before, and it's very exciting on paper, but the practical and economic aspects of making it a reality make it far less appealing.
#3
Thanks for the comment, man. I have the same fears and think how to improve and find solutions on all these issues. This is how success is created. Field with many issues is field with many opportunities. Maybe we will find some different and profitable idea while doing this. Who knows?

One of the reasons to write posts and read the feedback is to avoid making something really stupid.

To be a "capable and established pedal maker" or any maker of anything is not a recepie for success. This century raised some very successful projects done by people who never been established of doing anything before. Who knows?



Quote by Roc8995
Zvex has done something in that vein with the Inventobox, which has not proven very popular, and Devi Ever went bankrupt developing a similar product. That's not to say that it's necessarily a bad idea, but those are not exactly small or inexperienced builders and they were not able to create a successful product. Both units received quite a lot of interest before they were released.

Modular designs tend to be expensive, because you have redundant costs for a lot of things. The enclosures, for example, are often the most expensive single part of a pedal, and your design is going to require not one large enclosure but many smaller ones, which is going to add to the cost. On top of that, wiring pedals isn't terribly difficult, and the kit and modding community is so healthy, that anyone with a reasonable amount of interest in making their own pedals is just going to do it with a soldering iron and a bag of parts. Your product lives in a middle ground between (convenient, expensive) and (inconvenient, cheap) but suffers from being less convenient than pre-made but more expensive than homemade, and without any clear advantages besides a small amount of flexibility. That's a tough sell.

Most guitarists who are into pedals are already going to have an overdrive, distortion, and EQ pedal if they need those things, and will have picked them out from the thousands available. You can walk into any guitar shop on earth and have your pick of a whole display case full of distortion pedals. Your design forces people to use only the blocks that you've made available. If your distortion block sounds decent, but they hate your OD block, they're going to feel like they've wasted their money. People who want a lot of flexibility in a smaller footprint are going to simply buy a multi-fx, which gives all of the functions of your device but with far more capability than you'll be able to offer with analog circuitry. Or, for those who insist on analog, there are many custom shops and small, individual builders out there willing to build anything you could possibly desire. If you offer only traditional circuits, you will be providing nothing that cannot already be bought in some combination already. If you offer unique, unusual circuits you are going to have a hard time selling unproven, unfamiliar circuits that may or may not sound good.

Pedals themselves are already modular. I don't know that breaking them down into more granular pieces gives enough advantage to overcome the drawbacks. They're still not going to be as flexible as making your own, the number of 'blocks' will be limited and limiting, fairly expensive, and will not result in truly innovative circuits or pedals.

This all sounds very negative, but it's not meant to say that you shouldn't do it. It's just a list of why such a product has not been successful, even when undertaken by some very capable and established pedal makers. The idea has been thought of before, and it's very exciting on paper, but the practical and economic aspects of making it a reality make it far less appealing.
#4
Agreed. You'd get much more bang for the buck using a Multi.
Then you have the problems of people who want gigging boards, what happens if one of those little bits goes down? If you Drive goes down, you can go and grab another Drive at any music store that suits your needs. If I'm reading this correctly, with this idea you'd have to pick up a spare batch of all the little "Lego" bits.

I love the idea of the custom gear though. "Custom is the new standard."
Last edited by ScalaMania at Feb 13, 2015,
#5
Quote by emil_v_k
Maybe we will find some different and profitable idea while doing this. Who knows?

I think this is the most likely outcome. I really don't see this exact idea as a viable product, even if the technical issues are resolved. It is, on the other hand, a good starting point/exercise in re-engineering products that are in demand.

Fender recently had a line of guitars with "personality boards" where you could swap out a PCB in the guitar to re-wire it. Egnater/Randall have an amp with preamp modules that, while not a commercial success, has seen a lot of enthusiasm from the modding community. Farndurk makes pedals with "Tone Plugs" for hot-swapping transistors/diodes. Hell, on some level the early analog Moog units were nearly the same idea. Those are promising leads in the modular world, and show that while there is little interest in building entire pieces of gear from modular blocks, there is significant interest in specific use of modules to alter familiar, or at least identifiable, gear. The "mother ship" model seems to work well, I think the "hivemind" is not so successful because it lacks a basic identity. Most guitarists do not do well without a framework of familiarity to work within, and I think a successful use of modular pedals will need to provide that framework.
#6
what happens if one of those little bits goes down? If you Drive goes down, you can go and grab another Drive at any music store that suits your needs. If I'm reading this correctly, with this idea you'd have to pick up a spare batch of all the little "Lego" bits.


Of course, you can buy a spare block. Buying a spare block vs completely new effect you do not pay battery holder, I/O jacks, power supply jack and big part circuit. Yes it is correct that usually you pay more for the box than for the circuit, but one block will be about 30% from the price or less.

The idea is to prepare a basic kit of blocks and you can buy any block aditionally.

I think this is the most likely outcome. I really don't see this exact idea as a viable product, even if the technical issues are resolved. It is, on the other hand, a good starting point/exercise in re-engineering products that are in demand.


Definitely. I used this concept several years ago to design custom drives and mods


Those are promising leads in the modular world, and show that while there is little interest in building entire pieces of gear from modular blocks, there is significant interest in specific use of modules to alter familiar, or at least identifiable, gear.


What I see as a drawback is the complexity ot the existing products. For example the ZVEX Inventobox. I will never buy it because I will get crazy until I make a single effect and if I drop it on the floor all elements may fall from the experimental board.

Assume that with this product you receive a booklet that shows you how to make basic drives easy and alter the tone control in seconds or add aditional blocks. And like Lego blocks you can arrange them by color and get result.

Most guitarists do not do well without a framework of familiarity to work within, and I think a successful use of modular pedals will need to provide that framework.


You are right. This is my fear. However it does not prevent them from experimenting with new things and create their framework.
#8
If it was cheap enough, simple enough, sturdy enough and could be used to make something that actually sounds good then it might appeal to beginners.

This is a bit of marketing advice. Target audience. Figure out who they are and what they want. You've heard from a few smart guitar players who don't see the appeal, but that doesn't mean that there isn't an audience. It may be that the proper audience for this sort of product is the sort of guitar player who shops for gear at the Toys R' Us. (not intended to be a slight on you or your idea)
It might not work unless you can produce it very cheaply and market it to kids. I think that this is not so much an electronics design problem as a packaging problem. If you're pursuing this then you might want to re-think the whole experience of learning to play the electric guitar.
For example (and i don't know whether this would be true or not) Maybe your product would have some other advantages if you packaged it with a midi guitar? I'd be more inclined to try to create new paradigms than to throw a different form factor into a mature pedal market.
#9
paul.housley.7, thanks for the advice. We have some simple strategy to check the appeal. If it fails we will close the project without spending much money and effort. We do not want to build products that people do not want.

You are right that sometimes it is easier to create something new than changing the existing.
#10
I started a crowdfunding campaign. Those who like the project may donate and share. Those who don't we have nice t-shirts
(removed)
#11
Do not advertise your products or funding campaigns here. You were warned in your last thread.