I first found out about Chad’s pedals while doing a tour last spring with the boys in Transit. Torre, their guitarist was using one of the first Loud/Louder pedals and after hearing him use it night after night I knew I had to get one. I often would find myself hitting my older boss pedal and wishing there was another one connected to it for more volume. Well, this is that pedal. Recently I had Chad build me both a Loud/Louder and his new overdrive pedal the Old Ironsides to use on the new Polar Bear Club record. The pedals are fantastic, handmade, and extremely well built. They have already made it to my pedalboard for the next tour. Here are some questions I asked Chad recently over email, enjoy!
I think we should first start this off with you telling us a little about yourself. What was the starting point with you when first getting into music?
Lets see, I would have to say it all started with Nirvana. That’s the first thing music related that totally got to me. Perhaps I was just another angsty and confused teenager ha. Either way, it struck a nerve and really stuck. It opened the floodgates to the pixies, sonic youth, and I guess “alternative” music at the time, or whatever they called it back then.
How old were you when you started playing guitar? What [who] influenced you to pick one up and learn how to play?
I’m pretty sure I was 11 or 12. Because of my Nirvana obsession, I was enthralled by the electric guitar. It was this sort of magical and mythical thing that i knew I had to be a part of. It was around Christmas time of 7th grade and I was at BJ’s food shopping with my mother. It’s a big wholesale store, so they have electronics and toys and shit. For whatever reason they had these cheap strat copies for sale with little amps. I was staring at it thinking how impossible it must be to learn how to play the thing. Apparently, a friend of my dads saw me drooling over this electric guitar and told him about it. Guess what I got for Christmas that year? I sucked at it, and sort of hated it. I think my cat knocked it over and the input jack broke at some point. Luckily, someone showed me how to read tabs and the rest was history. Nirvana songs were only a couple of chords so I picked it up fairly quickly. Kurt Cobain was my biggest influence back then. I wanted to be him, but alive!
Did you take any lessons?
Nah. All of my uncles on my mom’s side are all musicians. One of them showed me how to play the major chords but that’s about as much training I got.
At what point down the road did you decide you wanted to start modding and building guitar pedals?
Over the years of playing in bands and slowly turning into a gear freak, I quickly became the guy that could troubleshoot your rig if it was broken. I guess I just loved gear so much I learned all the ins and outs. Somewhere in the mid 2000’s I came across a DIY fuzz pedal on ebay and totally thought “I could do that”. I had some soldering experience from a tech class in high school so I figured what the hell and started to read up on it. Back then, there wasn’t nearly as many sites and info as there is now. It was sort of really pure back then. You only had guys like analog man, zvex, and klon. It’s crazy how far its come in 5-6 years.
When did you realize that building pedals could turn into something more than just a bedroom hobby?
I still make these things in my bedroom haha. Rent is crazy here in Boston. Hoping to get a small shop by the end of the year so I can reclaim my living space. In all seriousness I always flirted with the idea that I could build pedals for a living. I never sort of planned it or even really thought about it actually working. I made the first Loud/Louder and thought that it could be useful in many ways. I wanted to have someone put it through its paces and see what it can really do. I built one for my buddy Torre who plays guitar in Transit. He loved it and it became an integral part of his sound live. At that point I knew I had something. It wasn’t until he started telling people about it and it snowballed into dudes in bands that I didn’t know hitting me up asking me for one. It sort of just happened naturally, I couldn’t be anymore proud and totally pumped.
“I build stuff around what I like, lower wattage amps just on the verge of breaking up. Clean but if you dig in, you can get some bite”
Lets talk a little about your pedal the “Loud/Louder”. Was this your first design?
The Loud/Louder wasn’t my first design, but it just so happened to be the one that I felt could stand on its own. Its not for everyone, but what is? I build stuff around what I like, lower wattage amps just on the verge of breaking up. Clean but if you dig in, you can get some bite. I designed the L/L around that. You have your clean “sound” by picking/playing lightly. You can get some nasty tone by digging in, and then you hit the “loud” section of the L/L to overdrive the preamp and enjoy the magic that follows. If you want to get dangerous you can click on the “louder” circuit and totally wail. It works equally well with an already dirty amp and also a clean amp that you want to give some more life and sack! I am stoked on this pedal. The list of dudes using it right now is totally amazing too, real players in awesome bands!
What are some of your favorite pedals/effects that you own/have owned?
I have so many pedals. From thrift store oddities to most of the classics. I recently picked up a strymon timeline that is totally bonkers. It does everything except tuck me in at night. A bit pricey but for a digital delay, its hard to beat. I really latched on to the EHX freeze that came out a few years back. I instantly bought it and knew I had to have it. Such a cool pedal that can be used in so many creative ways. I also love the RAT. I hated it for years but I think its because I wasn’t quite ready to use it. Some pedals I feel like you have to work at to sit pretty in your rig, the RAT was one of those for me. It is easy to make it sound too glassy and shrill, you need the right volume to distortion ratio and then its game over. AC30/RAT is unbeatable.
Any other favorite pieces of gear?
All of them! haha. I have quite a bit. I picked up a BadCat endorsement in the mid/late 2000’s from my old band. I just got a BadCat Black Cat last summer. Its a AC30 clone and pretty much identical to the matchless DC30. I know its cliche, but the amp is truly 3D sounding. I’ve never had an amp be more responsive and alive sounding. It almost sounds different depending on who’s playing it. You have to bring it when you play it live because it covers nothing, you’re totally naked. As far as guitars, it’s a toss up between my 86 Les Paul Custom, and my 2006 american deluxe strat. I have another LP from the 80’s, its a standard in white which is rare (its yellow now, coooool) and it totally rips. 66 mustang, the list goes on….
I am sucker for guitar leads that are focused around an effect(s) as opposed to just a straightforward tone. Who is someone that executes this logic well and leaves you wondering what the hell he or she is playing out of?
Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. My Iron Lung is such an amazing song and I think its entirely based on the main riff with the whammy pedal. That sitar type of sound is just awesome. I also like how he uses his DOD440 on almost everything. He is the king of the envelope filter. Runner up would have to be Dave Knudson of Minus the Bear. The way he uses the line 6 DL4 blows my mind. Its almost like another instrument the way he samples his guitar and spins it around and slows it down and yada yada. What an animal, props dude.
What’s down the road for Chadderbox? Any new pedals coming out or currently in the works?
A whole lot of stuff. Right now my main focus is to evolve to being more efficient without losing any of my quality that people have come to expect. It sort of got legs on its own and I wasn’t expecting it. I have to evolve from 1-2 pedal a month to 8-12 a week. Good problem to have. As far as new designs, I’m sitting on a few. The Fuzz Aldrin should be coming out by the end of the summer. I’m also going to do a Rat clone as well. Some other hush hush stuff too, we shall see!
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