distortion effects

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God City Instruments

Kurt Ballou founded God City Instruments (GCI) in 2011. Ballou  is the owner of God City Recording Studio owner as well as the guitarist for Converge. He started off making guitars and snare drums for himself and his friends but it took until 2016 for the first commercial GCI product release. This was the Brutalist Jr. DIY PCB distortion pedal- initially designed as a business card for the studio. This was a huge success and spurred Kurt on to design more effects pedals including the SBD Fuzz, the Medicine Boost and the Riffchild. Small runs of the pedals were made in the studio basement and sold online via the GCI Reverb shop. The full scale commercial launch of GCI was in 2019 and now the product range includes guitars, basses, effects and you can still get the DIY effects PCBs that started it all.

Source: God City Instruments website (23 September 2022)


Swart Amplifier Co. was founded by Michael Swart, a musician and recording engineer and studio owner from Wilmington, NC. Swart started building custom tube amps to satisfy his need for a small recording amp for studio and home use with great tone and distortion characteristics, but flexible and quiet enough for recording use. This led to the development of the Swart Space Tone amp, soon followed by the Atomic Space Tone model. The Swart range now includes a wide range of retro style amp heads and combos as well as guitar effects pedals.

Source: Swart Amplifier Co. website (19 June 2022)


Lyman Guitar Company was founded in 2017 by Art Tantiyawarong and Sophia Woods . Art & Sophia initially ran a music store Yellow Mama Music in Lyman, South Carolina. In 2017 in collaboration with Thai Musical Instrument Distributor Bank they established BAS Industries (Bank, Art & Sophia) a musical instrument distributor selling various brands. They launched Lyman amplifiers in 2018 soon followed by the Lyman CS (Custom Shop) range of electric guitars. In 2019 Lyman Guitar Co. and TYMA Guitars entered into an exclusive partnership (Tyma by Lyman) to expand the Lyman acoustic line while introducing the TYMA name to the United States. In 2020 Lyman introduced a line of more affordable imported guitars.

Source: Five Minutes with Lyman Guitar Co.'s Staff. Music & Sound Retailer August 2021, Vol 38 No 8


AMUMU is a Chinese guitar accessories brand name. It has been around since 2017 and was registered in the US in 2020 by Cuijuan Ding (Eaglevox Corporation) of Guandong, China - but currently has an address in Hong Kong. The word AMUMU doesn't mean anything!

Source: AMUMU website (27 April 2022)

Source: USPTO Trademark Search


Blaxx is a guitar effects brand owned by Brussels based musical instrument distributor EMD Music (owner of Stagg, J.N. Guitars and Angel Lopez brands). The Blaxx brand name was launched around 2016.


Xvive was founded in 2014 (as Xvive Audio) by the husband-and-wife team of Nancy Lee and Fischer Mao. Their first product was to resurrect the MN3005 bucket brigade chip. Soon followed a line of effect pedals in collaboration with German guitarist Thomas Blug. These included the W3 Memory Analog Delay—designed by Howard Davis (designer of the legendary Deluxe Memory Man) and including the new MN3005 chip. In 2016, Xvive entered the wireless market with the U2 Guitar Wireless System. This paved the way for other wireless systems, designed for microphones (U3), in-ear monitors (U4), MIDI (MD1) and audio for video (U5). Xvive products are manufactured in Shenzhen, China - where they also make products for other top music brands. 2020-2021 saw the release of the P1 Portable Phantom Power Supply, the MD1 MIDI Wireless System, and the U5 Wireless Audio for Video System.

Source: Xvive website (1 May 2022)


Dunable Guitars was founded by Sacha Dunable, the guitarist and singer of prog-metal band Intronaut. Dunable has been making guitars since 2011: he started out in his garage and by 2014 he was able to go full time as a guitar builder. Dunable USA Custom Shop instruments and pickups are still built in Southern California by a small team of 6-7 people. There are also mass produced Dunable instruments like the DE series introduced in 2020 which is made in South Korea. They also make effects pedals and previously made amp heads.

Source: Dunable Guitars website (17 March 2022)


Valeton is a Chinese effects pedal brand. The team behind Valeton had been producing designing and building products for other brands for 10 years before coming together as a single company, with a new catalogue of original designs. The range  includes affordable effects pedals, multi-fx processors and amplifiers.

Source: Valeton website (14 March 2022)


Nobels is a German guitar effects and audio electronics company founded in 1985 by Bernhard Kurzke. During the 1990s they developed an affordable range of effects pedals, plus programmable multi-effects, MIDI foot controllers, good-sounding practice amps and “Little Helpers” (small inexpensive splitters, A / B switches, loop-in paths, MIDI switchers, DI boxes for the pedalboard). The first effects pedal series was made from 1993 to 20003. They have also made OEM effects pedals for other brands - e.g. the Washburn Rhino pedals were made by Nobels. Circa 2022 their range is focused on their successful Nobels ODR-1 overdrive pedal, available in standard, mini and software-plugin form.

Source: Nobels website (25 March 2022)

KMA Machines

KMA Machines is a German guitar effects company founded by Enrico Preuß. He started out doing  one-off custom pedals for friends and fellow musicians. In 2013 he decided to make a business out of it - his first product was a ‘Jordan Bosstone’ clone with a bias control and a wider frequency range called the Fuzzly Bear. His friend Karlowitsch, a talented graphic designer, provided the graphic design for that pedal and they have worked together ever since. Initially, the business was run in Enrico's shared apartment but due to the growth of KMA Machines popularity they are now in  to their own workshop in Berlin. KMA pedals tend to be versatile with intuitive features and controls giving a wide pallet of tonal options. Influenced by vintage sounds and modern stuff, KMA aim to bring both worlds together, by taking classic and well-known circuits and give them a modern touch to fit the needs of modern musicians.

Gamechanger Audio

GAMECHANGER AUDIO was started in 2015 by Ilja Krumins, Kristaps Kalva, Martins Melkis and Didzis Dubovskis. Their first project was to create a sustain and sostenuto pedal for all musical instruments. The first prototype of the PLUS Pedal was completed in December 2016. The following year, the PLUS Pedal was brought to life through a successful crowdfunding campaign, and it became widely available in 2018. Their next project was the revolutionary PLASMA Pedal. The PLASMA was also successfully crowdfunded, and manufacturing began in the Autumn of 2018. Since then, they have gone on to develop the MOTOR Synth, the LIGHT Pedal, three additional variations on the PLASMA Tube circuit, and most recently the BIGSBY Pedal. Their research and manufacturing base is in Riga, Latvia.

Source: Gamechanger Audio website (22 March 2022)

BMF Effects

BMF Effects is a hand made effects pedals company founded in 2005 in Southern California by Scott Kiraly. All BMF Effects pedals feature custom made steel enclosures, industrial grade powder coating and silk screening as well as true bypass switching and DC jacks.

Scott revealed the history of BMF Effects in an interview with Stomp That Box:

Analog Alien

Analog Alien is a boutique guitar effects company established in 2010 by brothers Joe and Jack Napoli (Cloud 9 Recording Inc.). They got started in effects pedal building through first modifying some of the large collection of effects pedals owned by their Cloud 9 Studio, and then offering mods for other guitarists. Jack then decided to have a go at building pedals from scratch, learning from books and by trial & error. He made several prototypes until he felt confident that he had a pedal that most guitar players would want to have in their collection, even if they didn't really have a pedal collection. He tested the circuit using several different guitars and amps until he was satisfied with the results. He also let other guitarists use it but never said that he made it. Soon his overdrive/fuzz face pedal became the pedal of choice for a lot of guitarists that were recording in the studio.


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