Now Also with Gnashing of Teeth
Not every pedal on this site is something that I’m particularly proud of. I’m posting this one mostly to purge it from my thoughts, not to draw attention to it.
This was originally built for someone else. A friend of mine wanted a Christmas present for his son, who’s in a Joy Division tribute band. It didn’t matter too much to him what the pedal did—he mostly had ideas on the case design and labels and the (obvious) image. I didn’t know anything about Joy Division’s guitar rig(s), but my customary ninety second web search implied that they didn’t really use pedals, and maybe just plugged into some weird solid state amp. So I found a PCB that supposedly emulates some other weird solid state amp, built it, and sent it off to Canada.
On Christmas morning, it didn’t work. I ran through some basic remote troubleshooting, but it could not be roused. Way to ruin a little boy’s Canadian Christmas. (He’s actually in his 20’s or something, so it’s not like I went up there, ripped a hockey stick out of his hand, and told him that the Père Noël in Tim Horton’s wasn’t the real Père Noël, but it’s the principal of it.)
So then I made another one and sent that, and had this one shipped back so that I could figure out what went wrong with it. I was kind of hoping that it would just work when it arrived, like how a second concussion cures amnesia in sitcoms.
It did not work. I removed the circuit board from the enclosure and connected power to it with alligator clips so that I could test it, and it did work outside of the case. I assumed that it must have been something mechanical, like a jack grounding out on the enclosure, but then when I reassembled it, it broke in a new and spectacular way that involved a downward spiral of frustration that ended with me publicly asking for help. I figured it out though.
While all that was going on, I completely redid the enclosure to something I could deal with (i.e., replacing my friend’s inside jokes and clichés with my own). The design is not “good,” but I feel compelled to mention that I don’t plan to make everything look like Cards Against Humanity just because I can now print white on black…this was an intentional choice, based on what the pedal is supposed to represent. Which is another long and sordid tale.
There was an obscure band in the 1960s called The Beatles. They made an album that was also called The Beatles, which everyone referred to as the White Album, because the record sleeve was white. It inspired a lot of people, like Charles Manson and Jext Telez.
The White Album was stylistically all over the place, including some pretty wild guitar sounds for the time. I barely know more about The Beatles’s equipment than I do about Joy Division’s, but they supposedly had access to a solid state guitar amp called a Vox Conqueror. They’re rare and expensive today, but it’s unclear to me if that’s because they were only made from 1967-1969 and were used by The Beatles or if they actually have some special sauce.
Another thing I don’t know much about is Jext Telez. They were apparently a pedal company, started in Detroit in 2013. They made a pedal called the White Pedal, which was inspired by the Vox Conqueror. On their Tumblr [really], they said, “The White Pedal delivers stripped down, raw, holographic, direct, timeless, deconstructionist.” I usually prefer to know whether or not the cows that I’m tipping over are sacred or not, and in this case I honestly can’t tell, so I won’t say anything more about that incomplete sentence and will merely imply “how boutique!” The White Pedals are rare and expensive today, but it’s unclear to me if that’s because they only made 1015 of them or if they actually have some special sauce.
PedalPCB makes a printed circuit board inspired by the Jext Telez White Pedal called the Conqueror Fuzz, and that is what I randomly decided to use for this project, knowing none of the background. I was dreading asking for help when I broke it [the second time]. I had already asked some of the pedal cognoscenti about it before, and I felt like I was on an “Oops, All Sassy Put Downs!” episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. “Honey, you better check your tone stack; the only thing that inductor is inducing is vomit.” Upon further reflection, it turns out that significant portions of the circuit do literally nothing. The pedal community hypothesized that some of it might have been what would have made the actual amp switch channels, but since this is not an amp and does not have channel switching, it is ornamental at best. Jext Telez copied it from the amp. PedalPCB copied that. I bought and installed the superfluous parts. Twice.
I want this to be an elaborate ruse, similar to the fake streets and towns that mapmakers put on maps to catch people stealing their cartography. In lieu of that, I’ll have to hope that the first step of escaping the Dunning-Kruger effect is admitting that you’re in the deep end of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
I have no idea. Everything is subjective. Abstractly, While My Guitar Pedal Gently Weeps is probably not my thing, especially when played by itself. It is highly evocative of the guitar sounds on songs like “Back in the U.S.S.R.” or “Birthday” from the White Album, so it’s pleasing in a sort of nostalgic way. It’s also possible that in a band context or in a busy mix, it could be really helpful to cut through. It’s listed as a fuzz, but its greatest strength may actually be in its EQ, which is elaborate and odd. There’s an inductor in there, and it will almost do some hollow “cocked wah” type sounds.
The following example is the Emomaster > While My Guitar Pedal Gently Weeps > Monotonous Delay (set to short slapback) > Fenderish-flavored DI. There’s While My Guitar Pedal Gently Weeps on the bass too.