I don't know many guitarists whose eyes don't light up at the sight of a vast selection of stomp boxes. You want to try them all but some carry hefty price tags and are not always accessible to many guitarists. Sure you could try them all out in a music store but you'd probably soon start to feel the owner's piercing glare, and the sales clerk breathing down your neck. This is where Stomp.Club comes in: a new subscription service for guitar pedals with an extremely unique and well-curated collection of eclectic and boutique pedals that can be rented for $30/month (first month free). We talked to Cecilia and Jesse, the owners, to find out about their service, and how you can wail away on the pedal of your choice in the comfort of your own home.
Tell us a little about how the idea for stomp.club came about.
Cecilia: My husband (Jesse) and I were talking after he had been practicing guitar with his pedals and how much he loved them and wished he could try more. Unfortunately, we are on a budget and he is limited to how many pedals he can buy a year. Then one of us said, "Netflix for Pedals", and Stomp Club was born! My husband has been deep in the guitar/pedal/fuzz community for quite a while and we have found a way to parlay that love of the community, pedals, and start a business.
Give us a brief summary of how the system works for anyone interested in renting pedals.
Cecilia: Stomp Club is a subscription service for pedals. We use a unique points-based system for checking out pedals. We assign each pedal one, two, or three Stomp Points. Your subscription entitles you to three Stomp Points/month. So there are three options
- get (3) of the 1-Stomp Point pedals
- get (1) of the 2-Stomp Point pedals and (1) of the 1-Stomp Point pedals or
- get (1) of the 3-Stomp Point pedals.
We mail you the pedal on our dime, and you mail it back on yours. You can keep the pedal as long as you want if there's no waiting list. If the pedal is on the waiting list, it must be sent back in thirty days and you will receive the next pedal(s) you want. We will keep in contact with you to let you know when/if your pedal needs to come back, what's in your queue, and support you every day through your subscription. You can cancel anytime by notifying us and returning any outstanding pedals.
What makes stomp.club different from other guitar pedal rental services?
Cecilia: Four things -- pricing, personal touch, amazing inventory, and an independent/objective eye. We are priced at $30/month with the first month free. Jesse and I are committed to interacting with each customer, giving advice where needed and truly making this a business for the community. We have pedals that were made in batches of 10-20. We have popular pedals that are in demand. We have obscure pedals from up and coming manufacturers; and we can buy what we want and what the customers call for because we are not backed by a manufacturer or in any way unable to give unbiased reviews and opinions to our customers.
I’ve been using my trusty Boss GT3 for years now but what would you say are the advantages of using pedals over just having one multi-effects unit? What am I missing out on?
Jesse: There are a couple aspects to this. First off, most pedals are analog technology (although an increasing number are digital) which means no discrete stepping of the sound, aliasing, or filtering. Analog sounds like analog, and digital attempts to re-create it vary between astoundingly good and astonishingly bad.
Take for instance the fuzz effect. There are countless simple analog fuzz circuits out there, all with their own unique tones, but the number of digital fuzz-boxes or multi-effects I have used that are even 'acceptable' I can count on one hand. Digital processing simply doesn't do distortion that well, in my humble opinion. Don't get me wrong, digital delays are great, be it in pedal or rack or multi-effect format. Reverb is nearly universally digital at this point but increasingly musicians are looking to analog gear or other types of 'outside-the-box' type sounds, be it in Eurorack modular synthesis or pedals.
I noticed from the stomps page that you have an incredible collection of stomp boxes. How did this collection come about? Are stomp boxes addictive?
Cecilia: Jesse is an incredible internet scavenger! Over the years he has found the unique and obscure through forum sellers, talking to manufacturers directly, and establishing relationships with like-minded communities -- like the ilovefuzz.com forum. And many are the times we have waited in line at the post office for that package from Poland that's been in transit for two months! This collection comes from all the nooks and crannies on the internet and around the world.
And yes, because sometimes an addict can't self-diagnose, Jesse is addicted. He doesn't do anything half-heartedly -- he's diehard. He's on waiting lists for pedals that won't be made for a year. I catch him gazing at gear shots when I glance at his computer screen. When we moved from Houston to San Juan and we pared down our belongings, Jesse was getting a guitar sent over though and wanted to bring "a few" pedals -- I thought a few was 3, he felt he couldn't live without at least 7. What are you gonna do? Start a business!!
If I want to imitate the sound of a particular guitar player, say Eric Johnson, can you recommend me a set of pedals to achieve the sound I want?
Jesse: If you are after a particular sound, we will help you find the right types of pedals to achieve it. For example, if you are into surf music, we'd recommend a tremolo and a reverb and maybe an analog delay. Conversely if you are into Doom or Death Metal, we'd recommend a high-gain distortion pedal, and perhaps some other pedals that could enhance your leads. Now if you want to sound exactly like Stevie Ray Vaughn, well, there isn't a pedal that does that. SRV or Clapton or other great guitarists get their tone through a combination of their guitar, string gauge, any pedals or multi-effects, their amp (and the particular tubes if its a tube amp), and lastly the cabinet and speakers! And that neglects the fact that most of the "tone" comes from the player. The magic, as they say, is in the hands. I have a friend who has taken my own guitars and made them sing in ways I never thought possible, and that's all technique. We can't help with that but that being said, there are some signature sounds that bands or guitarist have, and we can find you pedals that will get you a very close approximation of the sound. Take the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army"; Jack White used a Digitech Whammy to get that octave down sound and an EHX Big Muff fuzz pedal. So we'll recommend the appropriate pedals that can get you the same sounds.
How does your guitar/amp combination affect the sound of a pedal? How do you get the best sound out of stomp box?
Jesse: There's nothing more disappointing than going to a guitar store and playing some guitar off the wall, through some amp you've never played, trying to demo a new pedal. How do you know what parts of the sound are you, the pedal, or the guitar and amp? This is one of the reasons we started Stomp.club; so you can try out pedals *in your own* setup before you commit your hard-earned cash on something. Guitars can make fuzz pedals sound dramatically different. For example, the exact same fuzz pedal and settings will sound completely different with a Tele neck pickup versus a Strat bridge pickup versus a Les Paul humbucker. The humbuckers are hotter and they will drive a fuzz harder, creating different types of sounds such as saturation or compression. The amp also plays a critical role, as it has the job of producing the final sound. If you use a 'dirty' amp, which is to say your amp breaks up or has some distortion, you will want different pedals than players who use 'clean' amps as their platforms.
On the subject of sound, some guitarists say the order of pedals matters, and some say it doesn’t. What’s your view?
Jesse: Pedal order most definitely matters. Ordering your pedals is just the same way you'd construct a complex patch on a multi-effects unit, except you're actually moving physical pedals and patch cords. Its tangible, and the order of effects is absolutely critical. For example, a fuzz into a reverb will give you a "Marshall in a concert hall" type sound, while the same reverb into the same fuzz (opposite order) will result in a washed-out, wavy and very fuzzy "shoe-gaze" sound. The reverb adds to the signal and the distortion then adds on top of that. In this way, the order of pedals is like layers. Unless you're only going to use one at a time, the order ALWAYS matters.
Do you design and make your own pedals, and if not, is this something you plan to do in the future?
Jesse: No, we're not a manufacturer and don't have any plans to be any time soon. We have some great relationships with boutique builders; these are one-man outfits that we try to help out by buying their pedals and circulating their inventory, promoting their product and getting it into the hands of musicians who may not normally be able to try out some great pedals. If you go to your local Guitar Center or similar music store, they will probably have all the Boss pedals (which in my opinion vary from OK to not-very-good), maybe some Digitech, maybe some Electro-Harmonix pedals if you're lucky. So if you want to try out a great fuzz pedal like the Algal Bloom from Fuzzhugger, the absolute best way is to get one from us, play it in your own setup, and see if you like it. If not, get a different pedal from us and we'll help you find the sound you're looking for.
Lastly, why should guitarists rent pedals instead of buying them?
Cecilia: I think pedal rental is great for the same reason any subscription service is great -- variety! You get to try a minimum of 12 pedals a year. You can test your pedal of choice to see if you really want to spend that $200 on the pedal "for keeps;" or rent a bunch of pedals to compliment the sound you currently have. And you aren't in the position of having a pedal you don't want and then having to sell it yourself -- possibly at a loss. We let you have the whole menu of pedals to try with your set-up. We also have boutique, unique, and eclectic pedals that you many never get the chance to play because of price or availability constraints. Stomp Club is a great way to get into pedals for beginners or for anyone working or experimenting with their sound.
For more information and to get your first month absolutely free visit: Stomp.Club.