About this project
VFE Pedals Junior Series:
VFE Pedals has been known for creating quality pedals with great tone and lots of versatility, all at a great price. Now VFE Pedals is looking to expand our lineup by offering the same level of quality & tone, but simplifying the design and aesthetics to build pedals at incredible prices. We expect the entire lineup to have a retail price between $99 and $129!
Every Junior Series pedal will use a basic 3-knob format, vinyl sticker graphics by artist Kroak, and the same knobs across the entire lineup. These simple changes will help us cut the price by about 30% when compared to the standard version of the pedal.
We plan to release 6 pedals for retail sale, with more available direct through our custom shop. The 6 retail pedals are the Alpha Dog Junior Distortion, Blueprint Junior Delay, Bumblebee Junior Swell, Enterprise Junior Phaser, Old School Junior Tremolo, and White Horse Junior Compressor.
Other pedals that are available in this Kickstarter are the Blues King Junior Overdrive, Distortion3 Junior OD/Dist, Fiery Red Horse Junior Fuzz, Fuzz Solo Junior Fuzz, Pale Horse Junior Overdrive, Rocket EQ Junior Boost, and The Scream Junior Overdrive. Every effect listed here has been built & tested, and come with our standard 1-year warranty. You can learn more about each Junior Series pedal here - www.vfepedals.com/projects.html
All VFE Pedals are made with top quality components, and the Junior Series will be no exception. This includes TrueSoft true bypass relay switching, WIMA capacitors, industrial Carling footswitch, Neutrik Jacks, and more.
To hear the core tone of the rest of the pedals, check out the high quality demos of the standard series versions by visiting our Facebook page & clicking the video tab. All of these pedals are simplified/modified versions of our standard series lineup, so these standard series demos are also a great resource to get a sense of what the junior version will sound like.
What has already been done:
The circuits are designed and tested, from the main effect boards to the switching system. As we usually do, we may tweak the design as things progress to make the best pedals possible. These changes are usually minor and we will keep you up-to-date if any significant changes are made. The physical design of the pedal is complete, and the graphics are 99% complete (text may be edited in some cases). In short, these pedals are fully tested, and will be built with the same high standards we have used in building about 3000 pedals over the last two years.
Why this project needs a Kickstarter:
In order to hit the price point we want for the Junior Series, we need to convert our switching system to surface mount construction. While this is a more cost-efficient method, the upfront cost is significantly higher. We need to order at least 1000 of these boards, and it will cost about $5000. The best cost savings comes at 5000 boards, but this would cost about $19,000. The more we raise, the better price we can get on these boards, and the better price we can offer when the pedals are released into the retail market. The surface mount boards will be fabricated & assembled by Technotronix in California.
While this Kickstarter will fund the surface mount board, backers will receive pedals with through-hole construction unless surface mount is specifically requested. It will likely take 8-12 weeks to wait for surface mount parts, circuit board fabrication and assembly, and we do not want you to have to wait that long for your pedal!
There are a few other expenses that this Kickstarter will fund: laminated vinyl sticker graphics made in Florida ($1500) and full spec circuit boards made in Colorado ($4000). If we raise more than $20,000, we will also be able to custom order potentiometers from Alpha Products in California.
Advantages of Surface Mount Construction:
Surface mount construction will not only reduce cost, but allow us to design a more functional power and switching system. The biggest change will be an FET switch with more headroom, which means even more volume output before distortion. All VFE Pedals use true bypass switching AND solid state switching for the best of both - smooth, tone-neutral switching - and we call this system TrueSoft Bypass.
Additionally, the parts that will be surface mounted have ZERO impact on the tone of the pedal. In fact, there are only a few surface mount components that even touch the guitar signal, and none of these shape the tone of the circuit. The true bypass pathway remains 100% through-hole construction with short, thick circuit traces so your tone stays true even when using several pedals at once. All this means zero compromises on tone, but with a lower price tag.
Customize Your Junior Series Pedal!
At the $120 level, you can customize the look of any Junior Series pedal. You may choose from the following options:
- Any paint color of your choice
- Any knob of your choice
- Any LED & bezel color of your choice
- Hand-painted graphics with custom title or keep the stock graphic
Please visit the VFE Pedals custom shop to see examples of these custom options - www.vfepedals.com/custom-shop.html
Junior-fy ANY Standard Series Pedal
Along with all the customization options listed above, you can also "Junior-fy" and of our Standard Series pedals. This means you can choose fixed values/settings for the smaller 3 controls in the Standard Series & create your own Junior Series pedal. Here are a few examples:
Triangle-era Big Muff Pi = Fiery Red Horse with POWER @ max, MID @ min, toggle @ S position
Standard Analog Chorus = Choral Reef with FEEDBACK @ min, MODE @ right position, WIDTH @ 9:00
Arena Rock Distortion = Dark Horse with BASS @ 2:00, TREBLE @ 10:00, toggle @ S position
Support American Manufacturing
VFE Pedals is continually looking for ways to support American manufacturing. Not only do we build our pedals by hand near Seattle, we will be using the money from this Kickstarter to start a transition to using Alpha Potentiometers made in California. A commonly used potentiometer by boutique pedal manufacturers is made by Taiwan Alpha, which is often confused with the Alpha Potentiometers (there is no association between the two companies).
If we raise over $20,000, we will be able to use American-made, custom-built potentiometers for the entire retail lineup of the Junior Series. This would be a very big leap forward toward our goal of transitioning completely to American-made potentiometers by the end of 2013.
VFE also supports many American manufacturers, suppliers, and services - including Pedal Parts Plus in Louisiana and Advanced Circuits in Colorado.
Collaborate with VFE to design a pedal!
At the $800 pledge level, we will collaborate with you to design your very own signature Junior Series pedal...with an opportunity to get 100% of your investment back! Here's how it works:
- Before pledging, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your pedal idea. We will discuss what is possible and attempt to formulate what the pedal will do. Our designer specializes in analog circuits, so there are limitations to what is possible. You are under NO OBLIGATIONS unless you pledge AND the fundraising goal is met, so feel free to ask us about your ideas!
- One of the key limitations is that the pedal must utilize the Junior Series layout. That means 3 knobs, 1 footswitch, 1 input & 1 output.
- Once you get approval of the project, then you may pledge $1000 to get your custom-designed pedal. We will work with you in every phase of the design - both the circuit and the graphic.
- After everything is finalized, we will send you the first pedal made to your custom specs. We will send another identical unit to our photographer, and then list the new pedal on our website for purchase through the custom shop. For every custom shop purchase, you will receive 10% of the purchase price for your signature design until you receive all $800 of your investment back. If VFE decides to release your pedal for retail sale, you will receive 5% of the wholesale price for every signature pedal sold until you receive all $800 of your investment back. One you receive your full investment in return, you will have a free, custom-designed product & bragging rights that you have your own signature pedal!
Get a custom double or triple effect pedal
We know that many of our customers like lots of controls, and perhaps the Junior Series is just too simple for you, but you'd really like to support us. Well, we have added an option for you - customize your own unique double or triple effect pedal, using any junior or standard series effects. The double pedal is available at the $280 level, and the triple pedal is just $400! This is a 10-30% savings off our regular pricing!
The custom shop includes your choice of paint color, knobs, LED & bezel color, footswitch & washer, plus hand-painted graphics. You can also submit your own artwork and we can use it to make a full color decal.
DIYers - There is an option for you too!
If you like to build or modify your own pedals, you should really check out the TrueSoft Bypass system at the $50 backer level. It uses true bypass, relay switching in combination with solid state FET switching. The result is a 100% true bypass pedal with a smooth on/off transition. While no switching system is perfectly silent, the TrueSoft Bypass system is a good as true bypass gets. We've even included some drop-down & current limiting resistors to make it easy to modify or build new effects. Instructions & a schematic of the circuit will be provided if you choose this reward.
Oh, and this switching system is compatible with DC Voltage's P3 phantom power system, which allows you to send power & signal with just one standard TRS cable.
Risks and challenges
This is the first surface mount design we have built, so there may be some challenges with the new design. Due to lead times and supply constraints, we won't have full control over the build time, which could potentially stretch to over 20 weeks in the worst case scenario.
However, by default backers will receive pedals with through-hole construction throughout the pedal. This means that we will be able to start shipping pedals 1-2 weeks after this Kickstarter ends. The surface mount switching system will be available on request. All early bird pledges must use this through-hole circuit board.
We have already built at least a prototype of all these pedals, so there should be no delay due to design issues.
Finally, we are still building pedals from our last Kickstarter, which raised funds to upgrade the Alpha Dog distortion with custom, American-made potentiometers. However, the number of pedals we need to build is small, and we expect to have them all shipped weeks before we will need to start building the Junior Series.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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