From their tones to their graphically illustrated cases, you won’t mistake Matthews Effects for any other stompboxes out there.
Founder Rick Matthews launched the company in 2013 in Tri-Cities, Washington. he decided to name it after his family name because, he says, “I wanted to put my own mark on the industry and do things differently than they had been done.”
Like many pedal builders, Rick has a musical background, which he nurtured by playing in his local church. “Which, despite your beliefs, is an amazing way to start playing,” he explains, “ ’cause even at a young age, you have a weekly time where you’re playing in front of people, and it’s a very forgiving environment that lets you work through a lot of kinks and grow as a musician.”
After an initial abortive attempt at making pedals, he started again, learning circuit building by purchasing DIY kits from BuildYourOwnClone.com. The first pedal he built was a clone of the DOD 250 Overdrive Preamp. “From there I just kept building on that foundation,” he says. “The first couple pedals paid for the next couple pedals. It just kept growing.”
The company’s current lineup covers a range of effect types. Dirt boxes include the Cartographer Parametric Overdrive, the Whaler Fuzz, the Engineer Foundational Bass Overdrive and the Architect V2 Overdrive, which features a three-band Baxandall tone stack that delivers more control over the tone and shape of the drive. (It’s also available in a limited Great Gatsby edition.)
We need to create improvements and innovations to move the industry forward. Just copying what others have already done will only eventually make the market stale.”
There’s even the Alchemist Transmutation Box, which allows you to split your mono signal or sum your stereo signal to mono.
In designing his pedals, Rick draws inspiration from a range of circuits. “It comes down to what I’m trying to achieve,” he says. “If I’m building a delay, I would look at a[n Electro-Harmonix] Memory Man and a [Boss] DM-2 for inspirations, or any number of delays for inspiration.
“But I only ever let it inspire. We need to create improvements and innovations to move the industry forward. Just copying what others have already done will only eventually make the market stale.”
That sensibility extends to the pedal cases themselves. All Matthews Effects pedals have eye-catching cases with antique woodcut-style graphics that set them apart from the crowd. The Astronomer Celestial Reverb is even available in unique handpainted cases.
“With every pedal, we try to look at how can we make this pedal sound better and different than other pedals,” Matthews says. “How can we do things differently both in the circuit and aesthetically, and I think we achieve that.”
Looking ahead, Rick says, “We want to provide options for the different products we don’t currently have in our line. And then we are always working to improve our designs.”
You can check out all of the pedals in Matthews Effects’ current lineup below. For more information, visit Matthews Effects.