Let's talk about the RG16. What exactly is it?
The RG16 came out of what became a pretty universal sentiment from people saying, "The Amp Gizmo is great, but it would be really cool if it could control my pedals as well." The idea is take the Amp Gizmo and add eight true bypass loops to it so you can, under the same method of control, say for Program 1, "I want the clean channel on and reverb, and I want this chorus pedal to turn on as well." So for every program number on your MIDI footswitch, you can not only tell it what you want your amp to be doing for that particular program, but you can also select any of your pedals to be on at that time as well. So the same rules apply, any combination of amp features and any combination of pedals can be on for every program number on your midi controller.
I understand this product is a big hit with players who fly a lot.
That’s sort of an unexpected market that we’re getting into. Basically instead of having these monster racks, they’re having a small rack with an RG16 and a few pedals. We're hearing from places like Tour Supply saying, 'hey we’re really using these because people can build a smaller, lighter rig and won't get charged hundreds of dollars every time they throw it on a plane.'
You come up with this great idea, you put it together, it works like a charm and then you face the question, ‘How do I get this into the guitar universe?’ Tell me about that process.
NAMM is such a great place. I was unsure of whether I was going to have the prototype working in time, so I didn't even tell anyone I was going to be there. I was thinking, "Well, hopefully I can get this thing working, and hopefully I can show up at the show." Fortunately, it did work. That's the cool thing about NAMM – there are so many people who walked up and just said, "Wow! I know what that is; that's really cool."
There are some industries where only big dogs in a big booths get taken seriously, but at NAMM, people are always looking for the small guy with the great idea, who in a few years is going to be huge.
Yeah, and that's one of the things that really appealed to me to switch to this from something big like the telecommunications field, where there's just a handful of huge companies and basically nothing else. In the guitar industry, the small guy is not only accepted, but often times preferred over the huge companies because the small guys working out of their garages are the ones who really care about what they're doing and that's where a lot of the innovation comes from.
Bring me up to speed with how things are going now.
At this year’s NAMM we had our own booth and everything, and actually told people we were going to be there. It was a really good experience. We showed a prototype again this year for our Mastermind MIDI controller; this is the first time we have our own MIDI controller. We made it a point to make sure our stuff worked with everyone else's gear, but now we wanted to have our own spin on it.
The idea behind the mastermind is to make something that is relatively small, but quite powerful and well-made. It seems like the MIDI controller market is divided into smaller, cheaper ones and some really great heavy duty, expensive ones. There wasn't really a smaller controller that could still handle the abuse of being on the road. That's what we showed at NAMM '08 and we got a lot of good feedback on it, so we're feverishly working to get that out.
Any kind of ballpark target target date for the Mastermind?
I would say at this point, probably about mid-May is when I’m looking at right now.
Let’s talk about artists. I understand you’ve developed a list of guys who dig your stuff fairly quickly.
Officially we have Dave Weiner from Steve Vai’s band, and he’s also working on his own album right now. Dweezil Zappa is using three Amp Gizmos in his monster rig. Paul Jackson Jr. is a big user of our stuff. And quite a few bands actually, it’s really cool, we have some really big guys and then some really cool up-and-coming bands as well. That’s definitely validation for us that these guys are using this stuff. I mean, Dave Weiner took an RG16 prototype on the road when we were still months away from having a product, but I put one together for him and he was confident enough to bring this thing on the Vai tour in 2007 and it held up really well.
Well Ron, it sounds like you've definitely found a niche that needed to be filled. Best of luck to ya -- thanks for your time!
Just to have these guys using them and giving us feedback is priceless.
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