Trailer Trash Pedalboards
James "Rooster" Olson
Nashville's James 'Rooster' Olson has gone all out with his Trailer Trash Pedalboards. Their Glow-Top models could quite possibly draw more attention than the guitar player using them. Trailer Trash is not just about looking great, they, like the other boards mentioned in this interview, are about quality and functionality first and foremost.
How did start making pedalboards?
I have been a pro guitar player my entire life. I was Chely Wrights’, and Mark Chesnutts’ touring guitar player for many years. In October 2003, I walked into my home at 8 a.m. to find that it had been gutted of its contents. I lost $25K in guitar gear—Tom Andersons, PRS, Collings, Old Fender amps—Naylors, etc. It was only a month after the burglary of my home that I was forced to start my idea for my pedalboard company. I did pursue the theft with a detective and we caught three of the thieves responsible. The head thief had cased my home and waited for me to be gone. We discovered that he was a real bad news druggie guy who lived in a nearby trailer park with a two-page rap sheet—pure trailer trash. After the case had run its course and we jailed the guy for three years, my detective called me up and told me that the State of Tennessee (Nashville) had not awarded me any restitution in the case. I was very burnt over this and took the approach, if I’m not going to get repaid by the guy who robbed me, then I will make money off of him. So I named my company after the guy who took everything from me—Trailer Trash Pedalboards—it was a true blessing in disguise!
How has your design evolved since you first started?
We are the company that changed how pedalboards were perceived. Trailer Trash was the first pedalboard company to upholster & match the look of many famous amplifiers. We did the entire vintage line of Fender, Marshall, Bonner, anything you could dream up. This design made a huge splash at Winter NAMM 2005, making the Barry Wood NAMM Oddities list. Then we started exporting worldwide [and] changed our look to many different paint options in an effort to keep up with the demand for our boards. Today we stock six sizes, six colors, three top options, two case options.
Who were your first artist customers?
Rascal Flatts, George Thorogood, Steve Stevens, to name a few. Soon after starting the company, I was contacted by Mark Burnett Productions and was asked to supply his reality TV series' Rock Star INXS, and Rock Star Super Nova with our custom product. This really put us on the map as we were seen by 22 million people per night, three nights a week for three-plus months, two seasons in a row. As far as we have been told, Trailer Trash Pedalboards was the first pedalboard company to be listed in a major network TV shows end-roll credits along with Fender, Matchless, Bogner, etc.
Do your systems come with their own power supplies?
Yes, we do custom installs of many different power supplies. Basically there are never two boards alike, so we install whatever power is necessary to keep all in isolation. I like the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power supplies. There are higher dollar supplies with more options available on the market, but I have great results with the PP2s. We sometimes are installing three to five of these units under our boards and they always live up to the Trailer Trash motto—It don’t leave our shop until it runs clean. Pedal Power delivers.
Is the power supply above the board or below?
Trailer Trash is proud to be responsible for starting the wave of companies that have had to change their design to be able to install power supplies under their boards. This was the most important feature that I addressed with my first design in 2003. Today in 2009, it’s pretty funny to get calls from customers now who ask if they can install a power supply under our pedalboards—T-Trash started it! This is why our slogan at the top of our website reads, Trailer Trash Pedalboards—Creation, Not Emulation.
Take us through the process from raw materials to finished product?
Remove hat, scratch head, remove hat, scratch head—repeat for many days until finished. [laughs]
What cables do you recommend?
I really like the Evidence MonoRail. It works with George L’s plugs, tests real nice on our meter. The solid core dresses out nice. Oh yeah, it sounds great!
What makes your pedalboards stand out in the crowd?
Style, class, wicked clean signal to the front of the amp combined with Made in USA pride & integrity gets ’em every time. But that’s before we plug in our sick Glow-Tops.
What is the price range of your pedalboards?
We have built pedalboards that if you combine the entire cost of all of the pedals on top and under, power supplies—everything to make a pedalboard—T-Trash wiring etc., a few have went out of our shop that had a total worth of $15,000 to $18,000.
Our standard-sized board, say a 28x16, custom-wired with ATA case, etc. typically goes out of our shop for approximately $1300.
How long do you expect your pedalboards to last on the road?
As long as you take care of it, it will last forever. Be kind to your gear, it costs a lot and is delicate.