Premier Guitar

Pedal Junkies Unite!

July 9, 2012

If you’re looking for info on stompboxes, check out effectsdatabase.com. This free, non-commercial site contains a wealth of stompbox lore.

In my previous column [“Raising the Bar of Wah Design,” May 2012], I quoted some statistics about the vast amount of effect brands that are currently on the market. While the numbers I listed have likely changed since then, it’s worth noting that someone is actually out there compiling this type of data, not to mention a ton of other useful and interesting factoids pertaining to—and only to—guitar effect pedals and the people who build them.

This oracle of all things stomp is effectsdatabase.com (formerly known as Discofreq). Created by Bart Provoost, FXDB started 10 years ago as a website about envelope filters, and since filter boxes are one of my obsessions, it was inevitable that I ran across the site and bookmarked it for future reference.

Since then FXDB has grown into the go-to source for info on pedals, be they vintage or in current production. There are more effect pedals listed on FXDB than any other place that I can think of, and the listings cover many extremely obscure brands and models that most people don’t even know about.

Yet the best (or worst?) thing about FXDB is that Provoost helps you find the effects you’re looking for and buy them. When searching for that hard-to-find vintage pedal or even the low-profile custom builder, FXDB is a great place to narrow your search and zero in on the pedal of your desire (more on how this actually works in a moment).

I recently spoke with Provoost and asked him to list a few of the things that set FXDB apart from other pedal-related websites. Here’s what he had to say about some of the site’s unique features and his future plans to make it even more useful and informative:
• Complete pedal database: No other site lists this many different pedals—more than 17,000 already! There are quite a lot of pedals you can only find here. The drawback is that I need to add more info about a lot of them, but I’m working on that (and all input is very welcome).
• New builders: I’m always searching for pedals that are not on the site yet, and for new builders that are big enough or serious enough to be added. I’ve discovered quite a lot of interesting brands and really helped some of them get noticed. That’s important to me—I really like how small companies (sometimes only one person) can be big in this industry that also includes a lot of huge multinationals.
• Interviews: I’m doing a big interview project focusing on effect manufacturers. I’ve conducted almost 300 interviews, and I post one interview a day.
• Relationships between pedals: I try to make associations between pedals (“based on,” “clone of ”) to help visitors learn the background of each model.
• Links to brands: Where possible, I add links to the site and all the social profiles of the brands.
• Audio/video: About a year ago, I started adding audio and video from a lot of different sources, and I add links to new demos every day.
• Useful ads: Where other sites buy plugins or use scripts by eBay, Amazon, and other vendors, I made my own system to search for pedals on eBay (and that’s worldwide—if you try a normal search on eBay, it still doesn’t show all auctions) and use my own “logic” to rank these auctions. I may also add classifieds to the results, but some people are against that because it would lessen the chances for scoring good deals, so I’m still not sure about doing this. When possible, I include related auctions in the right column and there’s a link to pages with many more results. I’ve received messages thanking me for that column because buyers got a good deal or found something they were looking for. I don’t think a lot of other sites get thanked for ads! [Author’s note: Beware of this feature, as it can put a serious dent in your PayPal balance. Many times I’ve been looking for one pedal and found something completely different but equally desirable in this right-hand column— something I simply had to acquire!]
• Referrals: I also link to brands’ Etsy and BigCartel web shops and link to the relevant products there from the respective pages on FXDB. This takes some time to do and I don’t earn any referral fees—I simply like the idea of buying directly from the builders.
• Clever search features: Recently I added some new categories (under effectsdatabase. com/special) for people who just want to look around without searching for anything specific: Classics, Eye Candy, Funny, Vaporware, etc. I still have to add more pedals to these categories.
• Future growth: I have many more ideas for features and want to add much more media (including demos from my own pedal collection and vintage documentation from my archives), but it all takes time to do that on my own and in my spare time (I have a full-time job and family, as well). There will be a great new feature in a few months, which I’m working on now, and I think folks will appreciate it.

Whether you’re looking for info on a rare or vintage effect or hoping to actually add one to your collection, I highly recommend effectsdatabase.com for its informative, voluminous content and clever, useful search features. Few people have shown such dedication and affection for effect pedals as Bart Provoost. Let’s help him make FXDB a household name amongst pedal junkies worldwide!


Kevin Bolembach is the president and founder of Godlyke, the U.S. distributor for many well-known boutique effect brands, including Maxon, Guyatone, EMMA, and Providence..