Mantic’s Caleb Henning (left) and Luis Etscheid. “Just hold still, Luis, this won’t hurt at all.”
Mantic ConceptualMantic Conceptual pedals are weird, and that’s a good thing. “I got into circuit bending, modding, building synth modules, and what-have-you,” says Luis Etscheid, Mantic’s co-owner and winner of the 2012 Moog Circuit Bending Championship. “It was a long-term organic evolution of things that brought us to a product.” Etscheid founded the Colorado company with his business partner Caleb Henning in 2013.
The duo’s first pedal—and their closest to a clone—is the Density Hulk sub-harmonizer and low-frequency booster. “It’s based on the 1995 DOD Meatbox,” Etscheid says. “That’s what we started our company on. Other than that, they’re now all-original designs. We definitely like to put out stuff that’s unique and will lend players their own voice, and that can be pretty polarizing, I guess. People will either love it or not.”
The Mantic Flex Pro: part fuzz, part envelope follower, part synth-glitch generator.
The Mantic Flex Pro pushes those boundaries. Part fuzz, part envelope follower, part synth-glitch generator, the Flex Pro incorporates an added mix control, filter-range selector, and variable-speed LFO for tracking modulation. “The Flex started as an experiment,” says Etscheid. “We were messing around with a lot of different basic circuit principles, trying to come up with something that was reminiscent of a lot of circuit bent tones we were getting on old keyboards, but more controllable so that it could be used in a ‘musical’—quote unquote—context. It’s basically a variant of a phase-lock loop. We spent a lot of time on the interface. Actually, we had a 12-knob version at one point. We built a few of those as one-offs and sent them out to some of our friends—Simon Francis, Adrian Belew, and Nick Reinhart—to get some feedback. You put so many hours into something, you have to get some outside perspective.”
Winner of the 2012 Moog Circuit Bending Championship, Etscheid (right) has deep roots in synth modding.
Mantic Conceptual is small, and Etscheid and Henning want to keep it that way. “It’s just a two-man operation out of a garage,” Etscheid says. “It’s great staying small. We don’t have to waste too much of our time with management, and we can maintain a direct line of communication with our customers and our retailers. We both really like talking to and knowing the people who buy and use our stuff. It’s been really helpful for the development process as well.”