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For the Love of Demos, Pt. 1

“I plan to demo every pedal I own, and anything anyone loans or gives to me,” Hondo Felder vows.

Bassist Hondo Felder looks for the versatility factor.

I love pedals, of course, and find myself voraciously taking in as many demo videos as I can. They are my first go-to when a new pedal that catches my interest drops. Good demo videos give a full picture of what a unit can do, and even give me ideas of how to incorporate that effect into my own music. The musicians who make these videos are an important part of our community, and, in this two-part column, I would like to introduce everyone to some folks who I think are making some great content across multiple platforms.

First, a question: How often do we get a well-produced, feature-rich pedal demo for bass, instead of guitar? As a bass player, I can tell you: not often enough! Certain pedals just don’t let the tone of your bass come through. It’s a thing. However, it seems like nowadays, with doom being so hot, pedal-makers are designing more bass-friendly circuits. I also see an awful lot of musicians rocking baritone guitars as well as guitarists using multiple 6-strings in various states of down-tuning. For all of the above, there’s Hondo Felder.

Hondo’s videos are primarily geared toward the heavier end of things, and players who love the low end will really enjoy them. He is a self-professed “typical musician with a day job” who is anything but. Hondo is a bass player and audio engineer with an incredible amount of knowledge about all types of gear.

“I went looking online for bass demos of pedals I couldn’t get my hands on and realized there aren’t a ton of bass reviewers out there.”

Hondo’s content focuses heavily on the features, different sound combinations, and stacking capabilities of the units he chooses to demonstrate. He uses different guitars with various pickup configurations, and often demos with synths and computer-generated sounds, which offers viewers a complete range of a pedal’s functionality in a very musical way. It also lets us hear and see other gear that we might not have previously considered looking into. It’s great to be able to experience what the versatility factor is for any effect or piece of gear.

I asked Hondo, who lives in San Francisco, how he got into making demos. “Since I moved out from the East Coast in 2015, I lost the ability to work with many of the musicians I’d developed relationships with over the years,” he explained. “That left me with a sizable hunger for creating original music with other people. After about four years, I managed to develop a new set of musical connections and started really getting back into gigging, writing, and recording. Of course, that meant G.A.S.! I went looking online for bass demos of pedals I couldn’t get my hands on and realized there aren’t a ton of bass reviewers out there. Those two things got me thinking that maybe I could make a channel where I use gear in a real mix—with normal playing techniques—and give people enough sound clips and impressions that they could make a gear purchase with confidence, without having the gear in their hands first. At the same time, I thought I could use the channel to build a network of like-minded artists without having to be subject to the confines of physical proximity.

Hondo Felder calls the Skitter reverb and tremolo “inspiration in a box.” See how it pairs with both guitar and bass in his demo.

“I plan to demo every pedal I own, and anything anyone loans or gives to me, so it’s more a matter of which ones I do first rather than which ones I will or won’t do,” Hondo continues. “I will say, though, that if I ever come across a piece of gear that I can’t say anything positive about, or don’t recommend people buying, I won’t demo it. I really want my channel to be a source of positivity and a place where people can come to chill and have conversations about gear, rather than bashing anything. That said, I do particularly love finding gear that is unknown, or not widely used on bass.”

You can subscribe to Hondo’s YouTube channel (look for HondoFelder) to see videos of Champion Leccy’s the Skitter, Mask Audio’s Black Math, and more. And in my February column, I’ll introduce you to two more of my favorite pedal demo creators.