Featured Builder – Pelican Noiseworks

After a brief hiatus for the Christmas period, we are back again with a new featured builder – Leon of Pelican Noiseworks. Sure, not an Australian company, but a small business with a product that is now available in Australia (Pedal Empire).  Leon and Pelican first came to my attention through the 60 Cycle Hum and Guitar Nerds podcasts which he is an active member of the communities, Leon struck me as a guy who does this for the love and not the money, which became more obvious after he answered some questions about the company.

What inspired you to get into the pedal building business?

Pelican NoiseWorks started as an idea.  A simple statement that gear doesn’t need to be so serious.  Tools of sound creation should be fun!  The idea of the first pedal came in 2015 when it seemed that “Klon hype” was in full swing.  Not that I have anything at all against that style of overdrive, it just seemed that every time I turned around another klone was being released by a different manufacturer.  There are some great ones and I have have nothing against them (I own and love a few of them). It just seemed kind of boring from my perspective.

So after about 5 months of developing it, I released the Pelitaur on April fools day 2016.  It was such a fun way to launch the company and it’s first product.  Leading up to the release I would throw out little teasers here and there and was seeing the exact mixture of responses I was hoping for.  Some people very annoyed that it appeared to be a ‘yet-another-klone’ and some genuinely curious as to what was going on.  The really fun part was the day after release on April 2nd when people realized that the joke was actually that the pedal was real!

The pedal was the Pelitaur, of course.  Two distinct fuzz circuits running in parallel with a blend control between the two.  The overall sound and function of the pedal was really the passion for me.  I made the decision early on that I would only design and build pedals that I actually want on my board.  Two different fuzz tones in parallel inside one enclosure was something I wanted on my board and hadn’t found before.  Once the prototype was built, I put it on my board and did some testing where I realized that it was exactly what I wanted.  In fact, it kicked at least two fuzz pedals off of my board!  This idea of building for my own needs seemed to work out very well this time and will try to continue this into 2017.

Of course I have a very young company.  At the moment of this interview, Pelican NoiseWorks is 8 months old.  I do all the designing, building, marketing, and shipping.  My wife helps me out with shipping and packaging.  She also makes the pedal bags that ship with every pedal.  When I started production, Everything aside from the enclosure silk screening was done one at a time in my shop.  That meant drilling every enclosure, powder coating and baking in a toaster-oven in my garage and sending them to a local screen printer for printing.  After the first 80 enclosures, I decided that was taking up way too much of my time.  Now I have enclosures drilled, coated, and printed for me, and it is so nice!!

When you are playing, what is the rig that you go to most often?

I play in a band with friends for fun.  Nothing serious.  We basically get together and make a ton of noise. My rig changes all the time but right now I am playing a Fender Jazzmaster into a Fender silver face Deluxe Reverb.  My board right now is Pettyjohn pre drive-> Foxpedal Refinery Compressor->Matthews Effects Architect-> Matthews Effects Harbinger-> Earthquaker Acapulco Gold-> Pelitaur-> EP Booster-> Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl-> Chase Bliss Gravitas-> Chase Bliss Tonal Recall-> Matthews Effects Dual Reverb – some serious GAS envy here from me.

Besides guitar, gear and building, what are your passions?

Playing and recording music.  Before pedal building my love was being a studio engineer.  Tracking and mixing has remained something I love to do!

If you were beginning again to learn guitar, what would you do differently? If you could choose any song to play as a first to learn, what would it be and why?

I would focus more on technique than creating sounds.  Well I would like to say that anyway.  In practice I know I would do it exactly the same way as I did.  Rock and worry about proper technique later!  Now that I’m older however, I do wish I had sat down and put in more of the work learning proper scales and technique, chord inversions and variations.

If I had to do it all over again, may as well do it right eh?  I’d learn Wilco’s Impossible Germany as a first song.  That way I would be able to play it right now.

With the Pelitaur now in Australia, are there any further plans for expansion into more stores here? Any ideas on world domination via pedals? What’s next for Pelican Noiseworks, any new products?

Yes I plan on picking up more Australian dealers late 2017.  World pedal domination?  Not so much.  I’ll leave that to someone more capable.

There are of course more projects in the pipeline.  Moving forward and growing is very important to me.  At this point it has been clear that the way to move forward is to fill orders and get them shipped out quickly.  As more free time shows itself, sure I’ll be using it to develop my other ideas.
The Pelitaur is currently available at Pedal Empire in Brisbane (who also have a web store) or is also available direct from Pelican Noiseworks.

Any other thoughts about the gear industry that you would like to talk about? It’s a great industry but in order to stay afloat, it has to be a passion.

If it’s about making money, chances are, you won’t find a whole lot of that around here.  I think we (builders) do this because it is a passion and that drives us to create more and more.
So there it is, some great information from a small builder about the process, and the reason why I love supporting these builders – they are small enough to have that passion and to be super approachable about being interviewed and giving their time. If there are any products or companies that you would like to see featured, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments below.

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