Inspired largely by the frequent record swaps held around the city — and at least partly by the documentary Fuzz: The Sound That Revolutionized the World — local musician and visual artist Craig Freeman has put together a new-to-town event. The Pittsburgh Effects Pedal Swap, to be held this Saturday, will give local effects-pedal enthusiasts their very own venue to nerd out.
The event, though never before held here, has a simple premise: "[Imagine] a room full of people thinking about pedals and talking about pedals," Freeman says.
Freeman, of local heavy-psych trio Lost Realms, credits the Internet with what seems to be an ever-growing interest in pedals among users, collectors and DIY pedal-builders. As with any other niche hobby, the web allows people to show off their collections to other builders and musicians around the world. Plus, "it's rare to see a guitarist who doesn't use pedals these days," he says. "The whole modern psych scene right now is really heavily based on how unique you can get your music to sound through pedals."
The event, held at The Shop, will feature a handful of vendors, including locals like Phosphene Audio and DevilDog Audio Arts, as well as folks from the internationally known, Akron-based EarthQuaker Devices. Since building pedals often goes hand-in-hand with building things like amps and synthesizers, Freeman expects that other homemade gear will be available as well. "Anyone can bring a pedal that they want to sell or trade," he says. "It's basically just casual: people hanging out."
Since pedals are generally not manufactured in large quantities, Freeman explains, they tend to hold their value, which makes finding the one you want especially exciting. As for what local and small-scale makers have to offer, Freeman says, that they generally fall into two categories: "the ones who are cloning pedals that you could never find or afford even if you could find them, and [those] making all-new pedals with sounds you've never heard before."
Freeman recommends getting there early if you're on the lookout for something specific. "Like most collection markets, people usually know what they have. It's not like going through an old garage and finding some great toy you've always wanted."