About TCJ Effects……
Why pedals? I’ve built pedals for myself for a long time. But, in 2004 I was in Dave’s Guitar Shop and I tried a boost pedal that was popular at the time. I took a look inside the thing and decided it was about $10 in parts, so there was no reason to buy one for $200. So I went home, and the “Luxury Drive” was born. By the way the Luxury Drive is not a clone of that pedal. That pedal is a FET based boost, the Luxury Drive is a simple NPN transistor based circuit.
From there, after I made the first Luxury Drive for myself I was in Dave’s Guitar Shop (at that time there was a second Wausau location) trying out an amp. Dave happened to be there. He asked if he could try the pedal he was hearing me use. He tried it and liked it. He asked me what it was. I told him I made it. He said I should go into business, and that it was as good as or better than other pedals he had tried. I initially thought he was just being kind, so I jokingly asked “how many do you want?” He said “let’s start with 10”. From there I contacted a friend of mine from college, Greg Koch. I had always liked Greg’s tone, and wanted his opinion. I sent him the Luxury Drive. He loved it, and said it was “butane” in a pedal. Greg asked me about overdrives. He said he was using one, but it died. (That by the way was one of the early Full Drive pedals)So he asked me to build him one. That pedal Greg named the “DGTM”, short for “Diabolical Gristle Tone Manipulator”. Greg then wanted a combination pedal of the Luxury Drive and DGTM in one box to save some room on his pedalboard. That was the birth of the “Gristle King”.
With Greg’s help, over the next 2 years, the word began to spread about the pedals. The pedals were reviewed favorably in Vintage Guitar (Oct 04), Guitar Player (July 05), Tone Quest Report (06), Guitar Player (07). It just spread 100% by word of mouth. I have never purchased any advertising of any kind. I’ve been lucky that a lot of reputable players have used my pedals from time to time. That list includes: Greg Koch, Roscoe Beck, Billy Sheehan, Buddy Whittington, Steve Vai, Jeff Kolman, Robben Ford, Josh Smith, and a whole host of others. These guys and all the people who have bought the pedals are my advertising, and they spread the word in the best way possible.
In early 2007, I was contacted by Peavey Electronics to be the lead designer for their new Custom Shop amp division. In July 2007 I stopped taking pedal orders, concentrated on my 1 year backlog of orders, and moved to Mississippi to work for Peavey. Long story short on that: I loved the work I did at Peavey, and I think the amps I designed sound great to this day. But I left late in 2010 due to the fact that the mentality of the company was/is such that a “Custom Shop” will never survive there. Peavey wanted a piece of a market that they refused to understand. (Gerald Weber said it best: “build to a standard, not a price”)
At this same time, since T. Jauernig Electronics no longer existed, I entered an agreement with T. Rex. T. Rex was to license the Luxury Drive, Gristle King, and DGTM for a period of 5 years. All was well for the first year of that agreement. Due to some unfortunate circumstances with T.Rex, I chose to legally end that agreement.
In 2010 I was back in Wisconsin, and renewed my business seller’s permit, and resumed production of my pedals.
I’m still a one man show. I like it that way. I tend to be a little, no a LOT fanatical about the products I build. I’ve tried contract manufacturing, and I get offers from other companies constantly. “Hey Tim, we’ll take over your production. You just design new pedals, and we’ll handle the rest”. That may happen someday, but so far I haven’t been happy with what I’ve seen from a lot of contract manufacturers.
There are a lot of the “boutique” builders out there who have gone with contract manufacturing for part or all of their build process. This reduces their cost substantially, yet they still charge “boutique” prices. Personally, if I plop down $200+ for a pedal, there better be something special about it. But a lot of these guys claim “hand built”. I’ve worked in the electronics industry from the consumer electronics end of it, industrial, and the MI industry. I know what a machine populated ckt board looks like. I use PCB’s in my designs; I design the boards, populate them myself, wire them myself, test them, and ship them myself. If you buy one of my pedals, I made it. It’s as simple as that. I think my customers and dealers like it this way.
Since starting up again, there have been a few new things. The new “F” Bomb-3 fuzz is killer. Personally I have not been a fuzz fan ever in the 30 years I’ve played guitar. But I can gig with this pedal and never turn it off. It reacts so well to the guitar volume control, and your touch, that it covers a whole territory of filth from nearly clean to slight OD, to full on atrocity! I’m very happy with it.
I also revamped the Luxury Twin Rate Tremolo per request of Josh Smith. That pedal is currently offered by me, as well as a signature product from Rockett Pedals.
The Gristle King has been revamped into Rev 3, which is a new OD circuit from the original. It sounds better, and gives a lot more versatility. When I first contacted Greg about changing it, he was reluctant. After he heard it, he said “the original recipe is great, but I can’t go back”. The original circuit sounds great with single coils, but I was never happy with it with humbuckers. The V3 has no discrimination towards any pickups and sounds great.
The “Kleer Drive” is a low to mid gain circuit I do as an exclusive for Dave’s Guitar Shop. It’s very touch sensitive, and very organic.
And there have been a host of other new designs since I resumed building. I’ll try to keep you updated here and on my “T. Jauernig Electronics” Facebook page.
Right now, I plan to continue as a one man show so to speak. The current state of the economy has reduced sales substantially. Also, I do not have as many dealers as I once had. I don’t want to get a year behind again. So for now, I prefer to keep it small. But, if the absolute right situation were to present itself, who knows.
I cannot stress enough: I design all the circuit board layouts myself. I populate the boards. I do all assembly and wiring, etc. I used to paint the enclosures by hand, but now I buy powder coated enclosures and just drill them to my needs. I do all the labeling myself. I can personally tell you, and I know for a fact because I have license agreements with several other “designers”, that there are indeed boutique products being sold as “original” designs that are indeed not. I know several other builders like me that design for other “builders”, and then those builders market that product as their own design. It really sucks. But, take it where you can get it. If you don’t design it and license it to them, they’re going to use it anyway. It’s a never ending circle. Don’t get me wrong, modifying a recipe is fine, but don’t then claim it to be originally yours.
I’ve been very fortunate that all sorts of player from Jazz players to Death Metal players have used them. I think it’s that my pedals are a labor of neurotic love. I actually do build them by hand one at a time. I also have a philosophy that “if I wouldn’t use it, I’m not going to sell it.” I want the customer to be happy. I’ve had very few complaints over the years, and very few issues of any kind. I’ve got some 10000+ pedals sold since 04, and most of them are to repeat buyers. Out of all those, probably less than 50 have needed any sort of repair. I think that says my products stand up.