Over the past few years, there’s been a sharp uptake in the number of gear brands that have been set up by professional guitar players.
Of course, most gear companies are owned by players, but this new wave of player-owned brands includes the likes of Tosin Abasi’s Abasi Concepts, Ola Englund’s Solar Guitars, Zakk Wylde’s Wylde Audio, and Kirk Hammett’s KHDK.
Now, Mark Tremonti has announced his plans to join that growing cohort of guitarists-turned-entrepreneurs by revealing he is currently developing his very own pedal brand.
While in the midst of a Rig Rundown with Premier Guitar, the Alter Bridge maestro took a deep dive into his live pedalboard, which includes an intriguing nondescript pedal – and turned out to be a Uni-Vibe-inspired prototype.
“I’m starting a pedal manufacturing company,” he said when the discussion turned to the unfinished stompbox, which has controls for Rate, Depth, Blend and Volume. “It will be a fun project. Just like everything else, I’m going to try and keep them real affordable, real user-friendly.
“This is a Uni-Vibe-type pedal,” Tremonti goes on. “This is a prototype for a new pedal I’m developing. I’m trying to develop a whole line of pedals – I don't know what we’re going to call them yet, but I want to come out with three pedals first.
“This one is a modulation-style [pedal]. It’s got a lot of pure vibe. I don't use it much live, but there's three or four songs that I’ll use it in.”
The PRS signature artist was also kind enough to demo the pedal, which sounded pretty darn good. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, really – it must be of a certain sonic caliber if Tremonti is willing to play it live with Alter Bridge.
To our ears, it sounds like a high-quality Uni-Vibe clone, with lots of spacious modulation and nuanced vibe-y-ness. The early signs bode well for the future of Tremonti’s pedal brand already.
It also looks pretty rustic, too, and though Tremonti revealed he’d been experimenting with “hip” aesthetics for the pedal, he admitted to being a particular fan of the no-nonsense visuals: “To me, it looks like if Alexander Dumble were alive and making pedals, that’s what it would look like.”
So, don’t be surprised if the final version ends up looking remarkably similar to the prototype Tremonti is currently road-testing.
As Tremonti explained, his decision to lead the charge of his new brand with a Uni-Vibe unit stemmed from his own personal penchant for modulation effects, which in turn resulted in a desire to make a pedal that’s “as good… or better” than any of the boutique pedals he’s owned in the past.
But Tremonti’s plans for his pedal brand span far beyond the Uni-Vibe. As mentioned above, three pedals will be used to launch the company – and one of them has been set very lofty ambitions indeed.
“So right now I’ve got this pedal, I’ve got a tremolo pedal… and then we’re going to do an overdrive,” he continued, “which is a tricky one because of course I’m going after the Klon. Everybody’s going after the Klon.”
It’s an ambitious step to take for the as-yet-unannounced pedal company, the Klon Centaur being one of the most expensive, elusive and celebrated drive pedals in guitar history – but as Tremonti notes, Klon clones are incredibly common in the market, even if they don’t sound too convincing.
He explained: “Everybody’s like, ‘We got it, we got the Klon,’ and then I’ll hear it, I’m like, ‘You don’t have the Klon.’ It’s like the Dumble thing. People are like, ‘We’ve got this thing that sounds like a Dumble.’ It does not sound like a Dumble.”
Tremonti’s pedal company will therefore approach its own Klon clone with very specific objectives: “I want it to be transparent, I want it to sound like the Klon, and I don't want it to be $8,000 – I want it to be 200 bucks.”
It's still early days, and nothing has been officially announced, but we suspect Mark Tremonti's Instagram page is the best place to go for early updates and future previews.