Whether you are Kerry King, opening for Metallica, playing minor 7th chords in a jazz cafe or rocking out in front of the mirror, I sincerely hope you are still doing it for the fun of it. The guys at “Metal Pedals“, who on the contrary to their name, do in fact create mercury smooth, low gain pedals juxtaposed to heavy plutonium distortion while still maintaining a day job (Side note: Plutonium has an atomic weight of 244 and Mercury is 200). How much more of a relatable story is this to everyone out there, but it is the one single step that Dave and Mike Pantaleone took to throw them selves out with a product they believed in, and in my opinion, for good reason. They had their hands slapped a few times but they still have fun and no one can take that away from them.
Dave and Mike have used a few elements that would attract me as a customer. First and foremost, they have used names that are not for the easily offended such as Screaming Whore, Gutter Slut and Lil Skank. I have no problem telling the people around me the most fringed areas of where my interests lie, be it obscure, weird or just offensive. Second up is the use of pin-up art. In my eyes where does one go wrong here? I love women, I love art and Bettie Page is the nexus of that indulgence. Third; they are small time and independent. Now, I will tell you now, I am not a hipster. A nerd yes, beer aficionado yes and I will admit to being something of an outsider by choice but one thing I’m not? Fashionable.
Here is how I learn things tough. I ask questions and get answers.
(The Grin) What inspired you to call your brand “Metal Pedals”?
(Dave @ Metal Pedals) Well, we had come up with our first pedal and needed name to put on that pedal. So we sat at the computer and started punching names in off the top of our heads. We thought our pedals are made of metal and our first design was a kinda aggressive sounding pedal, so Metal Pedals sounded good and no one was using the name. What we didn’t think about was how that would impact future low gain pedal designs. People assume we just build heavy metal pedals and that’s not the case. Live and learn I guess…
Are you guys still a two man operation?
Oh yeah, some days it’s just a one man operation…
Your first pedal was called “The Screaming Whore”. Are you still making that pedal under a different name?
No. We sold a good batch of them and then came up with new pedal designs and graphics that were more home friendly and store acceptable. We will still make them as requested.
I don’t pretend to know anything about circuitry. I can barely solder my pickups correctly, but if I am right, your Fuzstortion would use a Germanium diode. Am I correct?
Well we take that as a complement… It is a very Germanium sounding circuit but not Germanium.
All of your pedals are Dirt Pedals (Grit, OD, Distortion, Fuzz). Do you have any upcoming plans for other effects, like Flange, Phaser, or Tremolo? The Chorus pedal is a favorite of mine and I believe “Porno Funk” would make a good name for an Envelope filter, if I could be so bold.
We have played around with some compressors and filter designs. We would love to do that in the future but for now we are all about that great clipping designs… It’s crazy how many ways you can alter that one thing. I feel like at the end of the day it’s your clean sound and your OD/Distortion that make the all-important base from which your sound starts and the rest is like icing on the cake. An awesome chorus, delay or phaser will sound like crap if that base is not good. If you start with that great base then even and ok sounding effect will still work well for you.
In the same idea, have you ever heard or been told about your pedals used for bass guitar and do you have any plans on developing bass pedals?
I keep getting that… I have had bass guys tell me they liked the Hard Core xxx for bass. We build a small batch of “The Skank” overdrive
pedals that did a great job on bass… Just giving you that pushed sound without stripping away the bottom-end. I think a 3 band active EQ overdrive bass pedal is something we can make and is on the table. I play bass as well and for me it would be that tone of a breaking up under powered amp and speaker that can’t keep up. I like that just rough tone that still keeps my bass in-tacked but is erupting… That’s what my vision would be but I’m open to suggestions…
Do you have any stories about offended, angry church moms or other people as such?
Sure… “Screaming Whore” and a small run of “Gutter Slut” made a pretty big offensive movement… I had a fellow bring his Whore to play his worship gigs until the pastor ripped him one for it… I think he got tossed out of the band… Around the same time a female owned music store respond with a very strong e-mail of what scum I was. I would do guitar shows and have guys say “man I love that pedal but I can’t bring it home”. So that’s why we have changed our tone a bit on the names and graphics. We will still make those pedals but you have to request it… for now. I have a stack of offensive names and concepts from the many customers who do like that… I have to laugh every time I pull up a list… Such creative people these musicians can be…
Now, I am sure this could be an unfair question but individually now, what pedal do you and Mike believe is so far to be your “magnum opus”?
“Wow” pedals are like children, they are all wonderful… We did things really backward we started with the idea of making a high gain overdrive pedal that would be great for lower gain stuff to. We have never built a pedal before or anything for that matter. I have no education in electronics, I learn from Mike and Mike learned by osmosis from two old time radio repair guys that he worked with. Our first pedal was the Screaming Whore and then the next was the base of our Bomb Shell pedal which later became our Hard Core pedal. We are like mad scientists in a lab… Mike is my genius, he’s and incredible person. Without me, his lazy ass would do nothing and without him, we would have nothing. His baby was the challenge of Hard Core… He though how cool would the Bomb Shell circuit be with a 5 band EQ. That pedal is for those who understand how to use it. The Bomb Shell is a simplified version, with one less gain level and has become our most purchased pedal. This pedal really hits all the areas well and is easy to use. Mike came up with a noise reduction that I have never seen before… It’s wonderful. Those two pedals are our greatest work I believe so far. Our other pedals are very cool to but BS and HCxxx are really where we focus the hardest. Our other pedals are off shoots of those designs. Again we can tweak these circuits a million ways… and they can very drastically. It’s a lot of fun.
Well thank you for your time and if I were to give off suggestions, I would like a wild silicon bass fuzz with a transparency (or balancing) knob for Christmas. Call it the “Diry Fat Bastard”.
The lowest gain pedal, the Pro Country doesn’t even have a knob to control the dirt. Only a “Grit” switch. Why you may ask? Because a cowboy either has his guns drawn or not. A low, Medium and Treble knobs are the ground beneath his boots. The volume is how much land he needs to see and the Pre-Contour is the bottle of whiskey, to rest his head upon at night. Enough with the metaphors though. Now off hand, you would think allot of folk would rather just plug their fenders into their fenders and twang away. Who am I to tell you how to play? What I can tell you though is if your so close to getting that golden tone from your telecaster, then consider this pedal to be that one step further to dial in a red glow to your cow brand.
The Raw Hide Overdrive and The American Overdrive are almost comparable. They both keep true to the tone of your guitar while adding some subtle aggression. The difference is that The American OD goes a step beyond with a Gain Kick switch that pops a little extra but the Raw Hide has a sharper tone. So to sum them both up, The Raw Hide is Oklahoma and The American Overdrive is Texas. The reason I say this is because of the mental link I have between a spicy pedal and Mexican food.
Temporarily out of stock, The Black Gravity pedal is something smooth. With your standard volume, tone and gain, it is not idiot proof but it is easy to control. This is more for the plug in and play kind of person for it’s simpilicty. I would recommend this pedal if your the kind of person who plays full chords.
This is where you read it first. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children over the age of 18 (depending on the state/province you live in), The Snake Bite Overdrive is on this years 30 Pedals in 30 days. I don’t want to spoil anything for you or take away thunder from The Tone King, but lets have my take on it. It looks to be about the same style of the Raw Hide pedal but the twist here is instead of a Gain Kick switch it has a brite switch, because you want to see them snakes before they see you. Much like the snake, it has a real snap and bite to it. To me, it seems like the kind of early 90′s rock distortion and possibly some early grunge era. I think the tone is comparable to the Boss DS-1.
Fuzstortion. I had my confusion above about this one. It is more Distortion then Fuzz and as already stated, no germanium diodes were harmed in the making of this pedal. It has the charm of an overdrive but can bust out the wild side like with the twist of a knob. If you are a person who rips the digital fuzz pedals, your recovery starts here.
The Bomb Shell Distortion displays a lovely and tasteful style pin-up girl (optional). I’m sold already. When you pop up the gain knob, you cage the beast known well to single coil lovers. What did they name this odd creation that most pedals don’t have? Hold your hats…. Noise Reduction. Such a simple concept and yet so rare. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!
Blue Crunch Distortion. This I think is my favorite pedal of them all. It has a hard and savage crunch that could be easily used for heavier style music but still gentle enough for a child. Just chunk those palm mutes and tell me it ain’t a caged bear with a few harsh words away from going berserk. To me, this is very Eddie Van Halen.
Hard Core xxx distortion is what I see as the bigger brother to the Blue Crunch. Circuitry states otherwise but with this one the gain is more extreme, and a five band EQ to dial in Heart, Diamond Head, Motley Crue, Anthrax or Cannibal Corpse. Again with the Noise Reduction.. You spoil me good sir.
What are the characteristics of a good boost pedal? In my ears, they take you to a louder level while staying completely clean. Having a warm switch as an option could only help. Certainly wouldn’t hinder since there is an option to not use it. The only true way to test such a pedal is to take it on stage.
Everything from Metal Pedals is hand made. When you place your order, you have the option of buying the kind of pedal you could pass on to your kids at a young age, or have something that would cater to your controversy itch..
Meet David Pantaleone showing off METAL PEDALS @ the Philly Guitar Show, November 2012
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About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.