30 Pedals in 30 Days: Big Joe Stompbox Company Texas Screamer


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Everyone should know a guy like Big Joe Williams, the namesake behind Big Joe Stompbox Company.  The dude lived, breathed, and bled the blues.  A tinkerer by nature, Big Joe was continually experimenting with his gear in unique and interesting ways, like transforming a humble six-string archtop into a funky nine-string guitar, which created a sound that led to a five-decade recording career and eventual induction in 1992 into the Blues Hall of Fame.  Get yourself some of Big Joe’s old-time blues religion right here.

Big Joe was a friend to rock photography icon Peter Amft, who in the early ’80s met brothers and analog designers Paul and David Christian.  Amft introduced Big Joe to the Christian brothers, and the bigger-than-life blues legend served as the namesake and spiritual leader of the Big Joe Stompbox company.  The idea behind Big Joe Stompbox Company is straightforward: document the history of awesome guitar tone through pure, unadulterated analog design, just as Amft did through the photographic medium.  Though analog pedals remain fairly common in the guitar-playing world, analog designers are becoming a rare breed.  It’s a safe bet that the lion’s share of analog design expertise resides at the Big Joe Stompbox Company, through the Christian brothers; formal analog design training just isn’t a course of study available to today’s budding electrical engineers.  Paul and David Christian, with over 25 years of design experience and several analog design credits to their names, are leading the way for those interested in keeping the art of analog alive.

We were introduced to Big Joe Stompbox Company through our long-time friend Tommy Bolan. Make sure you stop by and thank him for pointing us in the direction of such a killer pedal manufacturer. For TheToneKing.com‘s 30 Pedals in 30 Days extravaganza, BJSC shot us over a pedal that taps into the legendary Texas tones of the late, great Johnny Winter.  The tattooed Texas blues legend left us last year, and far too soon.  But he didn’t leave us empty-handed, giving us almost 50 years ass-kicking, boogie-soaked electric blues.  Winter was a sight to behold, with an albino complexion and armloads of tattoos, but his stinging tone and mind-blowing musicianship did all the talking.

Before his passing, Winter worked closely with Big Joe to put his legendary bite and growl into the Texas Screamer, auditioning scads of pedals and design ideas in order to get it right.  And just to make sure there’s no doubt who’s behind the tones, Winter emblazoned the front with an awesome recreation of his famous dragon tattoo.

The result is as breathtaking as a Texas dust devil.  Three knobs gets you everything from a sweet, subtle edge to crispy, thump crunch that will shake the walls of even the sturdiest juke joint in town.  The Tone King shows us here, the Texas Screamer easily evokes the sound of a vintage tube amp being pushed.  It’s responsive, dynamic, and adds a little bit of fat and attitude to your tone without sacrificing clarity.

Did Big Joe and Johnny Winter ever meet?  Even if a meeting never happened in person, their souls and personalities were joined through the magic of Big Joe Stompbox Company’s analog engineering prowess, and now you can get a little bit of that gritty, greasy, devil-may-care vibe injected into your tone by way of the Texas Screamer.  And maybe, just maybe, Big Joe and Johnny are shaking a few halos and wooing a few angels upstairs.




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Filed Under: FeaturedNewsEvents3P3D-2015

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