Since the 1962 Maestro Fuzz Tone pedal in Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” effects pedals have been used by musicians of all kinds to make their instruments sound like … well, not their instruments.
When Better Friend bassist Aaron Lee broke out of an early hiatus from playing music, it was due in part to a curiosity about guitar effects. The Ambulanters’ Jim Rhian would play pedal demo videos showcasing the unique sounds a guitar could produce with their aid. It sparked an interest for Lee.
“I didn’t realize when I used to play that there were all these things you could do with guitar pedals to make it … not sound like a guitar,” Lee says. “That idea is just very captivating to me.”
For Lee, figuring out how they work, how switching out capacitors and diodes yields different sounds, has been a matter of trial and error and a lot of study. Lee is only six months into learning the skill, having spent much of that time reading up on the theories and the ins and outs. But one can already find his work on the boards of See Through Dresses’ Matthew Carroll (with whom Lee toured last fall) and bandmate Alex Steele.
“It’s really rewarding to sift through all of that and end up with a working piece of equipment … because you learned something and were willing to put in your own labor.”
Watch as Lee explains how he became interested in guitar effects, his learning through collaboration and why its worth his time and effort: