Effector Book Interview from Japan English Translation -
April 3, 2017
Please take a moment and read over this great interview from Effector Magazine in Japan -
"Your unique tone" — we support it
Essentially, an eﬀect pedal colors the basic sound made with the guitar and the ampliﬁer, and it is a different way to build many sounds with a click of a foot . We approach philosophy of the brand that sets out the "methodology of the royal road" that wants to support originality of individual guitarists.
Interviewer, Author ● Shimpei Kikuchi
Cooperation ● TONE BLUE (078-393-0125)
CAST Engineering, a small company based in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, produces hand-made eﬀect pedals. They are skillfully designed by Steve Evans, the senior engineer leading the brand that believes in offering thick and warm sounds as its basis and shows the player's performance in the truest form. It's like a fusion of the charm you feel from a vintage eﬀect pedal and the reﬁnement of modern sophisticated pedals. It's one of the most remarkable brands now. I asked Steve of CAST Engineering to talk about brand's history, philosophy, and sound making.
It does not change the sound
It rather enhances player's tone
—Please tell us the name of the person who answers the question at ﬁrst, the title and role at the brand.
Steve Evans (SE): I am the founder and owner of CAST Engineering. We run CAST Engineering as family business, and my role is to dream of company's corporate philosophy. I regard myself as a conductor, and the other members of the team are members of the symphony orchestra.
—Please tell us brieﬂy about the brand history on how and when CAST Engineering was established.
SE: As I explored the perfect tone, I became to tinker with circuits of vintage pedals. So I thought about using the knowledge and experience in my electronics to bring out the full potential from classical design. That tone inspired Atlanta's guitarist community, and I soon began to receive pedal production requests from all over the United States. I ﬁrst founded a company named "CAS vintage pedal". "CAS" was taken from my best wonderful wife, Cathy and my name Steve. A is the initial letter of our middle name (laugh). CAS was originally a hobby to earn expenses to pour into the insatiable passion for my guitar rather than business. Just as I realized that the enthusiastic demands placed on CAS increased day by day, I realized that this is not just an extension of my hobby anymore, but there is a great potential as a business. Changing the name of the company to CAST Engineering is based on "Casting yesterday's tones into tomorrow's technology," out company's mission.
—Are you primarily responsible for designing eﬀect pedals? How did you get that knowledge?
SE: As for design, I and General Manager John Frey are closely working together. I began studying electronics in my high school days, and at the university I took electrical engineering as my major initially, but I switched to mechanical engineering at once. Over the past 30 years, I have developed / manufactured everything in various industries. I have worked on various things, from toys to solar simulators for NASA, and medical equipments. John, who is engaged in design together, is the man who was doing aviation electronics engineer in the Air Force. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering technology and has experience as a design engineer for the past 20 years.
—I heard that each member of the staﬀ has a vast knowledge of playing music with years of experience. What are the advantages of this point on products?
SE: We are making pedals for the purpose of enhancing player's tone. In order to create a perfect tool, you need to understand where and how that tone is born, and how it is created. And we all have our own style and also have outstanding ears to distinguish tones. It is because all of the team is involved in every stage of building, from concept creation to product completion, our product design is able to cover a wide range of tonal palettes.
—What is "the philosophy of making eﬀect pedals" in CAST Engineering?
SE: What we have stated as a company mission is "to cast past tone to future technology" mentioned earlier. Out motto is "We build to inspire".
—For the product lineup, I feel that all models have been tuned to not harm the original sound and are very dynamic to your picking intensity. Moreover, I felt the warmth and the thickness of the sound to have an analog tone. Are these characteristics common to all the pedals? Is it a point CAST Engineering is always committing to as a practice?
SE: As you said, we are making daily eﬀorts to enhance the tone of each player. It is not for changing it.
—I felt that the way the LED indicators are arranged in each pedal is really unique. Is this a contrivance that takes into account design preferences or the convenience of using it on stage?
SE: It was part of the idea of how to make our products stand out at the beginning, but as the product got popular among artists on tour, it become to have more meaning. The pedal's ease to use in a dark was a point. CAST Engineering now uses this as the standard of design for all of its products.
Unbounded by existing circuits
Create more personalities
—"Texas Flood" is described as a model based on "TS808" modiﬁed by Caesar Diaz, used by Stevie Ray Vaughn. When developing, did you analyze by acquiring the actual machine?
SE: We were fortunately able to obtain what is said to be a renovation drawing by Caesar Diaz. Based on that drawing, I made a circuit on my own, played it and analyzed it. Nonetheless, I did not try to reproduce his design as it was. Diaz's pedal fulﬁlled a speciﬁc function in Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar system, which gave me the opportunity to see "TS808" from another perspective. In other words, the original circuit was used as a stepping stone for making special things.
—Is it based on such idea that adopting "TL072" instead of the TS series circuit's standard "JRC4558D" or "RC4558P" as the op-amp?
SE: That's right. "TL072" is the most suitable operational ampliﬁer in reaching our goal.
—Please tell us about "Casper". It is a mechanism to generate a delay sound with a digital chip ("PT2399"), but the output is tuned to sound like an analog delay. What kind of ingenuity is being applied?
SE: It is the result of gathering and analyzing all the technical information by making full use of my experience as guitarist and engineer. When we make products, we are not bound by existing circuits. I imagine more than that, and I am trying to create it.
—A variable resistor is installed in the inside. What is the parameter affected by this?
SE: It is a feedback controller. With this, the user can adjust whether the delay sound is minimized or fully opened. Also, depending on how you use it, you can freely oscillate using a pedal or suppress it.
—"Pulse Drive" is described that it is based on the circuit invented by Anthony Leo in the 1960s. What is the characteristic of the tremolo circuit by Mr. Leo?
SE: This original circuit was taken up in "Electronics Australia" magazine released in October 1968. It was originally thought of as a preampliﬁer for those who play guitar through stereo. Tremolo is common as an eﬀect to be installed in the amp at that time, and in the EA of the following month, an article called "How to put tremolo in pre-amp" was also posted. "Pulse Drive" was developed to simulate an amp containing a tremolo circuit at the time.
—What kind of sound was aimed at tuning the sound of "Pulse Drive"?
SE: Tremolo based on the DSPs on the market is very sharp in how it works. We designed a warm, smooth tone. I tried to compare "PulseDrve" with the tremolo of our vibrolux ampliﬁer, and I think that it is quite close to that tone. However, we should not forget that vacuum tubes are used in vintage amps, and we use transistors.
—Finally, what is most appealing about the the brand for the eﬀect pedal enthusiasts in Japan.
SE: There are a lot of pedal designers aiming to make "boxed amps" in the world. However, we do not design eﬀect pedals with such a way of thinking. Because, as a guitarist, you've been building up your own playing skills and tones over the years. We want to praise that eﬀort. We would like to help you by oﬀering a tool that just enhances your unique guitar sound.
It is an overdrive that was made based on the circuit of "TS808" modiﬁed by Caesar Diaz, a famous guitar technician, and used by Stevie Ray Vaughn. However, the circuit is not just a clone. As a feeling that I tried, it has a compilation like TS, and it seems to be aiming for SRV sound, but sound stands out better and response is faster. I got the impression that the range was also widely taken. The eﬀectiveness of the tone is also good, and it is easy to make sounds because rich bass is available. In addition, picking nuance is reﬂected directly and it is excellant. Although the pedal can be used as a single distortion unit, it is likely to be more eﬀective if you combine with a high-quality tube amp and use as a booster.
[Review] Maximize the potential of "PT2399" chip
Controls: Delay, Level, Repeat, Feedback (内部)
Terminals: Input, Output
Dimensions: 67mm (W) x 125mm (D) x 57mm (H)
Power supply: 006P (9V battery) / 9VDC
Price: open price
Being a hybrid circuit utilizing a digital chip "PW2399", it provides warm sound like analog delay as its biggest feature. Although a ﬂashy delay eﬀect is unavailable, it provides pleasant delay with analog-like thickness and digital-like crispness, and its natural eﬀect is comfortable. Delay time can be up to 700 msec and that enables setting for various phrases, from short delay, which may be useful for distorted riﬀs, to expansive sounds. If "REPEAT" is raised, oscillation like analog delay using BBD element can be obtained. It is also possible to control the amount of feedback by adjusting with an internal trimmer.
[Review] Modern modiﬁcation of past ideas
Pulse Drive (Tremolo)
Controls: Level, Rate, Depth
Terminals: Input, Output
Dimension: 67mm (W) x 125 mm (D) x 59 mm (H)
Power supply: 006P (9V battery) / 9VDC
Price: open price
It was tuned for the sound of tremolo installed in the ampliﬁers of the 1960s. Rather than tremolo of the retro feel of those days, the core of the sound is thick, but the resolution is high, so I got the impression that it is slightly wet and well-balanced. Since the amount of adjustment is exquisite, it seems that you can also use it like thinly adding a variation to the phrase of clean sound. Setting "DEPTH" close to the 0 position, you can use it as a clean booster of up to 30 dB. Although it is a tremolo standalone unit converting to sound into dry-textured, this one enables us to make a variety of sound creation.
Photos in page 86
◀ (Left photo) The op-amp of choice is Texas Instruments' "TL072". Dare to skip the classic "JRC4558D". ◀ (Right photo) Knobs for "TONE", "DRIVE", "LEVEL" are made of transparent material, and they glow red when turned on.
Photos on page 87
◀ Steve Evans (right) and the staﬀ who support him. It is a player who is good at playing instruments for each, and that is the strength of the brand. Each career is also introduced on the web page.
Photos in page 88
▲ ◀ Studio of CAST Engineering in Atlanta. Steve Evans, president of the brand, is an experienced person who has been active as an engineer in various industries. Also being a guitar player, he thought about applying his experience and technology cultivated so far to eﬀecters. Together with guitar-loving colleagues, he hand-makes eﬀectors with