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Interview with Sean Wright, founder of Lollygagger Effects
Who influenced you, in your effects building career?
As much as I can name many companies and builders of which I’ve been a fan and that have influenced me, it was the HomeBrew Effects guys who inspired me and others the most. These are the unsung guys who inspired me—who gave me the spark to say to myself, “I can do this! I don’t need to have a large corporation to build an amplifier, guitar, or effects pedal. I can do it myself.” Other guys who are often over-looked include Tim Escobedo, Jack Orman, Justin Philpott, Aron Nelson and Gus Smalley. And these are the web sites that launched a thousand DIYer’s! I can’t thank these pioneers enough: Ampage, GEO and AMZ.
What sets Lollygagger FX apart from other companies and builders?
We start with simplicity and make great sounds from there. We focus on designs that use discrete parts, and we focus on getting a circuit to help a client’s amplifier. With the Canaglia we really wanted to provide a consistent pedal that would be a gain shaper as opposed to a tone shaper. We also understand that people like to have something of their own—something that is special. The Fender Broadcaster was just a hunk of wood with strings, and vintage amplifiers were once covered in anything that was available and cheap. The guitar and the amplifier have evolved into functioning pieces of art that you are proud to show off. We didn’t see that happening with effects pedals for a long time, but in the early 2000’s we started to see a shift to more creative exteriors as well as interiors. We wanted to take that shift and go into a bolder direction.
Who are your musical influences?
As a kid of the 80’s I grew up with the radio. There wasn’t the formatting you hear today, and there were so many different types and styles of radio. I would listen to pop, rock, soul, funk—whatever was on. When I was 13 years old my uncle sent me Pink Floyd’s The Wall album for my birthday and my mind was blown! Afterward, I made the downward spiral into the madness of hard rock and metal. LOL! First, it was Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers album. Ritchie Blackmore was my guy for a very long time and the main reason why I only play Strats to this day. Then my taste went to mostly guitar-oriented bands—Ozzy with Randy Rhoads or Zakk Wylde or listening to guys like George Lynch who, in my humble opinion, was the most well-rounded and interesting of the mid 80’s rock players. But the guy who is my go-to inspiration is Gary Moore. Whether it was with Thin Lizzy or as a solo artist, no one played like him—crazy rock licks all the way to the blues. No one was like him.
Did your playing have any effect on entering the pedal business?
To some degree. I’d be looking for a sound that was in my head, and I would finally just quit thinking about it and go mock it up—whether that was another pedal company’s circuit or my own. Half the time it wouldn’t get past the bread board stage—not because it wouldn’t work or sounded bad—it’s just that I’d realize, “Yeah, not as impressed as much as I thought I’d be.”
So, slowly you get the bug and this intense desire leads to a career—if you let it. I started my career in tech college studying electronics specifically geared for music equipment. I started out backwards compared to a lot of people in this business. A lot of builders have a background in either engineering, electronics, or some other professional job and then one day quit, cash out their savings, and start a business. Between teching, working for manufacturers like Naylor Engineering and Guytron Amplification, that’s all I did for the longest time. As a husband and a father to our first-born child, I one day quickly realized that I needed to provide for my family and focus on that. So I went on to work in some industrial electronics companies. After 8 or so years I started checking out bulletin boards and sites like AMZ and GEO Effects and I finally said that I should build something that had been bopping around in my head for a long time—and the Canaglia was born! I wanted a boost that broke up “like” an overdrive but I didn’t want to clog up the circuit’s signal. I wasn’t going for transparency. In my humble opinion, that’s a term that has been thrown around way too much! Color is good! The key is not to use a black crayon to color the sky if you want to draw a sunny day!
When were you struck with the idea for the Canaglia?
Well it fell into place all at once. I was playing with a circuit idea in 2012 that no one was doing that I really liked!! It had girth and crunch and you could get some volume boost with it. Then I happened to be reacquainted with a friend who I kind of lost touch with, and he had a wood shop. After telling him what I was up to, within 5 minutes of frantically emailing back and forth the idea of the enclosure was mapped out!!
How do you keep busy when you’re not in the shop?
LOL, well, this one is easy! I still work at my day gig at an engineering firm, building and testing telemetry torque testing equipment. The other different thing you see from most builders—although a lot of builders have side businesses—is that my day gig is in electronics. Most builders’ other work life has nothing to do with what they do in their side gig. I work with electronics 24/7—or so it seems on some days. Other than that, I’m really into quality-time with my family. I have two teenagers that will soon be flying from the nest so my wife and I are taking in the last little bits of our kids’ childhood.