As mentioned in my Danish/Denmark pedals feature I had initially intended to do the Best of Scandinavia, but Denmark has so many internationally known brands I had to separate them out. For the remaining Scandinavian countries Sweden is obviously the strongest here with 6 featured in the Top 9 listing, then 2 Finnish and only 1 Norwegian brand of significant note.
Probably the most significant persona in Scandinavian pedal design / building is Swede Björn Juhl - who has pretty much conquered the world with his acronymmed eponymous brand BJFE and various affiliates - Bearfoot FX (USA), Mad Professor (Finland) and OneControl (Japan). There are very few pedal builders who have quite so much of a global influence and presence.
Other elements of note here are 2 Bass Guitar Effects specialist - Darkglass Electronics and EBS and former major hype brand Himmelstrutz (justifiably). I also have soft spot for Knut Olai’s rising Pladask Elektrisk which has become very closely associated with with Granular Synthesis / Glitch movement.
So although not as potent as the might of Denmark on its own - we nevertheless have a number of strong brands here - with probably Mad Professor with the best International cachet of its contemporaries here - to go along with a beautifully balanced and well-engineered range of professional devices.
Of those pictured I own the Electron Analog Drive and Pladask Elektrisk Fabrikat, along with several Mad Professor pedals - which is probably my favourite of those brands featured. The original BJFE pedals are just a little too pricey - so I prefer Bearfoot FX, Mad Professor and OneControl derivations of those key circuits - which often have extra control parameters.
Although I would not be adverse to owning an original Honey Bee Overdrive Deluxe III as above.
In terms of most likely acquisitions here - the favourite brands for that are Himmelstrutz, Mad Professor and Pladask Elektrisk - I feel I need to own at least one or two Himmelstrutz - starting with the Fetto Nord 70+ or Maximus even.
Brands are listed alphabetically - first by Top 9 most significant within territory and then remainder. I was slightly disappointed to discover that while Iceland has 3 Luthiers of Electric Guitars, it has no Pedal Builder to date - at least not that I could find.
Swede Björn Juhl is the key pedal-builder/designer of Scandinavia and his influence is felt around the world via his own company - BJFE (Björn Juhl FörstärkarElektronik) and collaborators / affiliates Bearfoot FX (USA), Mad Professor (Finland) and OneControl (Japan) - all for whom Björn designs / has designed pedals. Until very recently Bearfoot FX were also responsible for making limited runs of the handwired original spec BJFE pedals, but there seems to have been some sort of fallout and Bearfoot are no longer making BJFE and several Björn Juhl designs no longer feature in the main Bearfoot range either. Meaning he is mostly focusing on Mad Professor and OneControl in particular these days. Björn's most celebrated 4 are the Honeybee Overdrive and derivatives, Dyna Red Distortion, Emerald Green Distortion Machine and Mighty Green Minivibe. I currently have 4 Björn Juhl designed Bearfoot FX pedals, 3 from Mad Professor, and 5 from One Control. My featured pedal from the range is the very limited Honey Bee Deluxe III Overdrive with 3 additional toggle switches - boost order, treble boost and gain boost. If you can find an uobtanium Deluxe III they are usually at around £1K+ on Reverb.com - so I have the suitable understudy in the guise of the Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe on my wishlist which you can get for around £160/£170. I have the newer 4-knob Emerald Green Distortion Machine from Bearfoot FX, and generally you see variations of the classic BJFE pedals across all 3 ranges - especially Honey Bee variants (Note above Demo is of unadulterated Deluxe pedal rather than the extra special Deluxe III with extra switches).
Darkglass is one of the premier Bass effects pedal makers - alongside Aguilar and EBS etc. and has a number of exceptional pedals in the range - particularly the Microtubes PreAmps of various denominations. As a Guitar player there are also a handful of pedals here suitable for guitars - including the really smart touch-based Hyper Luminal Hybrid Compressor and Duality Dual Fuzz Engines - these are such beautifully designed pedals I would really want a few more for guitar!
The other Scandinavian Bass specialist - whose pedals aren't quite as pretty as Darkglass's, but are every bit as functional. The have recently introduced their dual-targeted Blue range for Guitars as well as Basses, and it features 3 pedals currently - Black Haze Distortion, The Drive, and Drive Me Crazy High Gain Overdrive - from which I selected the last mentioned. EBS are also the supplier of my favourite Patch Cables - the Premium Gold Flats which I prefer slightly to the very similar later Rockboard versions - which have a larger range of sizes and variations though meaning I use both for different applications.
This celebrated synth and drum machine maker has just a single effect pedal offering - the somewhat mammoth Analog Drive - which I do have and like to a large degree - there is much to admire here - 8 separate Analog circuits with 3-band EQ / Parametric Mids and 99 onboard switchable presets. Yet it's not quite special enough to warrant its size, and could not get me quite close enough to my favourite drive, distortion and Fuzz sounds to adequately replace them. There are though a number of player for whom this is their main and favourite drive pedal.
Himmelstrutz, based on fictional character C.J. Himmelstrutz and supposed alter-ego of founder Joakim Hedeby was the hype brand of its day a few years back, but seems to have fallen slightly under the radar of late to such an extent that I have only been relatively peripherally aware of these. There are very few resellers of these pedals nowadays - I could only find LoopersParadise.de which still carry stock - so possibly best to go direct. The main line of pedals here is the super-dynamic and proprietary FET based 'Fetto' series of PreAmps, Overdrives and Distortions - my picks of the range includes the two medium-enclosure dual-footswtich Fetto LaRocca and Fetto Maximus PreAmps. The dual-footswitch compact Fetto Nord+ and Fetto Nord 70+ as well as the Gramps Fuzztortion. The one I've selected above is my most likely target - the very Marshall-sounding Nord 70+
Of the brands featured here - this is probably the one with the most International cachet right at this moment. Obviously most of the pedals here are Björn Juhl designed - with the exception of the Lassi Ukkonen designed Simble / Twimble or sort of Dumble clone - and the first Mad Professor pedal I acquired. I also have the #1 Brown Sound Distortion and Golden Cello Singing Overdrive - which are both fantastic pedals too. There are a great many pedals here of high repute - and I still firmly intend to get the Sweet Honey Overdrive Deluxe at some stage and probably a couple more. For my pedal of choice I selected the very recent and smartly executed Loud'N Proud 'Marshall in a box' + Boost/Fuzz. Generally Mad Professor has you covered for near enough most types of effect bar really high gain applications.
A PCB designer builder who also has a range of 6 uniformly style and assembled pedals - mostly in the area of synthesiser. I featured the 'Into the Unknown Guitar Synthesizer Deluxe' in my recent guitar synth pedal overview, and 'The Arcadiator' is almost all well known as such; I also like the look of the Theremin Fuzz.
Knut Olai has fast become one of the original Kings of Glitch with his Fabrikat and Form 2 pedals. The Form 2 is only really available via BandOrg.no DIY Courses - although there has been one limited run batch assembled too. Generally though you will need to wait patiently for new batches of Fabrikat pedals. Functionality-wise they are pretty much identical while the Fabrikat has 16 core patches/modes, but the Form 2 has 24 - expandable to 32. I thought I would be best off waiting for a Form 2 to come around again in some manner (some do appear on Reverb.com every now and again), but decided that the newer Fabrikat form factor is actually slightly cooler, and 16 classic patches is really plenty enough for now. There's quite a following for a number of these pedals now - including also the Tåken Arrhythmic Delay in particular.
A really cool small range of distinctive pedals all with unique multi-way Varitone tone selector dial. All these pedals have featured quite prominently of late - in particular the DRVA MKII and FU Varitone Fuzz - which has been up and down my wishlist at various times:
This brand seems to have been called Granatguitar at some stage or at least associated with it and sells its pedals mostly via Reverb.com - these are mostly drive and fuzz types with the 1458 Distortion the most recent addition to the range. A compact range of relatively straightforward pedals.
This brand was celebrated in its 70's heyday - named after founder Nils Olof Carlin. Seem there were only 3 pedal to the range - a Compressor, Ring Modulator and Wah-Style Phaser. You can now supposedly get exact replicas courtesy of Moody Sounds - but the serious collectors will still seek out the originals.
My first and only encounter with this brand was courtesy of Effect Boutique which at one stage had a solitary remaining Little Voodoo Fuzz Mini on sale - now long gone. Seems that this small boutique brand is no longer producing in any case - but specialised in Fuzzes when active.
Another supposed classic old Swedish brand with a number of collectors still actively seeking these out - though they appear ever more rarely in the wild - just 3 pedals as far as I'm aware, not that different from Carlin therefore - a Distortion, PreAmp and Woodpecker Fet Overdrive:
A cool compact range of 4 pedals - including the impressive looking tube-powered Cat'o'Dyne Matamp replicator PreAmp - not much else to say here:
Another fairly basic / utilitarian range of pedals - Treble Boosters, Overdrives and an A/B/Y switcher. Could really do with a little more distinctive branding one way or another.
An actually pretty decent range of 12 pedals - mostly Fuzzes but with a certain degree of polish and uniformity. Website could do with some improvement - but the various pedals on offer are pretty cool.
Moody Sounds is a fairly interesting proposition - a retailer for various DIY/Kit pedals - including BYOC, as well as it's own line of assembled pedals and Carlin replicas. The Moody pedals mostly have a distinctive triangle motif, and while many pedals here are fairly vanilla - they also carry the more interesting Strange Devil Expression, Mushroon Eye and Noise Generator boxes.
A musician who also does a compact range of pedals which cleverly utilise the LED within the pedal name. A Boost, a Drive and a Fuzz Face type Fuzz.
Obviously principally a high end amp maker with a simple range of relatively simple Boost and Drive Pedals.
A range of 6 pretty distinct medium enclosure pedals with common styling and sort of racing stripe - mostly Bass Guitar effects with more universal Envelope Filter and Tremolo.
One of the more formidable ranges of Scandinavian pedals - with plenty of options in each category and uniform lighting flash styling - which could probably still do with some refinement, while these pedals are quite easily and distinctly identifiable. These are almost all Mini Pedals - and really cool within that category.
A pretty distinct mostly monochromatic designed range of Drive and Fuzz pedals here - sufficiently apart from the typical norm of vanilla-style clones.
A well-received brand at its time, known for Björn Juhl collaborations - not sure how heavily he was involved overall, but I was certainly involved in the most popular one here - the First Echo on the Moon modified EHX Memory Man:
A fairly significant range of medium box clones with engraved steel facia plates. A little bit vintage looking with chicken-head knobs etc. Some of these make sense - while I'm not sure there is a benefit in an identical but larger OCD clone?
As compact a range we have encountered - 2 elegant medium enclosure pedals with colour-coded facia places - one Boost/Overdrive and one Overdrive/Distortion
An intriguing brand which I'm not sure is still active - I was able to find a fair few of these in circulation on different sites - a quite broad range of really fairly creative pedals all-round
Scandinavia obviously has a rich musical heritage - in particular Sweden and Norway with a number of Internationally successful Pop, Electronic and Metal/Rock bands in particular. It follows that the supporting music industries would be strong - and while Denmark is the hotbed of pedal-building activity with a very high density of internationally important brands - the rest of Scandinavia is not lagging too far behind - including Sweden overall and the mighty powerhouse of Björn Juhl and Mad Professor.
Björn Juhl pedals were some of the first effects I got properly into - they have a certain dynamic feel to them which typifies their creator's approach. And I feel that Himmelstrutz has a similar sort of lively and open dynamic which elevates those pedals above the typical rank and file ones.
I really don't buy pedals by nationality though - I'm pretty agnostic as to where the pedals are conceived and made - I'm just interested in innovation and quality. Of course price and availability are significant factors - and it's more convenient to buy pedals out of Europe - while overall probably most of my pedals come from the USA understandably - and I have no qualms about buying pedals from further afield - including Japan, Singapore and New Zealand.
As mentioned I'm a fan of most of these brands and would happily buy from any of those listed - most likely acquisition though would be something from Himmelstrutz, and more from Mad Professor and Fabrikat.
I feel that even with more and more digital modelling pedals - AxeFX, Line 6, Headrush, Boss GT-1000 and the like there is still plenty of room for these individual stompboxes - there is no substitute really for instantly visibly cues and precise hands-on tweaking - although more could do with a digital control-layer alongside onboard footswitchable presets!