My readers will know that I’ve featured Joe’s Pedals a fair few number of times on this site - in reference to where I acquired several of my own pedals from. My first introduction to said boutique was in search of Marc Ahlfs’ Skreddy Pedals. In fact 5 of my 8 Skreddy’s have come from Joe’s and I would have gotten more had those been in stock when I needed them - such is always the luck of the draw with pedal acquisitions - in that you cannot always get everything you want from the one source. So my original check-in as such was Skreddy, and the most recent foray has been for Buffalo FX - whose future remains somewhat in flux currently since Steve Painter was taken ill a couple of months ago.
In between Skreddy and Buffalo I’ve acquired a variety of pedals ranging from Bearfoot FX (also going through some changes), Blackout Effectors (now defunct), Dr Scientist, Electronic Audio Experiments, Lone Wolf Audio and Subdecay - most of which still remain mainstay brands at Joe’s Pedals.
The 'Joe' of Joe's Pedals is of course long-term guitar industry veteran Joe Light - who originally cut his teeth at the No.6 Denmark Street 'Vintage and Rare Guitars' store - which currently houses 'NO.TOM Vintage & Classic Guitars'. Joe worked at said store from circa 2000-2010 and in-between also toured with a couple of 4AD-signed bands - Cuba, and Mojave3 - the latter of which I recall well for their Twin-Peaks / Julee Cruise-like number 'Love Songs on the Radio!'.
At 'Vintage and Rare Guitars' Joe was given the freedom to explore new revenue streams for the business - and his pedal retail journey as such started when he came across the tweed-covered Homebrew Electronics Power Screamer online (as pictured above). Joe contacted Joel Weaver of Homebrew Electronics about getting some stock in of the Power Screamer to sell in-store, after having purchased one personally from Musictoyz, this was around 2002. Those pedals sounded great and sold really quickly - marking the start of the Boutique pedal market in the UK.
Over the following years Joe then brought the following brands into the store :
Pedals in general continued to sell well, while the main guitar business started to falter. Throughout 2010 the success of the pedal department was not quite enough to balance the debts being accrued in other areas. When Joe returned from Paternity leave in June of 2010 he was informed that the store no longer had the means to pay his salary. He continued to be loosely associated with the shop as a commission-only 'Pedal Consultant' until the business finally wound down a few weeks later. Note that 'Vintage and Rare Guitars' in Bath is still in operation and under new ownership.
Joe had obviously been the main person instrumental in establishing the contacts with all the pedal builders and getting said pedals established at the store - so when he moved on from Denmark Street it kind of made sense to continue down that road. Two of Joe's friends at the time - Dan and Brian - kind of talked him into setting up Joe's Pedals - near the tail-end of 2010. The Dan in question being none other than pedal hero Dan Steinhardt of That Pedal Show and TheGigRig fame! 'Joe's Pedals' was established late in 2010, and the web-store as such was open for business early in 2011.
Because of Joe's solid work at 'Vintage and Rare Guitars' he had cultivated strong relationships with most of those brands and so when Joe's Pedals was established, he was able to bring a lot of the more significant ones across with him and add a few more.
At the time when Joe's Pedals Web Store went live on 3rd February 2011 - there were 15 brands in stock :
In running a Boutique pedal store there are of course numerous factors which impact on which brands are supported and sold. Obviously certain brands come and go, others for whatever reason fail to gain traction - which is often a question of timing. While a significant factor for Joe is also competition with the bigger mainstream stores. This means for instance when other larger mainstream stores like say Andertons and GAK started stocking brands - let's say Earthquaker Devices for sake of a relevant example - then it became unviable for Joe to carry said brand/s - as any promotion would mean that sales more likely went to the bigger stores with a larger presence and bigger marketing budgets - so that when prospective customers searched for those pedals - Google would rather guide them to Andertons and GAK. This in turn meant that Joe has had to continually make strategic decisions along the way, and why for several brands he is the sole UK Dealer. By the end of 2011 - Joe had 28 brands in stock.
Over the years certain brands became unviable for the variety of reasons mentioned already and we saw brands like Blackout Effectors (Musket Fuzz), El Musico Loco (Wee Beaver Fuzz), Faustone (Fuzz Unit), Lightfoot Labs (Goatkeeper Tremolo), and PiggyFX (SchweineFleisch Fuzz) pass into history.
All the while Joe's Pedals has continued to expand and thrive and now covers circa 65 brands!
Joe is pretty unique in stocking the pedals of the 3 UK 'Fuzz Lords' as I call them - Stu Castledine, David Main / D*A*M / Emanating Fist Electronics and Steve Williams / Pigdog Pedals. And unless you're properly sharp you might not even be aware of the small-batch runs which appear and disappear almost immediately at fairly random intervals. Joe also stocks Ian Sherwen / Ghost Effects who is often associated with the more established big 3 Fuzz luminaries.
The Brand List as such therefore is constantly in flux - depending on what is in stock, what is incoming, and what is on the way out. Joe also deals with trade-ins, and there's a healthy Used Pedals section on the site. Joe also has a Reverb.com Store where he sells pedals that have been phased out from the main store.
So as of right about now there are around 65 or so brands with 360+ individual pedal varieties all-in-all.
I kind of break the brands down into a system of 3 tiers - Full-Range, Partial, and Selection - where Full-Range denotes by and large the complete current range is stocked as much as is possible, Partial means a significant part of the range is stocked, and Selection means just a few varieties.
Key Current Brands ordered by number of pedal varieties stocked and degree of range coverage :
You should also be aware that there are always new and exciting pedals incoming on a regular basis - and since many of those are made in small-batch operations they appear and disappear rather quickly. So it's worth keeping an eye on the Joe's Pedals Instagram and Facebook pages. For instance right now there is a batch of the rare French VL Effects incoming - including the celebrated Bullit Od-oNe Overdrive. I'm told there's also a very interesting batch of a unique custom D*A*M pedals- due some time in the next few months.
Historically the Klon KTR Overdrive has been the best sold pedal on the site overall, while Dr Scientist is the most consistent selling brand. The most expensive pedal ever sold on the site was an original and very unusual John Hornby Skewes I.V variety - in fact the only one I've ever heard of - where a proper Zonk II enclosure contained 2 x Mullard OC75 Black Glass Transistors - where the original Zonk I had A02650 + OC75 + OC44 - and you would have expected to find actually two Silicon 2N4061's inside a Zonk II box. Understandably therefore this very unique specimen sold for a lofty $2,500 back in 2011!
Joe and I together carefully selected 12 of the best brands that best represented the store - and from within them a leading ambassador pedal to represent the very best of each of those brands - either a current classic or all-time bona-fide classic! As follows, listed alphabetically by brand :
The venerable Pharaoh Fuzz is one of those all-time classic Muff variants - hugely versatile - but largely based on a Ram's Head style circuit. You get 6 controls - with 4 knobs - Tone, High, Fuzz and Volume, and two toggle-switches - Lo/Hi Gain Structure and GE/SI Diode Clipping. Massive sounding beautifully balanced fuzz with extended range - certainly one of my favourites - although I have this in its more compact Son of Pharaoh format - exactly the same circuit just smaller. The original BB version still seems to outsell the more practical pedalboard-friendly version - go figure. I so like this pedal that I've already determined that I will get the slightly even more versatile green Pharaoh Supreme version - when that is back in stock!
The 15 BAT pedals currently stocked by Joe's Pedals are:
The Ge Spot is a hugely controllable and well-behaved / exemplary Germanium Fuzz Face variant and the lead choice here. Achieve ultimate Germanium Fuzz mastery with 3 controls - Volume, Fuzz and Bias. This brand often falls under the radar for some, but it's quality has been consistent all these years - and is one of Joe's best performing long-term brands. The brand is probably still best known for its 'Marc F'n Ford' Overdrive - while for me it's the well calibrated fuzzes here that are the stars. I personally have my eye on the Ge Spot, High Roller Distortion and Purple Nurple essentially Fuzzy-Drive - you can't go wrong with any of those - and all very reasonably priced!
Joe currently stocks 19 BMF Effects :
Still the best selling Buffalo is Steve Painter's more controllable take on the BK Butler Tube Driver - with its 4 finely calibrated controls - Lo, Hi, Gain and Level. I myself have been going through a bit of a Buffalo FX phase these days - despite the current questionable future of the brand. I was one of the 100 who pre-ordered the now apparently aborted Reticon Flanger from Steve. In anticipation of that I acquired 3 Buffalo FX pedals from Joe - the Carrera Overdrive, Evolution Distortion and Patriot MKII Civil War Style Muff. I was in two minds as to whether to go for the TD-X (slightly more scooped) or the Carrera (mids-boosted) where Bjørn Riis describes the Carrera as a more modern take essentially on the same sort of circuit as the TD-X. I really like all 3 of my Buffalos and have more on the wishlist - with the M-1 likely up next while I'm also trying to chase down the discontinued Germanium Fuzz (FF) and Supa Driver (CS PB+) pedals by any means necessary!
The 7 pedals within the current Buffalo range stocked are :
I'm a self-avowed massive fan of Ryan and Tanya Clarke's Dr Scientist pedals and have 4 such in my collection - the BitQuest, Dusk, Elements and Frazz Dazzler. In fact the Frazz Dazzler is probably still my favourite Fuzz pedal of all time - and it's currently still rooted to my board / pedal-chain alongside the recent Dusk Dynamic Filter. Joe and I selected the superb BitQuest here which is such a unique pedal - and where you can use it either as an extended 8-mode Multi-FX unit - with 6 controls, or a more interesting Fuzz-Modulator - where it combines those modulations with an opamp / BMP style fuzz. The Atmosphere is also probably still the very best compact enclosure Reverb workstation - a shame for me though that it isn't stereo. All these pedals are next-level innovative and I personally would heartily recommend each and every one.
Joe stocks all 7 of the current Dr Scientist range :
Fuzzrocious are best known for their many custom iterations of each pedal - so you need to double-check which edition of each pedal you're getting. They're probably best known overall for their Cat King / Tail Rat-style pedals and Feed Me Multi-Clipper / Tone-Shaper. While our choice for ambassador pedal this time around is the really clever combined Analog and Digital Knob Jawn Octaver. It's a pedal I've recommended to several readers, and have long intended to get one for myself eventually. I also really like the Feed Me / LunaReclipse style pedals and of course those Cat Tail BB-size fuzzes - I just need to wait for Joe to get the right version of that in - with as many knobs and switches as possible!
Joe stocks the full range of Fuzzrocious pedals which currently includes these 17 examples :
Hungry Robot specialises in really cool Lofi Ambient Modulated Effects - with a number of Delays and Reverbs in the range in particular. One of the standouts is obviously the Wardenclyffe sort of wobbly filter chorus which I've featured on the site before. It can be viewed as fairly adjacent to the Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water - while I prefer the format factor and overall aspect of the Wardenclyffe - definitely one to consider - with its 8 controls. The Borderland, Karman Line and Moby Dick are also particularly stand-out.
Joe covers the full range of 11 Hungry Robot pedals :
Our key selection here is the Goatkeeper Polyrhythmic Dual Pattern Sequential 2-Stage Tremolo - which is a significantly evolved and compacted version from the Lightfoot Labs original - which essentially handed over guardianship of their beloved circuit to Malekko. Malekko's version is a much neater compact take on the circuit - which I featured in a head-to-head against the Subdecay Tremcoder which exists in a similar plane! Malekko have always been something of a leftfield choice - they certainly do things their own way largely - apart from their two best-known pedals now this Goatkeeper and the B:Assmaster which are both borrowed circuits largely as such. I've featured Malekko a lot on my site, but to date I've only acquired their now discontinued Omicron Mini Fuzz (Superfuzz).
Joe carries the full range of Malekko pedals with 12 varieties currently in stock :
My favourite Joe's Pedals stocked brand to date - where I've also acquired the most specimens, or 5 in total from Joe - the BC109 Fuzz, BC239 Ram's Head BMP Fuzz, Lunar Module Mini Deluxe Gilmourish Fuzz, Screwdriver Mini Deluxe Overdrive and Top Fuel Distortion. I have also in fact acquired 3 from other sources - a Mayonaise MKII Triangle BMP Fuzz, a Hybrid Fuzz Driver, and P19 Ram's Head BMP Fuzz. I love all those and I'm a huge fan of Skreddy - with still a few more to get on my wishlist, including the discontinued Zero Distortion. The very Gilmourish Lunar Module Mini Deluxe is a perfect ambassador for Skreddy - replicating as it does via 3 x BC109 Transistors - Dave Gilmour's tone from the 'Time' song off Dark Side of the Moon. Mr Skreddy - Marc Ahlfs himself is considered the master of the Big Muff circuits and I have several of his fine varieties.
Joe stocks all the current range including these 21 varieties :
I've been a fan for Stone Deaf FX for a long while, but can't necessarily abide some of their over-sized enclosures. The only pedal I have to date from Stone Deaf is the amazing slightly more slimline Tremotron - while the Syncopy Modulatd Analog Delay follows a similar format. When those two emerged I thought Luke Hilton would proceed with compacting the enclosure sizes of the other pedals in the range - so I could finally get the Fig Fumb Muff Fuzz and say PDF 1/2 in my preferred form factor. This has not happened though and I feel that some of those great sounding pedals are just a little larger than they need to be - I think Luke would sell a lot more if he brought them down to Tremotron and Syncopy size. The Tremotron is just a beautiful sounding analog tremolo with tonnes of wave-shape variety, and really clever controls where you can set up two different tremolo patterns to run together. You can moreover then save those onto the 4 footswitchable presets which is equally ingenious. The stars of the show for me are definitely the Tremotron and Syncopy - I really like the Fig Fumb and PDF-1X too - but don't like their over-sized enclosures, nor am I overly enamoured with the artwork of the final PDF-1X (while the limited edition was great). There is no doubt that these are very fine sounding pedals - and they mostly overcome some of their inherent quirks. Note also that weirdly the best ever Tremotron demo by Stefan Fast of ThePedalZone is no longer live (v. strange!).
Joe stocks the full range of Stone Deaf FX pedals which currently numbers 8 :
Subdecay is another brand I've long loved, and while I've acquired a few along the way - I should probably have more by now as they're somewhat growing on my ever-expanding wishlist backlog. There are so many cool pedals in this range - I feel that the Synth-style pedals are all fantastic - the M3 Monophonic Oscillator Synthesizer, Octasynth and Octave Theory - which are all on my wishlist alongside the recent Tremcoder Tap-Tempo Pattern Tremolo. The Quasar Phaser and Starlight Flanger have also long been many players' favourite modulations within their categories - so Joe and I decided that the Starlight would be a suitable ambassador. Interestingly the Quasar is 4th generation, while the Starlight is just a V2. Subdecay do so much right - down to the compact format factor and simple and intuitive controls. They could probably do with catching up with the second tap-tempo footswitch trend but that's about the only criticism you could level at these. Just really smart and well engineered now mostly digital effects pedals.
Joe stocks the full range of 18 pedals :
So our featured pedal from within this range is another great Germanium Fuzz Face style Fuzz - which can go head-to head with the BMF Ge Spot - which sports Volume + Fuzz + Bias, while the Fuzz Haze sports Level + Fuzz + Pre Gain Switch which allows you to temper the Fuzz gain structure. ThroBak has a very compact range - alongside also the Strange Master Treble Booster, Stone Bender MKII Fuzz, and the V2 Overdrive Boost (CS Power Boost). I've actually been after the V1 variety of the ThroBak Overdrive Boost for the longest time - which comes in vertical format, but minus the Pre Gain second footswitch - which is instead rendered as a side-mounted toggle - a case of where the newer one has the better feature set, but the older one is in a more convenient form factor. I'm secretly hoping Throbak eventually copy Zvex and do another / newer Vertical edition!
Joe stocks all 4 ThroBak pedals :
Tru-Fi is actually the brainchild of Teddy Rasch of Musictoyz - who happens to be the very first person Joe contacted at the start of his pedal adventures - when seeking out an HBE Power Screamer. Teddy has crafted a brand of colourful vintage-style unique enclosure pedals - just a touch over-sized and quite distinct in their looks. These have been perennial bestsellers at Joe's Pedals and there are regular new limited edition sparkling artwork editions - in fact one such batch is due to land sometime this week / next week as far as I understand. The Colordriver seems to be the most obvious ambassador here as that consistently sells well, while the Rat Pack format also seems to be having some success of late. You need to keep an eye out for special and limited editions as the cooler ones tend to disappear really quickly.
Joe stocks the full range of Tru-Fi Pedals - which amounts to circa 18 currently (notably often with different editions / variants of each!) :
It's always fascinating how these tings come together - and how I ended up being inspired and influenced by Skreddy Pedals initially - which in turn led me through to Joe's Pedals. Actually another interesting factor here is that Joe Light is not only the main and sole UK dealer for many of these brands - he's also the UK distributor for a few of them - including Dr Scientist - another of my favourite brands - which I actually only fairly latterly realised was stocked by Joe's Pedals. Indeed I acquired my recent Dusk Dynamic Filter from Joe - but alas not the other 3. In any case I think Joe was long sold out of the Gold Bar Elements variant which is the one I was chasing down at the time.
So there is fair amount of luck and timing and serendipity here - but it has turned out that Joe's Pedals has been quite a significant resource for me and will undoubtedly remain so with all these formidable builders and pedals on the roster.
I am personally still after a few more Skreddy's including the discontinued Zero Distortion, I have a few more Buffalo FX still to secure - and have several of these featured pedals on by wishlist backlog. Joe and I largely agreed on the pedal selections here - while I would have possibly preferred to have listed the more compact BAT Son of Pharaoh - where I'm further looking to secure a Pharaoh Supreme one of these days when that is back in stock!
Of those featured pedals that I don't have - the Ge Spot, TD-X, Knob Jawn and Wardenclyffe in particular stand out for me. I've long been considering a Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water, but now think I would probably prefer the Wardenclyffe instead.
I also really want one of the new DryBell The Engine Preamps - and possibly a BMF Purple Nurple too. It's dangerous really going through this exercise for me and gaining so much of a better understanding of the context and capabilities of all these pedals. There are certainly a few years' worth of targets here and as I keep saying - new ones coming in all the time.
Joe Light himself is an endless source of pedal knowledge and I will undoubtedly do more follow-ups on a similar theme - but obviously not in quite so much detail.
All current pedals featured here are available on the Joe's Pedals Web Store - while some may by temporarily out of stock when this article goes live!