The Roberto-Venn Guitar Effect Pedal Series is journey into analog effect pedals taught over five weekends. The student may elect to attend the entire series or individual weekend seminars. Each weekend seminar consists of twenty hours of instruction including a lecture on Friday evenings followed by hands-on training on Saturday and Sunday.
An introductory seminar in basic electronics is the first in the series. All students take this seminar to acquire the electronics knowledge required for success in the following seminars. The student will be given a list of tools to purchase for this class that will be used in all other pedal classes.
The second seminar in the series covers the famous Dallas Rangemaster treble-boost pedal. This pedal underpinned the guitar sound on John Mayall’s album Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. It also created the tone of other legendary guitarists such as Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore and Queen’s Brian May. Not only is the Rangemaster an iconic effect, but it introduces an important building block transistor circuit. Understanding this circuit makes it easier to understand the more complicated circuits used in the other pedals in the series. It is strongly recommended that all students take this class before the others.
The third class in the series introduces the famous Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face used by Jimi Hendrix. Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour also used this pedal, driven by a boost pedal to create his famous sustain, on Dark Side of the Moon.
In the fourth class the student will build a replica of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi. David Gilmour used the “BMP” on every album from Animals forward. But his guitar solo on Comfortably Numb is the archetype of his BMP sound. Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins is also a famous BMP user.
The final class covers a phase shift pedal. This pedal differs from the previous classes in two ways. First, this is the students’ introduction into time-based effects. It also introduces operational amplifiers, which are the basis of many advanced pedals including the Ibanez Tube Screamer. Two of the most famous songs featuring a phase shifter are Van Halen’s Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love and the Isley Bothers’ tune Whose That Lady. Country artist Waylon Jennings was also famous for using a phase shifter.
While it’s possible to purchase a kit yourself and assemble it for about half the cost of the class, the experience of learning from an expert in the field is worth the additional cost. Instructor led learning will eliminate the confusion that comes from trying to build with nothing more than a schematic and a wiring diagram. And you will leave class with an actual understanding of how your pedal works!
Jim Kramer is an electrical engineer with more than twenty-five years in the industry. He specializes in circuit design and firmware development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Ottawa University. He has worked for such companies as Qualcomm and Intel. Jim was trained on vacuum tube electronics in the United States Marine Corps where he worked on air traffic control radar systems that still contained tubes and discrete transistors as late as the 1970’s.
Jim is a trained musician with both a jazz and classical background. He studied music at Scottsdale and Mesa Community Colleges in Arizona where he played upright bass, violin and trumpet in various jazz ensembles and orchestras. His favorite guitars are the Gibson ES-175 and J-45. He loves JJ vacuum tubes because they are named after his hero, J. J. Thompson, who discovered the electron.