Friday, May 13, 2011

Interview with Brian From Small Sound / Big Sound!

Smallsound/Bigsound effects is a hyper rad custom/small batch pedal company based out of Philadelphia, PA.  They make killer fuzz/OD/glitchy weird pedals for guitar and bass, like the Team Awesome! Fuzz Machine!  Also, look out for the new Mountain Range boost / OD coming soon!

1. What is your name, where are you from and what do you do?

My name is Brian Hamilton and I live in Philadelphia, PA, where it's always sunny!  I run a little operation named smallsound/bigsound where i design, build and obsess over effects pedals.  I also play keyboards in a super band named Cymbals Eat Guitars!

2. Tell us a little more about yourself?

In high school, I dated a girl whose father owned/operated a pedal/string company.  We went out, then broke up for awhile, then got back together again in our junior year.  Sadly, during that interim period of about 2 years, her father passed away and her family sold the business.  I just started playing piano around the time we started going out again and as her mother saw my growing musical interest, she offered me some of the pedals, etc. that were just lying around in their basement.  I respectfully declined them; and why not?  I was serious about becoming a jazz musician and i had no idea how/why i would even use a guitar pedal.  Yeah.

3. How did you acquire your craft/art? 

I was in college (Berklee School of Music) studying performance and synthesis, so a lot of my core knowledge of signal flow and sonic manipulation came from studying sound design.  After I finished school I started getting interested in analog circuitry, effects pedals and circuit bending.  I worked at a coffee shop at the time and met a Northeastern University electrical engineering professor who really helped me a lot with electronics basics.  I actually got my first fuzz pedal working in one of the school labs!  Also, my great friend Jordan Levantini, who fixed studio consoles and tube amps was a real mentor to me - I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for him.  Either of them... they were really just so supportive.  I read a LOT, asked a lot of questions and wasn't afraid to make mistakes starting out.  My first projects were overly ambitious and really helped me learn a lot of things that one should NOT do.

4. What inspires you?

Sound as an object in and of itself.  I know that probably sounds pretty pretentious... oh well.

5. What is your creative process?

I draw lots of little pictures, block diagrams, mock up effect ideas using software effects in ableton live or logic.  I have lots of little piles of paper in the shop that are organized in a really weird way and probably just look like trash to most people.  I also talk to myself about new ideas and projects like a crazy person; not exactly yelling or anything like that, but I do get excitable.

6. What do you find to be the secret to your success?

It's most likely appreciative and supportive people who spread the word.  Though it may also be the chest hair...

7. Where are you now in your creative business and where will you be in the future?

I'm trying very hard to make sure things grow at the right pace for myself, for my customers and for my retailers.  I'm not really interested in complacency, but also don't want to overextend myself... I think I'm exactly where I should be and hope to still be where I should be in the future!  That all sounds weirdly cryptic.

8. Any words of wisdom to share with fellow artist/crafters?

Treat others as you would like to be treated and try not to take yourself too seriously.

9. What is your most favorite build so far?

I really love the fuck overdrive.  I left it at the shop before our last band rehearsal and noticed just how much I use it in the set and how integral it is to my sound.

10. Why do you love doing what you do (what fuels the fire)?

I can't put into words how I feel when when someone is inspired or excited by something I've built for them...

11. Shameless advertising = Win. We want all your info!


  1. awesome interview with one of my favorite builders!

    Charter Member Of The Brian Hamilton Chest Hair Fan Club.

  2. My dad would have thought your pedals were really cool :)