For a musician it can be a feat to bring an imagined sound to reality – Nate Wells of Neon Effects does just that. Through the creation of hand crafted pedals uniquely painted in different designs.
“When I started playing music I wanted to sound like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd – that’s what I really wanted, you know? So I searched it up and it’s a fuzz pedal sound I was searching for and it’s a Silicon Fuzz and I thought I need one of those,” recalls Nate. “I went to get one and I didn’t have enough money and I went home disappointed.”
But Nate’s story of perfected sound doesn’t end there. If you can’t buy it, make it as they say and that’s exactly what he did. Goofing around at school and paying more attention to his phone, Nate kept looking at images of fuzz pedals and he came across an electrical schematic. With a knack for DIY, he thought to himself he could probably make a good fuzz. When he returned home from school, he spent all the money he had on the parts to create his first pedal.
“It actually worked the first time and I was blown away by how good it sounded, and how much it sounded like Live at Pompeii. I was hooked. I brought it to school the next day and showed it to a more experienced guy in my music class and he loved it and asked if I could build him one and it all went downhill from there.”
Neon Effects was born and Nate found a passion in pedals. He liked being in the workshop developing the sound customers wanted to produce, taking his time with the pieces to perfect them. Each Neon Effects pedal has a different design – most of them marked with a brightly swirl-dipped painting.
“I was looking for an alternative way to get paint onto the pedals because it can’t be boring right? It kind of looks like those bowling balls and psychedelic artwork and I loved it,” said the musician. “I thought at first, there is no way in hell this will work but the first time it came out amazing and I painted a few and was blown away by how cool it looked. It’s like a fluke but I thought it’s a fun look, it’s unique. It’s not easy to do but it’s something I can do and it’s now kind of my signature thing.”
Neon Effects pedals are distinctly trademarked by their standout swirl and bright colours – colours reflected in the company’s name which came directly from the periodic table. To refer back to the table of elements, Nate’s pedals are titled Mercury and Lithium to name a few.
Custom pedals can be ordered from Nate himself and some are found at O’Brien’s Music on Water Street – where Nate’s own Pop bought guitar strings.
“They have been really good to me and it’s a lovely little store with great people working there. I used to go down there and pick up a guitar and play for hours.”
What started as a high school work around for an affordable sound, is now an enjoyable pastime for Nate. He has created nearly 250 pedals and built pedals for the band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
Nate keeps his process old school, wiring them the way pedals used to be wired – delivering a truly original sound – and that’s why Nate keeps plugging away and he absolutely loves creating them.
“It truly has been a defining thing for me. I spent a lot of my time doing pedals – it’s hard to describe why but it’s been the thing that I’ve gravitated towards.”