For the past few decades, Ivan Richards has been serving the audio community with high quality custom builds and mods, centred around pedals, guitar amps, switch boxes and power supplies. Ivan’s pedals and amps have graced many a studio and stage around the country, and as such, his gear has developed a cult following among many guitarists. We took a closer look at two of Mr Richards’ pedals, both possessing their own innate charm and ability.
Ivan Richards has been a revered local pedal and amp builder for decades and two of his pedals – the Rich Blues and Rich Fuzz – are prime examples of his audio wizardry.
The Rich Blues pedal offers colours ranging from subtle boosting, through to grunty distortion. The three controls – level, tone and drive are well set across the handsome yet utilitarian face of the stompbox, making it very easy to dial in a great tone in seconds.
Just cranking up the level and leaving tone and drive at zero stills yields a subdued drive, which is definitely useful for getting clean guitars to stand up in the mix with additional bite. For the tone pot, the “zero” description is perhaps a little misleading. It would be more accurate to compare it to the tone control on a guitar. All the way down is woofy, and all the way up is very bright.
The drive feels very well weighted – it never really gets out of control, even at full bore. The real gold lies in all the in-between sounds that can be conjured up, which underscores its versatility in the studio.
The Rich Fuzz goes much deeper into dirt territory. Again, it’s a very simple three-pot affair with level, tone, and instead of the the Rich Blues drive control, sustain is added to the mix.
Tonally, this pedal sounds more extreme by virtue of its heightened gain structure and the introduction of a lot of harmonic distortion. Thus, when the level is up, and the tone and sustain controls are at their lowest level, it sounds very thin. So, the approach to pulling sounds with this pedal needs to be imaginative. At it “cleaner” edge, the tone can be honky, so some interesting lead guitar lines can be created. Winding the tone up settles things down a tad and it resembles a more traditional distortion.
The sustain lengthens the distortion – all the way and you can have crunch for days. This pedal is perhaps less useful for stock sounds, but that is clearly not its intention. If you want that fuzzy cut-through on signature guitar (or even bass) riffs, this pedal has got it in spades.
Both these pedals are examples of a strong commitment to craftsmanship. The fact that an independent manufacturer can have such a strong following is testament to his consistency and exacting standards.