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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are there any retailers or distributors that carry your products?

A: Due to overhead costs and low volume production, we aren't currently in the position to offer the types of wholesale discounts that most retailers expect in order to turn a decent profit.  We are looking at ways to increase production and lower costs in the future, and we will do so as long as we can maintain the level of quality and service our customers have come to expect.  Once we've made that transition, we'll be in a better position to begin working with retailers and distributors.

Q: Will you be building pedals that combine multiple effects?

A: That depends on the effect family.  I have put a compressor and limiter together and have plans to put a couple of different types of distortions together, but I won’t put a compressor and distortion together.  After playing bass guitar for several local bands over the years, I found my tastes for different types of effects were constantly changing (especially with distortions).  Of the multi-effects that I have owned, I found that a few of the effects were good and usable, but usually there was only one sound in the multi-effect that I really liked and used.  So, the pedals that I design will be of one effect family with extended versatility to suite your tastes.

Q: It's difficult to see the position of the knobs in certain lighting, how can I fix this?

A: I had the same problem with seeing the pointer on the knobs. Originally I used a toothpick with black nail polish to fill in the pointer notch. I also thought about using glow in the dark model paint. Later on, I found that using an ultra fine point Sharpie marker fits perfectly in the notch and is a simple fix.

Q: Why so many control knobs on the Dual Band Optical Compressor?

A: On the proto-types that I built, I wanted to have full control of the compressors parameters just like the rack units that I was use to.  I don’t think that there is a “one size fits all” when it comes to compressor attack and release times and I also like having the crossover frequency adjustable. To have all of these parameters adjustable required 5 knobs each for both the low and high band compressors and a knob for the variable crossover frequency.

Q: What is optical compression?

A: Optical compressors use a photocell (photo-resistive cell) and a light source projected onto the photocell to vary the value of resistance inversely proportional to the light intensity.  This varying resistance is used to attenuate the audio signal.  Optical compression is still favored by many recording studios for bass guitar, piano and bass drums. Optical compression also makes your live sound tighter and punchier so you hold your spot in the mix.

Q: Do you use silver solder?

A: I do not use silver solder.  Silver solder only contains approximately 3-4% silver and the rest is tin.  Silver solder has jumped into the spotlight due to the RoHS (removal of hazardous substances) directive in Europe.  There are several exemptions to RoHS to allow the use of leaded solder.  Electronic devices that need to have extremely high reliability, such as military devices, are exempt from RoHS.  Thus, I will continue to use the leaded solder until I absolutely have to switch to the tin/silver solder.

Q: Do you modify or repair stomp boxes?

A: I have repaired or modified several stomp boxes for my friends throughout the years, but at this time I am only working on the design and building of FEA products.  In case there is a failure with an FEA product, I will make the repairs. There are many places on the Internet that can repair or modify your other stomp boxes.

Q: Will you be offering “clones” of vintage stomp boxes?

A: No. There are many boutique builders that offer the clones of some favorite pedals.  The clones that I have seen are claimed to be better than the original because of better parts and build techniques.  My focus is on original design and professional quality sound gear.

Q: Do your pedals have blue LED’s?

A: Yes.  I remember the first blue LED’s that I purchased back in the early 90’s for a project that I was designing.  I needed an indicator that could be easily identified from a distance and the blue LED’s had just hit the market.  At that time, I paid 5 or 6 dollars each for the blue LED’s in quantities of ten. After the project was complete I had a couple of blue LED’s left over and I installed one in my old distortion pedal. It looked very cool.  I now only use the blue LED as an indicator to tell when the pedal is active (on or off). I use red, green and yellow LED’s to indicate other functions on the pedals.

Q: How long have you been making effects?

A: FEA Labs was born in 2007. But, I have been repairing, designing and building effects and pre-amplifiers for friends and myself since the mid 80’s.

Q: What does FEA mean?

A: FEA is my name, Frank E. Appleton.