On a recent Thursday morning, I went to the new headquarters of TSVG, the boutique effects pedal company that relocated from West Philadelphia to the Fairmount neighborhood a few weeks ago. “Headquarters” is actually the home of Mike Klein, the pedal designer who founded TSVG in 2011. He has two designated workspaces in his new home, one in a small spare bedroom, and the other in the basement. Making pedals is now Klein’s full-time job, but he claims there aren’t any plans to move TSVG into a larger, separate workshop.
“I really don’t need any more room than I already have,” explains Klein while standing in his kitchen. “It’s not like there are a bunch of people working in here. It’s just me and sometimes one other person. I eat my breakfast, and then I go downstairs and start making pedals. That’s what my days are like now.”
Klein’s living room is doubling as a conference room this morning. On top of his coffee table are the six pedals TSVG is currently pushing: a fuzz box called the Angry Jeff; the Emperor, an overdrive pedal; two boost pedals called Hard Stuff (one designed specifically for basses, the other for guitars); a 1960s/70s-inspired fuzz pedal called Keystone Fuzz; and the Red Eye, an overdrive pedal TSVG’s website describes as “perfect for living out your ‘Arena Rock’ fantasy.”
Sitting around the table with Klein are his high school pal Perry Shall, whose artwork appears on all of the pedals, and Yamil Emedan, a longtime friend who has recently become Klein’s apprentice. All three of them are pedal-junkies who play in local bands. Shall’s in Dry Feet, Emedan is in Can You Canoe and Tortuga, and both Klein and Shall are in Hound. As you might expect, they all use TSVG pedals.
“I’ve played a million boost pedals before, but these are the first ones that actually work,” says Shall, who admits he’s incredibly biased. “Most boost pedals just don’t boost. I play loud music all the time, and these pedals really explode, man!”
Shall’s not alone. Among the musicians currently using TSVG pedals are Best Coast’s Bobb Bruno, Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster, Circa Survive’s Brendan Ekstrom and Philadelphia guitarist Nick Millevoi, of Many Arms. “The Hard Stuff pushes my tone into some seriously aggressive territory,” says Millevoi. “I’ve never used another pedal that’s able to overdrive my amp in this way. The fact that it’s hand-wired point-to-point is a serious bonus. I think it gives them a vintage tone you won’t find on any pedal that was built from a circuit board.” Continue reading