Looking at Steven Oder—long hair, longer sideburns—it’s no wonder he makes electric guitar pedals based on the sound made famous in the late 1960s and 1970s. Oder had used pedals while playing bass in local country rock group Frontier Folk Nebraska, but it was after he took a course in electronics at Northern Kentucky University in 2009 that he decided to make his own.
“I’ve always been a fan of fuzz,” he says, referring to the style of distortion made famous by the Rolling Stones in “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” After Keith Richards’ seminal riff overloaded America’s airwaves, guitarists started using pedals to alter their sound in a variety of ways: distortion, delays, echoes, and pedals that make a guitar sound like a robot. Oder, though, was drawn to fuzz. “I started with clones [of other pedals] and then kept asking, What if I added this?” he says. “I never bought kits. I wanted to force myself to come up with my own thing.”
Oder currently offers two pedals for mass sale. The Fuzz Drive varies from a smooth fuzz to a gritty overdrive reminiscent of the amplitude Jimi Hendrix created with his guitar. The Dirty Drive, meanwhile, has a subtle but edgy sound (think Keith Richards). Even more impressive, Oder wires and designs each one by hand. In an industry where most products are mass-produced and sold in big box stores, his attention to detail shines through in the place it matters most: the sound. For those about to rock, he salutes you.
Smoder Audio, smoderaudio.com, also available at: Shake It Records, 4156 Hamilton Ave., Northside, (513) 591-0123
Originally published in the October 2012 issue