cubisteffects, is a custom pedal shop in Sydney, Christian Moraga is the man behind the cube, and below is a little story.
(photos courtesy of Will Reichelt)

Hi there, Christian, what does cubisteffects do?

cubisteffects is a custom-shop, of sorts, for effects pedals. I repair broken down pedals, modify off-the-shelf stock pedals to whatever a customer is looking for. I circuit bend pedals to give musicians something outside of the box, and I make custom pedals for whatever needs a musician may have.

How and why did you decide to start cubisteffects?

I started this more as an extension of a hobby really. I was doing these for myself, then friends, then friends of friends, and realized this is something that no-one is really offering as a service in Australia. It started from scratch, with a lot of self-investment in time and money, but it has been nice to watch it grow.

What is the difference between circuit bending and a mod?

I tend to describe the differences with an analogy of the brain. Modifications are left-sided; they are very analytical, involving calculated changes to the circuit, to produce a variance of signal that is measured in resistance and capacitance to provide a different frequency spectrum from the initial product. Circuit-bends are right-sided; spontaneous, erratic, fueled by complete chaos and creativity to produce an unexpected and unique sound/noise. Modifications are aimed to improve on the quality of the audio signal whereas circuit-bends tend to destroy the signal with oscillations, feedback and/or white noise.

What is the most weird request you got for a mod or a pedal?

That’s the good thing about circuit bends – nothing is weird!

Is cubisteffects enough to make a living?

Unfortunately not at this stage. I have been taking on more international orders from Europe, Asia and the US, but the distance between increases cost dramatically. This only the first phase of cubisteffects, so if the stars align correctly, I hope to make a living from it.

How do you see the Australian musical environment at the moment from the point of view of a pedal builder?

Doing both mods and bends for people I come across a wide range of musicians, from guys bashing out covers in pubs on the weekends, to table-top experimental performers. Alos, having been a participant in some way in the Biennale of Sydney and “This Is Not Art” in Newcastle, I have met and seen a lot of talented musicians that are outside of the mainstream eye. This side of Australian music is very inspiring and something we can be proud of, and would be great to see it supported by the industry more.

Do you get requests for pedal mods from other kind of customers than the obvious ones? (other than guitarists/bassists/keyboardists; like buskers, trumpet players, etc.)

Yes, I have modded a synth pedal for a cellist, made a noise delay for an experimental vocalist, built a fuzz for a violinist… That has been a cool part of the job – seeing how far people can push music using effects pedals.

How do you translate “I want my pedal to sound more like that” into transistors and wires and capacitors? When you get a request, do you have an instant mental image or feeling of “I need this and that component to make it sound like that, and wire it in this way”?

An image or idea pretty much comes straight away and I’ll go from there. A lot of it comes down to knowing your product. I can’t spend enough time researching other designs, hearing different types of music, playing with different types of instruments so I can have knowledge to tackle any request. If someone asks for a pedal that sounds like glass breaking, or sounds like a thunderstorm, it allows me to be creative and come up with something by gathering pieces of ideas and forming them into one. After awhile, it takes its own form and can be something inspiring. I prefer these kind of jobs instead of “I want the sound this guitarist gets in this song”. That kind of mentality will never produce something unique. The origin of that sound was probably taken by the musician taking a risk and a sidestep in context of the recording. These tend to be the memorable musical moments.

How do you envision cubisteffects in the future?

I hope it continues to grow and be a brand that is respected and liked. I have a few goals I would like to accomplish and hope to live and work overseas for awhile. I would like for it to mesh with visual artists in the community, and collaborate on a level that would make a product not only sound good, but look great in its own unique way.

Are you going to expand into tube amps, recording preamps and rack studio effects?

I have been obsessed with modular synths of late and would like to expand it to there first. I have made a few simple synths (with oscillators, filters, envelopes etc) and sold them to happy performers, and am working on making different modules and making a simple instrument that can also effect a signal as well.

Do you have any ideas for the use of pedals that is currently not being done by musicians, or non-musicians?

The ability to “play” circuit bent pedals interests me, and seeing the potential and similarity between these sounds and modular synths could be an interesting route for performance. Using pedals to manipulate a simple sound source to create an improvised, flowing, wall-of-noise would be fantastic to see!

You can access the cubisteffects website here, in all it’s quirkiness and goodness:

To see more cubist photos by Will Reichelt go here:

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