Recently we sat down with Jon Ashley, owner of Bondi Effects and more important, the mastermind behind the Sick As and Del Mar Overdrives that are taking over pedal boards all over the globe. Jon is a world class pedal builder but also just a stellar dude who loves Jesus. Below are some of the topics we covered in our interview.
Aaron Lehman: When did you start Bondi Effects? Tell us a little about the history of the company and how it has gotten to where it is.
Jon Ashley: I started Bondi Effects in May of 2013. I had been building pedals for myself and friends for a while and always dreamed about making it a business but I didn’t want to release anything until I could make it my own. I designed the Sick As on my computer while on holiday in Nebraska, never really thinking anything would come of it. When I got home I built it up and gave one to Gearmanndude who happens to work fairly close to where I live. He loved it and made a demo. Here we are 2 years later.
Aaron: What was your inspiration for wanting to build effects pedals?
Jon: Mostly poverty. I was a poor high school kid, my parents were missionaries so there wasn’t a lot of money to buy the gear I wanted. The idea for the Sick As seemed kind of obvious to me. Everyone was modifying tubescreamers but the Klon has been by and large untouched. It seemed like the logical next step in overdrives.
Aaron: There are tons of boutique transparent overdrives out there. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the features that set your pedals apart from the rest?
Jon: Unapologetically I take a lot of inspiration from the classic pedals that have come before me. My favourite overdrives always had different clipping options and bass and treble EQ so I decided those features would be a must on my drives. Both of my pedals also use a clean blend, which is something I learned from the Klon Centaur. That way when you back off the gain it stays clear, rather than getting muddy and you can use it as a boost with EQ if needed.
Aaron: Do you currently have any worship guitarists or churches using your pedals? if so who?
Jon: Yes we have a ton of worship artists using our pedals. Some of the big names include:
- Stu G. of Delirious? and One Sonic Society
- Timon Klein of Hillsong UNITED
- Matt Podesla of Matt Redman
- James Duke of John Mark McMillan and Elevation Worship
- Casey Moore of Leeland
- Toby Friesen of Jeremy Camp.
Aaron: What is your take on the Klon craze that has hit the boutique market? Are they worth the hype?
Jon: I definitely wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Klon so I can’t be too critical. It’s interesting, definitely a great pedal but I’m not sure everyone that thinks they want one actually wants one. The more I study that circuit the more I realise not only how genius but also how strange it is. Are they worth it? Well there are some things you just need to try yourself. I will say I don’t think any overdrive could be worth $2k.
Aaron: What is your favorite overdrive pedal of all time? Not a Bondi Effect?
Jon: Without a doubt the Ibanez TS808. To me it epitomises what an overdrive should sound like.
Aaron: Tell us about the switches on the Sick As overdrive.
Jon: The toggle switch selects between the high or low gain modes. Up is higher gain with a more focused EQ while down is a more open naturally sounding mode with less gain. The Del Mar functions similarly. All of our pedals also feature soft touch switching which we love for the reliability and the silence. No more clicking around during prayers.
Aaron: Could you provide a detailed overview of the new Del Mar pedal you recently released.
Jon: The Del Mar is the pedal I’ve always wanted to make. While the Sick As was guaranteed to make a splash just based on the nature of what it is, the Del Mar was definitely a harder sell. Tone snobs seem to have an attitude about the Tubescreamer because it is so successful but as I had mentioned earlier it’s my favourite pedal. It’s been modified to death so I knew that unless I got creative there was no way I could make it any different than anyone elses. I kept some features from the Sick As, mainly the clean blend and EQ circuits but the gain character is pure Tubescreamer. Flicking the toggle down doubles the headroom very similarly to the Marshall Bluesbreaker overdrive.
In addition to this interview we also reviewed the Sick As and Del Mar overdrives which you should also check out. After that if you have not purchased a Sick As and Del Mar visit BondiEffects.com or Reverb.com and purchase both of them NOW! You won’t be disappointed.