Interview with Acid Splash DesignsWritten by Helmut Watterott
Acid Splash Designes specialize in safe etching practices for custom design guitar pedals, as well as a variety of other forms of art.
Name: Adam Hartley
Company Name: Acid Splash Designs
What got you started making gear?
Back in 2011 I found a site called diystompboxes.com. I just stumbled on it while searching for diy projects. I saw acid etched graphics on a pedal and thought that it looked absolutely amazing! I thought to myself "well I bet I could do this". So I started doing research into it and more research and eventually I tried it. The results were terrible! LOL! I couldn't believe how bad it looks. Rather than give up, I tried again, and again, and again. Eventually someone approached me about doing a custom box for them in exchange for a pedal. I of course said yes. To my amazement it turned out fantastic! I was so thrilled. Shortly after that a pedal builder approached me or I approached him, honestly I can't remember. Black Arts Toneworks Mark was the first builder I'd ever worked with. We did a run of 20 pedals together and I was just losing it over how good they turned. From there it just kind of happened. I've been doing this for 3, almost 4 years and absolutely love it.
What gear do you make?
As far as gear goes. I can do a lot of different things. I rehouse almost anything you can think of pedal wise. Unless there is no way to do it. Unfortunately this happens sometimes. You could say I make everything in a way. haha. But it's all guitar pedals. I do have the ability to make other things, but why do that? I love pedals.
Where do you operate from?
My business is operate out of my home in Overland Park, KS. Right now I'm still in the growing pains stage, so I'm still able to maintain here. I am very close to getting to the point of needing to move to a shop though. YES!
What about making gear do you like the most?
I absolutely love the end result of course. Taking something that looked sub-par and turning into something amazing. Each project I do I get really nervous, it's something I've struggled with for years, not a lack of confidence, just nerves. haha. So when I'm done, and looking at it, and everything is wired correctly, the box looks good, the knobs are great, I get so much joy out of it. Then I remember that someone is going to pay me!! haha Which makes it even better!!!
Is this a hobby or full time operation?
It is now a full time operation as of the beginning of this year!! Such an awesome thing!! It took until this year to do this, but I am now full time!
Who inspires you/who do you look up to musically, IE what gear do you admire?
So who inspires me musically is a very broad question. I am inspired by so many artists it's not even funny. Sunpocrisy is the top of my list right now for inspiration, wish they'd come to the United States...sigh. But I love all music. Other than country. That's just awful with the exception of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash of course.
Who inspires me in the business?
Ben and Louise from Dwarfcraft Device
Tom from Fuzzhugger
Brian from Smallsound/Bigsound
Mark from Black Arts Toneworks
Ryan from Fuzzrocious
Peter from VFE
Ryan from Dr. Scientist
Douglas from Darkglass
Andrew from Industrialectric
Roy from Greenhouse Effects
Alan from Mountainking
and many, many others. Too many to name. haha
What pisses you off/what do you like; about the boutique audio gear building industry?
Well since you asked, I'll tell you. There's quite a few things
First and foremost, lack of customer service. I get that you're busy, I do, but that doesn't excuse your lack of customer service or showing your customer you value them. It's not hard to do.
Folks that blatantly rip off others designs and have no issues with it. This happens a LOT, but I never really knew it until I was kind of in the loop. It's sickening to me. People will outright steal someone else intellectual property and try to claim it's theirs. Ridiculous.
Religious, anti religion, racist, or political posts or designs in products. I do understand that people want to be edgy in this day and age, but it's really a sign of immaturity and a lack of respect on a builders part when they do these things. For example. Three are a lot of builders out there lately that have jumped on the anti religion bandwagon, and I get it, I do, even though I am a religious guy (well I believe in God at least, but I'm no saint haha), but it goes too far sometimes. Making graphics or names that are just outright offensive with the intention of offending others. To what end? It makes no sense? Why issolate your client base???
Builders that have been in the game for a long time and just don't listen. For years I've heard folks say "I want top mounted jacks, power supplies and smaller cases", but for some reason builders don't listen. It gives me a job, so I'm not hugely upset...hahaha... but at the same time I don't get it.
Overpriced gear. I know how much a lot of things cost and this is one of the biggest grievances I have with the industry. There are builders out there that just simply charge too much for their product. I'm not sure if it's over confiendence, or greed, or just lack of knowledge on how to sell? I know this though, people want a good deal and they want their product to sound good as well. When the market is becoming increasingly over-saturated with Chinese clones, now is the time to act and pull our heads out of our butts. haha
Are you still in a band or play music and do you use your own gear?
I currently am without a band. I have three kids and loving wife though! Oh and a dog!
My gear is as follows:
MTD 435 active Bass (sooo in love with this)
Mesa Bass Prodigy all tube amp
Mesa Powerhouse cabs 1x15 and 4x10
Pedalboard (signal path not included):
Smallsound/Bigsound Dual Mini Overdrive (custom)
Walrus Audio Descent
Mountainking Electronics Magnetar
Prescription Electronics Depth Charge
Mountainking Electronics Heavy Machine
Darkglass Electronics Duality
Mojohand Fx Colossus Fuzz
Lastgasp Arts Laboratories Misty Cave
Skeleton Prince In Limbo (OMG)
Lastgasp Arts Laboratories Sandstorm
Darkglass Electronics B7K
Devi Ever Bit The Legend of Fuzz
Dr. Scientist Bitquest
Earthquaker Devices Hummingbird v3
Eventide H9 Max
And a bunch of other stuff not on board. hahaha
Favourite Guitar Maker? Michael Tobias Design
Favourite Guitar Effect? fuzz
Favourite Amp Maker? Mesa Engineering
Favourite Music Genre? Metal
Favourite Band / Artist? Type O Negative
Favourite Guitarist? Dave Grohl
Favourite Instrument? Bass
Favourite Drink? coffee
Favourite Place? home
Favourite Food? burgers
Social Media Channels:
acidsplashdesigns.com (under construction)