Over recent years, the boutique guitar effects / amplifier scene has seriously grown, with guitarists across the globe looking for ways to improve their guitar tone. A large majority of the boutique effects providers (including Keeley, AnalogMan, Monte Allums) often add a twist to mass produced pedals, as well as producing some of their own unique stompboxes.
Pro Tone Pedals strictly produce their own handmade effects, using some of the finest components available, adding “something truly special to your signal chain“. Guitar Jar catches up with manager Dennis Mollan, to quiz him on the range of Pro Tone effects available and the vision of the company.
…we take distortion further than any other boutique company today and we have to keep pushing the limits of analog pedal technology…
Hi Dennis, before we get into the details of your effects pedal range, can you let Guitar Jar readers know if you play guitar and if so, who or what inspired you to start learning the instrument?
Thanks for inviting me! As a teenager I was a hard-core skateboarder-this was the mid 80s… and my life was music and skateboarding. Then when I was 17 I injured my ankle and could no longer skate. So I decided I wanted to play guitar with the time that I would have normally been skateboarding. I had a good friend that lived 2 houses down that already knew how to play, so he came over and taught me some power chords… and in a couple months we were jamming Metallica tunes together. Since then, I’ve jumped back on the skateboard- injured the same ankle AGAIN… now it’s bionic!
When did Pro Tone Pedals start and what was the reason for you starting the company?
We launched in ’04. Our mission, at the time, was to bring boutique pedals to guys that couldn’t afford boutique prices. We don’t believe that a simple 1 knob boost pedal should cost $240 USD.
Pro Tone Pedals are mentioned by many guitarists as producing some of the finest guitar effects available. What do you think sets Pro Tone Pedals apart from some of its competitors?
What sets us apart is that we’re focused on moving music forward rather than reproducing tones created 40 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, some of our best pedals are based on classics, but we put twists on them to bring them into the 21st century. Whereas many of our competition want to help you sound like Hendrix, or SRV. When guys come and ask if we can help them sound like Hendrix, I tell them “sure I can help… call AnalogMan“.
Your pedals seem to cater for rock/metal electric guitarists. Is it a deliberate decision to focus on that genre, if so, why?
Totally deliberate. Rock, metal, punk… these are things I grew up on. I KNOW rock & metal. I KNOW rock & metal tone. I KNOW how it’s created. No need to deviate from what I know.
How does the design/manufacture process work with Pro Tone Pedals? Is the concept of a pedal born out of requests from the guitarist community or are they born from your own ideas?
Both actually. Sometimes someone will come to us with an idea, and sometimes I’ll want to push something beyond where it’s been before. For example, Paul Raven (R.I.P.) of Killing Joke, Ministry, Prong etc. came to us wanting a single stomp that will give him some grit and vintage chorus. So we worked for several months with the end results being the Raven Dirty Chorus. On the other hand, we made the decision that we would become the premier boutique pedal manufacturer for the metal community. So we take distortion further than any other boutique company today and in order to do that we have to keep pushing the limits of analog pedal technology.
Let’s say I’m on the lookout for an overdrive and distortion pedal. Which two Pro Tone Pedals would you suggest I use that allows me to have a very versatile set up, for rhythm and lead guitar work, whilst retaining my original amp/guitar tone as much as possible?
The Viking for distortion… and the Dead Horse for overdrive. For an IN DEPTH explanation, jump to about 35:00 into Pro Tone Podcast #16 (note: this podcast contains swearing).
What is your best selling pedal?
Our all-time best selling pedal is the Monster Fuzz, a hyper modified Big Muff. Close 2nd would be the Body Rot 2 high gain distortion- just pure metal. Head and shoulders above the distortion found in other ‘metal’ pedals. 3rd place would be the Jason Becker Signature Distortion. This baby is an all analog emulation of the Marshall JCM800 that Jason used while recording his album Perpetual Burn.
What’s your personal favourite Pro tone Pedal?
My personal favourite is the Becker signature. I worked hard on the design and tweaking it just right, and to have one of my hero’s tell me he loves it… wow. Seriously, when I went to Jasons house to demo the prototype for him, it was one of the highlights of my life in or outside of the industry. To play Jason’s historic guitars… dig through his boxes of gear- just a priceless moment in my life that I’ll never forget.
The artwork on your products is fantastic and very eye catching. Who conceives the artwork designs and do you have any merchandise sporting the illustrations?
Generally I have an idea for the art and from there I’ll determine which artist will best fit the tone of the pedal and the vision I have in my mind. One pedal, the Phase Shift has art work that actually is from my youngest daughter. She wanted to see a 3 eyed squid… so there it is!
You seem to have a huge list of professional guitarists and bands using your pedals. Are there many professional players who keep on coming back for more? Can you name some of your favourite artists that you have the pleasure of working with?
One of my favourite guys to work with is Mark Gemini Thwaite. Mark was a member of the Mission, and Peter Murphy’s band. I met him through Paul Raven, who was also a joy to work with.
Do you plan to produce more delay and chorus units?
Not at the moment. Right now we’re focused on pushing the limits of distortion.
Your house is burning down. What’s the one guitar item you would save?
My Ibanez Iceman from the mid 90s. Not a fantastic instrument, but I had wanted an Iceman since before I began playing the guitar. My cousin, Tommy, introduced me to Kiss as a kid, and I LOVED the Iceman Paul played.
If you could form a super group using famous musicians past or present, who would you have on drums and why?
Matt Sorum, he’s an amazing drummer, and one of the nicest guys I’ve worked with in the industry. Most people don’t know he’s actually a great guitarist, singer, & songwriter.
Lager or Cider?
Lager… dark and heavy
What’s the plan for Pro Tone Pedals for the next 12 months?
Good question! I have no idea… let’s just play it by ear.
Introducing the Jason Becker Distortion Pedal:
For more information about Pro Tone Pedals, please visit: