So what possesses someone to start a guitar products company in the first place? Well, it all goes back to November of 1988. “I needed a volume pedal, so I went out and bought an Ernie Ball mono volume pedal. After a short time I became frustrated with it. The volume taper was too abrupt, and more importantly, it didn’t have a visual reference so I couldn't see where I was at.” After shopping for what he certainly thought existed at the time, to Bob’s amazement there was no such thing. So what did he do? Like any good inventor, he did the next best thing…created one.
“I could see my Ernie Ball pedal only had a pot and a string, so obviously the volume part of the pedal was easy.” But what about making an LED scale to go with it? “Well, I had one small handicap… I didn't know ANYTHING about engineering. I was working in sales and marketing with a degree in Business Administration. That’s great for business, but doesn't do much if you’re trying to design a product that nobody’s ever tried to make. I started hanging out at libraries reading books on basic electronics (this was before the Internet existed). I also called a lot of engineers at semiconductor companies and asked all sorts of stupid questions. Eventually, over a period of years, I figured out how to make a “visual” volume pedal with a 10 LED scale.”
Over time Bob taught himself electronics, mechanical engineering, and patent law. And from what started as a wood block prototype, Bob’s original vision began to take shape. “I made a couple of prototypes and showed them around and eventually certain musician friends of mine wanted one of their own. So, I patented the whole “Visual” concept for pedals (another learning curve) and at the January 1995 NAMM show, I jumped into business with one product… the Visual Volume™.” That was the start of Visual Sound, now known as Truetone.
Like any startup company, Visual Sound had its share of ups and downs trying to find that one thing that makes it all work… “If there was a mistake to be made, I probably made it. Unfortunately, volume pedals simply don’t sell as fast as effects pedals do. So I tried a few different test-market productions of other pedals such as: Visual Metal, Visual Blues, and the Visual Wah/Volume. All had less-than-impressive results.” But it wouldn’t be long before Bob created the pedal of his dreams… the classic Jekyll & Hyde™ overdrive and distortion dual effect pedal. “It wasn’t ‘Visual”, Bob said, “but it was exactly what I had been wanting as a guitar player for years.”
But the biggest challenge was yet to come…
At the very time Bob invented the pedal that could change the future for both him and his company, the money ran out. Bob tells it this way, “Through a miraculous set of circumstances in my darkest hour, I suddenly was given the opportunity to have a some big orders paid for up front, which normally never happens. That turned everything around by giving us the exact amount of money we needed to start over. Leading up to that, I actually thought I would close up shop, but evidently God wanted me to keep going. How could I say no?”
Since that time, Visual Sound continued to grow, finally becoming Truetone in 2015.
Now, with a bright future ahead, Bob and his staff are creating new products that will establish Truetone as a cutting edge music company far into the future.
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