Interview with Paul Lowsley
In the latest instalment our ‘People Behind The Pedals’ blog series, we chat to Paul at Sutton instruments about this exciting new venture
What inspired you to re-launch Sutton Instruments as a pedal manufacturer!
In the early eighties we lived in a suburb of Kingston upon Hull Called Sutton. Whilst working at the local University I started building and selling anything audio related as a part time enterprise under the Sutton Instruments name.
After several years, Sutton Instruments was put on the back burner and I moved across into the EPoS industry, setting up a company selling electronic point of sales terminals.
Eventually, after selling the business in 2018 and semi retiring, Paul teamed up with his son, David, a graphic designer and keen guitarist, with the idea of resurrecting the Sutton Instruments name and launching a range of guitar effects pedals.
How many people are in the team?
Two at the moment, Dave and Paul Lowsley, however we have three or four musicians in the background who we rely on for inspiration and feedback.
What was the first pedal you ever built?
Going back in time to the eighties…
I think it was probably a distortion pedal built from an article in Practical Electronics.
When it comes to developing new pedals, where do you draw inspiration from?
We’re heavily influenced by the sound of rock music from the seventies, eighties and nineties. Effects pedals were still analogue and it was such a golden era of fantastic guitarists, with tone chasers such as Eddie Van Halen, Dave Gilmour, to name a couple, who really pushed the envelope using effects.
What makes your pedals different from other brands / similar models?
We see ourselves as professional manufacturers of boutique pedals. We spend an awful lot of time and effort with the CE and UKCA approval side of things, to give our suppliers and customers confidence that our products meet all the necessary standards. Each pedal is “Blueprinted” which means that all the passive components are to the same tolerance and the semiconductors are all individually matched for gain. In effect this means that our pedals all sound identical.
What have been your biggest learnings in pedal production, and business in general, to date?
I think the amount of time it took to bring the first pedal to market. From the initial concept
of the Del Fuego it probably took in reality a couple of years. You can’t believe the number of prototypes we made. Every part of the process has had hurdles to overcome – from case design and manufacture, to finding a company that could UV print them – it’s such a time consuming process.
What’s in the pipeline?
We’ve got a stand-alone boost pedal currently being evaluated which hopefully should be in production by the spring of this year and we’re currently experimenting with a hybrid valve and semiconductor distortion pedal.
What is your Sutton Instruments career highlight to date - ‘pinch me’ moment?
Excluding your own brand, what’s the one pedal you wish you had created yourself, any why?
Probably the Ibanez Tube screamer, it’s an absolute stalwart that has been copied over and over again – such an iconic design and totally unmissable on a crowded pedalboard. Used by all the greats and still as popular as ever today.
What’s the guitar riff/song you immediately play when picking up a guitar?
Tie your mother down, by Queen, is as good as anything to belt out of a cranked amp.
Many Thanks Paul! – Looking forward to the new boost pedal