What is your shop rate? Currently, it is $40 per hour plus any parts / supplies and shipping (if you are outside the Chicago area). For larger projects, a reduced flat-rate fee can be negotiated. Most pedal mods / repairs require 1 - 2 hours of labor and less than $10 in parts.
Do you offer free estimates? Usually, we do not. Let us clarify: If we can determine / diagnose the problem after a conversation with the customer, or by simply visually inspecting the gear, we will not charge a fee. The moment the gear goes on my workbench and we pull out a tool to disassemble it, we charge a minimum fee of $20 (half an hour of labor). This fee is applied toward the repair bill. If the client decides not to repair the item, or it can not be fixed, the total bill would be $20 (plus return shipping charges, if applicable). We have this policy in place because we've spent numerous hours troubleshooting inexpensive gear - only to determine a repair would be too costly.
I live outside of Chicago and would like to send you a pedal to modify / repair. How do I proceed? Contact us via email. We can offer an estimate, along with instructions for sending your gear. Once received, we'll send an email acknowledging receipt and provide an estimated completion date. We will also keep you updated if ordering parts is necessary or the cost exceeds the initial estimate. Upon completion, we will email an invoice to you. Once payment is received (we accept cash, credit cards and Paypal), the pedal will be sent back to you.
What is your typical turnaround time? It varies. On average, it is 7 to 10 days. We strive to get your gear back in your hands as quickly as possible. Please understand Alchemy Audio is a two person operation (for now). We work on gear every day. All projects are handled in the order received - the exception being any that have been paid in advance (such as pedal modification service purchased via the web site or Reverb.com)
Do you offer any warranty? Yes! We guarantee our work forever (or, at least, as long as we have air in my lungs)! That's right - if you should ever encounter an issue related to our craftsmanship, we will repair or replace the item free! We are proud of the quality of work we do and we stand behind it 100%.
Do you ship internationally? For most items, we do. The exception being larger, heavier items such as guitars and amplifiers. International orders are sent via USPS First Class International or Priority Mail International (insured). Any customs fees will be the responsibility of the buyer. We will not declare a lower value or mark an item as a "gift" on the customs declaration form. Don't ask.
Where is my order? Once payment is received, all orders are processed and shipped within two business days. Once an order ships, you should receive a tracking number via email. Our experience has been that USPS is not always timely with updating their online tracking information. Please be patient if the status indicates the item was "shipped" but you don't see any additional updates. We do not have any control over shipping times once the item leaves the shop, nor do we have any "additional" information aside from what you see online when you track the package.
Can you build me a clone of (insert your favorite pedal / amplifier here)? The short answer is, yes, but understand that building a single item from scratch can become quite expensive. A majority of the work we do at Alchemy Audio involves repairing and/or modifying existing gear. While we are happy to build a one-of-a-kind piece of gear for you, often there is a less expensive, commercially available alternative. We are always willing to make recommendations when appropriate.
Is this pedal 'true bypass' / can you make this pedal 'true bypass'? This is probably the single most common question we receive. While it is sometimes a very valid question, we feel there is often a lot of misunderstanding on the subject and folks sometimes ask the question without really knowing why they are asking. For a great tutorial, check out this article from the fine folks at Pro Guitar Shop.
I have a vintage Fuzz Face pedal from the 60's. Can you add an LED and make it 'true bypass'? While we are always willing to accommodate any requests, we always caution owners of vintage gear regarding making any unnecessary modifications. Ultimately, it's your gear and you can do what you want - as long as you are aware that altering it generally decreases the resale value. Remember, it's only original once. Sometimes, a modern alternative exists with all of the features you are requesting. We always ask that a potential client at least consider selling the unmolested piece of vintage gear (possibly to us!) and simply buy a modern item which suits their needs.
Do you have any celebrity clients? We've sold gear and done mods and repairs for some very accomplished musicians. Some you definitely have heard of, some not. We're not really one to get "starstruck" and we treat anyone who is kind enough to support us with the highest level of courtesy and respect. When a satisfied customer is generous enough to offer praise, you'll find it in the 'testimonial' section of this web site.
Do you offer any endorsement deals or artist discounts? Generally not. As a small independent company, we are not yet at a level which allows us to give away our products and services. We take great pride in the fact that anyone who is using our gear (from famous rock stars to a hobbyist "bedroom" player) has paid for it. Besides, we want people to play our stuff because they believe in it as much as we do - not because we gave it to them for free.
I need an awesome delay pedal built for a gig I have this Friday. Can you help? Cheap. Fast. High quality. Pick two.
Do you work on guitars? When our schedule allows, We'll perform simple set-ups and repairs. However, we are not luthiers. If you are in Chicago, we highly recommend Chicago Fret Works. They are a great group of people and know their stuff.
I think I'll try and save a few bucks and mod this pedal myself. It's not that difficult, is it? Yes and no. If you possess basic mechanical and soldering skills, you could likely install one of the various 'mod kits' available. If you are uncomfortable doing the work, leave it to someone like us and benefit from our knowledge and experience. We have worked on thousands of pedals - including some where the owners thought they could perform the modification themselves. Just know your limits. You'll often spend more having us fix your mistakes than performing the work from the beginning.
Speaking of mod kits, do you sell them? Not currently. We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and attention to detail. Anything that has an Alchemy Audio label on it is top notch. Selling self-install kits to people of various skill levels would only dilute our brand. Who knows? we've learned to never say never but, for now, we are not interested in offering mod kits for sale.
Johnny, how did you get started working on guitar gear? I became interested in music at a very young age and began playing electric guitar as a teenager. After high school, I attended Music Tech of Minneapolis and Hennepin Technical College where I studied guitar and audio engineering. Around this time, I acquired Craig Anderton's book 'Electronic Projects For Musicians' and began experimenting with many of the do-it-yourself projects featured in the book. I was also playing in bands, running live sound and working in recording studios. Inevitably, you learn how to repair and maintain various gear while working in these environments (usually at the worst possible moment while an audience and/or other musicians wait impatiently). Although I have very minimal formal electronics training, I've had a lifelong fascination with understanding how things work - whether it is music gear, vintage motorcycles, brewing beer, or keeping my collection of vintage Japanese motorcycles on the road! Also, I'm an avid reader and devour any electronics books I can get my hands on (Brian Wampler's book, 'How To Modify Guitar Pedals' is a particular favorite). A few years ago, I became obsessed with modifying effects pedals. Soon, I received requests from fellow musicians to work on their gear. What began as a hobby on my kitchen table (much to my wife's bemusement) soon blossomed into what you see here today!
Johnny, what gear do you personally play? I'm not as attached to gear as I once was. As a result, my collection changes frequently. Currently, my guitar collection consists of a mid-nineties Japanese Fender Stratocaster, 1973 Guild S-100, Framus Hollywood, parts Telecaster copy built by Rust Belt Guitars and a sixties Framus archtop acoustic. My main amplifiers are a 5 watt Swart Space Tone and a Reason Bambino 8 watt tube head. My pedal board was featured on Effects Bay as part of their Pedal Line Friday series.