I had a recently had the chance to talk with Rick Matthews, owner of Matthews Effects, who makes great guitar effects pedals. We talked about topics ranging from gear and the music industry, Fuzz pedals in worship, and where to place a buffer in your signal chain; turns out I was doing it wrong. It was a great conversation and I hope you find it to be a useful resource as well.
Real World Worship: Could you tell us briefly about yourself?
Rick Matthews: I am a christian guitar enthusiast. I’m married to my awesome supportive wife Ashleigh and live with my two dogs Riby and Gatsby in Richland Wa. I own a guitar electronics company called Matthews Effects.
RWW: How did you get started as a musician?
RM: I always wanted to play music and one day my churches youth group said they needed people to play on the team. I didn’t know how to play guitar but knew I wanted to learn. From there I taught myself guitar and I’ve been on one worship team or another ever since.
RWW: How did you get started as a pedal builder?
You know its hard to remember when exactly it started but I was just very interested in how stuff worked and modding things. I know I started building switches and the first official product I released was the Mini M.E. Tap tempo. I continued building switches until I started working at Buildyourownclone.com
where the owner Keith mentored me and taught me really everything I know now.
RWW: What’s your favorite pedal that you don’t build?
Lately its been the klon
. Not sure if that counts since I build a klone of it but I didn’t design the circuit and ever since I started playing with it I have fallen in love it!
RWW: What’s one pedal or type of pedal that you’d like to build someday?
RM: I’ve really been looking foreword to building a good tremolo. Something new and unique akin to the seek trem. I have some ideas but havn’t had time to flesh them out. Really I’m constantly coming up with different ideas I would love to try out so we will see what mad creations I come up with.
RWW: That would be awesome! I love a good tremolo. You identify Matthews Effects as a christian company. What lead you to that? What’s been the results good or bad?
RM: I wanted to create a company that wasn’t just a company but something people felt a part. Being a christian is so much a part of me I couldn’t honestly create something like that without it being a part of it.
RWW: Is there a myth or misconception you come across when people contact you about effects?
RM: Not really, there have been a few crazy ideas people have thrown at me but for the most part people have a good idea of what they want these days.
RWW: All this guitar gear doesn’t come cheap. Do you have any thoughts on how much money a worship guitarist should invest in their rig?
RM: I think it really depends on the person. You definitely don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to have a good rig for worship but there’s nothing wrong with sacrificing your daily starbucks to get that boutique amp you want. As long as the focus is on God and not vanity then it doesn’t matter.
RWW: What’s the one pedal you think every worship guitarist should have on their board?
RM: A good tuner. Doesn’t matter what effects you have or how nice your rig is. If your out of tune your going to sound terrible.
RWW: Is there a pedal you think is overrated for worship guitarists?
RM: I think there are pedals that come and go that are priced way higher than they should be and are that just because of the name on the pedal.
I’m a big fan of fuzz and I’ve been listening to a lot of older Black Keys, White Stripes, etc lately. I see a lot of discussion on worship guitar forums about whether or not Fuzz will work with church music. You make the Peach Fuzz
pedal. Do you use Fuzz in your church playing? Do you have any thoughts/tips for those who would want to add Fuzz to their guitar right in a church setting?
RM: I think there is definitely a place for Fuzz in worship if used responsibly. I think the peach fuzz is great for it since its a very gated, velcro fuzz. The main problem I always ran into with fuzz’s on worship is they go crazy and feedback if your not careful. As long as you reign it in fuzz’s are great for fast songs or certain solo’s.
RWW: With long signal chains and cable runs I’m a big advocate for using buffers in your signal chain. Do you have any thoughts on use or placement in the signal chain?
RM: I prefer placing a buffer at the very beginning of your signal chain. That way it can preserve your signal before it hits anything else that will color it. (Author’s note: ME makes a very good powered buffer)
RWW: I guess a follow up question would be if you have any thoughts as a builder on true bypass vs. buffered?
RM: I personally don’t like buffered bypass in my pedals. I know a lot of builders do this but I prefer to have more control over placement and what buffer circuit is used. Basically I would rather have a separate buffer that I can place where I want.
RWW: You mentioned earlier how much you love the Klon Centaur circuit. Your take on that pedal is actually what put you on my radar. Do you have any thoughts about the Klon, the hype, etc.?
RM: To be honest I originally approached doing it because there was such a demand for it. I thought it was a over hyped circuit that went for ridiculous prices. Although I do still believe the circuit is over hyped and has a “Mysticism” that is ridiculous I have fallen in love with the circuit.
RWW: How would you use a Klon in a worship band?
RM: It works great as a clean or low gain boost or a great gritty drive.
RWW: While you have a several original designs, you build clones of a few pedals like the Klon, as well as the ProCo Rat. Do you have any thoughts on the ethics of cloning pedals?
RM: I do. It wasn’t a simple decision to do the klon. I went back and forth for a couple weeks before deciding to do it. The main things that lead me to do it was the fact that the pedal isn’t in production. There is a demand for the design and he isn’t providing it. If and when it is back in production I will be discontinuing my version. I think that is only fair. The Rat is a different thing. I do isn’t just a simple clone, but I add some extra features that really make it its own thing.
RWW: Rick, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. If people want to check out your stuff where can they go?
Thanks, yeah, you can check out my website: MatthewsEffects.com. Also, you can connect with us on Facebook
, and Instagram
Thanks again to Rick Matthew for talking to us and sharing his insights into worship and gear. He makes some really cool stuff, and he has a worship leader discount available on his website. Check out demos of his pedals on his YouTube
page and visit his website at MatthewEffects.com