HISTORY OF REAL MCCOY CUSTOM
REAL MCCOY CUSTOM THREE (RMC3) wah-wah pedal is the world's first, self
contained, fully tunable wah-wah. The RMC3 has an international heritage,
with roots in California and Italy.
While the exact date of the wah's origination is open
for debate, time has proven that the pedal developed by the Thomas Organ
Company has to be considered the father of all subsequent wahs. When musicians
search out old wahs, these are the ones being hunted.
The old Thomas Organ Company wahs were built in the U.S. and in Italy. They
were all built with the same circuit design, but were constructed with wildly
varying components. These differences were thought to be of no consequence
at the time, but, years later, they've proven to be of great importance.
In conducting his research for the RMC wahs, Geoffrey Teese went back to
the original sources for information. Through much detective work, Geoffrey
able to speak with various engineers, who each had some part in the manufacture
of the old wahs. He was quite fortunate to get in touch with Thomas' former
National Service Manager, prior to the gentleman's retirement. Through this
contact he purchased several old wah-wah production files and numerous new-old-stock
inductors, and also acquired hard-copies of old microfilm files of a particular
inductor used in the prototype wah. This information led him to the company
that had actually manufactured the inductor for Thomas. After considerable
effort, Geoffrey was successful in getting some pieces of information that
no other "outsider" had discovered. Namely, the classified secrets of the old
inductor. Armed with this information, Geoffrey was eventually able to reproduce
an inductor that was really 100% true to the original unit in question. Only
then, with the proper inductor available, could development begin in earnest.
was spent analyzing old wah boards, both Italian and American. Being a capable
guitarist, the differences were quite easy for Geoffrey to hear,
but not so easy to understand. He had already found out that just putting a
good inductor in an inferior sounding board would not cure all the problems.
There had to be some way of making a "bad" board sound "good." Weeks of research
passed before something clicked. Almost forgotten bits of electronics knowledge,
from nearly 20 years prior, flashed into Geoffrey's recollection. He quickly
jotted down the ideas as fast as they came to him. Then, one by one, these
fragments proved to be more than just speculation. They helped to provide firm
proof of another piece of the puzzle.
After applying the concepts he "rediscovered", Geoffrey was eventually able
to transform poor or mediocre sounding wah boards into great sounding ones.
This ability allowed him to offer competent modification services to guitarists
around the world. He even became the authorized repair station for vintage
Thomas and Vox wah-wah pedals, with Randy Whitney of Korg/Vox referring vintage
work to him. It was about this time that Geoffrey began drawing, drilling,
and etching his own circuit board, which he called the "Real McCoy" board.
spread, the modification requests increased greatly. From time to time, Geoffrey
even found himself performing mods a second time for certain individuals,
altering the characteristics each time. He began to wonder if there was a way
to allow each guitarist to shape their own sound. The concept that would eventually
become the "Vari-Tune Circuit" was born. The "Real McCoy" board that Geoffrey
was making soon turned into the "Real McCoy Custom 1" board. This RMC1 board
allowed guitarists to determine their own sweep contour, or "Q", which was
the point of greatest variation in mod requests. While all his clients were
happy, Geoffrey was not satisfied.
Once again, he chose to seek out those with appropriate knowledge. This time,
an old Ampeg engineer was the "keeper of the knowledge." After several lengthy
conversations, Geoffrey was inspired enough to come up with "Real McCoy Custom
2" design. This new version added a way to allow guitarists to widen their
sweep without changing the intensity. As expected, the RMC2 circuit was warmly
received by clients.
Scarcely three months had passed since the inception of the RMC2 when Geoffrey
was able to meet with the designer of the Thomas wah. What had started as a
half hour hand-shake and photo shoot turned into a many hours long discussion
on the development of the wah. Almost as fast as questions could come into
Geoffrey's mind, the former Thomas engineer would answer. This was truly an
historic meeting for the future of the wah.
The very next morning, Geoffrey began compiling all the information he'd gleaned
from mods, the discussions with the Ampeg and Thomas Organ engineers, as well
as those with numerous other engineers, not to mention the intricacies of the
inductor. Slowly, the concepts of what would be the RMC3 board went from mind
to paper. Before the end of the day, two prototype RMC3 boards were drawn,
drilled, and etched.
Having finally come up with a circuit that could address every tonal nuance,
Geoffrey soon turned his full attention to the problem of potentiometers. Quite
early on, he had not thought potentiometers to be much of a problem or concern,
but that did not prove to be the case. It turned out that the ICAR potentiometers
used in nearly all the early Italian wahs were long out of manufacture. To
make matters worse, no one could be located that knew anything of the old ICAR
company, or their manufacturing specifications. As if that wasn't enough, the
sound produced with the old ICAR pots was unable to be reproduced by any pot
of current manufacture. The one pristine new-old-stock ICAR pot Geoffrey had
was the last of it's line.
in the past by similarly "impossible" quests, Geoffrey set out to
find a pot that would perform the same as the ICAR. After going through dozens
of different type pots, from uncountable electronics suppliers, he found one
in particular that nearly duplicated the ICAR's effect. Without hesitation,
he purchased all the available stock. Trouble was, that totaled only a few
hundred pieces. If he really planned to be serious about producing his own
wah, he'd have to have more. After careful consideration, he decided to contact
the manufacturer of his chosen pot.
The manufacturer was open to the concept of custom making a wah pot, but, in
order to be 100% accurate, they would need to dissect an original ICAR. This
presented Geoffrey with quite a problem. If he didn't offer up his NOS ICAR,
he couldn't truly reproduce it. But, if the company determined they couldn't
reproduce it after dissecting it, there would be nothing left for a second
try with anyone else. Since they had once made a very similar pot, Geoffrey
felt confident that they could reproduce the ICAR, 100%. After several agonizing
months, a few prototype pots arrived, along with the remains of the ICAR. They
had done it. For all intents and purposes, the ICAR pot had been reborn.
Two seemingly impossible feats had now been accomplished. The accurate reproduction
of the old brown (stack-of-dimes) inductor, and the ready availability of a
true ICAR-like potentiometer.
While the pots were being built, Geoffrey realized there was yet another problem
he had to deal with. That of radio interference. Old analog effects were prone
to picking up radio frequencies. There were even famous recorded performances
from 1969 and 1970 where wahs and fuzzes picked up local radio broadcasts.
This was a problem that no one had been able to control even since. As luck
would have it, Geoffrey had been in radio back when you had to know some of
the electronic theory behind radio just to get the license. This knowledge,
coupled with his never-say-die attitude, allowed him to create a unique passive
RFI and EMI filter and incorporate it into the wiring of his wahs.
Geoffrey now had a working interference-free circuit, an inductor that couldn't
be equaled, and a potentiometer that people thought would never again exist.
The stage was set for the RMC3.
Geoffrey proudly released his RMC3 to the public in the winter of 1994. It
caught on almost immediately in Japan, and began to be imported into that country
in relatively large numbers by a large Tokyo based distributor. Late in the
summer of 1995, Europe came on board, with distribution based in Germany. In
late fall of 1995, the RMC3 was picked up by a small distributor in the U.S..
In the summer of 1996, the RMC3 began to appear in its' own original case,
instead of being housed in pedal cases made by another manufacturer. In less
than two years, the RMC3 had grown from a guitarist's dream into a truly all
original wah available throughout the world.
1998, after numerous requests, Geoffrey released a non-tunable
wah named the RMC1. The wah was based on the most requested
mods he'd done over the years. The RMC1 quickly earned the
reputation as one of (if not the) best entry-level wahs on the
market. This year also marked the introduction of a power supply
jack and associated voltage limiting sag circuit. This voltage
limiting sag circuit allowed the RMC wahs to sound the same with
a power supply as they did with a battery.
year 2000 brought two changes to the RMC line. Although
Geoffrey's original cast aluminum case was unique in the world
of wahs, he could not get quality parts in a timely fashion. After
much work, Jimmy Dunlop agreed to supply Geoffrey with a custom
case. RMC wahs housed in the new gray hammertone cases
also debuted the "aged-Icar" tapered ROC-POT2.
July of 2001, Geoffrey brought out two RMC models. The RMC2
was the first of Geoffrey's wahs to feature outside controls. The
REAL MCCOY PICTURE WAH was the first concept piece from RMC. The
PICTURE WAH was a no-bones-about-it reproduction of the original
Italian built '67 CLYDE MCCOY PICTURE WAH.
year 2002 saw RMC wahs reach France for the first time, as well
as return to Germany. In the spring, Geoffrey was invited
to South Korea to design custom wahs for two recording artists. With
apologies to Zappa, requests are really the mothers of invention. When
Geoffrey returned to Seoul, he brought with him two totally custom
wahs with features never before found on wahs. Will these
developments find their way into any new production models? Only
time will tell.
February of 2003, a 5th model joined the RMC lineup, the WIZARD WAH.
The WIZARD WAH was the first wah that was created as a visual piece
as well as an audio piece.
year 2004 marked the Tenth Anniversary of the RMC3. A special comemmorative
gold RMC3LE was released to mark this milestone. Geoffrey also returned
to the non-wah market with the release of the first model in his
new FKEfx line. Plans are to have all non-wah effects to be part
of the FKEfx line. There are currently over half a dozen units being
developed but no word is available on exactly what's cooking.
What can be said about 2005? The busiest year ever at RMC turned
into one of the most problematic in a decade. The original Thomas
Organ wah case tooling
was broken towards the end of 2004. That meant the supply of wah cases was
about to come to a halt. Of course, RMC wasn't informed about the depth of
the case problem until a quarter way through the year. This was the beginning
of the "Big Wait." Cases finally came trickling in towards the end
of 2005, but nowhere near the needed quantity. The year 2005 closed off with
well over 1,000 pieces on backorder to dealers, worldwide.
year 2006 brought even more challenges to RMC. Our case supply
deal with Dunlop Manufacturing fell apart after 5 years. After
much searching, we finally came up with our own supplier and became
fully independent once again. New international laws that came
into effect in the summer forced RMC to redesign and re-source
every single part in our wahs in order to continue sales in the
EU and UK. Since everything had to change, we took this time to
strike a deal with Dave Fox, of Foxrox Electronics, to include
a custom designed output buffer in the main circuitry of all our
wahs. A 6th model was officially added to the production lineup
as well, the RMC6 (WHEELS OF FIRE).
closed the year 2006 still behind, much as 2005 had ended. Even
though RMC had grown from a one man operation, we still could not
seem to catch up. RMC wahs could be found around the world, just
not is great quantity.
brought a visual change to RMC wahs. Having finally used up
the last of our gray hammertone powder, all formerly gray hammertone
models became metallic blue. After more than a year in the
making, the JOE WALSH SIGNATURE WAH was released in mid-December.
While the RMC2 (released in 2001) was loosely based on a custom
wah built for J Mascis, Joe Walsh's personal wah and the production
model are identical except for the flame graphics on the production
finally relocated back to the west coast in spring of 2008.
The color of our footpads changed from black to white, which
coincided with the
Late in the year we introduced our Karmaflux inductor in all
models except the RMC4 and WALSH WAH.
turned out to be a rough year. A back injury in early March
kept me out of the shop for nearly a month solid and
a serious leg/ankle injury in late July sidelined me for about
45 days and still keeps me walking with a cane from time to
time. These problems kept me from releasing the RMC8 and RMC9
in the Fall as I had originally planned and also slowed up
production time for everything else.
was marked by the introduction of our new extended wah shell
throughout the RMC line, except for the Walsh Wah. All controls
shifted from the inside of the wah (RMC3) or the side of the
wah case (RMC2 & RMC6) to the front slope. Our super-duty
Italian on/off switch and under-the-rocker toggle switch were
introduced throughout the line. Rubber footpads reverted back
to black. Free-standing Switchcraft jacks also returned. Carlos
Santana and Rick
August. The RMC8-Guitar Eqwahlyzer was awarded top honors by
Premier Guitar Magazine.
- Possibly the most noteworthy year in a decade. Our year started
with a computer bug and motherboard failure that kept us offline
for most of January. February closed out with Geoffrey being
told he would lose his jaw and half his face, but that was
moot because he was going to die. Oh yeah, great way to end
a month. It wasn't until April that various tests were back
and Geoffrey (and his family) found out that he was not terminal
and wasn't going to lose his jaw or half his face. Just in
case that wasn't enough to tweak things it turned out that
there were major problems with a large portion of May's delivery
of metal wah housings. That hit meant that the free-standing
Old Empire City portion of Coos Bay had to be shut down in
June and production moved home. Replacement metal arrived late
in the year and production re-started on all models just in
time to stave off the wolves from the door.
- What a year. We started off the year optimisticly as we were
able to get our RMC3FL, RMC4 (Picture Wah), and RMC8 (Guitar
Eqwahlyzer) stocked at Musician's Friend and the various online
GC/MF entities. Not in any physical stores yet, but at least
online. Stephanie and I worked hard throughout the year building
and shipping pedals worldwide. In late September we began design
work on our latest model, the RMC10. By the end of October
everything complete and all of our custom components ordered.
At that point in time we thought that we had made it. We'd
gotten past the depths of 2012, re-built the RMC brand on the
backs of the 3/4/8, and had prepared what we considered to
be a game-changing RMC10. Then tragedy struck. On Friday
night, November 22, the absolute Love of My Life, my wife of
24 years, My Love of 25 years, my Stephanie, died without warning.
She was so important to the very beginnings of RMC that I cannot
to explain. She worked along side of me, producing the pedals
that we loved. A memorial service was held on December 14.
I taught our son, Chris, what Stephanie did on the "production
line" so production could resume. He has been putting his heart
into the "family business" and has made me so proud. Stephanie
would have been so proud as well.
now crossed into 2014. Chris and I are now Real McCoy Custom
and we will take this to the stars for Stephanie. Come along
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