DEVELOPMENTAL HISTORY OF REAL MCCOY CUSTOM


The 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 was 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.

Much time 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.

As word 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.

Undaunted 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.

In 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.

The 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.

In 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. 

The 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.

In 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.

The 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.

The 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).

We 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.

2007 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 piece.

We 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 introduction of our ROC-POT5 wah pot. Late in the year we introduced our Karmaflux inductor in all models except the RMC4 and WALSH WAH.

2009 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.

2010 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 also introduced throughout the line. Rubber footpads reverted back to black. Free-standing Switchcraft jacks also returned. Carlos Santana and Rick Derringer joined the RMC Family in August. The RMC8-Guitar Eqwahlyzer was awarded top honors by Premier Guitar Magazine.

2012 - 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 shop in the 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.

2013 - 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 we had 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 begin 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.

We've now crossed into 2014. Chris and I are now Real McCoy Custom and we will take this to the stars for Stephanie. Come along with us.


No portion of this site may be reproduced, copied, or downloaded without the expressed written consent of Geoffrey R. Teese. Purchase of any RMC product does not include transfer of Intellectual Property Rights. All Intellectual Property Rights are the sole property of Geoffrey R. Teese unless otherwise noted or licensed.

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