Stompenberg. Sounds like a brand of Swedish outdoor clothing, but also like a villain in the next James Bond film – but in this case it’s actually a mash-up of two things. Stompenberg is the hybrid of “stomp boxes” and “Heisenberg”, which made the impossible possible after a long time of screwing and soldering. It’s a Thomann online app that allows musicians to test out real effect pedals with their own equipment, either from home or on the go. Below you will get a brief idea of the concept, development and implementation and of what Stompenberg is capable of… 💥🎶
The selected pedals travel to the Thomann partner laboratory in Erlangen, Germany where they undergo some operations and transformations by our men in white with the license to solder.
The following happens: A pedal is first deprived of its shell, pots and switches. The pots are measured to see what they do (whether they are linear, logarithmic, etc.) and replaced with digital pots and switches.
Then, for reasons of shielding, the original housing is put back on. Everything is recognisable as a pedal again, but now, instead of pots and switches, ribbon cables hang from the orphaned holes.
This ever-growing Frankenstein is mounted on a rack drawer, which houses not only the power supply but also a mini-computer specially developed for this purpose, per pedal.
Ribbon cable runs to the computer, audio cable into the pedal, everything is beautifully adjusted and balanced and then off to the rack!
Connection to the shop
The longest guitar cable in the world…
… is available from Thomann in the shop, but not from Stompenberg. From now on the soldering iron gets put away and is replaced by a PC and keyboard in Thomann’s Treppendorf. This is where our developers and designers sit, brooding over the visualization of the pedals and the interface that allows the pedals to be operated from anywhere in the world. From the logo to the controls to each button, everything comes from Thomann’s teamwork.
When you turn the virtual knob at home, the digital knob on the pedal in the Thomann lab is adjusted via this interface, while your sound runs through exactly this pedal and comes back to you with effect. There are 3 modes and a lot of UI tricks to discover.
The effect device
Design and development flow together here with loving attention to detail: Every knob can be rotated, every footswitch can be stepped on and every lever is slidable. This replica behaves exactly like the real pedal in the lab, right down to the smallest LED, and can therefore be operated in exactly the same way.
The three modes: PLAY, REC & LIVE
PLAY: You feed pre-recorded samples or specially uploaded sounds through the pedals and operate the controls with both hands (if using a touchscreen) while the sound loops through the effect pedal.
REC: If you want to go a step beyond, you can record your own riffs and loop them through the pedal of your choice!
LIVE: The ultimate experience – here you play live and get the result back directly from the Thomann lab. So you can try out the pedal, live, from the comfort of your bedroom, with just a small latency, but that’s not bad considering the signal travels virtually at the speed of light through the whole of Germany or even the whole of Europe.
The bright side: Even if your pedal is busy and you end up in the waiting queue, you don’t have to listen to the dude in front of you butchering a cover of Stairway To Heaven 😉
And the rest of my equipment?
If you want to know exactly how the distortion in front of your own amp is done, you might need a reamping box. But under certain circumstances the line output of the interface does the trick too, just turned down low. The result reads like a poem:
You play your own guitar
through a real pedal (which is somewhere else)
through your amp
through your cabinet or speakers
at the volume you want
and you can turn, shift and control all the knobs as you like.
… and get a pretty accurate picture if this pedal will be your new one or if you prefer another one (which you tested with Stompenberg). No need to drive to Treppendorf, to send cardboard boxes back to Thomann halfway around the world, or to listen to annoying comments from the people waiting in line.
The conversion is in full swing and while Stompenberg is running, our partners in Erlangen are taking more pedals apart every day to make them digitally accessible. There is plenty of room for growth – ultimately, your demand determines the supply of pedals. So let’s go, the smiles of satisfied guitarists are what keep us motivated!
Your Thomann R&D Team