Juan Urquhart, affectionately known as Maneco, is Uruguay’s leading loop based pedal builder. SSS has had the chance to discuss his inventions and his music in a chance to continue to expose the guitar world up to the world of loop based music.
Get to Know the Maneco Nano Looper
SSS: You state on your website that your pedals are inspired by the EH16 with Magna Store delay by Electro-Harmonix (TM). Can you give us an in depth description of this classic pedal and why it has inspired your creations?
Maneco: It was incredible for 1983…up to 16 seconds of delay time, reverse, hold, pitch transposing, modulation for pitch time, and even a metronome…I’m still wondering from what planet the guy who designed that came from…
SSS: How do your pedals draw from the EH16?
Maneco: Well, modern components (especially memory chips) allow more time for storing loops, the bandwith is better since when you were in the sixteen seconds range bandwith would drop to 2khz (mine have a 10khz bandwith and are 8bit, while the original was 16 bit). I also added a multi-mode resonant filter to some models…and memory is non volatile now.
SSS: What are the various models of pedals that you make and how do they differ?
Maneco: The line goes from small to big this way:
- Nanolooper: 16 seconds, hold and bypass foot switches
- Nanolooper32: same but 32 seconds
- Microlooper: 2 x 16 seconds, hold, reverse, bypass A/B loop, selector, resonant filter
- Filter Eko: 2 x 32 seconds, 2 LFO’s for pitch modulation and filter modulation, lots of sound shaping options…take a look at my site: http://manecolooper.tripod.com.
- Manecolooper: 64 seconds, all of the options of the original EH unit but all foot switches are on board, on the EH16 you needed an external foot switch.
- Elite: 2 x 64 seconds, multi-mode filter, midi clock out.
…I tried to give a bird’s view.
SSS: What are some of the key features of your pedals and how can these features be used?
Maneco: Well, they are basically long delays, with hold, this is also called “non static looping,” because you set a delay time, by a time knob, and a range time switch, and play sound on sound, until you press the hold switch, then no more information is added to the loop, and you can play over it…the time knob also is like a pitch shift control, so you can shift what’s recorded over several octaves, you can get some crazy experimental sounds from this…of course this is the elemental explanation, I suggest everyone to take a look to www.loopers-delight.com, and read the articles from David Torn…
Having said that, they work fine as delays, using the shortest range of time…users love the tone of them,that was an unexpected side effect when i designed them, I needed a looper, this came for free!
SSS: The Manecolooper has synthesizer capabilities. How would you describe these synthesizer sounds?
Maneco: The models that have resonant filter included give the sound shaping options that you could have from running an audio signal into the external input of an analog synth…it’s a new universe of sound, well not so new, but I use it a lot.
SSS:The Manecolooper Elite is your top of the line pedal in terms of capability. What are some of the possibilities that lie within the use of this looper?
Maneco: It has all of the features of the others,and more time to store sound, midi sync output capability so you can slave a drum machine or computer program to it. What i usually do is sync REBIRTH, a program that emulates 2 tb303 and an 808 and 909 emulation of old Roland drum machines, then play over it, recording guitar ideas…
SSS: How do your loopers differ from the industry standard Boomerang(TM)Phrase Sampler?
Maneco: Boomerang, a cool machine, is a member of the other looping concept, what some people call “static looping,” because you have a record start and stop foot switches,the length of the loop is set by foot instead of a TIME knob…but I’m working on new models that have both kind of looping systems…
SSS: What are some of the custom modifications that you offer for your pedals to meet a musician’s specific needs?
Maneco: In fact, some of my models came from ideas of customers, so i can go that far!!! Sometimes they need features from a combination of models, and in an smaller size for stuffed pedal boards, so I go into l input and try to squeeze them into smaller boxes. I’m open to any request.
SSS: How did you get involved in building pedals? How long have you been building the Manecoloopers?
Maneco: I have to mention the inspiration from Robin Guthrie, guitarist of Cocteau Twins. I discovered they were a guitar band when i saw them playing live in Argentina in 1991. I live in Uruguay. I could not believe that those textures came from guitars. I became a guitar player after that. I was already involved in music electronics, the pedals came later.
The Manecoloopers started as a development in 2001, while recording with my band because i needed something to push guitar ideas further. The first prototype is still alive in a friend’s pedal board. It was called the “Man-eko”…but 2003 saw the birth of this as a business.
SSS: Most of us here at Six String Soul are not familiar with your band Rendher. Describe to us, if at all possible, the music that your group creates.
Maneco: Rendher is a band with a female singer,that explores sound and songs in styles related to electronics, trip hop, and metal…the blend works…The line up is:
- StellaMarys: voice and guitar
- Harry: bass and loops
- Federico: drums
- Maneco: guitar and loops
SSS: Since Rendher is a Uruguayan group, and most of us here are not familiar with the culture, can you tell us about the music culture like in Uruguay? Is it progressive, traditional, electronic, rootsy? How easy is it to survive as a performing musician in your culture?
Maneco: We are a different band from the local scene, that goes more towards the blend of Latin and rock. I read once, in a local shows magazine that they said, regarding one of our shows: “Friday night, Rendher live, the only Uruguayan band that could play in any place or club of the planet!” And you don´t survive as a musician here. I work repairing medical equipment as a full time job. Maybe the future changes thanks to my Manecoloopers.
SSS:How do your pedals help you to shape Rendher’s music.
Maneco: As i mentioned, looping textures are an essential part of our sound, especially when exploring new ideas. I use them even with voice. The background that you can hear in some of our music is Stella Marys voice, mangled by my pedals. You can download some songs from http://rendher.tripod.com.
SSS: What other pedals do you use with your looper(s)? Do they blend nicely with the Manecolooper(s)?
Maneco: I use everything in the pedal world. I use many choruses, phasers, filters, built by myself placed before and after the loopers. Of course, lots of delays. I’m not a big fan of reverb, I prefer textures from two or three delays.
SSS: For the gear hungry person inside all of us here, what is the current guitar rig that you are currently using? Guitar? Amplifier? Pedals? What have you used in the past?
Maneco: I tried to build a live rig as compact as possible:
Zoom 707 II > space station clone built by me > analog delay built by me > Yamaha Magic Stomp > Nanosampler (a prototype of a new phrase looper i will release soon…I have an Ibanez guitar from the economic line.
Harry, our bass player has a foot controller built by me for triggering samples from a Boss SP303, and he has a couple of loopers from me too.
I have a Marshall 80 watts combo.
In the past I’ve used a PDS8000, my first looper, it’s limitations triggered the need to develop my loopers…thanks Digitech!!!
SSS: Thank you for your time Juan. One final question. How can those musicians living outside Uruguay (such as musicians in the U.S.) acquire your pedals?
For more information, please visit the website for Maneco Loopers.