NAMM 2024: To all the stompbox addicts out there whose index fingers have been hovering over second-hand listings of that out-of-production Fulltone OCD drive pedal for some weeks now, quivering, ready to pounce, now is the time to stand down, because Fulltone is back, with Mike Fuller announcing a new partnership with Texan brand Jackson Audio.
Furthermore, there is a new Custom Shop edition of the OCD, a v1.4, which is available right now direct from Fulltone, priced £199 / $249, and it is described by the resurrected guitar effects pedal company as “an exact part for part recreation of one of the most valuable and sought after guitar pedals ever made,” and is being offered with a free OCD T-shirt with every pre-order.
This news of Mike Fuller and his Fulltone brand’s return is as unexpected as it is big. Despite building a reputation as one of the most respected pedal manufacturers in the United States, in June 2020, Fulltone was dropped by some retailer partners, including Guitar Center, in the fallout over Fuller’s controversial remarks on social media during the George Floyd protests. Fuller apologised but would ultimately close Fulltone's Californian factory in 2022, with a leaked memo explaining at the time how the business model of making everything made in the USA was no longer viable.
Fuller was moving to Nashville to do something different. But it was upon moving down to Tennessee that Fuller got a call from Brad Jackson, president and CDO, Jackson Audio, asking if he would be interested in selling the brand or licensing it. That conversation started the ball rolling for the return of Fulltone.
“What Brad and I talked about was making the product in the United States, to continue the quality, and for me to be involved,” said Fuller, who subsequently went down to Dallas, Texas, to visit the Jackson Audio facilities.
“I guess that was enough for Mike,” said Jackson. “That was the first time I ever met Mike face to face. I think we all left that meeting saying, ‘Yup, this is going to happen.’”
Fuller says the Jackson Audio team would enable him to develop products that would hitherto have been out of reach of his skill set. Jackson says it is his team's responsibility to preserve the brand's reputation for quality and build on it.
“My responsibility with Fulltone USA is really twofold,.” says Jackson. “There is an enormous stewardship component to what I am doing, because I have a 20-year history of playing these products. They are foundational products to my life. It’s not just ‘build my products’ it’s take 30 years of my career, all the success that Mike has had, take it and steward it and carry it forward, so we have to do that. We have to take his brand and hold it with the utmost care and carry it into the future.”
What this means in practice is that Jackson Audio will handle manufacturing, shipping, distribution, with Jackson and Fuller collaborating on prototype development. But Jackson says that ultimately Fulltone USA brand will be Fuller’s products.
Look out for legacy stompboxes returning to the lineup, and some new designs incoming. There is already a wide range of Fulltone effects available at Sweetwater, and you can view the full range at Fulltone USA for more details.