Tone Report Weekly Issue 144 - Page 19

F ran Blanche is a name that evokes the essence of Americana; a downhome Midwestern secretary with a penchant for baking and collecting china dolls straight out of ‘50s nuclear America. While her designs do somewhat adhere to this aesthetic, Fran Blanche is anything but unassuming. Spearheading the boutique movement with her effects company Frantone in the mid-‘90s alongside her contemporaries Zachary Vex, Bill Finnegan and James Demeter, Fran Blanche enjoyed cult success with her incredibly unique original designs, such as the Peachfuzz, Cream Puff, and The Sweet, to name a few. “Any guitar forum will show that this is not a culture that women would create or really ever desire to be a part of – which is a major obstacle to diversity right at the front gate…” -FRAN BLANCHE In addition to being in the boutique game almost longer than anyone who is in it today, Fran is also one of the only prominent women in the industry, and she has overcome some tremendous obstacles in the years she has been in business. Around 2008 she began to taper away, and by 2009 she had all but disappeared, making the prices of her pedals on the secondhand market surge. Now in 2016 with the help of Kickstarter, Fran is back in full swing with two of her flagship pedals, the Peachfuzz and the Cream Puff. Other than making the author’s stomach rumble, these effects embody Fran’s dogma of “…only original analog effects and accessories with an emphasis on tonal quality, clarity, and rugged reliability.” We at Tone Report had a rare opportunity to sit down with this effects veteran and legend, to speak about her story, where she has been, where she’s going, and what’s next for the new Frantone. TONE REPORT: It’s a pleasure to get to speak with you, thanks for giving us some of your time! Tell us a little bit about the current line of pedals you are offering. FRAN BLANCHE: Right now for the summer of 2016 I am making the Peachfuzz and Cream Puff as you know, both were brought back with successful Kickstarter campaigns earlier in the year. Now that Frantone has some traction I am self funding the re-release of The Sweet and a newly redesigned Vibutron and hopefully I can get all the parts issues ironed out in time for those to be added to the new line this fall. TR: When did you start to get into pedal building? Did you just sort of start tinkering or is it something you wanted to do from the beginning? FB: I talked about the long story of how this all started in a video of a lecture I did at the University of the Arts recently, but the short story is that I never had a plan to be a pedal maker. I did have a ne VBf"VF&6B&V6W6RFU&W'B6Р