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Just when you think you've seen it all! (The Vertex Effects scam)


Gluke
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Dear internet community, musicians, artists, and dealers,

I am here to be completely honest and forthcoming about everything that has occurred over the past two months with my company, without the help from any marketer or PR representative and write to you directly from the heart.

I had a conversation yesterday with a friend of mine, who is also a member on many of the forums which Vertex has been the topic of discussion. He too is a small business owner, and has had first hand experience in dealing with a business that had to address issues of integrity. He told me a story about a former employee who plagiarized years worth of articles in his magazine, got caught, and continued to lie about where the articles were taken from. Even when confronted with the evidence, this person was not capable of telling the truth, and just could not face the reality of his actions. When hearing this, I saw myself, and realized, “I’m that guy!”

I’ve yet to listen to my own heart. I ignored the voice of my higher power and allowed my ego to dictate my response instead of speaking the truth. I am here to set the record straight about me and my company, no matter the consequences:

Me (Mason Marangella)

I did go to the University of California, Berkeley and graduated with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Education. I do not have a degree in electrical engineering and did not clearly represent this to my customers, dealers, and artists. Although I have many skills of my own as an electronic designer, I’m not nearly as skilled as the engineers that have been supporting me in developing the Vertex products.

Ken Volpe

Ken has been a long time friend who has great sales experience, and offered his help in finding new dealers for Vertex products and supporting dealer relationships. He has only been working with Vertex since April of this year.

Ken had no idea what was going on with the Axis Wah, nor did I make him aware of what the product was in any way. Any information that he passed on to dealers was based solely on what I told him. His involvement in the company was strictly to work with dealers and be a representative; however, in light of the Axis Wah controversy he started to defend me, believing me when I said the things that were being written about me and Vertex on the forums were untrue. He is my friend, and wanted to support me, and I let him down by not clearly telling him the truth and allowing him to separate himself from the company before he became implicated in the Axis Wah controversy.

Michael Landau

Michael Landau and Vertex are parting ways, and both of his signature products, the Landau Boost and Landau Chorus, will no longer be produced after this final run releases this month.

Michael Landau has been instrumental in helping me grow my business and develop products over the last several years. He’s been incredibly generous with his time, guidance, and friendship to me, and I am forever grateful.

He trusted me with his name and allowed me the opportunity to do two signature products with him. I damaged his trust, our business relationship, and our friendship by my choice to market and sell a rebranded product in the Axis Wah, which ultimately damaged the credibility of my company and called into question the validity of his signature products despite being one of a kind, unique products.

I know that Michael and I both believe in the quality and sound of the products that we created together- they are incredible. However, I understand that being associated with me and Vertex calls into question his integrity, and this is certainly not what Michael signed on for, and in no way does he deserve to have his name disparaged on account of my actions.

I will always consider Michael to be a friend and wish him nothing but the best. He has inspired me in so many ways since I was a 6 years old: listening to his rich ambient guitar tones on James Taylor’s “New Moon Shine” cassette tape that my parents would play in their old Nissan Sentra with my brother and I in the back seat. As I developed as a guitar player and listener of music, I got into Michael’s solo career and the rest was history. I can’t go a week without listening to something that Michael has played on. It’s truly been a privilege and an honor to work with Michael over the last few year and have been some of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Donations

I donate my time and money (from proceeds from Vertex sales) to two Title I public schools in Oakland, CA. At ASCEND Elementary school, I helped run their weekly morning music program with two other teachers at the school. I was there a few hours each week, to help run the only musical enrichment that these elementary students got all week due to lack of funding and budgetary restrictions. I plan to continue for this school year as students settle into the “back-to-school” routine and we resume the program (typically the 2nd or 3rd week of school).

At the second school, Berkley Maynard Academy, I use proceeds from the sale of Vertex products (except the Landau Chorus where Michael Landau chose his own charity to donate) to pay for school supplies for teachers and students, and fieldtrips for families that cannot afford it. I have attached a copy of a check that I wrote for the 5th grade camping trip an an example, however several other donations were provided of the last few years. This money was used to pay for students whose families could not afford to send them away on an overnight trip and have an experience in the California wilderness. The check is made out to BMA (Berkley Maynard Academy) TAP (Teacher, Administrator, Parents group):

This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 800x364.


Vertex Axis Wah

The Axis Wah is a rebranded BBE Ben Wah. The following things were changed: LED, Bottom Plate, Rubber Footpad, control knob, faceplate, and Wah pot on the NOS version only (changed to a different 100K S-taper pot). The silk screening was removed from the enclosures as was the metal emblem riveted into the top of the footpad. We would adjust the pot to give the wah a more full-range sweep, but this could have also been done by the customer themselves. All of the aesthetic changes and parts manufactured for the changes were done in California, except for the Wah pot on the NOS Wah that was sourced in the USA, but likely from Taiwan or China.

I got a hold of a BBE Wah pedals several years ago and found them to be really great examples of the vintage Vox tone, but looked awful. I was working on a wah of my own at the time, but needed more time and money to develop it, and thought that this would be a good springboard to get a wah product out there to help launch my future wah down the road. I experimented with a few different changes (above) to improve the aesthetics and make it look classy, and it became my best selling product. As much as I wanted to continue to develop my own Wah design, the Axis Wah seemed to pick up more and more traction each month and would push my own design efforts back. My idea was that I would just clear out my existing inventory of Axis Wahs, but this never happened. The product was selling well, customers liked it, and I was too oblivious to admit or acknowledge that I was selling a lie.

***ADDITION as of 9/8/14 @ 12:03AM***

To clarify, I have no NDA agreement with BBE or any involvement with the design or manufacturing of the Ben Wah.

Vertex Volume Pedals

This was manufactured as described on the website and in the manual.

Website: https://www.vertexeffects.com/effect...o-volume-pedal

Manual: https://www.vertexeffects.com/docs/m...lumeStereo.pdf

I do state that is based on a Boss FV-500 platform and that this product is a modification. There is also the words “modified in the USA” on the front of the volume pedal. The modifications require getting rid of components that aren’t necessary and as a result hurt the tone. However, the result of the modification is significant, and creates an appreciable difference between a stock Boss Volume pedal and the modified version. I am sure I am not the first to figure this modification out, but to my knowledge nobody was offering this to the public and after I did a few modifications for various artists, I got emails from clients requesting it which was the reason for releasing this as a product item.

Vertex Cables

We buy our cable from Belden, it is made in the USA. The sleeving of the cables, termination, soldering and all assembly of the cables from there all happens in house. We terminate with high quality Neutrik end (European versions, not the Chinese Rean versions) and place two layers of heat shrink around the ends so that they connectors don’t come loose and also protect the cable as best as possible. They are not directional in shielding as a twisted pair shielded cable is. They are coax cables. I offer a lifetime warranty on them.

I experimented with many cables and found this one to be the best of even the most expensive boutique brands when put in the context of a pedalboard and multiple types of amplifiers (both clean and high gain) and different pickup outputs (both single coil and humbucking). This was also true of all testing and comparing we did with multiple artists and customers. When I was experimenting with different cables in effort to spec my own (which never happened once I started sourcing from Belden), I noticed the Pete Cornish was also using a Belden mic cable for his instrument cables. I justified to myself that Pete was a respected figure in the industry and his cables sounded great, why couldn’t I do the same for a cable that I found to be superior for my purposes.

This justification however, did not make statements about my cables any more accurate. The bottom line is that it is my responsibility to represent my products exactly as they are, and I did not, and I should have laid out this information for customers to make a fully informed choice.

Landau Chorus

This was marketed as exactly what it was, we do match this product to Michael Landau’s trusty old SCH-1, there are many changes, and requires incredibly invasive re-work, however Michael stipulated that he wanted the product to remain in this enclosure as part of the signature product instead of doing a new PCB and putting into a standard Vertex enclosure. Landau has always spoken highly of this product and agrees that it matches his original Arion Chorus.

Landau Boost

This product was marketed exactly as described. It is fully transparent, no color to your sound, and was developed with Michael Landau’s supervision. It is a great product, and has functions that no other other Boost possesses in addition to not adding any change to your tone, just whatever you have, but made louder. To my knowledge this product shares no similarities with other existing Boost pedals, and we used part of the design ideas in the output buffers used on the pedalboard systems that I built to help create the colorless boost function of this product. We also use a similar idea found in our dual buffer pedalboard systems to isolate the impedance of the Volume/EXP function that can be connected to the Boost.

Landau has commented and would continue to agree that his product sounds great, and does exactly what is advertised.

Vertex Boost

This product was marketed exactly as described. It is fully transparent and adds no color to your sound. It was developed off of the Boost that Michael Landau oversaw in the Landau Boost and shares the same overall PCB with a few changes in functionality. The boost circuitry is identical in both boosts, but the Vertex Boost offers a few extra functions, being able to use the Boost as a volume control when the Boost is in bypass. It is a great product, and has functions that no other Boost possesses in addition to not adding any change to your tone, just whatever you have, but made louder. To my knowledge this product shares no similarities with other existing Boost pedals, and we used part of the design ideas in the output buffers used on the pedalboard systems that I built to help create the colorless boost function of this product. We also use a similar idea in our buffers to isolate the impedance of the Volume/EXP function that can be connected to the Boost.

Summary

I was dishonest in the marketing of the Axis Wah. As a businessman I have an obligation to fully disclose the nature of my products to my customers and I did not. On top of it, I lied when questions arose about the origin of the product and didn’t identify the Axis Wah as a rebranded pedal. I dishonored my friends, allies, customers, artists, and family by not disclosing this, and moreover by not being culpable immediately once these facts were apparent. My fears and insecurities as a human being and how it would impact me trumped the necessity to be honest and truthful. I have no excuse.

This has been something that I’ve struggled with my entire life, and I feel that God, The Universe, Karma, or whatever dogma you subscribe to has been trying to tell me to “WAKE UP”,and it has taken something as momentous as this for me to finally “get it”.

It is truly the most difficult experience that I have had in my life, but has also taught me the most important lesson in my life: there is no gray area in the truth. You are either 100% truthful or you are not, there is nothing in between. There isn’t always immediate gratification in the truth, sometimes it sucks, and sometimes things don’t get better right away, or at all, but standing in the space of honesty and truth is the only place where I can be free.

Moving Forward

I will work tirelessly to make customers who purchased the Axis Wah whole again. It is going to be a long and arduous process. I’m working now on securing funding so that I can begin offering refunds to customers that purchased the Axis Wah, as there was no integrity behind the sale of this product. I fully recognize that I need to seek guidance and do some intensive work on myself and really get to the core of my behavior and how I can address this problem I have moving forward. All I ask is for time and your patience in getting money back to Axis Wah owners.

If you are an owner of the Vertex cable(s), please also feel free to contact me as I did not describe that my supplier was Belden, the cable was a coax, and misrepresented the directional functionality of the cable as a result of not being twisted pair shielded.

My contact information is below:

Phone: 510-863-0612
Email: mason@vertexeffects.com
Skype: vertexeffects

Sincerely,

Mason Marangella
__________________
VERTEX EFFECTS, INC.
Custom Effects Pedals | Handcrafted in California
http://www.vertexeffects.com
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Hehe ja en spennende saga å følge med på dette altså. :)

Er fortsatt skeptisk, han er for glætt og politikeraktig. Han er virklig en mester i å manipulere Amerikanske nettfora. Drar inn Gud og ferdreland og viser frem sjekk for donerte penger til en barneskole osv.....Spiller på alle de riktige strengene.

Burde bli svovelpredikant i sørstatene istedet kanskje? :P

Alle fortjener en ny sjanse, men det blir nok lenge til denne karen får noe tillit.

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Ja, denne teksten kunne med fordel vært redigert en hel del. Men jeg skjønner jo at fyren har sine problemer. Andre merker har gått nedenom og hjem etter denne typen saker (Freakish Blues og Devi Ever f.eks.), så det spørs om fremtiden ser spesielt lys ut for Vertex.

Edited by Eivind August
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Hehe ja en spennende saga å følge med på dette altså. :)

Er fortsatt skeptisk, han er for glætt og politikeraktig. Han er virklig en mester i å manipulere Amerikanske nettfora. Drar inn Gud og ferdreland og viser frem sjekk for donerte penger til en barneskole osv.....Spiller på alle de riktige strengene.

Burde bli svovelpredikant i sørstatene istedet kanskje? :P

Alle fortjener en ny sjanse, men det blir nok lenge til denne karen får noe tillit.

Jeg sendte nettopp en SMS til Marsa i dag tidlig og vitsa om at Mason kommer til å satse 100% på P&W miljøet fremover................

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Jeg sendte nettopp en SMS til Marsa i dag tidlig og vitsa om at Mason kommer til å satse 100% på P&W miljøet fremover................

Ha :P

Men ser allerede folk som tar agnet på TGP, jeg tviler ikke et sekund på at det er nøye skrevet for å appelere mye til den gjengen...

Her er et svar fra en som er inne på det:

"Your reaction is exactly what the OP wants to see. Consider:

  • The "Coming Clean" post hit TGP less than 36 hours after a last-ditch effort at continued obfuscation. That's a pretty quick turnaround from hanging on to a sinking ship to hitting bottom and throwing oneself on the mercy of the community.
  • The only misdeeds admitted to have been those firmly established to the point where further denial would call into question one's capacity for clear thinking.
  • The wah scam is made to sound like something that spun out of control due to market demand. That's certainly part of the equation, but rebranding the BBE pedal and crafting misleading marketing copy, duping standup guys into demoing it, filming the GP video while spouting lies into the camera, and marking it up by 134% shows a calculated sort of fraud that is barely hinted at in the OP.
  • While the "apology" is full of personal remorse, none is directed toward the person and company most directly affected - Joe Gagan and BBE. Joe designed (or at least co-designed) the Ben Wah and he weighed in early on in this debacle. We were then treated to ludicrous claims about NDAs, ghost design work, shoddy Chinese construction, and other such nonsense clearly intended to discredit the exact same pedal that brought so much revenue into the Vertex coffers.
  • Soon after I started posting pics of my "Axis" degooping, I received a "cease & desist" letter from Vertex's attorney asserting that my 1st Amendment rights did not extend to suggesting that my "Axis" wah may be a rebadged BBE Ben Wah. Which it was. So when the OP was being backed into a corner, he paid money to a lawyer to harass TGP members in the hopes of scaring them into silence. I have yet to see any sort of contrition for such a proactive effort to keep the truth under wraps.
  • To my knowledge, no one has yet to degoop the "Landau Chorus" or either of the Boost pedals. We're supposed to believe that these are 100% legit. Maybe they are. But even after "Coming Clean" we have nothing on which to base such a belief other than the word of someone who has a serious problem with admitting to any wrongdoing that has not been completely uncovered for all the world to see. If the "builder" wants to be "100% transparent" then he'll post the schematics and circuit board photos for the chorus and boost pedals. Until then I would be a fool to assume they are what he claims they are.

The drive to uncover the truth is not personal and never has been. It's all about knowing the REAL unvarnished, unfiltered truth and controlling the collateral damage. I have no problem forgiving someone who has done me wrong and/or harmed others in some way, but a nicely worded apology with references to the offender's good intentions, charity work, and plans on moving forward with a legit business goes only so far. My radar could be off (although it most certainly was "on" throughout this episode) but I still detect a thread of denial. The fact that I can (as of this moment) click on the company website and for the most part it looks like business as usual suggests that reality has not quite sunk in for everyone involved."

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Ser Godlyd har et par Vertex pedaler til salgs enda, bl.a. Wah'en. De har redusert prisene dog, og tatt med noe info om rebranding etc.

Jeg har prøvd å informere Godlyd tidligere men de slukte Mason's BS de og.......

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