Chris Van Tassel is the co-founder of J. Rockett Audio Designs. Chris and Jay Rockett created their business to provide the best guitar effects for players worldwide. They are both long-time session musicians with decades of experience in the recording industry.
After years of being dissatisfied with what was available in the market, they decided to try and create products that satisfied their need for tone. J. Rockett Audio designs cover every aspect of tone—overdrives, distortions, delays, modulation, fuzzes, and buffers.
They’re passionate about the touring and player community. Listen in for some great takeaways about Chris’s entrepreneurial journey and stories about his experiences.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- Learn all about Chris Van Tassel and his path to founding J. Rockett [3:16]
- When Chris got to experience the life of a rockstar [9:02]
- What led Chris to become an entrepreneur in the music space [11:42]
- Correlations between being a musician and being an entrepreneur [16:33]
- The idea behind J. Rockett Audio Designs and the Rockett pedal [18:25]
- How J. Rockett uses influencers to promote their pedals [21:58]
- Chris’s favorite experiences as an entrepreneur [25:18]
- Who is Chris’s favorite band/performer and why? [27:20]
- What’s next for Chris Van Tessel and J. Rockett Audio Designs? [28:54]
- What brought Chris Joy and put him in the mindset for success [32:47]
Chris Van Tassel’s journey from musician to entrepreneur
Chris became a guitarist at an early age and played with bands in high school. He gave up sports for music. After moving to LA to try and become a rockstar, he quickly realized the traditional lifestyle of a musician wasn’t for him. After being a session player for some time, he decided to learn how to produce.
He landed a lot of projects at a studio called “Cello,” previously known as the “Original United Western Recorders”. It’s a well-known studio where Elvis, Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, and other famous musicians recorded. Chris points out that more #1 hits have come out of that studio than any in the world. Working there allowed Chris to hone his skills, and he continued to produce other records and gain experience in the industry.
When foot pedals started to become popular in the early 90s, there were a few very archaic options. Because they were relatively inexpensive accessories, guitarists would collect hundreds of pedals.
So Chris and Jay learned how to design pedals, read schematics, lay out circuit boards and more. It was a learning process but eventually got them where they are today. They went from building on a kitchen table to worldwide distribution and they’ve developed an amazing reputation.
What led Chris to become an entrepreneur in the music space
Chris had always kept a toe in the music industry, in recording sessions or production. But he couldn’t count on music to make a living. So he became a real estate appraiser and made more money than he ever thought possible. But he never enjoyed doing it. He had never been so stressed in his life. So in 2004, when he and Jay started tinkering with circuits, they thought, “Maybe we could sell some of these.”
How did they become successful? They worked backward. They knew they needed to know how to build the pedals. They knew they had to be able to afford to buy the parts and materials to make the pedals. They determined everything they needed to be successful and got to work, powering through the phase where most businesses die out.
The idea behind J. Rockett Audio Designs and the Rockett pedal
Chris points out that anyone can build a pedal. But the most important part of building pedals is your ear. Guitar players are “tone freaks.” You need to be able to hear what’s good and what’s not. There are a lot of engineers that create pedals that sound awful. Chris spent years in the recording industry working with some of the top guitarists. He knew what they were looking for. Some people get it, some people don’t.
How J. Rockett uses influencers to promote their pedals
Chris points out that it’s not about finding the biggest rockstar in the world to market your product. They certainly have a list of well-known artists that use their pedals. He believes the most effective way to use influencers is to find the people who’ve created their own audience. They’re more valuable than a rockstar. When they release a new product, they’ll find the most relevant person with the best audience who can demo their pedals. With the right audience, the pedal will take off.
Learn more about J. Rockett Audio Designs in this episode of Mitlin Money Mindset™!
Connect with Guest
J. Rockett Audio Designs was started by Chris Van Tassel and Jay Rockett. They began their ventures into the pedal world in 2004. Rockett Audio Designs was started by Chris Van Tassel and Jay Rockett. They began their ventures into the pedal world in 2004. After many years working in studios and playing live we have garnered decades of experience in the most important musical environments. We feel that in order to understand the ins and the outs of how guitar tones apply to various situations you have to have been there and done that.
Our famous saying within the company is “Until you stand at the top of a mountain you will never understand how high it is”. Not having the experience in these situations would make it hard to understand what guitar players want. We have been fortunate enough to have spent a lot of time on both sides of the console so we have tried to create products that reflect all of those possible applications and inspirations.
Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.
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