A couple of months ago I spotted something a bit unique on eBay. Through the scars and scratches etched into the green-and-white colour scheme, the words "Lounge Guitars" and "Curtis" were visible.
I did a little research on the pedal before clicking the "buy it now" button - enough to know that there hadn't been any sales globally within the previous 3 months. Yet those who used the "Curtis" left glowing reviews.
Once I played a "Curtis" myself I immediately wanted to know more. What a great pedal! Why aren't there more around? Where can I get some??
Sadly, Lounge Guitars closed its doors some years ago, so the prospects of buying more fx will be dictated by a combination of diligent eBay scouting and blind luck. Here is some of the info I came across on the net.
The company itself was actually a music store located in Leederville, Western Australia. It's not clear how it came to be that the store got into making effects pedals, but clearly one of its staff had a knack for electronics. That person presumably was D J Nuttal, judging from the inscription on the "Curtis" pedal that its builder was "D J Nuttal Electronics".
It seems that Lounge Guitars produced at least 2 pedals pedals in the mid-2000's: the Curtis overdrive, and the Harris tremolo. Both pedals gained reputations as genuinely good units, with the Curtis in particular acquiring somewhat of a cult status amongst Australian guitarists. Notably, the guitarist from The Living End - a legendary Aussie punk-rock band - reportedly used a Curtis for some years in the 2000s.
Whilst the Lounge Guitars website is now long-dormant, the Way Back Machine reveals some interesting graphics for the Curtis (See Link), then priced at AU$295.00. The last site updates occurred in about 2008/2009, by which time the Curtis was no longer visible on the homepage. The Way Back archiving does not reveal much about the Curtis itself (which Lounge Guitars tagged as the "Scream Machine"), and does not feature the Harris at all.
Therefore all of the information about the development of the Lounge Guitars pedals is second-hand [ one forum user briefly describes an encounter with the man himself.... see here ]. Users of the Curtis often compare it to a Fulltone Fulldrive, given its two-stage layout (boost & overdrive). Other comparisons are made to the Tubescreamer TS808 circuitry, upon which the Curtis is apparently based (See Link).
All told, there are only a handful of reviews available for the Lounge Guitar gear, with most praising the build and sound quality and, in relation to the Curtis, its transparency as well as the power of its boost. I can second those opinions, having tried it out on the bass - the Curtis gives a shuddering boost with plenty of presence, as well as a sweet overdrive with the red circuit engaged (think the bass in Cream - Sunshine of Your Love or a boosty CCR tone).
Unfortunately, there is almost no further available information on these great pedals or their maker. If you have anything to add please get in touch! If you get the chance to try (*buy*) a Curtis yourself, do not hesitate. Like me, you will be left wanting more.
I will provide a full review of the Curtis down the track. For now, see the links below for additional information.