Interview: Doug Castro (Darkglass electronics)

1.  Introduce yourself to bassylum readers please?
Well, my name is Doug Castro. Bass player and electronics engineer! I was born in Chiloé, a small island in southern Chile!
I moved to Helsinki, Finland after finishing college around two years ago, where I founded Darkglass electronics bit over a year ago.

2. Tell me about your musical influences?

There’re so many! The first metal bands were Iron Maiden, ACDC, Rush… playing-wise I guess Billy Sheehan for the 3 finger technique, Geddy Lee in the matter that I like to hit the strings as hard as I can! Stu Hamm when it comes to tapping and slapping. Now a days I am also learning to play with pick, I just like that clanky sound!
I also love progressive bands like Dream Theater, Symphony, and heavier stuff like Lamb of God, Meshuggah, Cannibal Corpse, and newer bands like Periphery, Animals as Leaders, Blotted Science, TesseracT among many, many others.
3. What addict you to music? What was the switch in your life that made you become a bass player?
I remember listening to nü-metal bands when I was in elementary school. Bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot were pretty much everything I listened to… I guess I got tired of just listening and began to think what instrument could I play! I think bass was a natural choice because I loved the big and percussive sound that some of these bands had (specially Korn). So when I was 13, my father surprised me with my first bass guitar and a 100W combo, and that was it! I’ve been hooked ever since.
4.Do you play in the band? Can you tell me a little more about it?
Currently no, I’d love to, but honestly I don’t really have time to do much else than focus on Darkglass at the moment. The company is growing at a very fast rate, and keeping up with the demand requires most of my time and energy… I love it though, I enjoy my work at Darkglass as much (perhaps even more) than learning songs and playing live!
I have played in bands in the past though: In Chile I played in a power metal band called Fireland, and here in Finland in a Death progressive metal band called Full Scale Conflict.
5.Doug s’ first bass?
Hehe, it was a very cheap Jazz Bass. I think the brand was Phill Pro.
6.What basses,amps do you use..? Bass effects? Any beside Darkglass Electronics?
I’m always switching and experimenting with new stuff. I currently use a Fender Jazz Bass V Deluxe. As for amps, after trying many, my favorite for small gigs and designing pedals is still the Mesa Boogie Walkabout.
As for pedals… let me see, I like the Phase 90 and Small Stone phasers for soloing. But since I usually play metal and heavy rock, I usually stick to my pedals… I designed them to give the sound that I was after, so is pretty logical that I’d go for them whenever I have a metal gig coming. I also recently bought a Malekko Ekko 616, a pretty neat delay, but I actually use it more as a chorus.
7.I gotta tell you… people at Bassylum are amazed by your B3K bass overdrive…It appears to be a great device to have in studio or live, so we gotta ask you…What s your work philosophy? What do you think about when you decide..’NOW I M GONNA MAKE A BASS PEDAL’?
Thanks! That’s great to hear. As for the philosophy, is actually pretty simple: I design and build the pedals that I want to use myself, and I just don’t settle until the design sounds exactly like I picture it in my head.
The day I decided to start designing was after a while of working repairing, building and modifying pedals.
I was so bored with working with other people’s designs, and also very frustrated with the options for rock bass players out there… didn’t mater how many pedals and preamps I tried, nothing could nail the sound I had in my head. Some came close, but almost good enough is not even close to good enough to me… So I figured that if there was no way to get that sound from someone else, I’d have to design and build my own pedals and preamps!
That’s how it all began, and the process was very long, I actually had the first prototypes ready within 8 months… but then I took another 10 to tweak that design until it was ready! And that’s how the Microtubes B3K was born.
8. Can you tell us something more about Darkglass el. ? Can you name some other model that you have besides b3k? PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Sure! We have the Harmonic Booster, which shares some of the stages of the B3K, so it has a similar Character, but this is a 100% clean preamp! It also features an active two band equalizer, and a Character switch that allows to go from modern, scooped tones from warmer, rounder tones fairly easily! And of course the Microtubes B7K, which is the B3K’s big brother:Once I had the B3K ready, everyone seemed to like a lot! So I wondered what could we add in order to make a very flexible and complete tool for the professional musician…  The most logical thing was to add a very flexible EQ!
So I just grabbed a B3K pedal and started experimenting with different EQ circuits and frequencies, after a few months of testing we decided that 4 bands provided extreme flexibility while keeping the layout clean and easy to use. We also decided to add direct and parallel outputs so that you could dial in amazing tones, and record directly with it! Apparently it worked, because is being used more and more everyday by noteworthy artists and producers! Producers like Misha Mansoor (Periphery, Animals as Leaders, Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, etc) and bands like TesseracT are using it both live and in the studio!
As for the future, we have huge plans! We’re very happy with the way 2011 went down, was our first year and the breakthroughs were amazing! We went from zero sales to having dealers and sales in 4 continents, and signing world class bass players as endorsers… but is just the beginning, we were just getting warmed up! Most of the plans are secret yet (but you’ll be among the first to find out once they’re public). What I can tell you is that we will release a limited edition of the Microtubes B7K (100 units only) featuring an exclusive design done by one of the world’s biggest comic book illustrators, and also a new Fuzz, which has been on prototype stage for a while, and we’re just tweaking the last details. As for the rest, is all very huge and there’s nothing sure yet, I can only say that if everything goes according to plan, we’ll release at least 3 totally new products!
9. What do you think about bassylum project?
I love it! Even though I don’t speak Croatian, I think is amazing that we bass players can have such spaces where we can discuss and talk about our instrument and music. I know it’ll keep growing and I’m very excited and honored by this interview.
10. You know… Croatia is a interesting country to visit.. After all that work, you deserve a vacation…. … vacation in Croatia maybe?
I have a few bass player friends there and they pretty much convinced me already to go. They showed me photos and is truly beautiful! I might go for a few days when the weather gets warmer to relax and spend some time with my musician friends over there!
11. p or j?
Both :). But if my shop was on fire and could take only one, I guess the Jazz Bass would be my choice. I just love that crunchy crispy sound!