The History of Locobox

Information about the origin of the Locobox effects pedals is few and far between. However, recently I received an email from Yozo Ishiura from Japan with some interesting information. He found a posting on a website in Japan from a man who claims to have designed and worked at the small factory in Japan responsible for Locobox and many other small brands of pedals. Other brands included Aria and Volz (and it appears that Electra pedals from this era are the same as well).

According to the post, all the pedals were handmade in a small factory in the city of Urawa, in Saitama, Japan. There were virtually only three men (the president, the designer and his boss) as well as six or seven women part-time jobbers. They did all the R&D, construction, testing, and even the silkscreening themselves. They started out selling their pedals to Arai Boueki (Aria), and these had the brand name "Locobox."

Later on, they stopped using the metal cases, probably to save costs, and moved on to ABS resin (the 80s pedals). In the process, they changed/redesigned most of the circuits. They would just put different brand name stickers on them and sell under various brand names.

If you read Japanese, here is the link to the post: click here


Other information from Tom Hughes of Analogman

Tom Hughes (aka Analog Tom) from Analogman.com has published a new book called Analog Man's Guide to Vintage Effects. Tom was kind enough to share this entry from his new book:


Loco Box
A line of effects that were made in Japan, Loco Box arrived on the scene in the mid- to late- seventies and continued throughout the eighties. The earliest Loco Box effects were kind of funky and had some cool names and graphics; these included the Mysto-Dysto, Tubemaniax, Rotophase, Cosmo Chorus, Spaceship Flanger, and The Choker (compressor). These effects were also being sold by Guyatone with different model names (the Guyatone Box series). In the mid-eighties, the Loco Box name was used on a series of black generic Japanese effects, which were also being sold by Aria, Guyatone, and others.

Tom also says: "I can tell you this - Japanese effects manufacturing was (is) done by only a handful of companies who make a variety of products sold under numerous brand names. Maxon (the brand name of the Nisshin Onpa factory in Japan) was one of the world's largest OEM effects makers of the seventies and eighties, and were responsible for the entire Ibanez line as well as many others. But whether by contractual agreement or otherwise, these OEMs are not supposed to acknowledge that they are the ones actually making these effects, so the whole affair is somewhat secretive and people are reluctant to give out any info. There is a connection (which you may have noticed) between Loco Box and Guyatone Box Series effects from the same era. There also seems to be a link between them and Aria. A reliable source in Japan informed me that Nisshin Onpa was in fact OEM for Aria, which would lead me to believe they were also for Guyatone... and LOCO BOX (not to mention the Coron/Memphis/Nashville line). Of course, none of this has been strictly documented as fact - the best we can say is this is what appears to be true."

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