Welcome to

Damage Control USA



JACQUES:  Tell me how Damage Control came into existence?

LUCIAN:  After 5 fantastic years running the Visual Design department at Line 6, I left the company to pursue the next chapter of my career.  I suppose that my ambitions were no longer in alignment with my position at Line 6 and so we amicably parted ways.  For a while, I did some independent consulting as Lucian Tu Design (LTD) for various pro-audio and MI companies.  While doing consulting work I ran into Gregg Stock, who at the time was working for Fender.  Gregg and I had previously worked together at Line 6 and so we were friends and former co-workers.  As we realized that we shared an entrepreneurial spirit, Gregg said “I can engineer some heavy analog designs” and asked me “what do guitar players want?”  I replied, “I’ll tell you what they want” and a week later I had conceived the Demonizer.  In a few short weeks, I had envisioned an entire line of new products and a company that represented a premium brand.  The first phase of this company included an entire line of pedals that would allow us to build our technical IP and manufacturing business one component at-a-time.  The phase one products included: Demonizer, Womanizer, Glass Nexus, and Time Continuum.  The next members to join the company were Dave Fruehling- the systems architect and Pete Celi- the DSP guru.  Once again, these outstanding engineers were old co-workers and friends of Gregg and me from the Line 6 days.  With the addition of Dave and Pete, this new company now had a comprehensive technical aptitude that would rival any audio company.  At Damage Control, we believe in a vision of building a premium brand.  We believe in building a brand that not only has our products be the embodiment of our competence but every level of our company from personnel, technology applications, product marketing, corporate operations, and so on to be built on the principles of a premium brand.  The world has enough down-market products that compete on features and low cost.  The reality is, there are players who want new, innovative, high-quality products with premium sound.  Players have been searching for a new brand prestige without giving up the soul of music from their equipment.  The industry is looking for a hero and I believe Damage Control is the answer. 


JACQUES:  Is Damage Control affiliated with Line 6 still in any way?


LUCIAN:  No.  We have a history as Line 6 employees in the past but now we have no affiliation with Line 6.  I certainly had a fantastic experience while at Line 6 and have the utmost respect for my former boss and friend, Marcus Ryle.  Marcus, Michel and I have had a wonderful history together!


JACQUES:  Tell me a bit about your professional and musical background?


LUCIAN:  As a child growing up in Santa BarbaraCalifornia, I started playing guitar at the age of 15.  I was soon involved with playing in local bands and working on various recording projects with my 4-track cassette recorder.  Some of my childhood musical hero’s included: Led Zeppelin, Rush, early Metallica, and Megadeth.  I was so inspired by the power of these guitar-driven bands that I was compelled to somehow make music my career.  I felt that I had a vision and with enough hard work, could make a mark somehow in the music industry.  I felt that music could be combined into both a creative outlet and a career.  All throughout my childhood, I was very artistic, especially with drawing, language, and a host of visual arts.  As the only son of a professor father, I knew the realities of dedicated hard work and determination.  As a result, I gained a work-ethic and value-system that became instrumental in my goals. 


Equipped with a sobering sense of reality and a driving ambition, I chose to pursue a college degree that would leverage my artistic talents for a professional career in technology.  I believed that I would be able to combine my ultimate passion for music with a career that would have the means to support that vision.  At an early age, I decided I didn’t want to flip burgers for a day job and hope to make it big in a band on weekends (laughing...).  I was fortunate to have a very supportive family that encouraged me to pursue my passion as long as it was the result of my very best efforts.


During the latter 2 years of high school, I had awoken into a realization of how vital academic performance is.  With a sense of awakening, I realized how critical it was going to be to get a world-class college education.  I realized that without a foundation of a university education, I wouldn’t be properly equipped to effectively achieve my musical dreams.  After much research and hard work, I was admitted into the world renowned Art Center College of Design for a bachelor-of- science degree in product design.  Throughout college, I worked very hard to earn many merit-based scholarships and all the while continued to play guitar and record albums.  In my senior years at ArtCenter, I developed recording and guitar products as a senior thesis and of course for honing my own passions of music technology.  I remembered thinking “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”


After I graduated with honors from ArtCenter, I went to work in the medical device and diagnostic industry.  I was involved with designing robotic surgical devices and various types of medical equipment.   The experience was quite removed from music but did provide me with a solid foundation from the demands of ISO 9001 product design.  As history dictates, I soon met Marcus Ryle and came to work for him at Line 6 in 1998.


After 5 immensely successful years with Line 6, I left to pursue the next chapter of my career. After I left Line 6, I worked for various MI and pro audio companies as Lucian Tu Design (LTD).  LTD was a very resourceful experience as I continued to build so many strategic relationships with many manufacturing companies and key personnel.  Soon after my involvement with consulting, I decided to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions with music and founded Damage Control.  Since then, I haven’t looked back and the future looks very exciting and full of tremendous promise.  As they say, “no risk, no reward.”

JACQUES: We know, there are guitar companies that do digital modeling technology vs. analog technology, what makes Damage Control unique?


LUCIAN:  Damage Control’s core-competency is unique because we have the technical expertise to innovatively and artistically execute both digital and analog designs.  However, what makes our brand and products especially potent is our ability to discern and implement where each of these respective technologies (digital or analog) is best served in making music.  We never forgot that music is an art form and technology used for the sole purpose of utility and features is often limited in scope.  On many levels, such utility-driven products are lacking in sonic character, warmth, artful user operation, and brand prestige.  A brand or a product based on a single technology or formula is limited in its ability to be the best in multiple product requirements or capabilities.  Do you want a “cookie-cutter” technology crammed in various form factors that claim to be all things to all people or do you want specialized products that offer the best assets of choice technologies that really deliver high-end sonic performance?  At Damage Control we do not do modeling.  However, what we do provide are products that utilize the best characteristics and performance benefits from analog and digital technologies (simultaneously or exclusively where it makes sense).  For example, the Demonizer and Womanizer are 100% analog tube preamps (no DSP).  For its primary purpose as a preamp, a direct recording device, and a pedal, the Demonizer and Womanizer takes advantage of what superior analog tube designs do best- provide a wide range of amazing, harmonic-rich tone.  For products that DSP excels at in terms of effects, programmability, and fidelity, we provide all those great DSP features and fuse it with retro tube technology for added characteristics.  The TimeLine, Glass Nexus, and Time Continuum deliver the goods where DSP isn’t a dirty word and offers powerful effects processing and features.  Although I believe that throughout the 90’s, the advent of digital modeling products provided instant gratification and inspiration to many players, the technology in itself has run its course and as a result, has educated many players about the original equipment used as reference for modeling.  This education about good tone has resulted in training players for what good tone really is and subsequently created a new more sophisticated market of players who want original and/or new equipment.  There’s an adult world and there’s a kid’s world.  Damage Control is for adults.



JACQUES:  Demonizer and Womanizer are the first products from Damage Control, would you tell me about them? 


LUCIAN:  Yes, the Demonizer and Womanizer were launched at the 2005 Winter NAMM show.  The products began to ship in March in limited quantities worldwide.  The Demonizer and Womanizer represent the cornerstone of a guitarists’ tone.  At Damage Control, we believe that technology should appropriately serve its purpose with maximum artistic results.  That said, we all know that great analog distortion is premium.  When it comes to the quality of superior guitar tone (in both sound and feel), there’s no question that analog tube design reigns supreme.  Both products are 100% Class A tube distortion preamplifiers, table-top direct recording devices, and on-the-floor foot pedals.  These products provide a huge range of harmonic-rich guitar tone and feel.  They are both capable of producing boosted clean tones to mild over-driven tones, to all varieties of the hardest rock and heaviest metal tones.  The Demonizer is marketed toward heavy modern tones and the Womanizer is geared toward blues and classic rock tones.  Each of these products has a dual pre and post 12AX7 tube topology design with an incredible pre and post active semi-parametric EQ.  They both also share a powerful high voltage (250V) design and opto compression.  The voicing and the ranges of tones however, do differ significantly in each unit.  The Demonizer and the Womanizer are quite different in their analog designs and EQ tone shaping controls.  There’s definitely something for everyone within the vast tonal ranges of both these beasts.  As a direct recording device, these products showcase a 14th order analog network that delivers unparalleled analog tones with meticulously-crafted cabinet response.  For the computer recording musician to the studio pro, the Demonizer and Womanizer provides harmonically rich tones that cut through the mix and deliver what a direct recording device should- clear, punchy, dry/un-effected, direct guitar tone to your mixer or DAW.  As anyone who records would know, there’s no reason to have a multitude of built-in multi-effects when tracking to tape or disk.  With the advent of DAW’s, post effects processing (plug-ins, and outboard gear), the recording artists has the flexibility to add effects during mixing, not while tracking the guitar initially.  As an on-the-floor- pedal, the Demonizer and Womanizer dominate in their most basic functionality as an in-front-of-amp pedal.  The pedals both have 2 modes allowing the user to transform their amp into a juggernaut of massive tone, while also gaining a boost mode (conventional mode) and thirdly a “Nuclear” solo mode (15-20db boost!).  At Damage Control, our goal with Demonizer and Womanizer is to provide unparalleled tone, performance, extensive tonal range, and quality to users who have graduated from the kid’s world.  The market is quite sophisticated these days and it is clear that players of all genres want something that inspires on all levels.       


JACQUES:  The Winter NAMM show seemed very successful, the Damage Control exhibit seemed packed all the time.  Tell me what the response was like in more detail?


LUCIAN:  Yes, the NAMM show 2005 was a great success.  Our exhibit was packed full of dealers, distributors, reps, artists, industry friends, competitors, and press the entire show.  It was almost unbelievable, how great the response to our products and brand was being received by the entire industry.  As they say, the show went gangbusters.  The sales demand for our initial products met our wildest expectations.  Multitudes of world-wide buyers were placing huge orders for product.  In fact, there was so much competition from everyone to get exclusive deals for distribution that we’ve been undergoing much strategic planning and evaluation for months after the show to select the best partners for Damage Control product.  Of course, it is my pleasure to announce you Jacques with Ji Concept as our exclusive pan-European partner and Fitzpatrick/Benum as our friends and partners to the North in Scandinavia.  On many occasions at the NAMM show, people have told me that they view Damage Control as the next brand dynasty in the industry.  Many people have voiced their opinions that they sense that these first products are just the beginning to an extensive product line and brand.  It was great to hear that so many enthusiastic people at the show really saw Damage Control’s vast potential.  I have a feeling that the people’s hunches will become clear in the near future.  I was flattered and grateful for such positive response but we certainly have great challenges ahead with manufacturing.  Although it will be a challenge for us to optimize our manufacturing process, I have great confidence in my partners, Gregg, Dave, and Pete.  Speaking of manufacturing, I’d like to announce that we’ve recently hired a gentleman named Tim Latham as Damage Control’s director of manufacturing.  Tim is a fantastic manufacturing expert whom we’ve all had the pleasure to work with in the past.  He is charged with a very challenging task but we are excited by his abilities and contributions to our growing organization.  As they say with regards to supply and demand, it’s a good problem to have.  


JACQUES:  Can you give us an idea of what some future Damage Control products might be?


LUCIAN:  As a lot of people sensed at Winter NAMM, Damage Control has great potential to become a company that offers a wide range of premium products.  As you may gather from our diverse technological backgrounds, we certainly have the chops to do so.  I don’t want to tell you all my secrets (laughing) but I will say that there has been a vision of clarity regarding Damage Control’s development as a company and subsequently its products.  We will be coming out with a range of products that differ in their application but will all share the core-values that only a premium brand can deliver.  Make no mistake that when we do deliver the next thing, it will embody our philosophy of superior tone and feel, superior quality, superior technology, and a tremendous respect for what making music is- an art form.



JACQUES:  Where do you think the direction/movement of guitar tone or sound is going in the next 5-10 years?


LUCIAN:  That’s a very good question.  I think this question has two parts- one in terms of music as art form and two, in terms of the tools used to create and express the music.  I view the guitar as an instrument that is inseparable from rock music.  Not only is the electric guitar the most popular instrument in modern music but it is the instrument and icon that is at the nucleus of all modern genres of music and the technology that surrounds it.  I suppose it’s kind of like the “chicken or the egg” saying- which came first?  I believe they developed simultaneously in a symbiotic evolution.  Out of respect for the art form of creating music, I wouldn’t want to forecast some notion that a new technology will revolutionize and/or replace the guitar.  As a guitarist myself, I feel that the sound of music will evolve if and when people want it to.  I suppose it’s one of those natural evolutions that can’t be prematurely forced into some new movement.  So long as the guitar keeps inspiring people to dream and create with it, I think the instrument will remain relatively unchanged.  As we all know historically, the electric guitar has not evolved much since its inception.  I believe that is the case because the guitar’s simplicity, tradition, and art, strikes a chord with people on an artistic level.  For example, classical music is very old, its orchestra of instruments is ancient, yet the music and musicians are still very much alive and active today.  Another example is painting.  Painting is a very ancient art form yet we still have many active painters today.  The point I’m trying to make is, like in painting, sure there are high tech tools today such as Photoshop, Illustrator, ect, but these tools don’t obsolete traditional painting.  We also have a myriad of electronic musical equipment but it hasn’t made the guitar obsolete either.  I believe it’s dangerous to believe that technology for the sake of adding utility will replace an art form that has evolved for generations.  The beauty of music as an art form is that it deals with tradition, skill, and expression.


I believe that technology can benefit the sound and creative landscape of guitar tone.  Like the way digital editing has revolutionized music recording, I believe that a well-positioned technology can enhance guitar tone not replace it.  As a guitar player, I don’t buy the common analogy of unrestricted technology such as the synthesizer replacing the piano.  I think the synthesizer was a great invention that solved many physical issues for the piano as well as opened up a huge new palette of sounds.  However, I don’t believe that the synthesizer has replaced the purity of art form that is found in a real piano.


I think that guitar tone will continue to evolve but not like the way synthesizers have.  I think that guitar is glamorous (much more than its large friend the piano) and part of that glamour comes from the way one wears the instrument and identifies with it.  I think guitar truly has the perfect blend of all things for all those who choose to play it (simplicity, fashion, size, dynamic sound, style, heritage, image...).  I think that the guitar is much more restricted in terms of its design and basic tone.  After all, we’ve seen so many horrible attempts by misguided individuals who’ve tried and failed at forcing some new guitar design on musicians (laughing...).


Ok, now that I’ve voiced my opinions of the nature of the guitar as an instrument, I’ll address where I think equipment can enhance guitar’s basic sound.  As I mentioned earlier in regards to digital modeling vs. analog gear, I think that the advent of modeling in the late 90’s has educated many guitarists that a wide range of tone does exist.  In fact, I think that a lot of guitarists have been inspired by the convenience and variety of tones available with modeling.  After some time, I think a player’s ear and skill level becomes more refined.  As a result of improved musicianship, these players grow-up to want to improve their tone and have learned to hear and feel a tremendous quality difference from digital and analog guitar tone.  As there are strengths from both analog and digital technologies, it would make sense to utilize the best of what each of these technologies has to offer.  That said, this is where a mature guitarist begins to make selective decisions on re-building their arsenal of tone.  This is where Damage Control’s philosophy and design abilities come in.  As a premium brand that selectively applies both analog and digital technologies, Damage Control products leverage the best of both worlds.  There are very few brands out there that offer such a diverse range of technologies that are so artfully executed into products.  The goal of any piece of gear for guitar should be to enhance and compliment the basic tone of the guitar, not detach the guitar tone into some over-processed synthetic sound.  Tonal/harmonic character and feel are critical areas of guitar tone that should not be compromised. There comes a point when a player has graduated from products (and tones) that are value-oriented with tons of features but lacks quality.  I think players are looking for new products that are tonally valuable and have sustaining value.


My prediction for the next 5 years would be a new surge in mature guitarists who are looking for new gear that maintains the soul of guitar tone yet has the cool effects/features of what technology can offer.  Although guitarists do have an appreciation for vintage gear, I think players are continuously looking for new equipment that will perform better than vintage gear but can also offer new types of tones and effects.  I believe that a wide range of new quality tones is the forecast for the next 5-10 years.   I think that players are always looking for a progression of new tones that will set them apart from the pack.  In the end, a guitarist is looking to create their own identity and make their musical mark.  I think as long as the electric guitar remains unchanged (I don’t see anything replacing it for a very long time), the values of retaining the basic tone and feel of the guitar will remain critical.   I believe that Damage Control will become a brand that can offer a wide range of new tones that will exceed the high standards that players have come to expect with classic gear.  By leveraging the strengths of both digital and analog technology in expertly executed designs, I think players will be thrilled to explore a whole new world of quality tone.  I believe the future of guitar tone is about a wide range of new tonal refinements, new and refined digital effects, and new product categories that redefine what quality and feel should be.  As a guitar product manufacturer, we design products with a passion for the art of guitar playing.  In the end, the magic happens when a guitarist takes these tools and makes music history.  I believe the future of tone is in the hands of the artist.                                   

Guitarist Magazine Japan interview of Lucian Tu