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Raymond Lubow, 82; Created Effects Foot Pedals for Guitars

July 03, 2002|DENNIS McLELLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Raymond Lubow, the inventor and manufacturer of Morley pedals--foot pedals that produce a variety of musical effects popular with electric guitarists and keyboard players--has died. He was 82.

Lubow died June 18 at his home in Los Angeles after a long struggle with prostate cancer.

In the early 1960s, Lubow was the owner of a Los Angeles television repair business with his brother, Marvin, when he developed a new method of creating echoes and other delayed sounds that had been popularized by legendary guitarist Les Paul in the 1950s.

But instead of the bulky tape-recorder mechanism previous manufacturers had used to create echoes, Lubow created a much smaller electronic unit that made echo effects without the use of tape.

Early units produced by the Lubow brothers' corporation, Tel Ray Electronics, were sold under the name Ad-N-Echo and also were incorporated into amplifiers and other equipment made by such leading manufacturers as Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker.

Lubow's pioneering efforts in various forms of sound modification earned him numerous patents and an industrywide reputation.

The Lubow brothers' firm made more than 30 devices that alter musical sounds.

But the company's best-known products, produced under its Morley division beginning in the 1970s, were its effects pedals, which used a pioneering photoelectric circuit and were considered more rugged and dependable than those made by competitors.

Resembling the accelerator pedal of a car, the pedals allow a guitarist to control volume, create the familiar throaty "wah-wah" sound or produce a fuzzy, distorted sound.

The company's pedals, which were distributed worldwide, have been used by countless bands and musicians, including the Beach Boys, the Grateful Dead, U2, Chick Corea, George Harrison and Stevie Wonder.

The Morley line of pedals was known for its distinctive "Morley Man" logo: a wailing, longhaired rocker.

"For a period of three or four years in the '70s, Morley pedals were sort of the industry standard," said rock music expert Jim Washburn, author of "Martin Guitars," a 1997 book that chronicles the history of America's oldest guitar company.

Washburn said Lubow didn't invent the wah-wah pedal--it was pioneered by the Vox company around 1966--but Lubow "made some unique improvements" to it.

"His way of finding new solutions to things was indicative of the innovation and creativity that suffused the [music] industry at the time," Washburn said.

The Bronx-born Lubow studied electronics at Hebrew Tech in Manhattan before serving in the Army Signal Corps during World War II.

After the war, he and his wife, Sylvia, moved to Los Angeles, where Lubow opened a radio repair business.

When Lubow retired in 1989, the company was sold to Accutronics Inc. The Morley pedal continues to be manufactured.

In addition to his wife of 56 years, Lubow is survived by three daughters, Carla of Los Angeles, Dana of Monrovia and Lisa of Glendale; a brother, Marvin of Spokane, Wash.; a sister, Anita Chernick of Sherman Oaks; and two grandchildren.

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