Anyone who’s ever strummed a guitar has imagined themselves churning out a solo, distorting the sound of the guitar with a pedal.
“It’s a fetish for guitarists,” says Christos Daifotis, founder of Crazy Tube Circuits, which designs, manufactures and exports Greek guitar pedals. And even if we aren’t qualified to comment on the quality of their sound, others most definitely are, such as Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Nels Cline of Wilco, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, James Valentine of Maroon 5 and more, who have become fans of one of Daifotis’s models. “The [pedal] effects are infinite.”
It all began in early 2000, when the self-taught guitarist wanted to copy the sounds of Queen’s Brian May, and because good pedals were expensive, he set about trying to make his own.
“I burned out two or three pedals at the beginning. I was disappointed, but I kept at it and succeeded.”
Daifotis spent many hours on the Internet learning about electronics, circuits and wiring, and the pedals that he once made for friends are now exported to an international market.
This came about through his participation in European exhibitions and at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, which he has attended every year since 2012.
“The first time, I came back only with money for a month and paid my taxes. The orders followed later,” he says. With his collaborators, he now produces about 160 handmade pedals a month.
Yiannis Diakoumakos, founder of Dreadbox, came back empty-handed and stressed out from the same show in 2012. The wooden synthesizer he presented impressed, but didn’t lead to sales.
“It was appealing to the eye but not to the pocket,” he says, laughing. As a self-taught musician, he began to assemble his own synthesizer out of necessity.
“There was no luxury market,” he says. Thus he spent long hours on his own learning everything about the construction and assembly of the instrument, which although not common in Greece, is very popular abroad.
Now he designs and manufactures around 100-300 analogue synthesizers a month with his colleagues, and one of them is in the possession of Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore.