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Boutique on a Budget
The story behind the Demonic Machines $50 Fuzz
Noise you can afford
Demonic Machines has been selling pedals for nearly three years. We have always priced our pedals as reasonably as we can afford to, and that is still not so cheap. They range from $120-$333, and then there’s the custom Demonic Machine version 2 at $450. Yet store owners have looked at us sideways and called our prices surprisingly low for hand-built and asked, “why? What is the catch?” Surprise, there is no catch. It has to do with the goal Lucky founded this company with, “noise you can afford.”
A hobby becomes an obsession
Lucky started modifying and eventually making pedals because ze (and hir bandmates) could only afford cheaper pedals and were often disappointed with plastic enclosures and low quality components. Lucky had a vision to build them hirself with higher quality parts. So Lucky, a grad student at the time, did what any grad student does when they have a question… research.
Ze started with kits like those found on Mod Electronics. Ze quickly moved on to buying components and experimenting with different schematics ze found on sites like General Guitar Gadgets and tagboardeffects.blogspot.com. Lucky got better and better at recreating effects ze couldn’t otherwise afford to buy. Ze would build them and find out what made those little boxes tick.
Through tutorials, articles and forums, Lucky found the answers ze was looking for. What was the big deal about the classic circuits people raved about on pedal forums? What have others done to improve, modify, or modernize the sound or functionality of these classic circuits? Are germanium transistors truly magical? How do silicone transistors compare?
The not-so-secret secret about pedals
Ze studied and tinkered away, and found out that pedal builders don’t reinvent the wheel each time they design a pedal. They usually take a circuit that already exists and modify it into something unique. And so, like a mad scientist, Lucky began hir journey of designing, testing, and releasing hir own modified versions of pedals like the green ringer, big muff and so many others.
It wasn’t long before, like Fran Blanche and Devi Ever before hir, Lucky started to craft hir own circuits. Drafting and ordering hir own PCBs, ze would add and take away switches and knobs, experiment with different clipping diodes, transistors and the like.
Demonic Machines on Reverb.com
Lucky started sharing their pedals with the world in the fall of 2019 through the popular online sales platform Reverb.com, thus Demonic Machines was born. One after another, a modified treble booster circuit or electro distortion circuit, even utility pedals like AB boxes that were necessities for the band, Lucky would build for us and then build on hir successes for hir Reverb shop.
Selling online provided the opportunity to receive feedback from an international audience. Often using band practice to test out new prototypes, pedals like the Erica’s Trip, the Fukt Fuzz and the Cow Killer Bass Fuzz began to get some traction and a bit of a following.
Ramping it up
Graduating at the onset of the global Pandemic in 2020, meant, among other things, a crap job market. So ze kept working on pedals, honing hir skills. Some youtubers started to demo hir pedals. Then came an interview with Steve from FX Pedal Planet.
The pedals ze designed were growing more and more complex. Along with that comes more components in each design, more R&D before release, and yes, a higher price tag for hir pedals. Before ze knew it, hir Demonic Machines were pushing boundaries and making some truly wicked sounds, and folks were responding to them.
By the summer of 2021, Lucky enlisted the help of hir drummer, Angie, to help build and market Demonic Machines. With a new website, independent online shop, and retailers picking up Demonic Machines, things were going well. But what about the original goal Lucky had in mind when ze started hir pedal journey, “noise you can afford?”
Enter the $50 Fuzz, a passion project.
One day, Lucky turned to me and posed a question, what if we made a bare bones fuzz? A simple but gnarly circuit, one knob, no frills, just a good dang fuzz and sold it for 50 bucks? (I’m paraphrasing in Angie speak) If you are new to pedals or just on a tight budget, what are your options? Big box retailers? If you are gonna buy an affordable pedal, why not buy from a small scale manufacturer?
The truth is, we don’t make a lot from this pedal. Hell, we don’t rake it in for our pricier pedals either. We are musicians, passionate about effects, sharing these creations with our community, while also trying to carve out a living wage. Truth is, all of our pedals are priced as reasonably as we can afford and that is because we want them out there on your pedalboards, being used to make wild and beautiful sounds.
So why is the $50 fuzz only available on our online shop?
It is true, there are many Demonic Machines that are available at these awesome music shops in addition to our own online shop. However, be warned, you won’t find our $50 Fuzz or $60 Octave fuzz in any shop, at least, not new. That’s because we are still a small operation, as of the publish date of this article it is still just Lucky (the monster), our chief engineer and founder, and Angie Rabia, sales and marketing.
Lucky designs and together we drill, build, test, and package each pedal by hand in our small workshop in San Diego, California. If we were to add a middle man to the budget line, we wouldn’t be able to recoup the costs, so at least for now, they will be available on our online shop only, so we can afford to keep them as accessible as possible, while still being compensated for our work.
Demonic Machines kill fascists
In the end it is all about making art, specifically music, that challenges the mainstream, that makes people think, and that also makes you wanna move your body and have a good time. As the late Emma Goldman once said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And that’s how we feel about music. So much gear talk is about going after a certain sound of one’s favorite musician. Like Lucky says in “No, Your Guitar Tone Doesn’t Suck,” “Don’t buy pedals because some other guitarist tells you to. Buy the pedals that you like.” And then raise hell with them!
If you can afford our higher end pedals, please buy them and help keep us in business. Just know that we will also keep making and expanding our budget boutique line because we want more people to have the tools they need to make raucous noise that challenges the status quo.