So I'm a 15 year old guy in the UK, who like most people my age has hardly any money, and wants more of it.
My idea is to create and sell my own homemade pedals with custom finishes, but don't know whether it would be worth it? I would probably make killswitch pedals, as these are dead simple to make, and probably analog delay and distortion as well, as whilst I have had some 'training' in electronics and coding, I think analog is the best way for them. I would probably sell them in school to some people who have showed interest, and maybe some others in my local area.
So I'm wondering if anyone has any comments or anything as to whether this would be a good idea, or whether it is best to do something else?
There are a lot of "mom and pop" pedal makers these days, Fuzzrocious, Wren and Cuff, Make Sounds Loudly, etc. they all seem to do pretty well, I don't think they are millionaires by any stretch of the imagination but they certainly sell a lot of pedals. I say give it a go, even if you don't make millions, if you really enjoy doing it, it will be fun and you might put a little coin in your pocket.
You might find this thread over in the Effects forum useful if you haven't seen it yet
My first comment would be to get an education towards a profession first ;).
No reason not to do some side projects at the same time though.
When I was Your age, I spent considerable amount of time doing research and some crude prototypes of active guitar pickups.
EMG was about the only one at that time making 'em, and it seemed like a good idea to make some.
The popularity of actives was already spiraling downwards in the mid/late 80's, and the cheapo active electronics was driving people away from anything associated with the word active, so after a feasibility study I decided not to pursue that venture any further.
I did consider pedals, or "effects" as they were called back then as well, but the ones played, endorsed and advertized by our idols were so cheap that no-one was able to even match that, let alone compete.
There's a catch though, there always is.
If You can hook up with someone who hasn't made it big yet, and they will use and promote Your stuff, and continuing to do so after they break through, there's your chance. At Your age it's even somewhat possible, at least 1 out of 1000 kids will make it at some level, and getting in touch with 1 or 2 thousand shouldn't be a problem these days.
If You can make some prototypes, someone certainly will use them, and if they like them they may even give you some money for your efforts.
Since You're quite literally re-inventing the wheel though, the packaging or sturdiness has to be the thing setting them apart from the competition.
I admire your desire to do something "out of the ordinary", but we must be pragmatic.
First, there are a lot of boutique pedal manufacturers out there. So you have a ton of competition. I would disagree with Veganthump's comment that "they all seem to do pretty well"; small-scale pedal manufacturers come and go regularly. Collectively, they sell a lot of pedals, but individually, I think not so much. There's not THAT much of a demand for custom pedals. Also, it's hard to compete with large-scale companies who can make pedals by the thousands.
Lots of folks go into a business thinking about the money they'll make, but without a good business plan. Without a plan, they'll wind up losing money, lots of money, and fast. So here's what you've got to think about:
-how many pedals do you want to sell?
-how are you going to sell these pedals (advertising and marketing strategy)
-what type(s) of pedals do you intend to make?
-what will differentiate your pedals from the competition?
-how will you design your pedals?
-how will you manufacturer your pedals?
-how will you deliver your pedals to market?
-how will you price your pedals?
-how much will it cost you to make these pedals?
-what taxes/permits/licenses will you have to pay?
-will your pedals or their design infringe upon somebody else's pedal design?
And maybe I left out a few.
So let's look at the design first. You cannot copy somebody else's design; they may sue you for patent or copyright infringement. So you will need to come up with some design that works. What will it be--fuzz? There's a ton of overdriven transistor "dirt boxes" out there, how will yours be different? You mentioned analog delay, do you mean a tape loop? That's expensive and complicated to implement. Whatever you come up with, you need a circuit design. Then transfer that to a printed circuit board, how will you make these? Then put this into an enclosure; where will you source the enclosure from--buy it or make it? How about the other components you will buy up front: switches, lights, jacks? And what about the artwork on the pedal--there's got to be some sort of labels, not just lettering with a marker.
Do you already have a good electronics workshop? Not just a soldering iron, but test equipment. (You can't just build a pedal and hope it works) If you don't have this equipment, be prepared for a significant investment.
I've made pedals from scratch and it costs a lot more to make a pedal from scratch than people realize, not to mention taking a lot more time than someone would think.
If you don't have money now how would you purchase the raw materials to make these pedals?
Thanks for all the advice :)
I have some people I know at a university where I have been to learn about electronic engineering who have given me a few tips as well, and they say they can supply all the raw materials for free, as it is helping me in the long run with electronics. But yeah, I think I'll do a bit more research before I start and draw up some schematics and try them on prototyping board first :)
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