hey Keith!! a couple perhaps personal questions i've been wondering...
how'd you get into this stuff? just take a pedal apart one day and figure you could do better?
and is this your only means of income? or do you have a "day job"?
and if so, how long after you started this did it finally pay off?
i'm just curious. and in awe of what you do. it amazes me, and i'm eternally grateful. seriously. you're a wonderful man. but you've given me GAS, and that hurts a little
I got my first taste of DIY in my early teens, but I didn't take it seriously. Just some projects my guitar instructor gave me. The internet hadn't really caught on yet so it was very hard to find parts. Can you imagine trying to build pedals from scratch and your only resource was radio shack.
When parts and schematics started becoming easy to find, I started to tinker again. Then when I went on ebay for the first time to sell a bicycle, I took a look around at some of the guitar stuff...amps and pedals...and there was a lot of stuff on there that was obviously made by someone in their garage. The first time I saw a Zvex pedal and how much they cost, I was floored. I had no idea that people actually wanted to pay good money for handmade electronics.
So I started bigtonemusicbrewery in '03 I think. It was an OK little side job....a hobby that made money, but not a lot. And one day I was thinking about how BS and hyped up some of the boutique pedals are and how I would have to play that game too if I wanted to compete. So I thought, since there really is no secret to building pedals, why not put together a kit that has the exact same stuff the boutiquers are using with really simple instructions and let people decide for themselves.
The first kit was the fuzz face. I figured it was a very simple build, a very popular pedal, and very inflated too. It was on eyelet board. No pcb's yet. I really didn't expect it to catch on. BYOC was not the first to sell kits. There was Heathkit and PAIA....they've been around for ages. But no one really cared about their pedal kits because they were based on circuits that you'd build for a physics class project...not tried and true circuits that all guitar players wanted and were paying a lot of money to get clones of. So in that respect, I think BYOC is unique.
Anyways....I orderd parts for 10 fuzz face kits and put up one spam thread over at harmony-central.com. They all sold in about a week and about a week later everyone was raving about them. THe reaction I was getting about the final product made it easy for me to give up trying to build pedals and put all my effort into BYOC. The thing is, even if the pedal you built from a kit only sounds as good as your boutique version of the same thing, you will love the pedal you build so much more because you built it.
3 years later. This is my fulltime job. After about a year I was funnelling enough paypal money into our bank account that my wife made me get a business license and account. It wasn't a lot of money and not enough to quit my day job, but enough that if we were audited, someone might notice. BYOC became BYOC, LLC last year and this has been my fulltime job ever since.
When did it pay off? Well...I just bought a CNC machine and remodelled the shop, so I'm actually in debt. And there's R&D for a few more new kits I'd like to do. And when that's paid off, I'll start investing in advertising so it probably won't "pay off" for another year or so. Dont' get me wrong. I'm not destitute. BYOC pays the bills. BUt sometimes I see threads on certain forums and people talk about BYOC like it's some sort of multimillion dollar corporation. For the most part, BYOC is still just a one man operation.