Dreamed, designed, and created at our small batch distortery™ in Columbia, South Carolina.

FAQ #6: Why we won’t be giving any pedals away for free.

December 9, 2010

So lately, I’ve had the chance to get Wave Cannons to people of some perceived importance, under the condition they get to keep them, for free. We decided no. Below is the list of reasons why, and why no matter who you are, if you would like a pedal from Caroline, it is worth your paying for it.

5. The premise of a gift endorsement deal rests on the idea that giving free gear to a star creates an association with a known, established player. Well, guitar heroes don’t really get any bigger than The Edge, and he pays for pedals. U2’s guitar tech Dallas Schoo has talked in interviews about scouring eBay and vintage shops to pay full market prices for early Digitech Whammys and Boss FA preamp pedals (ouch!). If that big a star still expects to pay for the tools of his trade, so can the rest of us.

4. If something is worth it to you, you’ll pay. I’ve seen touring artists receive free gear from companies big and small where the company reps thought they’d scored a real catch. Then said “artists” took their free, fresh, and shiny new gear to vintage shops and swapped it towards things they would have paid for. If someone were willing to pay for an old Realistic (Radio Shack) MG-1 Concertmate synth with three broken keys, why again should they expect us to give them our blood, sweat, and tears for free?

3. We pay in terms of time, expense, effort, labor, sourcing, sweat, and care to bring you the best pedals we can. Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in this business involve not receiving money, but paying it – going down Shop Road here in Columbia, seeing our enclosures get finished, and paying our local vendors for their great work. They deserve it. We pay for parts, labor, time, assembly, the lights, the electricity, the amps we use to test them, the cables, the batteries (oh boy, do I pay for batteries!), and of course, lots of shipping.  Just when I think we’re doing pretty well on the cash front, I realize it’s time for a parts order, and boy is that a wake-up call!  Ever see $400 worth of 3PDT switches? It’s the least impressive looking $400 anyone has ever spent. But this is our reward for getting to keep doing what we want to do. Getting paid allows us to continue.

2. You make the most out of things you pay for. I’ve been given countless jump drives full of music I’ve never listened to, but when I found Axis: Bold as Love at Papa Jazz and decided to buy it, I spent the next year getting way more than got my $16 worth.

In this spirit, we craft and design our pedals for a lifetime of musical enjoyment and exploration. I was inspired by my father’s Nikon F-series camera that he used as a UPI photojournalist in Vietnam. There was no planned obsolescence or expected life cycle upgrade; the camera was just designed to be put to work until it just couldn’t take photos anymore. It’s testimony to their craft and assembly that enthusiasts still pursue F-series to this day. My dad was shooting my graduation photos with the same camera that was in his bag when he jumped out of helicopters.  Thirty years from now, I want that early Wave Cannon you made youthful punk noise with to be working for you as you play jazz, re-amp cymbal room mics in a mix, or make even crazier old man punk noise.

but most importantly…

1. The number ONE reason, top of my list: the customers we’ve had so far, who have paid us or our retailers with their hard earned money. Waiters or cooks with greasy bills that have collected dust bunnies in their aprons, office workers with checks from accounts just replenished from mind numbing time in the cubes, doctors who’ve shown up at my door in scrubs after a double shift, touring professional artists who have to work harder than ever to earn their money…all of these people have exchanged hours and energy doing some things they might not necessarily want to do, but they did them well enough to get paid in return. It’s that money that funds their musical ambitions, and those include arming themselves with the tools to play. I’m honored that they chose to spend it on us.

When I imagine somebody expecting our pedal for free, I think of our customers who spent hours over stoves or busing tables, and then took a chance on a brand new pedal company from Columbia S.C. for the third most important piece of tone gear an electric player can use. What a raw deal it would be by comparison if I just gave a pedal to somebody connected to someone semi-famous who claimed they would hype our product!  Sorry, no can do. If we are going to succeed, we’re going to win the way we feel is right.

– Philippe