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Fantastic freaks that annihilate preconceptions about how pedals should look and sound.

The effects pedal industry is booming—or was, before the coronavirus. Still, we carry on and continue to create new music and new sounds. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different stompboxes available. Musicians and producers are clamoring to have an arsenal of sounds at their feet. What was once only possible in a recording studio can now be fully realized in almost any environment, thanks to pedals.

So, people are experimenting with sounds more than ever, and weird sounds abound, but it seems that most stompboxes are relatively plain-looking: mostly rectangular metal enclosures, usually painted or printed with some very cool designs, but still…. What does one do when one wants a pedal that looks as unique as it sounds?

They go a-hunting for strange stomps! There are pedal makers popping up who are building wild, non-traditional pedals. Some are fairly large companies that you might already know, while others are smaller operations that deserve to be better known. This article aims to share some of these wild units and their makers with our readers. We think you’ll be amazed by these creations!

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BilT Guitars' Bill Henss (left) and Tim Thelen.

A luthier’s willingness to bastardize a Tele with onboard effects spawned a company that’s grabbed the attention of adventurous players like Brent Hinds, Nels Cline, and Buzz Osborne.

BilT Guitars happily shared its onboard-effects expertise with us, but they are unable to offer one-on-one advice. Please respect their time, and if you have questions about your own project, consult a local tech with the necessary skills outlined in the Q&A portion of this article.

In 2008 Brandon Darner couldn’t have known the mods he commissioned for his new Fender Telecaster Deluxe would spur the formation of one of the Midwest’s hottest new guitar companies. Just as he probably never imagined his Des Moines-based band, the Envy Corps, would later get a delicious sammich named in its honor at the local Zombie Burger + Drink Lab, a joint whose unique culinary tributes to classic undead flicks have been featured on several television shows. Both unforeseen consequences testify to the power of being a bit twisted in a place that’s really not known for that.

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