Author Topic: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business  (Read 678 times)

john-t-b

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For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« on: July 01, 2018, 11:04:58 AM »
Some questions for you guys.

How did you get started  (as a business)?
Is it worth it (in general)?
Is it better to sell just the PCB or the complete pedal?

I can see the disadvantages with selling the pedal complete i.e. cost, time including a warranty of some sort. Then dealing with someone just not liking it or not what they wanted/thought it was. To me personally it's putting your name on something and being proud of it. I personally like building the entire pedal.

I plan on only selling a few types boost, overdrive's (2-3 types) and a noise gate (still working on this one). Don't want to make anything too time consuming to make.  Plan on making 4 to 5  of each and see how it goes.

Any advice?

More questions to come I am sure.

Thanks,

John
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fair.child

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2018, 11:20:49 AM »
Is it worth? Iíd say if you try to make it as big business/gaining profit my answer is no. Think more about helping your friends rather than gain huge profit. Learn and share as much as you can. I think itís worth as personal gain rather than financial profit.

How did it start? It always start as helping friends, transfer the knowledge, and word of mouth. I started with something specific, selling enclosure only and now starting to grow with PCB and as much Iím comfortable in developing something different and new.

Better to sell PCB/complete pedal? Itís all about how you can serve your customer better, faster, and cheaper. It doesnít matter you sell PCB or complete pedal. But, think something that you love specifically and you know it by heart and soul. Because by the end of the day, though your customer is your friend/etc, you should be able to answer all of their issue. Like I said, I started to offer the enclosure first and grow it slowly.

Try make it fun as much as you can, donít over stress it.

Start grow your audience first, after you can make 10 - 20 sales then you can start blog/website. Mine is swirleffects.com, if you have a time, please take a look and you can see where I come from.

Best of luck! I love to see people start their own pedal business!

john-t-b

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2018, 11:51:28 AM »
Thanks for the input.

I don't plan on making huge money. Maybe just a little side money to support the hobby and if lucky vacation fund type of thing. Just not to lose money.

If it works out great if not at least I tried.
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alanp

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2018, 07:53:15 PM »
You'll make the odd bit of beer money (or, as Juan puts it, capacitor money :) )
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drog_trog

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2018, 12:48:10 AM »
Ive built a few, but any money made seems to go to Tayda lol
If i were you i would maybe do clones of the old germanium circuits as they tend to use less parts as long as you can source some cheap transistors.

stevie1556

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2018, 03:47:37 AM »
If pedal building is already a hobby, turning it into a business can completely destroy the hobby and take all the fun away, at least that is what I found. Not saying that's always the case, it's just what happened to me. The final straw was I spent about 3 days solid doing what I considered a perfect board layout, getting it as small as possible, etc, only for it not to work! Looking back I think the foot switch wiring was wrong, but I just gave up after that.

I started by my friends trying them for free, but they always insisted to cover the cost of parts plus a tiny bit extra for a drink if they wanted to keep them (which I was extremely greatful for). Then their friends wanted some so i charged for the cost of parts, plus a small amout for my time (say £20-30), then their friends wanted some so i charged a tiny bit more, and let the person who recommended other pedal keep a bit (say £5-10 as a thank you for another sale) etc. It got to the point where I was making some reasonable money on it, but my costs were kept extremely low as I've got a powder coating setup and a laser cutter for the labels, so all I needed was the enclosures. But if you're going to sell completed pedals, these are all costs that you need to bear in mind. I've just starting building pedals for the first time in a couple of years, and I've been looking into screen printing, but the setup cost for each run is high, plus not many places have the right license for the right ink that needs to be used (thus putting costs up slightly).

If you can do as much of it yourself without involving other companies, that you will save you a fortune allowing you to lower the cost of your pedals and get more sales because they are more affordable while still increasing your profits. For example, to get 25 1590B enclosures powder coated, unless they have a small oven, it's going to cost you at least £300. If you get a powder coating kit, it will cost you a couple of quid for the powder, plus the electric to run a small toaster oven or two and a compressor. It takes about 23 minutes for 4 enclosures in the oven to be done, plus 5 minutes per box to clean and spray it, but you will save an absolute fortune.

I've also just bought a screen printing set up, but that's not cheap. I got a height adjustable screen printing table for £116 from eBay, and then I've had to buy a 2 part catalysed ink (you need the ink, hardener, thinner and special screen cleaner). It all adds to the cost, but if you wanted a run of 10 pedals, the set up cost alone at a screen printers doesn't make it worth while.

Another point I'll add, is don't skimp on the component quality! All you need is someone that knows something about components to open up your pedal and see some crap components and tell people about it, then no one will buy your pedals any more.

I hope some of this information helps, I've done many hours worth of research into it a few years ago when I started selling pedals and hope that some of the stuff I've found out helps saves you wasting time trying to research it all.

If there is anything else that I can help you with, just gimme a shout.

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gtr2

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2018, 07:14:49 AM »
You have to love it and enjoy the rewards that come with it that are not monetary.  There are far better ways to make money.
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Torgoslayer

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2018, 09:41:52 AM »
I started builiding just for myself, but every once in a while i would thin the herd and noticed some would auction off at higher prices, ^$200. Stuff like smaller Mutron and Maestro circuit clones. So i got the bright idea of making batches of that stuff to sell and fund my private collection. It very quickly became all i could do to keep stocked. 20 years later i'm still cranking out the pedals, and love it every day. My advice is to not spend ANY time or money on decorating them. A tube screamer is still just a tube screamer if its in a fancy box. My customers love the minimalist look and save lots of money on the unnecessary.

diablochris6

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2018, 06:02:09 PM »
Itís mainly a self-funding hobby for me. Create some desirable PCBs, hawk my wares, pocket a couple bucks, and buy more PCBs. I get to own a pedal that I designed, let others enjoy building and playing. Except for one time, Iíve only ever built for friends and family, and I charged them for parts and shipping, and let them ďtipĒ me whatever they thought it was worth.
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jkokura

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 08:55:03 AM »
You have to love it and enjoy the rewards that come with it that are not monetary.  There are far better ways to make money.

This.

I don't really recommend getting into it as a business to make money unless you're offering something that's not already available but highly desirable. If you're just going to be selling YATS, then it's very difficult to separate from the rest of the pack, and you'll find the effort and time you spend, versus the money you make on this doesn't equal even a minimum wage job.

However, if you love making things, and want to try your hand at it, you can feel free to go for it. You have to enjoy it, and do it ultimately for the benefit of the community.

Jacob
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Rockhorst

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2018, 03:10:02 AM »
Expect to lose money in the short run (call it an investment) and then maybe in the long run...who knows. I'm not there yet, not by a long shot.

Building pedals takes a lot of time and there's so many other companies with really slick graphics, features and what not. Can you compete with that?

Middle ground would be kits. But, kits take a huge investment. You have to stock a lot of parts (takes a lot of space) and if you want to make any profit of that you'll have to buy stuff in ludicrous amounts. You also have to get it from a reliable source. This takes a lot of time and effort.

Which brings me to the next part: don't under estimate (the cost of) administration, taxes etc. Hiring someone to do this (an accountant) takes a nice chunk out of what you think was profit. Do it yourself? For a small business definitely the way to go, although you are guaranteed to miss some of those small prints that will either save you money or cost you dearly (when someone inspects your books and finds out you've been doing it wrong and you get fined). Do not think lightly of the amount of time administration  and doing taxes will cost. There's no short cuts possible here.

Then there's customer service. See administration basically.

From what you are describing (small run of a few pedals, not too difficult, nothing too time consuming) you can just sell that as a hobby thing (but don't expect to get more than hobby prices most of the time). From the sound of your post, it's not ready to be a business yet. Do the run, see how it goes and keep evaluating every step of the way.

Also +1 on what Stevie said. Building pedals is now a chore for me. I hardly box anything or build anything for myself (also because I'm just a modest fx user) and generally put it off for as long as possible. I like designing, so that's what I focus on. Building and putting together kits...it's a chore man.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 03:14:06 AM by Rockhorst »

alanp

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2018, 04:41:21 AM »
Also, if you do sell pcbs (it's the easiest option), make sure that they're fairly straightforward to build, with no trace cutting, wire patching, or fiddly soldering (like vias that are insanely close to component pads.)

Basically, with as few options as possible for you to get hassled for troubleshooting later.
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juansolo

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2018, 02:10:28 PM »
You'll make the odd bit of beer money (or, as Juan puts it, capacitor money :) )

I mostly don't drink any more. Mostly...

But yeah, the pedal building hobby has been self funding for years now. However beyond that, if you really add up the costs, we've never really made a profit. To do so takes effort, marketing and customer service. Things I have no interest in whatsoever.
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Torgoslayer

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 05:52:32 PM »
You'll make the odd bit of beer money (or, as Juan puts it, capacitor money :) )

I mostly don't drink any more. Mostly...

But yeah, the pedal building hobby has been self funding for years now. However beyond that, if you really add up the costs, we've never really made a profit. To do so takes effort, marketing and customer service. Things I have no interest in whatsoever.
I don't have a storefront or any marketing at all. I only sell through ebay, reverb, and local word of mouth. I sell between one a week to one a day during peak season. (New years and tax refund). I only do vintage clones, in raw undecorated boxes. I have on offer 20-30 models at a time. I put 8-10 (blissfull) hours a week into it. I take diligent records and in the last 10 years i net ~$8-15k US a year. I do very minimal "customer service". Tone seekers and window shoppers are ignored. All customer service happens AFTER sale. I have dozens of guys that have entire pedal boards of my stuff. And many celebrity users. Repeat customers get my consult time, custom work, and price breaks. Its is still a hobby that i love, but it also significantly supplements my income.

juansolo

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Re: For those who make and sell pedals/PCB's as a business
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2018, 12:42:22 AM »
My other big issue is I find it tedious to make the same thing over and over again. I guess I'm just not built for that ;)
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