So this little business has run its course. Margins have been shrinking, costs rising, and what was once a mighty little ship against the hype of the modern supertanker of the music industry must sail to another harbour.

But before that day, let me tell you how music saved my life.

On a cold winter's morning two weeks before Christmas in 1991 my stepfather inexplicably shot and killed my mother, another person staying with us at the time, and then himself in our home in Alhambra California. At that exact moment, I was in school, in 1st period chemistry class before the police came and asked for me by name, as thirty curious faces turned to face me who at 16 years old into D&D and bands like the Cure and Trash Can Sinatras, was probably the last person to get in trouble with the police.

After all the carnage and wreckage, I was basically left to fend for myself. (My relatives all were in Hong Kong where my mother is from). I rented a room from strangers for $250 a month and basically laid low from social services which I knew would stick me in foster care which would ruin what life I had. I was an angry bitter ball of spite. I hated the world and it hated me which seemed like a fair bargain considering the stuff that happened. Then one crappy Friday I went to the worst party in Los Angeles, and there sitting on a couch was a dude strumming unplugged a sunburst rosewood Fender Stratocaster. That guitar was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and I saddled up to him like the virgin I was. He started plucking the notes to Under the Bridge by the RHCP and well for a moment I no longer felt that alone.

I went out and bought a cheap Korean Squier the next day at Johnny Thompson's Music. I had maybe $2500 to my name. Every dollar was blood money. I handed $400 dollars or so over for the Squier and a tinny 10 watt Roland amp that hissed and growled like a honey badger. I handed it over like I was paying for drugs. Just give it to me. Whatever you need.

That guitar saved my life. It gave me something to focus on. Something to talk to. Something to hope for. It played the sound I was feeling inside. Bruised self-destructive, a fireball from hell, whatever I was when it was in my hands. I bought my first pedal a Boss DD-3 delay which I still have and love. Playing guitar helped me get girlfriends over the years, which is what a true best friend does. I went to college. Got a job. Kept it all together like a good soldier along with the army of other commuters stuck on the 10 freeway as my car stereo looped Radiohead's OK Computer's songs of modern futility. I felt empty, sad, hated the flesh I was born into. Something was wrong with me because everyone else around me seemed as happy as a pig in a cage on antibiotics.

After getting laid off from my job in 2007, I moved to China on a whim. I wanted, in a way, find out what trauma lay there in my family line to cause my stepfather to do what he did. In China, I went off the rails. Drinking, girls, rock n' roll. I started a rock band. We played shows, got a little hype, almost got to do a tour before the drinking and sex and egos brought us down. Typical! Visa ran out as did endrance for hangovers. Back to America.

With little job prospects and less ambition I came back in 2012 to the States. Big culture shock. Decided to start a business of the one thing I did know pretty well which was guitar pedals after getting really upset at buying a $200 boutique fuzz pedal built by New York hipsters that sounded like ass. 

This pedal business has sustained me as I have spent the last 10 years writing a book of my life and the strange course I was set on. It's a story about a family coming to America, a family going broke, a family that destroyed itself, a story of the American Nightmare because where there are dreams there are also nightmares. It's the story of a teenager with not much to live for but music, which I'm sure many a musician can relate to. John Lennon's and Paul McCartney and Bono all lost their mothers as teens. That we know their songs is no random coincidence.

I'm hopefully finishing the book sometime in 2024. Not sure if it ever gets any traction in this country obsessed with useless politics and celebrity memoirs, but I'm going to try and get it out, because all we really have is our stories, our songs to sing.

So for anyone that has bought a pedal in the past or now, thank you! Thank you for supporting this venture that is all heart because we are all musicians, a family of sorts. I've talked to many of you over the phone over the years and heard your own stories, and know that music is to you what it is to me, medicine.

I'm going to slowly be selling off the store inventory and closing shop probably by spring of 2024. As a parting gift I wish to share my song with you, my book to anyone who has purchased a pedal. I'll promise to send you a copy of my book (probably electronic) to read if you like. All you have to do is shoot an email to me at with your name and email address and I'l put you on a list and when the time comes I'll share it with you.

I'd love to also hear your stories about how guitar and music saved your life. 





Written by Elliott Chen — September 01, 2023

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