Finding balance as a one-man operation
THE PEDAL business isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be as ruthless as it can be rewarding. While the barriers to entry are low, the barriers to success are much more challenging. It takes dedication, persistence and product. Sean Erspamer at Lotus Pedal Designs had all of these when he took the plunge in 2009, but he did so with the safety net of retaining a full-time job at a high-end pro audio equipment manufacturer in northern Minnesota.
“The pedal thing started when the band I was in earlier on got back together for a reunion show in like 2009,” recalled Erspamer. “I had sold off most of my gear. I had one electric guitar, one acoustic guitar… no amp anymore. But if I was going to get the band back together, I was going to need some pedals. So I bought a boutique pedal from a manufacturer I won’t name and it didn’t work. So I took it into work and opened it up to take a look. I was like, really? This is all there is to it? I’m used to dealing with microphone preamps and compressors and EQs with 3,000 parts in them and this had seven. It took about three minutes to trouble shoot. Isolate the problem. Get the part. Fix it. And all along I was thinking I can make something better than this.”
That thought lead to a fit of tinkering in the basement and emerging with three different circuits. A quick call to a friend and a few test drives later and there was a sale… only Erspamer didn’t take the money. He gave the friend the pedal. He did really have any interest in that particular circuit as a product. Not long after, word started to spread around Duluth that their was a new pedal guy on the scene.