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Cute Boxes Making Wild Sounds

Guitar effects pedal company Rainger FX ( ) designs and manufactures pedals for electric guitarists that are both cutting edge and irresistible. Started in April 2009 in London, UK, it’s the brainchild of guitarist David Rainger. He’s been playing guitar for over 30 years, played on many big records, and also worked as a journalist for musicians magazines reviewing equipment – especially guitar stompboxes.

“I gradually started to build a huge collection of the best – and strangest – ones, and began to get them modified by other people to my own specifications,” he explained from behind a pile of half-finished electronic circuit boards in his central London flat. “This progressed to getting them made from scratch, and then I thought ‘maybe this is something I could do myself!’

David Rainger

So he started the long slog of teaching himself electronics, and within 2 or 3 years was making one-off pedals for himself. “People I showed them to seemed to really like them, so I took a chance and decided to make three of one of the favourites. I ordered some smart packaging boxes for them, wrote a user manual, printed a box logo I’d designed for the ‘company’, and put it all together…” He finished soldering on a Friday night, and on Saturday morning took them down to Denmark Street (London’s guitar shop HQ), to a store that seemed to be the most open to new products.


“The manager was extremely enthusiastic!” said David. “We sorted out a deal there and then, and later in the day he called me up and asked for another 10 units! Then said ‘actually, as many as you can make!’ ” This was incredibly exciting – not least because he’d put a £249 price tag on them. “However they were very tricky and time consuming to make, with a substantial parts list,” he continued, “But using money I’d made from guitar sessions and my own recordings I got going, and managed to make six more, and took them to the shop with a couple of others – which were also popular.”


Since then, Rainger FX has grown steadily – but slowly, with a lot of work going into making products cheaper and easier to make, but better designed too. It’s started to progress from that untidy dining room table to outside help with specific parts of the manufacturing, for instance one company doing all the metalwork for making the enclosures, another printing the circuit boards and populating them with components, and another doing the labelling. “I’m now at the stage of being able to produce batches of 20 at a time – with a lot of consistency and reliability. It’s quite an expensive ‘small run’ quantity, but the amount of time saved is a huge factor. Plus of course these companies are geared up to do bigger quantities as and when needed.”

“As most of what I do is new – both sounds and the way of using them,” he continued, “I need to put significant effort into explaining to musicians how they all work – through the website, the Youtube channel ( ), and reviews… I definitely need to work on marketing to make it really successful – that’s where I’m going to need to get some financial help.”



While online sales steadily climb, now with bigger numbers of units in stock, the company can also start to get more pedals into shops where players can try the gear out for themselves – which usually means leaving demo items with them, and hoping the orders come from that. This is where the ‘stand out from the crowd’ philosophy comes into its own. But it also means regularly following up on the stores too – a fulltime job in itself.


“I was in contact with a factory, who reverse-engineered what I was doing, and gradually put together a document on how they could take over manufacturing – and at what cost. It was hugely expensive, and involved making initial batches of 100,” David revealed. “There were big handling costs, and office staff to employ, plus the individual processes would all be done out-of-house anyway. I realised that the best – and most realistic – way of making pedals would be to organise these companies myself for specific jobs. It’s much more work – the biggest transition I had to get used to – but with far bigger profits. And lots more fun”.


So it’s two years on, and the company is just about breaking even, with a growing reputation. While the current economic climate dictates that cheaper products are going to be most popular, Rainger FX is keeping to its initial brief of unique ideas. “I’m concentrating less on the high-end units that take years to develop, and trying to think of small items – selling for under £100 – that do something new, and at the same time fit into a relatively small box. It’s the ‘haute couture’ system; the expensive runway clothes get all the attention while the perfume is the thing that most people buy!”

During his journalist days, David did a monthly regular survey of the most popular musical equipment bought in shops every month, so has an idea of what people are after when they look for effects pedals. “A lot of people are after cheap stuff that does everything – an all-in-one box, and that’s fine. But then there’s a whole load more who are just looking for new sounds,” he explained, “So I think the trick is to create new products that are budget-friendly, look deeply cool, and still retain the company’s originality vibe.”

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