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Detroit guitar pedal biz increases sales, products

Detroit company Red Panda continues to expand in its boutique guitar effects pedal business. Owner Curt Malouin is looking to delegate the bulk of assembly tasks to employees so he can focus on R&D. Malouin is working on a new bit crusher and delay effects pedals.

When a guitar is plugged into a bit crusher, the effect produces 8-bit computer sounds, or "Nintendo sounds." A bit crusher effect is typically achieved by plugging a guitar directly into a special computer program, forcing guitarists to bring laptops with them to gigs. The pedal solves this problem. A second effects pedal, a delay pedal, is planned for later this year. It will, as Malouin says, have a few tricks with different processing than typical delay.

Red Panda's current line of effects pedals, Particle and Context, have steadily built a global buzz through word-of-mouth and the Internet. "Our musicians, our customers, are making videos and putting them on YouTube that blow me away, doing things that I never imagined," says Malouin. "They're taking what we built here and using them in ways that I never imagined, coming up with surprising new sounds. So that's why we've been able to grow."

The Particle is a granular delay and pitch shifter pedal -- another effect typically found only in computer programs. Malouin's reverb pedal, Context, captures the sound of early digital reverb pedals.

The company began selling its pedals through the Internet but now experiences 90 percent of its sales through dealers. Red Panda pedals are now carried by dealers in six states and seven countries, including Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Red Panda pedals are manufactured at U.S. factories and then shipped to the Green Garage where the final assembly is done by hand.

Source: Curt Malouin, owner of Red Panda
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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