CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 15 Classics - Page 170

Whiling away the early morning hours at a bar in Prague with good friends and great pilsners might sound like the perfect ending to a European beer tour, but for Kirk Hammett and his good friend David Karon, it was the begin- ning of a great company. It was in this hazy setting that the idea for KHDK guitar pedals was born. Kirk has been playing guitar for Metallica since 1983, so it’s easy to imagine the number of times he’s been asked to put his name on a guitar product. KHDK is not just an endorsement though, he and David built this company from the ground up the old-fashioned way. Their pedals are handmade in Kentucky and, while not barrel-aged like so much whiskey in the state, they have a tone designed to age just as well. We caught up with both Kirk and David to talk about food, drink, and how to pair a guitar pedal with beer and coffee. Some readers may not be familiar with what a guitar pedal does. To use a food analogy, if the guitar and amplifier are the meat and potatoes, then the guitar pedals are the spices and sauces. Can you give us a quick rundown on which spices KHDK has in its arsenal so far? DK: The Dark Blood is probably our haba- nero or even the Carolina Reaper. It’s defi- nitely a spicy one. I would say cayenne is a good analogy for the Ghoul Screamer. The No. 1 overdrive is like pepper. Actually, our No. 1 and No. 2 are like salt and pepper, good for everything. They can always be on; they can always be there. The Scuzz Box is something a little funkier. Something that you kind of always go, “why don’t I use that more often.” The Abyss would be to blend something together, so it could be like gar- lic and ginger…where you’ve got two kinds of worlds that go really well together. And then we just released the Ghoul JR which would be the little baby. Let’s say Piri Piri chiles. CRAFT is all about supporting small, in- dependent makers and manufacturers, so we love that KHDK pedals are made by a family-owned company in Paducah, Kentucky. Initially, your manufactur- ing was in China; later you guys opted to move production to the U.S. What prompted that decision and how has it worked out? DK: Well we did a test of some products and, we did want it initially to be afford- able, but it sounded different, and 75% of them failed. So, it was just like “we can’t do that.” We’re not gonna put our names to that. Now we’re at less than 1% failure and exactly what we build by hand is what our factory creates. The same thing. What we approve is exactly what comes out. What Kirk approves is the same exact thing. You actually noticed a difference in sound quality? DK: Absolutely. And you know, it’s piece of mind that every pedal is tested by a guy sit- ting there playing a guitar and plugging it in. You can’t get better than that. So you guys really operate more like a Mom and Pop shop? DK: Absolutely. We went to small retail first. Initially, we were gonna do some lower cost things, but the quality just wasn’t there. The most important thing to us is the quality of tone and quality of the product. It doesn’t mean we need to sell tens and tens of thou-