What’s Your Function? TheToneKing.com Talks with Holeyboard Creator Chris Trifilio About Making Better Pedalboards for Gigging Musicians
Looking at a guitarist’s pedalboard is like looking directly into his or her brain. An unlimited variation of pedals all laid out in numerous combinations all work together to become the DNA that is that player’s tone. And the board that’s underneath those pedals is the strand that holds it all together. It has to be as versatile as the player’s mood.
That’s the thinking behind the Holeyboard, a pedalboard that lets players change their pedal order/combinations on the fly with no messy adhesives or hard to maneuver Velcro. TheToneKing.com recently had a chance to check out one of these bad boys as well as speak with Holeyboard creator and designer Chris Trifilio.
“Functionally, those pedalboards didn’t work for me. I started making my own boards. The curved shape was what came out first, so it would follow the arc of my foot,” Chris mentions when asked why he created the Holeyboard.
The Holeyboard is just what it sounds like. It’s a pedalboard with a series of holes where zip ties can be threaded through to hold the pedal to the board. Changing the position of a pedal is as simple as clipping and tying the pedal down somewhere else.
When I first saw the Holeyboard, I was reminded about the skateboards I used to ride as a kid, like the old-school Powell Steve Saiz or Tony Hawk planks. Throw on some Tracker Trucks and Rat Bones Wheels, and you’re ready to shred. “I was inspired, and still am by many things about the skater culture and movement from the 70’s through today.” Don’t be surprised if you start to see every skate-punk/rock band with their pedals strapped to a Holeyboard. A classic look born out of rebellious kids waxing rails and searching for empty pools.
Besides for looking cool, every process in creating the Holeyboard was born out of function. Every feature started as frustrations that Chris had with other pedalboards. For example, all Holeyboards come with handles cut into the body of the board to make it easy to grab at the end of a gig. There are also several different designs that include two or three levels of shelves. “After I got about 9 pedals going at once I realized I had to ‘toe dance’ to get to the back row, so I invented the raised shelf. I believe I was the first to have this on my board. It solved a lot of problems.”
“Design is about details.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in the HoleyRisers that hold up the Top Shelf. Made from aircraft grade aluminum, they were specifically designed to be light but strong. They also have a hollow channel for cables and ties to pass through. Even the feet on the Holeyboards are strong enough to handle even the most brutal gigs over and over again.
Players will also note that Holeyboards are made of Baltic Birch, the same material that makes up guitar cabinets like Mesa and Orange. Basically, unless you run it over with your tour bus, you’re probably not going to break this thing. “Baltic Birch Ply is very strong and beautiful. Interestingly 98% of the boards I sell now are unfinished.” Besides for keeping the price down, the unfinished boards have that classic look. Of course, Holeyboards do come in other finishes as well, including: Clearcoat and Black. And, keep an eye out for Walnut, Lake Placid or Sonic Blue, coming soon.
In addition to the solid colors, custom graphics are on their way. “I actually have a lot of ideas. I have a Mad Scientist collection drawn by hand that I started, that will be a limited edition and I have some great artists locally in the Twin Cities that I’d like to have screen print some short runs. I will have them ready for Winter NAMM, which I plan to attend for the first time this year.”
The Holeyboard WIDE is Chris’ particular favorite. With it, he was able to give the option of mounting the Top Shelf to the left, in the center or to the right. “Many guitar players asked me for this because some have one wah, some have a wah and a volume pedal, some have two volume pedals, some like them on the left some on the right some together, etc. The power supply can mount under the Top Shelf, and with the WIDE I found it’s the perfect size for most people’s rigs.”
The Holeyboard is just the beginning for Chris’ company, Chemistry Design Werks. The company tag line is “Designed to be better, by good people.”
“The name came from the desire to create a company where invention, creativity and experimentation are at the heart of the culture. So I think of it as like a mad scientist’s lab, I have a bunch of ideas in process and prototypes that I test on gigs. Design means to create something with intent, to solve problems. We create products to solve problems.”
Chris Trifilio is particularly proud of the fact that Holeyboards are designed and manufactured in the United States and that his company’s goal looks far beyond just the building of pedalboards. “The reason I created Chemistry Design Werks is because I wanted to build a good company. Good in the sense of doing the right thing, making ethical decisions, giving back to the community, supporting local businesses, supporting the US economy, a place that treats people fairly and that is representative of what businesses could and should be.” That pride is reflected in the products that he offers. Every nuance of every product is carefully thought over and worked through until it is just right.
“Little things matter.”
Chris’ goals are ambitious, but it’s the care that he takes with those little things that makes those lofty goals possible. Right now, Chris is looking to expand Chemistry Design Werks into other areas. He’s keeping them on the down low for now, but if the Holeyboards are any indication, whatever comes next from Chemistry Design Werks is sure to be something that has been carefully refined and worked through to be something that players will never believe that they were able to live without.
One last question, when will you get around to making the Tony Hawk or a Caballero Holeyboard?
That would be awesome.
You can order Holeyboards and other products through ChemistryDesignWerks.com
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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.