This article continues the series which I started with Best of British, Canadian, French, German and Italian Pedal Builders - some of which could do with updating probably, but frankly I prefer doing new stuff. It turns out that Greece is actually a significant hub of activity with a number of Internationally renown brands.
I feel the big 3 are Crazy Tube Circuits, JAM Pedals and Tsakalis Audioworks, while VS Audio also has had some significant publicity fairly recently and particularly in the UK - courtesy of luminaries like Rabea Massaad and Chris Buck.
Of the Top 9 - pretty much all were known to me and very much a shoe-in - with only Rat Pedals needing some further consideration. In terms of ownership - I own 2 CTC pedals and 2 from Side Effects - and fully intend to acquire the JAM Rattler and Tsakalis Six at some stage this year alongside likely one or two more.
While many/most would likely agree with my top brands selection here - the ’chosen’ pedals from each are obviously more a personal preference thing. My top selection consists wholly of pedals I have considered for acquisition - or am currently considering - it’s no more complicated than that.
Generally too the Greek pedal-making ’industry’ seems to be in pretty good health and there are a smattering of fledgling brands doing interesting things - as we shall see.
Pedal makers listed in alphabetical order - first my Top 9, then the remainder:
The Greeks seem to value privacy as the majority of their pedal brands don't reveal their key personas - such is the case too for Fuzz and Boost/Overdrive specialist Bad Pixel Pedals - they only make pedals within those two categories. There are currently 10 pedals in the range, and the standout for me is the germanium transistor-switching Pink Face - Fuzz Faze style pedal with top-edge-mounted control knobs and side-mounted bias dial and transistor toggle-switch (Note that above demo is of much larger original Germanium Fuzz Face which though uses very similar circuit and same transistors):
CTC is a brand I've featured numerous times on this site and is one of the heavyweight Greek brands here - I already have the Constellation Tone Bender + Fuzz Face + Range Master and Starlight Fuzz/Distortion/Fuzzy-Drive/Fuzzstortion - both really excellent pedals and my favourites from the range - while there are plenty more interesting gems here besides including the White Whale genuine spring tank Trem-Verb, Echotopia Tape-Style Delay and Stardust Fender Blackface style overdrive. CTC really doesn't make an average pedal - they're all pretty great.
I first became aware of this mostly synthesizer-based builder courtesy of UK dealer Break the Machine which carries the recently released 3-LFO-Wave Komorebi Analog BBD Chorus/Flanger. The second pedal - the significantly larger Hypnosis Time Effects Processor Chorus/Delay/Reverb is due out at the end of the month. So not a lot on the roster yet, but Dreadbox already has a stellar reputation for analog and modular synthesizers - so we can expect more in that vein.
Another Greek brand I've featured on this site a number of times - in particular well-known for its Llama Analog Delays, Retrovibe Uni-Vibe and various fuzz pedals - including the Rattler Rat style distortion. The last mentioned is the uppermost on my wishlist at the moment, and has particularly caught on since its recent stellar showing on That Pedal Show. I'm a keen fuzz fanatic as most know - and that is chiefly were my interests lie here! Much like with CTC above - this is another superior quality brand which does not know how to do average pedals - these are pretty much all great:
My first introduction to this brand was when I did the research for this article - I particularly like the VB-1 Booster and FV-1 Fuzz in how they reveal their premium quality components via clear transparent inset panels in the facia. The range could probably do with a little more consistency in approach - graphics and knobs used - but there are several worthy of consideration here (Note - no demo video currently available):
Another one of my favourite secretive Greek brands - I already have 2 of the best from this builder - the equally versatile and quite superb Il Mostro Multidrive and Wooly Mammoth 7 Clone. There are currently 6 pedals in the range - all available from Side Effects' Reverb store:
I've weirdly comes across the GOO pedal in all types of scenarios - I just did not properly realise it was Greek until I did the full research for this occasion (Actually Greek-Canadian!). I generally don't tend to like these horizontal format compact enclosure pedals - I waited a long time for Zvex to go vertical with its own classics - and I guess I may do the same here - although in both cases I obviously see the appeal of the individual pedal circuits. The Tone Concepts range is rather compact - with just 4 in the official range alongside custom offerings.
The third of the 'Big 3' as far as I'm concerned - this is another significant range of pedals - which is probably best known for its Phonkify Envelope Filter-Wah-Octaver and Experience Octave Fuzz Pedals, but which fully resonated with me with its recent launch of the 'Six' Booster-Overdrive-Distortion - which is the one on my wishlist! This brand is carried by Scan.co.uk in the UK - and I will no doubt be ordering one or two of the range from them later in the year.
This brand sits just outside the big 3 Greek at the moment. They made a concerted effort for a couple of years to get in and amongst many of the leading YouTubers - and for a while the Royal Flush in particular was a feature of many a board - while it's not quite so evident of late. I note that Chris Buck has switched to the more compact Straight Flush version currently - which is still part of my ongoing consideration as to whether I would prefer the Compact / slightly reduced features Straight Flush vs its more fully-featured original - which I chose as the pick of the range above. There are currently 6 pedals in this compact and bijoux range.
A small and very simple range of just 3 x 2 knob pedals - Bouncer Compressor, Leader Clean Boost and Zen Chorus - I'm not clear on what the benefits / advantages of these pedals would be versus any number of low-cost alternatives. There is nothing here that particularly distinguishes these for me - not in terms of look or content / feature set / function. The YouTube demos are perfunctory, no more - not sure how active this brand still is - could probably do with some sort of update though.
Obviously principally an Amp manufacturer - they currently have just one mid-size enclosure pedal on offer - the rather neat and elegant tap-tempo Heartbeat Delay with Clean and Tape Modes, optional Modulation and Tap Divisions.
Another relatively small range (6) of mostly Fuzz and Distortion pedals - typically combined in voicing or within the same enclosure - a mix of compact and medium enclosures. I again feel that these pedals could do with a touch more uniformity of look - but certainly there are some to pique interest here.
A fairly solid range of classic clones in mostly medium to large enclosures - all the usual suspects really and a mix of sort of PreAmps, Overdrives and Fuzzes. I'm not sure there is anything particularly distinctive here - certainly not from a control topology/interface/aesthetics angle - but no doubt decent workmanlike pedals.
Another pretty solid range of 9 compact and medium-enclosure pedals which could also do with a touch more uniformity probably. Nothing here for my wishlist alas, but others may find some appeal within the range.
Greece has an unusually high density of quality pedal-builders, and then a smattering of the usual smaller fledgling brands which could all do with a little more aesthetic consistency. The Top 9 is pretty much as strong as any other country's overall bar say USA and Japanl, while there are not really that many makers active in Greece.
In doing these country-based features it can be a struggle to find 9 builders who deserve to be in the upper echelon and have proper International appeal. I was considering doing a Scandinavian one - a mix of the Nordic Countries, but had immediately got to 8 world-class Danish brands - I then struggled to find a 9th. I may well do a Denmark Feature on its own and then another for Finland, Norway and Sweden combined.
I had also considered doing a more extensive 'Rest of the World' one - but would probably prefer to do that at the end. In the meantime I'm looking for a 9th quality Danish builder besides Carl Martin, CIOKS, Emma Electronic, Lunastone, Nordvang Custom, Reuss, T-Rex and TC Electronic. (Update - I've gone with Vulcan Mulciber!)
Beyond all that I'm struggling to find another suitable country - any suggestions?
Postscript - I've decided to do Spain next, then Denmark, then Rest of Scandinavia - and we'll see what mood strikes me thereafter - some of these take an awful lot of research - and then some ponderous decision making - which means these are somewhat taxing.