With endorsements from the likes of Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Andy Taylor of Duran Duran, Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, The Cure) and a host of other high-profile artists, the guitar pedal created by North Salem’s David Harrington has undoubtedly struck a chord with musicians looking for an original sound in their guitar playing.
The handmade distortion pedal is made by Harrington at his Guitar Tone Company and is used to alter the amplified sound of an electric guitar to give it new dimension. He began experimenting with electronics and building these tools in the 1990s and early 2000s, and currently produces a singular product called “The Bloody Finger.”
“Pedals can produce a delay, an echo, a reverb or a distortion—I make the distortion pedal,” he explained.
The catchy name was coined by Billy Corgan, Harrington said, surmising that the device’s sharp, pointy lines and plexiglass enclosure is why Corgan described it as ‘The Bloody Finger’ some years back.
Harrington, who moved to North Salem in 1974 and graduated from North Salem High School, began his career in a Soho recording studio called Greene St. Recording. He said he had determinedly knocked on doors to get a job in the industry, until finally getting a break at the cutting-edge studio which was churning out hit albums.
“I wound up becoming an engineer, working in a recording studio and we made thousands of amazing records,” Harrington said. “Worked on ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ by
Bonnie Tyler; we did all the Run-DMC records, all the Public Enemy records, Sonic Youth, Keith Richards—it was really great.”
As the music industry began to drastically change, Harrington said, he decided to focus on crafting an original product—and as a guitarist himself who enjoyed electronics, he was able to learn how to build a pedal that produced a one-of-a-kind sound. He left the Manhattan recording scene after 2001 and eventually made his way back to North Salem.
To date, he has sold about 250 units and admitted he was surprised to see how word spread to music insiders who wanted to get their hands on his pedal—they coveted the gadget that could make their performances stand out (although he said most who discover it remain reluctant to give away their tricks).
The entrepreneur got one of his original pedals into the hands of guitarist and frontman Billy Corgan, backstage at a concert some years ago—and according to Harrington, he apparently liked it.
“Corgan later put out a video on YouTube where he had like 500 pedals in shopping carts,” Harrington said. “But he picked mine up and said it was the best pedal he ever had.”
Business grew and Harrington committed himself to his boutique product; crafting it with streamlined controls to give musicians an aesthetically pleasing pedal that offers a great range of sounds.
“I make them all: I etch the circuit board, I put it under light, I put it in acid, I cut it out by hand, I drill it, I polish it, I put all the components in, I wire it, I hand test it, it is a piece of art,” he explained.
He continued, “It sounds so freaking good—the sound it makes is like harmonically crunchy, sweet symphonic sound, like an overdriven Marshall amp—a distorted amp that is so harmonically rich and sweet that it is angelic.”
Find more information at https://guitartonecompany.com