Former DigiTech & DOD Manager Says Guitar Pedal Business Isn’t Rational Career Choice, Explains How He Got Into It recently conducted an interview with Tom Cram, a current owner of guitar pedal company Spiral Electric FX and a guy who’s best known for reviving the DOD brand within DigiTech. Just to clarify things, everyone thought that DigiTech and DOD were doomed after, in 2022, they were dropped by Harman, a company that is owned by Samsung (you know the complicated corporate ownership stuff). However, not long after, DigiTech and DOD were acquired by Cor-Tek, a company that owns Cort guitars.

Among many things that Tom discussed during the chat, he reflected on how he actually ended up in the pedal business. The story goes all the way back to his musical beginnings, as he explains:

“A friend of mine started a band, and they needed a bass player, so he said, ‘hey, can you come play bass.’ I didn’t even know what a bass was, or anything about music. So, very punk rock. I found a used Hondo bass, and one of the most terrible amps you can think of. He taught me some changes, and a few weeks later we’re playing a show at our high school.”

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“So thrown right in the fire. Even then, I didn’t know I wanted to be a musician. I just did it because it was fun – pure ‘music’ as a passion wasn’t even there for me then.”

He added:

“Years later, that changed and, you know, I decided I wanted to be a full-time musician. But when did I want to become a pedal maker? That didn’t happen by a decision either, it just kind of happened.”


“From learning how to build stuff, working on the manufacturing floor, and then moving into, you know, different divisions, learning how the process works, that inspired me to experiment with stuff. So I taught myself how to modify pedals.

“And I taught myself some basic electronics – but I also learned a lot from the engineers that I was around. Either by osmosis or actually going directly to them and saying ‘how does this work?’”

However, for Tom, getting into the business of guitar pedals wasn’t something that he did on purpose. Things just ended up going in that direction and, as he also explains, starting the Spiral Electric FX was the only conscious decision. He continued:

“But it was never really a conscious decision, me saying ‘I’m going to become a pedal maker.’ The only time I had to be decisive about it was after the whole Samsung buyout, when they shut us down. I was like, okay, I need to do *something,* and I know how to make pedals. So that’s when Spiral was born. That was the very first conscious decision.”

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Despite being one of the most respected names in this line of business, Tom stands by his belief that it’s not exactly something that will make you rich. And not only that — the pedal business turns out that, in his opinion, isn’t the most rational career path for an engineer. He concluded by saying:

“If you start your life and decide you’re going to be an engineer, and you go to school to become an actual ‘real electronics engineer,’ the options you’re looking at for a career 99 times out of 100 are not in the pedal industry.”

“Truth be told, there’s not a ton of money in pedals. There’s no career path that leads to you owning a yacht. If you’re thinking rationally about your career, going into pedals is not the right choice.”

During the interview, Tom also looked back on his entire career in DigiTech, offering:

“I started at DigiTech and DOD on the manufacturing floor around 1995, 1996. Then I moved into material handling, which is basically just bringing parts and stuff that people who are building. Then I moved into sound test, and then into DOD marketing.

“That was the big change, going from the manufacturing floor to somewhere I actually had some participation in the process. One of my first jobs there was the transition from the older FX series stuff in the ’90s era to the two-tone stuff.

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“My title back then was marketing-comms specialist, so I worked trade shows and stuff like that, and was part of multiple teams doing product development.

“But then I moved all the way out of guitar stuff to doing Tech Support for DBX, the pro-audio portion of Harman. Then I moved to a division called SDIG, the software division. That created all the software to run huge stadiums, the giant PA installations and stuff like that.

“I then heard through the internal grapevine that DigiTech and DOD were looking for a new artist relations person – I’ve been in bands my whole life, and I’ve toured, so I have a lot of connections and I know a lot of artists, so it kind of made sense to me.

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“And I was at a point where I was a little tired of pro audio, I wanted to go back to guitar stuff. I lobbied for the job and got it, that was around 2010.”

Tom’s most prominent time in the company was between 2010 and 2018. He recalled:

“From 2010 to 2018. There were a series of reorgs and management shake ups – and just through honest-to-God sheer chance, I just happened to be the last man standing in all of the fallout.

“I started talking about the resurrection of DOD in late 2010, early 2011. But I didn’t get a chance to do anything about it until late 2011 or 2012. The new DOD/DigiTech stuff was introduced to the market in 2013. From that point on, I was very deeply involved, and then eventually got to be in charge of product development, and later in charge of the brand.”

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However, things went sour in 2018 after Harman was sold to Samsung. Tom explained:

“Right at the point where I was feeling like we were firing on all cylinders – this was 2018, the Rubberneck had just come out – that’s when Harman was sold to Samsung. That spelled the end of the DigiTech and DOD experiment.”

“Samsung bought Harman for their automotive and consumer division. And so the MI portion, DigiTech and DOD in particular, were not something they were interested in.”

Photo: Jason (Digitech Whammy (close view))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.