Bad Penny FX, like all maker’s businesses, just kind of fell together into being, rather than being officially founded at any particular date. I (Mark), have been an instrument abuser since childhood, having after school piano lessons for a number of years, progressing into what I could term as a “musician” in my late teenage years. My early riff making and song-writing inspirations were Tom Morello, Johnny Greenwood, and Matt Bellamy, leading me to become interested in effect processors to recreate their sounds. In my twenties, I began working in instrument retail and repair, spending my time upgrading guitar circuitry and restoring dirty and damaged guitars, and experimenting with pedalboard builds in my free time. In 2013, my band and I rented an industrial unit and built our own rehearsal studio, giving me a swift introduction to DIY and retrofitting.
2016 - 2018
In 2016, I relocated into a shared housing property scheme. It was here that while working out of my bedroom and a friend's workshop, I began extending my knowledge in audio circuitry. I built my first guitar pedals, retrofitting fuzz circuits into vintage toys. After some time learning and experimenting, I realised I wanted to forge a different path and decided to go it alone and begin retrofitting vintage tins and Brownie box cameras. This eventually led to the birth of my first Hyperfocal Fuzz, a brand name, the logo, and a semi-official business.
Name Meaning: Bad Penny Fx,(a British term) means, something that you don't really want but, keeps turning up.
Sharing the property scheme with me was Felix. He was also a musician and general tinkerer/creative. After spending many evenings jamming and collaborating on various projects, we discovered a shared passion and desire to design and create. By 2019 we had commandeered the old industrial kitchen as a makeshift workshop, using limited tools and working mainly on a tiled floor. We spent our time developing our woodworking skills whilst building bespoke furniture, picture frames and covering everything we could find in glow-in-the-dark epoxy resin. After a while, discussions arose around the idea of combining our kitchen projects with my retrofit pedal business to design a pedal enclosure, one that would be unique but also reflective of the history of Bad Penny FX and clean British design.
Trial and error ensued. Many hours were spent working through various graphics and enclosure options but by the end of it we were both gobsmacked with how well the first one came out. We released shortly after.
The Fuzz Controller was greeted well by all that tried one, many commenting on how unusual and striking our aesthetic was. This allowed us to get to know some other boutique builders and gear abusers and start making our mark within the community. After only a short while of being released we were approached by Andy at Break The Machine, who kindly enough, became our first dealer.
Two weeks before Christmas 2019 the council decided to sell our property and we were evicted from our home, and as a result, our kitchen workshop.
2020 - Present
After having a significant freak out about our living and work situation, it turned out that the unit below my rehearsal studio was available for rent. It was a stretch, actually vastly more than a stretch but as they say; if you want to make it, buy yourself a watch and a car you can't afford. Our new workshop felt like both of these.
We have been here since the start of 2020 and everyone knows what an unusual year this has been, we continued to design and build regardless. We have released more pedals than ever. Although the world seems to be crumbling from beneath our feet, we push on. This year has seen us bring three new dealers into our small family, with more in talks, and a vastly bigger online community of talented musicians. Whilst Felix and I bring different skills and approaches to Bad Penny, we hold a shared vision of being decent people, creating interesting effect units that deliver marvelous sound, housed in handmade enclosures, inspired by vintage British design.
Thank you for reading. We hope that you love our builds as much as we do and that you choose to buy an instrument effect from us. A unit bought from us is not only a unit sold but an investment in us as people and BPFX as a small business. Every sale is hugely important to us and helps us to pay rent, buy materials, and continue to design and build.