KHDK products

Creating a Handmade Pedal for Kirk Hammett

Before this custom Ghoul Screamer pedal made it to Kirk, it started in a garage.

To celebrate Kirk's first-ever KHDK signature pedal, the Ghoul Screamer, we decided to create an over the top custom enclosure for the overdrive. Daniel Kurz is the artist behind the haunting Abyss Bass Overdrive art for Gojira and Tool and the right man for the job. 

Grab your dremel and let's knock one of these babies out!


Turning a Blank Pedal Enclosure into Custom Artwork

Daniel Kurz Workshop Ghoul Screamer

I was sitting in my garage, cold sweat dripping from my brow at the blank aluminium Ghoul Screamer enclosure from our Kentucky factory.

The pressure was on.

I was going to create a custom pedal box  for Kirk Hammett's signature Ghoul Screamer and I wasn't going to rest until I made something truly epic.  

Little did I know, it would involve acid, glow in the dark paint, and quite a few dish sponges.

Ghoul Screamer by Name and by Design

It all started with the ghoulish design

How do you start a project like that? I kept thinking about the name, Ghoul Screamer, and decided to base my art around it.

I grabbed a marker and pencil, sketching a bunch of ideas.

I love design that works with the elements of the pedal naturally rather than fighting with them. And that includes the knobs. 

Drawing a Design that Works with the Pedal

So I first imagined the knobs aren't there at all and I just drew over them to make them blend into the final design. When you look at the pedal from above, the knobs disappear into the background.

After some sketching, a ghoulish head was staring back at me. Distored, insane, demonic...but with a funny feel to it at the same time, which felt perfect. Kirk likes his stuff over the top but a little tongue-in-cheek, too. 

Next, I scanned the drawing and traced it in Illustrator, turning it into a vector file which I then plotter-printed and carved into a sticker foil.

Prepping the Pedal Enclosure: Scratch and Engrave

It looked like it had been to battle.

Coming up with the design is one thing. Transfering it onto the pedal is another.

I scraped the bare aluminium enclosure with sandpaper. I cleaned the enclosure off with alcohol and engraved the back with a diamond-tip rotary tool. The wailing sound felt like the Ghoul is already in my garage, watching over the process.

Aging the Aluminium on the Pedal

I love making things ugly, industrial, beat up. Not only is it cooler: it also means they don't have to be perfect and any mistakes will work with the final look. 

To achieve this rough look, I soaked cotton balls in acid, dabbing the enclosure at random spots. I watched the acid work and when it looked right, which took around half a minute, I neutralized it with water.

Finally, I gave the enclosure a few additional scratches using the rough side of a dish sponge. After this treatment, the pedal look like it had been to battle. But the real fun was yet to begin.

 Applying the Pedal Design to the Enclosure

I applied the sticker foil to the enclosure

I had my design on a sticker foil already. I cut out the parts of the foil that I wanted to put on the enclosure; the ghoul's face and the letters.

The enclosure has 5 sides plus the back plate. I cut up the peeled foiled into the five sections of the enclosure, creating a stencil, which I stuck to the enclosure.

Next, I grabbed my white modeling paint. I used a sponge to apply the paint to the enclosure and once it was completely dry, I added glow-in-the-dark paint with a sponge. (Yes, I go through a lot of sponges.)

Be safe, kids, and always wear a face mask

This was the tough part; the glow-in-the-dark paint was incredibly delicate and ripped as it was drying.

But it dind't bother me too much: as I said, I like imperfections. 

Creating the Mysterious Pedal Knobs

The last part was painting the knobs with a brush and modelling paint. I added the final touches with a thin marker because I love lots of detailing.

The knobs have a cool back story: my father found them in a shed at our cottage and nobody knows where they came from. Seemed pretty fitting to me.

Custom Ghoul Screamer for Kirk Hammett

I knew they would be perfect and I made sure they sat tight on the pedal’s potentiometers.

I also treated the knobs with acid and engraved them, adding points to show their setting.

Finally, I sprayed the pedal with acrylic to avoid chipping of the glow-in-the-dark paint. Then I cracked open a beer.

Antonin Salva, KHDK’s engineer, picked up the enclosure from the garage and took it to his workshop to fit it on the pedal’s circuit.

A few days later, Kirk got the pedal and freaked out. Awesome! 


Daniel Kurz is a graphic designer with a penchant for twisted, haunting art. He loves playing with acid and doing weird shit to guitar pedals. 

When he's not pouring acid or scraping things, he's screaming his head off as the frontman of his metal band, Atari Terror.