KHDK products

Making a Custom Abyss Bass Overdrive for Tool

How we built a custom Abyss for Justin Chancellor of Tool.

How would you design a pedal for one of your all-time favorite bands?

"We were at a Tikki bar drinking a coctail called Baboon's Ass when David Karon asked me if I wanted to create a custom pedal for Justin Chancellor from Tool," says Dan Kurz, KHDK's visual designer.

"I've been hooked on Tool ever since I heard 'Sober' when I was fifteen and that obsession has lasted till today. So after a brief freak out, I said yes."

See Dan create the Great Abyss: Third Eye

The pedal is KHDK's unique bass overdrive Abyss, for which Dan set out to build a custom enclosure.

"I asked Dan to build a custom Abyss for Justin because of our love and respect for Tool," says KHDK founder David Karon. "It's yet another passion project: those are the reason KHDK exists. I wanted Dan to really have fun and go crazy on this one," David explains.

"I always look for imagery that speaks to the artist to connect the pedal to their unique expression of creativity."

Looking For The Right Direction

"When I'm designing a custom pedal, I always look for imagery that speaks to the artist," says Dan. "I also want to respect the pedal layout with knobs and switches and integrate them into the design meaningfully."

Dan's sketch of Great Abyss: Third Eye

With Tool, the design proved to be a challenge: "Unlike other bands, Tool uses a lot of abstractions and symbolism which is not easy to translate into visuals," Dan explains, "on the other hand, it gave me a lot of space to get really creative."

He found the right visuals while listening to Tool's 'Third Eye'. "I decided the custom Abyss should be a mystical god/alian figure. I looked over the visuals used by Tool on their albums, and I knew this would be in line with the imagery that they like."

"The creature is sending us strength...or it brings total destruction. That is up to everyone's interpretation."

The figure holds both of the pedal's diodes and transmits rays through its third eye. Dan made the buttons from a repurposed alluminium pipe and stylized them into the figure's three eyes, one with an occult symbol.

Justin's reaction says it all:

"I fucking love that pedal."

KHDK's Paul de Maio with Justin Chancellor and his custom Abyss

"Making of: Third Eye Video"  by Jakub Vlachynsky of Blackspot group

Great Abyss: Third Eye photos by Jan Nozicka.