I interviewed Pete Cornish in 1982 to find out about the man we might well consider the godfather of the pedalboard. He began making his now-famous boards in the early ‘70s, working with many well known British guitarists of the period. Pete would go on to make boards for Jimmy Page, Brian May, Andy Summers, James Honeyman-Scott, and many others. He built plenty of other custom gear, too—whatever bands couldn’t buy anywhere else—and he’s still going strong today.
Back in ’82, I braved a scruffy alley in Soho, central London, and sat down for a cup of tea and a chat. We decided to mark the 10th anniversary of Pete’s first pedalboard by taking a trawl through his record books, where he noted each one he’d made. But first: a little background.
Pete, I believe all this began when you started in the repair department at the Sound City shop in London in the early ‘70s. Is that right?
Well, before that, after leaving school in 1960, I did a three-year electronics course with the Air Ministry in Chislehurst [southeast London], where I mainly worked on radios. After that, I worked for a few electronics firms around Bromley, and then I got a job working for the Sound City factories, but I didn’t particularly like the environment.
Somebody who had worked at the Sound City shop told me there was a vacancy, and so the opportunity came up to work in the service department there. I got the job, and I was there from 1970 or ’71 until it closed in ’75 or so.