BY ADAM HUNT
Mike Marino isn’t a stranger to the world of
guitar electronics, but chances are you’ve
never heard of him. In 1974 Mike was
searching for a way to simulate the sound
of a totally cranked amp but at a far more
reasonable volume. He went to a local
electronics store and asked the guy behind
the counter how he could do it. The clerk
shared that the Muzak machines used in restaurants and department stores at the time
used a rheostat to regulate their volume.
Mike soon made one himself, plugged it in
between his amp’s head and its speakers,
just didn’t know how to use his invention.
“A lot of guys just plugged their guitar right
into it then ran it into their heads, so I’d get
calls saying it didn’t work,” Mike recalls.
Sadly, as with the case of many first time
business owners, things just didn’t work out
and Mike went to electronics school.
After some electronics training at Control
Data, Mike would spend a couple of years at
Delco before becoming a mainframe computer tech at Registration Control Systems,
where he would eventually help develop
magnetic security units for the NAMM show
for ten years. He also developed eight prototype guitars for Apogee Sound before the
project was ultimately abandoned.
Mike later began making his own personal
pedals for the R&B band he plays in, The
Blues Burners, and other players came up
to him and demanded to know how he
was getting his great tone. “I didn’t have
any intentions to start making pedals, but
people just kept asking,” he says. The
demand led him to develop four pedals
under the name ToneCandy, and his initial
success was so great that he was able to
quit his full-time job for a second go at the
Pleased with his results, Mike eventually
took out a half-page ad in Guitar Player’s
1976 “Django issue.” Unfortunately, players
Mike sent me ToneCandy’s four-pedal
lineup to check out, each with their own
flavors, ranging from mild to wild.