I launched the Abunai 2 as the first overdrive pedal among a line of products Tone Freak now offers. To many, abunai simply means “dangerous” in Japanese. Seems a fitting name for an overdrive pedal. Some who have followed Tone Freak throughout the years, knows the true origin of the name Abunai 2. Abunai was a dear friend and companion.
Abunai’s comes from a line of pure bread Akitas. Standing on his hind legs, he could look me directly in the eye. He weighed a powerful 110 pounds and had fur as soft as a rabbits pelt. When he shed his winter coat, I could pick off big patches of fur… it was all over the place. A quiet dog most of the time, but he certainly made it known when he sensed an intruder with a thunderous bark that could shake your bones.
Abunai considered himself the guardian of the family. Gentle to everyone, but not to potential threats. There was a time in the park when someone let loose their Doberman Pincher off leash. The Doberman caught sight of Abunai and started aggressively charging with fangs showing. Abunai did nothing until the last moment when the Doberman came upon him. Abunai grabbed the Doberman by its throat and took it to the ground. Abunai could have easily killed that Doberman, but he only held it down until they were separated. The sense of family ran deep within him and his loyalty came second to none.
When I first started Tone Freak, I mostly modded pedals to the current Abunai 2 specifications. I setup a table in the garage and would wake-up at 4 am in the morning to get some work done before my day job. Abunai greeted me with puppy like enthusiasm. Abunai found a favorite spot under the table, which happened to be nestled right on my feet. I would scratch his back with my toes, which made his leg twitch. Every morning without fail, he and I worked on Tone Freak stuff.
Anyone who had big breed dogs know that they usually have a shorter life span than smaller breeds. This rang especially true for Abunai, who was not expected to live past 7 years, following heart surgery. His vet called him the “miracle dog” because as the years went past 7, it was evident that Abunai would prove him wrong. However, Abunai’s heart didn’t give him troubles, it was his hips. He developed severe hip dysplasia and in his twilight years, found it increasingly difficult to get up. It reached the point where he could not get up at all. At 13 years of age, surgery was not an option.
I sat with Abunai at the Vet’s office during his last moments. I know some people find it too difficult to watch their pets get euthanized, but I wanted to be there for him like he was with me every morning in the garage. Abunai let out one last gentle breath and just like that… he was gone. With that breath he took with him a big chunk of my heart. The sorrow I felt reached deep into the depths of my soul and I cried uncontrollably. After a while, I knew I had to go or I would never leave his side. I gave one final gigantic, humongous hug, told him “I love you” one final time, and then… I let go. I guess I was there for more than an hour… I didn’t want to leave my friend.
The next morning, I got up at 4 am to start Tone Freak work. The garage felt empty and I caught myself reaching for Abunai with my toes. My partner wasn’t there. I had been working on creating my standard mods into the PCB. I hadn’t named the pedal yet and in an instant the name became obvious. Abunai.
All of a sudden, my sorrow turned into excitement. I will get Abunai’s name out there for all see! And the nature of this overdrive fit well with Abunai’s Akita heritage. In fact the original name for the controls were “Bark” (volume), “Bite” (tone) and “Growl” (gain). I decided against those names because they didn’t properly describe Abunai’s true character. He was gentle, kind, loyal, loving, dependable, and protector. Couldn’t ask for a better friend.
I put a lot into each of my pedals, but the Abunai 2 has a deeper and more personal connection to me. I successfully got Abunai’s name all over the world and that makes my heart smile. Every time I bring out the Abunai 2 enclosure, I can’t help, but grin… every time. Truth be told, the real Abunai could care less… he just wants a back scratch with my toes.