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Are "boutique" pedals overhyped? Barber LTD vs. Bad Monkey...

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by RomanS, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    I recently got a Barber LTD overdrive pedal. Now, while this one isn't in the same league as peals with waiting periods of more than 12 months, and prices higher than some small tube amps, it is still said to be one of the best on the market when it comes to transparent low-gain sounds.
    And it does indeed have a great, tranpsarent, very useable low-gain sound, I just came back from band practice, where I used it for the first time today, and really liked it!

    BUT: I also had my Bad Monkey hooked up along with the LTD - and the LTD couldn't do anything that the Bad Monkey couldn't do just as well - the BM sounded just as transparent, cleaned up just as well, was useable both as a booster and as an overdrive just like the LTD, sounded just as refinded or raunchy (depending on the setting), but even new cost less than half of waht I paid for the used LTD.

    Is it that the Bad Monkey is so good, or is it that the Barber (or boutique pedals in general) are just so overhyped?
    I'm really anxious about my search for a Fulltone FD2 now - I loved that pedal every time I heard it played by someone else, so much that I'm really gassing for it, but now I'm kinda curious whether it will really be better than the BM once I find an affordable one...

  2. Easydog

    Easydog Tele-Meister

    Jul 17, 2007
    Portland, OR
    I still think your longing for an FD2 (from a previous thread). FD2 is where its at. No comparison. I just got one and it made me put the bad monkey back in its cage. It may never get to come out again, just no need for it now.

  3. diff'rent strokes, yunno?

    I like steak and I like hot dogs - one costs a lot more than
    the other but they both sure taste good to me!

  4. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

    May 19, 2004
    Overhyped, IMO.

    That's not to say that boutique pedals don't sound good. Some do, some don't at least to me. But they don't sound 10x better, which is about what some cost. And getting on a long, long waiting list to fork over a pile of dough? Not for me. I got on the waiting list for an expensive boutique pedal about 4 years ago, and I guess I'm still on it, I haven't heard lately.

    Internet forum posters pump these pedals up into mythical status and claim they have no equal. I don't agree. I think it's mostly hype. I don't think they're nearly as good as purported. I'm sure many will disagree.

    Of course, regular pedals don't have the "haunting mids" or "complex higher registers" to complete the "tonal palette".

  5. TexGoneNW

    TexGoneNW Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2003
    Victoria, TX

    The FD2 is often the only pedal in the arsenal (I usually plug straight in).

  6. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    re hype

    I think a LOT of pedals are way overhyped. Seems to be a flavor of the month deal, something new comes out, some folks buy it, post about it etc...
    Then 6 months or a year later, something else new comes out ....
    Then someone started the deal that MIJ pedals are better than the newer ones, which of course drove the prices of the older pedals up.

    My experiences with "boutique" pedals have been mixed, some are great, some are just good,some were downright disappointing!
    I wills ay that most all of them are very well made so that may be what you're paying for.
    The smaller builders generally use better components too.

    I have had one FDII, it sounded good but I didn't use the boost feature, and the OD part didn't sound any better to my ears than my old Ibanez TS10, so I sold it.
    It would be very interesting to have a shoot out comparison, use the same guitar and amp and try a lot of different pedals, I bet in a blind test some of the cheaper pedals would come out real well!

  7. jabsalt

    jabsalt Tele-Meister

    Apr 23, 2007
    New York

  8. BB

    BB Friend of Leo's

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    I prefer to spend the least amount of money possible on gear. Having owned several Bad Chimps and having borrowed a nice LTD, me crazy, but I prefer the LTD. It sounded and felt much better with MY GEAR than the BM.

    That said, my old black box Marshall Bluesbreaker still puts a bigger smile on my face than many other boteekies I've tried.

    As JimiB said, Different Strokes.......

  9. ibobunot

    ibobunot Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2005
    The inside of a Barber pedal is like a work of art and the components are all top notch.

    119.00 is cheaper than a TS808 Vintage Tube Screamer Reissue that IMO is overhyped.. :D

  10. namida

    namida Tele-Meister

    Feb 24, 2006
    for this particular case?

    No. I own and use a bad monkey, great pedal and very very useful. Then I got to try an LTD. Lovely pedal. Might not completely outshine the BM but the thing sounded so clean, no annoying hum. Imo, the LTD is worth the price while the BM can be worth more than its price :)

  11. Montana_Dawg

    Montana_Dawg Tele-Holic

    Oct 27, 2004
    The biggest reason for the high prices of boutique pedals is the parts used. I don't mean just components, but all parts.

    Major manufacturers like DoD, MXR (Dunlop), Maxon, Boss, and Ibanez buy their parts by the bulk. That is pennies on the dollar. A boutique builder often has to pay full retail for the parts they get, or at least a small discount for a small bulk purchase. Buying in larger quantities isn't feasible because if the pedals don't sell, then you are stuck with a bunch of inventory.

    Boxes for pedals like those from Bud Industries and Hammond are pricey, even in small quantities. Where large OEMs spend less than a penny per resistors, caps, and diodes, etc, they can cost as little as $0.25 each and more to the boutique pedal maker.

    Some makers have their own printed circuit boards made. While it is cheaper to buy them in lots, the small quantities are still expensive per board.

    I built my own proto-type distortion pedal and the two PCBs that I bought cost $159.00. That is $79.50 a piece. It would take a quantity of 100 to get it down to a manageable level and still make a profit. Of course, my boards are quite different than those you see at BYOC, and thus more expensive, but the same premise applies.

    Are boutique pedals better than OEM? The answer is completely subjective.

    Boutique pedals often have better parts in them because the concern is not for a wide margin bottom line. I think some are hyped, but some are worth it. Keeley is very knowledgeable. RG Keen is also very knowledgeable. I would buy from these two before I bought anything from Monte Allums. They aren't parts swappers. They actually know and understand the circuits involved.

    So, the only judge is your own ear. If the sound you are dying for costs $300, then maybe it's a worthy investment. If you can get the same in a $50 pedal, then that would be the more economical choice.

    Bottom line- shop around. Somewhere out there is a pedal with your name on it.

  12. CLAZ

    CLAZ Tele-Meister

    Apr 4, 2007
    as soon as people start playing and getting better then we might not have to hear these pedal comparisons so much.....


  13. ibobunot

    ibobunot Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2005

    Well, this is "The Stomp Box" forum.

    It's for discussing... uh.. you know.. stomp boxes... :lol:

  14. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    Well in fact most ARE over hyped.

    Few boutique pedals I've owned sounded REALLY better than the stock BOSS or DOD or IBANEZ pedals I've compared them with.Very few......(i.e I am a tremolo freak and NO boutique tremolo I've tried can match my old BOSS PN2 and I've tried them all...)

    oh btw NONE of the boutique pedals sound better that my VOX TONELAB (w/ the right programming.....) :lol:

    But whatever floats your boat ,some people like to see all these beautiful boxes lined up like soldiers...:D

  15. missing_dave

    missing_dave Tele-Meister

    Dec 12, 2005
    Boston, MA
    a bad monkey,ts9 etc. they do not have the clarity a barber LTD has.yes same general op amp overdrive circuit, but nowhere near the same "dailabilty" the barber boasts internal bass and presence trims and has a "cut/add" tone mom could hear the difference..
    i do agree that alot can be hype and marketing(or lack there of) but just by sheer components they sound quite a bit different.. were not talking a ts9 vs a new ts9 808 reissue:rolleyes:

    ie: asked my girlfriend "what sounds better" standard ts9 and my black LTD,menatone blue collar. she picked the ltd...i asked why? she said "its sounds more like when there was no pedal on at all, is that what you want?)

    funny coincidence..check this out:

  16. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    When you start getting into the vast array of boutique pedals you open up the possibility of finding something that is as individual as you and your guitar. The differences are minute indeed but hey, look at how some people agonize over finding "the one" among a bunch of production instruments when guitar shopping.

    Boutique pedals, for those who dare to enter the arena offer the player a chance to find something that is both unique and a step towards creating their own "trademark" sound.

    If you're gigging in clubs in your spare time on weekends, it ain't no thang. Use the cheapest gear to get the job done. But if you appreciate the finer things in life, there just may be a great sound waiting for you in the form of a boutique pedal.

    To me, the different sounds between these things are often so small it doesn't really matter and the audience, or your buddies in the basement will never know the difference. But it all comes down to one simple thing. If it makes you feel good when you play, then it's a winner. If you're looking down at the floor and thinking "what an over-priced pedal that doesn't do anything better than any other pedal," then you're probably not in a good frame of mind to be playing guitar. Play what makes you feel good. That's what it's all about!

    What does it cost to feel good? What's it worth to you? :lol:

  17. eyema_believer

    eyema_believer Former Member

    Jul 24, 2007
    Milan, Michigan USA
    Yep. Hype. I couldn't see myself paying over $100 on any pedal. Matter of fact, I wish I could, because I really would like a BBE sonic stomp! I use the BBE plugin in my studio A LOT, and I just know that pedal will rock. But, it's very hard for me to spend that kind of scratch on a pedal that most people wouldn't even be able to discern is in use.

    I think more of the equation is in the amp than people know, or allow themselves to realize. If you don't put a TS808 in front of a tube, it's not going to sound so good. But if you put a TS808 in front of a nice cranked tube amp that's about to break up anyways, the sound is much better. SO much just depends on the amp! To have a conversation about how good a pedal sounds apart from the amp you use is not of much value. That's why you see so many of these pedals on the used market; people read a post about a "must have" pedal, spend a week's pay on it, and when they get it, it sounds like bunk in their setup. On the other hand, you could certainly have a useful conversation about the noise level a particular piece has or something that you could quantify based on that piece all alone; something that you could measure with a meter (like noise levels) without it even being plugged into an amp.



  18. Mojohand40

    Mojohand40 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 17, 2005
    Without getting into specific pedals, because people love the pedals that work for them, and I don't want to insult anybody, I think that it's a combination of things.
    First off, yes boutique pedals (imo) are over hyped in most, but not all cases. Secondly, some (but not all) cheap or common pedals are just really good.

    As others have said, if it works for you then pay the price and play it.
    I am amazed at what some of these boutique pedals go for.

    I TOTALLY understand what it cost to design and build small runs or prototype electro-mechanical devices as that's what I do for a living and have done for many years. I understand why the builders have to charge what they do in some (Again not ALL a long shot) cases.
    What I do not get is why so many players plunk down the bucks and wait to have these pedals built.

    I am in no way a gear snob. I find joy in playing very lo-fi inexpensive gear.

    Besides, over time, cheap common gear can be considered "boutique" vintage, must have.

    Case in point: (not guitar related, but music related)

    Many years ago I purchased a used Roland Sh101 Synthesizer for 80 bucks. (still have it) These things were considered bottom of the barrel, budget synths. Now I see them going for close to a grand. Theres one on e-bay now for 700!
    I also have a Roland MC-202. I bought this at a close out sale in 1984 for 40 bucks! THERE WAS PILES OF THEM for sale. Theres one on ebay now for 500.
    So vintage is sort of BS in my book.

    Boutique? I've tried a few pedals that won't go named...and can in all honestly thought "Eh? it's all right." every time. I've played some el-cheapo pedals though that made say "Yeah. That's what I want."

  19. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

    May 19, 2004
    A guitarist I've been in bands with always has the latest and greatest hyped pedal. He's a total gear snob, and never bats an eye at dropping major money on fact, most every pedal on his board cost 3- $400...and he keeps 10-12 pedals on his board at any one time.

    I've tried his pedals and the one thing I can say is that in a blind test, they all sound different. Which one is better? Who knows. I like my Nobels ODR-1 as well as anything I've ever tried. Things like the Klon are different, but not necessarily better to my ear. I like my Fulldrive, and it's the most I've ever spent on a pedal. Would I do it again? I'm not sure...because I think there are other pedals I could be just as happy with.

    I think lots of players are pretty happy with their gear but then get hung up on things they read on internet forums like transparency, true bypass, touch sensitivity, etc...things they may not have even thought about until they read it on an internet forum, and then they MUST have it.

  20. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005

    This is so true!

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