Boutique Amps

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by patrick_yeo, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. patrick_yeo

    patrick_yeo TDPRI Member

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    Hey guys! Just had a question on boutique amps, besides how they sound, are they more tweak able than a normal amp or what? What makes these worth all the money that they are.

    I mean for the same price you could get a SuperSonic 100h by Fender, and have the Twin Reverb, Showman, Bassman, and even more.

    Don't get me wrong, they do sound great, I love how the Matchless, Dr. Z, and Bad Cat amps sound. Just curious what sets them out from the other amps out there! :D
     
  2. Justinvs

    Justinvs Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think most of them go for a sound closer to the Fender Tweeds instead of the Blackface/Silverface, while some try to brifge the gap betweeen Marshall and Fender. No idea how they are to tweak though, since I've never played a boutique in my life.
     
  3. RubyRae

    RubyRae Friend of Leo's

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    here we go...

    It really comes down to being hand built, one at a time with better parts. Cabinet, wood, transformers, caps, etc. and especially the fact that they are hand wired, and not a printed circuit board.

    pcb amps are inferior plain and simple. not bad per se, but less than...

    A Super Sonic is a good amp, but you are not getting a true "Twin Reverb, Showman, Bassman, and even more".

    Plus there are hundreds of "boutique" amps and builders. You can't really lump them all together. That term almost seems obsolete these days.
     
  4. fauxsuper

    fauxsuper Tele-Afflicted

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    They are only worth what people are willing to pay for them. In general, apart from sound quality, you are hopefully looking at high quality parts and workmanship and a design that will be reliable at overdriven levels. (Some vintange amps weren't designed to be played while distorting, the designers assumed that once an amp started to distort that the player would turn it down.) Twin amps, (And Twin Reverbs) for example, tended to eat the speakers that came stock with them.

    Some boutique amps, like Allen, for example, take different, familiar amp designs and give them a slight twist of some sort so you can have an amp that's familiar, but does something the original amps couldn't do. "The Great Fender they Never quite Made."

    Other Boutique amps are meant to sound like various Legendary amps that have become collectors items and are thus priced out of the market for the average player.

    Some boutique builders will pretty much make a custom amp that meets your exact needs.
     
  5. patrick_yeo

    patrick_yeo TDPRI Member

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    I see! That makes a lot of sense, answered all my questions dead on! haha
    I was looking into trying out some of the boutique amps, but I think I'd rather go with a Showman. More bang for the buck! I don't mind that its not handmade. ;)
    Thanks a lot man! :p
     
  6. blargfromspace

    blargfromspace Tele-Afflicted

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    I saw the Supersonic Twin demo'd by Greg Koch last year at a Fender roadshow thing. He also used the hand wired low-power twin and I reckon that the Twin was the better sounding of the two. Not surprising really when you consider that there is 50 years of R&D between the two.

    Thats wrong. Electrons don't care if they travel on the traces of a PCB or a piece of wire some guy put in place by hand.

    Boutique stuff isn't any more 'tweakable' than anything else either. Just more expensive and possibly comes in a prettier cabinet. I'd take a Transtube Peavey with its surface mounted components and its particle board cabinet over a lot of the boutique amps I've tried.

    For the record the amp I use 80% of the time is a boutique amp that is hand wired, so I'm not against them. I am against the marketing BS the majority of manufacturers use. But when there are people out there willing to believe it then you might as well take their money.

    Two Rock, anybody?
     
  7. fauxsuper

    fauxsuper Tele-Afflicted

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    Which Showman?

    The Black and Silverface ones of the 60's and 70's were all hand wired.
     
  8. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Every amp is handmade. It depends on whose hands made it and where those hands are.

    If something comes rolling down an assembly line and you have 15 seconds to do a particular operation you'll do it as well as you can in 15 seconds.

    Two Rock kicks ass. Do they have them in Oz?
     
  9. tekbow

    tekbow Tele-Afflicted

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    Er.. Mike Soldano might disagree with you, and he could be arguably called one of the first boutique builders. His PCBs are heavy duty no expense spared jobs though. then everything is hand soldered in, each amp is done start to finish by one guy/girl (excepting the cab build and covering).

    there's the story of the SLO that survived a flood, and powered up and made sound when it was plugged in (after a cursory clean up before the main service).

    As far as tweakability, well, some builders go that route, some go the other. My Soldano has 2 channels with one set of eq controls, and separate gain/vol. don;t get much simple for a 2 channel amp. funny thing is it's versatile as hell.

    others builders are even less complex, look at cornfords low wattage stuff.
     
  10. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Ooh, you should see the insides of Cornford's preamp. Tricky! :D
     
  11. RubyRae

    RubyRae Friend of Leo's

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    After having lost money due pcb amps crapping out on me they are inferior in my opinion. Not to mention the sound and the quality of the amps as a whole.
    Without a doubt.
     
  12. patrick_yeo

    patrick_yeo TDPRI Member

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    Ooops! I must have zoned out while typing that, I meant to say the SuperSonic! :oops: I like the versatility of it.

    Going to look into it a ton first though.
     
  13. tekbow

    tekbow Tele-Afflicted

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    Whoops, i was going on external appearances lol some of them only have a tone control and a volume. but the magics inside. With Soldano (yes i love my amp..) he puts as little in the circuit path as poss. his personal SLO's have no FX loop or any of the mods he does.

    all depends on the price point. in general yes, but there are exceptions.
     
  14. vanklomk

    vanklomk Tele-Meister

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    No one has really mentioned customer service. When I had questions about a couple used boutique amps I was able to email the owner/designer direct. I was given great details and even told by Top Hat not to buy one of his early amps because it was a 1 off he did that wasn't up to snuff. Joe Morgan and Dr.Z are the other two I've dealt with who are great
     
  15. tekbow

    tekbow Tele-Afflicted

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    I got one, Soldano again though.. I emailed them to ask them about one of their amps on ebay in a config i'd never seen before, not only did he answer me, but he did it at length and in great detail for an amp that i didn't even own yet..

    Similar experiences with Lazy J.
     
  16. RubyRae

    RubyRae Friend of Leo's

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    very true. soldano, mesa, are good examples...
    I was generalizing thinking about lower end modeling pcb amps, so I know what you are saying definitely.
     
  17. tekbow

    tekbow Tele-Afflicted

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    SMT stuff, yeah, it's why i prefer boutique pedals also, electricity doesn't care what it goes thru in terms of circuits, but i have it in my head that stuff wired well by hand on vero or perf or good quality pcb etc is more rugged and will stand the test of time better. not to derail the thread. back to amps.
     
  18. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The two primary reasons that most people dislike PCB construction is 1): They're more difficult to service, and 2): Almost all low-budget amps (which are much more likely to have issues) are built with PCB construction and low-cost parts, so many people overlook the design and components and blame the PCB itself for failures.

    Last time I checked, most of the stuff that NASA shoots into space is highly reliable, highly complex, and done with PCBs. ;)
     
  19. tekbow

    tekbow Tele-Afflicted

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    yup, cuz one other thing PCB's are good for are is repeatibility.

    One more Soldano thing.. quote from his website on PCB vs Handwiring.

    From the keyboard of my own personal "the amp dude"

    The pic is of the inside of a HR50 that Bill Sundt (Mikes right hand guy) sent me to show me how to remove a factory mod. gives you an idea of the kind of PCB they're using
     

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  20. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Last time I checked NASA doesn't use the same electronics it did 50 years ago. One of my amps is over 40 years old and still functioning beautifully.

    "Handwired" amps are more durable, period. The reason relates to risk. A PCB amp shouldn't (in theory) break easily (and most are pretty sturdy). However, if that board cracks or snaps you're pretty much screwed. The board itself quickly becomes an irreplaceable part....a single component that, if it fails, kills your entire amp (or requires a serious re-building).

    For me it is not about the (inaudible...) sound difference between PCB and "handwired" (things will sound as well as they're designed...look at Tone King!). For me it is about owning gear that my children and grandchildren (should they learn to play) will be able to enjoy. It is the joy of knowing that the amps I have now in my 20s can be with me for the rest of my life. Maybe that's a weird reason...but it's why I prefer non-pcb amps.
     
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