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Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by caspersvapors, Jul 21, 2019.
The thing I hate most about those companies is that they beat me to the idea, did some work, marketed it, and found monied peoples to sell to... Somehow, I find this be really unfair of the universe.
If that's all there is to it, is owning one a badge of honor, or a badge of shame?
Just to throw in another angle (vector, as it were):
I've known Gio, the man behind these amps, for over 20 years. He's an excellent musician (when I first played with him we were playing bebop, he was on upright bass: and good at it).
He's as close to a renaissance man as I've met. And you couldn't find a nicer guy.
His amps are, as has been stated, works of art. And should be considered as such.
They sound great, really.
Why don't I play one? I don't know... I have too many good amps already, I like reverb and tremolo, and I spend most of my professional life wrestling with unfortunate rentals on the other side of the world anyway.
(That said, someday... I might just get one... Anyone want to buy a '64 blackface Twin or '61 Super Echo Twin to help finance said purchase?))
Looking back, the most important thing I've said here is that Gio is a great guy.
That's a clue to the entire puzzle.
Buy them or don't, but I guarantee that he's not trying to take advantage of anyone.
Good question. Personally, I would like to have earned the luxury of being able to buy a very expensive toy just because I like it. Back in the real world, we have-nots tend to get resentful of the haves. It's human nature. So maybe we decry it as excessive or silly. Above all, if I played in a group good enough to earn money gigging to buy the amp then I would be above caring what anyone thought.
I gotta say, what is truly crazy to me is how quick the internet guitar discussion community is to condemn small builders of high quality gear while buying endless streams of cheap disposable gear that apparently fails to satisfy the craving for "better sound".
While this seems to be a sort of mob mentality, I don't assume that every member of the boutique gear hating community is the same.
The leaders of the anti boutique gear rant trend seem to buy lots of Squier/ Joyo/ import reissue amp type products that are virtually all mass produced cheaply in foreign countries.
Much of this stuff is disposable, some of it is cheap and some is actually very expensive given the life expectancy and resale value.
Of course many buy mid price mid quality gear like MIM and the more expensive but still mass produced Fender RI amps.
A PRRI and a MIM Tele are not really disposable, given that the can be repaired, but when much of this gear is worn looking and in need of a costly repair that all gear will someday need, much of it will not be worth fixing.
We already see owners of US Fenders struggling between getting an older top quality neck refretted or just buying a MIM or Squier.
So as mass thought hates on high quality stuff, mass thought also chooses to throw good stuff away (or put it in a drawer for the kids and grandkids to deal with).
I have a hard time accepting that so many of the first world truly hate high quality stuff.
I also have a hard time believing that many of those who rant against boutique gear are actually unable to afford high quality gear.
What these buyers seem to do is spend on high quantity, which requires lower quality and price.
Of course a few go for low price in the form of original BF/SF Fender amps that sell for the price of Chinese RI amps.
I would point out that these few buyers are choosing top quality, not low price, despite the fact that the price is similar to new RI but with no factory warranty and with worn exteriors.
So it seems like the majority of guitar buyers end up spending boutique gear prices on multiples, yet end up playing cheap import disposable quality gear.
And then go online and rant against the sort of gear that for pro players, ends the obsessive gear search with great sound/ versatility/ reliability/ satisfaction.
I mean GAS is by nature a state of dissatisfaction with our gear.
We can laugh about it, but I'm not sure we really want endless dissatisfaction.
Any more than we want an endless stream of one night stands with partners we can only love intoxicated.
The short rush of a new thing is not long term satisfaction.
Gear Acquisition Syndrome is to our collective laughter, a futile attempt to satisfy our insatiable cravings.
And we make excuses, cosigning each others futility.
Then go on to spread hate for craftspeople building great quality gear with love and devotion to their craft, and to the buyers satisfaction. Really, most true boutique quality gear builders have a primary goal of satisfying their customers.
None are getting rich trying with all their hear and intellect to satisfy us.
Oddly, we also seem to rant about big corporations seemingly not trying to satisfy us!
Is there a pattern of insanity here?
I think we as a guitar community can do better in how we view the devoted hard working builders of top quality gear.
In the end it makes us all look bad, even if on the internet we manage to collectively make them appear to be the bad guys.
No doubt there are some skilled folks here building fine amps as a hobby they enjoy, and their finished products rival the best boutique amplifiers. And some floundering newbies like me
But ask them to quit their day job and make this their primary source of income, hire some help, spend some $ on marketing, hire a lawyer to make sure you aren't violating Gibson's "round shaped knobs" trademark, and I bet their prices would get right up into that same ballpark.
Just for the parts cost of the AC15 derived handwired amp I built, I could easily have purchased a brand new AC15. If I'd put in overtime at work for all the hours I spent building my amp, I'd have come out $ahead enough to buy a couple more AC15s. Bottom line: building my own amp was just as much an economic disaster as buying a $3k boutique amp.
You are absolutely right. Not to mention the useless stock they would auction off rather than continue to pay storage.
But really, no amp maker will charge more than what the market will bear, so blame the market (demand) for the prices, not the builder.
And, just to show how contradictory I am, one of the two the guitars I play most through that handwired amp I painstakingly built is an Asian mass produced semihollow. B-stock. Got it on eBay for $250.
telemnemonics I hear ya and I do agree. Buy nice or buy twice.
This site has some great ideas and views on pretty much every subject, so I tend to read and keep quiet and read a little more. A lot of advice (from a lot of experience) goes thru these pages. Much respect to all of you.
I like the builders site and I like the amplifier that started all of this. Just to me seems pricey.
I guess I would tend to undervalue my time in a project and I am sure that anything I ever made to sell I would lose my shirt over for that reason.
To me it might be real difficult to get a good idea of what to ask for on a product that you have spent so much effort and time coming up with... in a world where the guy next door can make it for less.
Maybe we are just so accustomed to $300 amps from China and that is our reference. The last amp I bought, head only, was $1300 used. Hand wired in the USA. I jumped into the pond. I didn't have it 48 hours when I sold one of my so called popular amps, the first issue 1995 / 1 x 12 / 40 watter combo and sent it off to a new home. the comparisons were, well, there were none !
If we desire, and have the funds, we can own a masterbuilt piece of gear, guitar or amp, or we can own one of a few million mass produced "warehouse" items. Not that they are bad or not worthy, I'm sure they are and they have served me well. I've done 45 years with warehouse amps. But comes a time.
So called 'boutique amps' are not for the masses, they are for a small minority , a very small minority. No different than Cars or Golf Clubs.
If they are not for you then don't worry about it, doesn't matter if it's $1500, $2000, $2500 or $3000 or more. Go to GC and buy that RI for $1000.
In the Pedal Steel Guitar world, FRANKLIN Pedal Steels are considered the cream of the crop. Paul Sr built maybe 8 or 10 each year and thats it. If you want one, you are paying dearly, 5 grand and upwards for a USED one. Are they better than other brands ? I can't say, I don't own one, but the owners will say yes.
IF a skilled craftsman decides to build an amp and put his name on it, with his skill set, he gets to set the price. Doesn't matter what it is. It either sells or it doesn't.
The other option we have is to buy an amp which is exactly the same as the other 4 million from the warehouse and carry on.
I agree that the amp linked in the OP "seems pricey"!
My main problem with that amp is the amount of cost involved in the decorative details.
I suppose there are places and bands where everybody is wrapped in fringe and glitter or whatever, you might choose a decorative amplifier to go with your decorative guitar. Guitars get pretty decorative too and I have no use for them either.
This discussion is both about one highly decorated amp, and boutique amps in general.
The OP chose a particularly easy to ridicule boutique amp, which added confusion to an already misunderstood subject.
I don't know what the actual electronics build quality is, but if the builder for example tests every cap and resistor to ensure each is dead on spec as opposed to within 5% or 20% of spec, does other things to get to lowest possible noise compared to other similar amps, maybe even tests and sorts signal caps for best sound, sources and matches NOS tubes for each amp, and generally over builds every part for reliability and optimal sound; in addition to having tweaked the circuit to perfection and routed the wiring again for lowest possible noise; maybe the amp part of the package is worth that money to the buyer who uses no FX and gets all his clean and dirty sounds from the guitar controls.
Neil Young uses a 5e3 but claims he played numerous vintage examples and only one was truly great.
a builder who makes every amp "truly great" compared to run of the mill cathode biased 12w V/V/T Tweed amps would have a more desirable product than the rest of the cookie cutter builders.
Really, the 5e3 is run out of the mill just like any other factory amp, even if it's a better build than a Chinese PRRI, stock they are run of the mill.
If we only judge by pics and price we never know this.
That seems to be how the masses buy in this day and age.
Pics and price online.
I agree in some ways, yet I think boutique amps really are for the masses that buy a DRRI or a PRRI or even an AC15.
For example if we play Country and our guitar hero is Brad Paisley, we can buy one of the amps he uses for barely more than a new PRRI.
It may take some time but used Dr Z amps sell for a little over $1000 regularly.
The masses can't really afford to buy a Ferrari or Lamborghini, but many of us really can afford a hand built highest possible quality amp, if we choose to delegate our gear money toward our sound rather than our image of sound.
To my observation, the internet is to gear buying like those "friends" who keep offering you a cigarette when you're trying to quit.
So many are hooked on the instant gratification of buying some random "stupid deal of the day", or Squier in every color, online every week or two that we can't imagine saving up for a truly great amp.
The simple fact that the amp is 80% of our sound, yet most of us buy amps built as cheap as possible for the feature set, is ironic, considering all the online discussions about great tone.
The same gear buyers who crave great tone just can't imagine spending $2500 for an amp.
And many who would never spend $2500 for an amp will spend that much for a guitar; over and over, I guess because they look and feel so cool.
Really it doesn't matter if most players never try playing through a truly great amp.
Just like it's fine if the market keeps selling Plexi sound pedals that sound nothing like a Plexi to players who never played a Plexi.
But if the masses stopped crapping on all the small shops building great gear for a minute, many players might be really happy to discover they could get the great sound they want for less money than they end up spending on piles of mediocre gear; because the internet told them the good stuff isn't really any good.
And I "gotta say" how abjectly stupid these threads are.
The market bears what the market bears....PERIOD. If someone is willing to pay $4-5000 for a Wizard MCII 100, then it was worth that. As long as people pay the asking price, Rick will keeping making them. When they stop, he will lower the price. Or perhaps quit making amps all together. Same with anyone who makes and sells anything. People speak/vote with their $$$$.
What a bunch of doofuses on some obscure forum/chat board have to say about it doesn't make much difference.
There's a market for cheap disposable junk. If you like or not, BUY it or NOT. Same with anything else.