The state of stomp boxes today

Zenyatta

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Just a quick observation, as someone who was really active playing guitar up until about 5 years ago, and someone who was really active in buying new pedals up until about 10 years ago.

I remember when I started playing guitar in the late 90s, $30 couldn't get you anything decent. Maybe, if you're lucky, a used SoundTank that would break in a month. Even the Danelectro pedals back then were $60-$80 (the big metal ones that looked cool but in retrospect didn't sound nearly as cool as they looked). Lots of Boss, Ibanez, Dod, Korg, Russian-built EHX and other pedals, pumping out mostly decent but not terribly exciting stomp boxes, most costing $100 or more. The budget pedals tended to disintegrate pretty quickly and didn't sound that great. Remember Snarling Dogs?

In the mid to late 00's we seemed to have the boutique pedal craze, with tons of builders and modders trying to add low end to tube screamers or tinker with the clipping diodes to make the breakup sound more natural. Some were quite inventive designers. Many others were derivative, saving all their creativity it seems for the exterior of the pedals. All of them were extremely pricey. At the same time you started to get the bargain Danelectros for under $50. Some of them were pretty good, but not amazing.

So I'm in the market for pedals again, and I'm finding all these great pedals manufactured in China for $30-$50. I've got a great Electric Mistress clone that cost me $30. It's tiny and runs on 9v too, with no volume drop and less noise, which means it's not just a straight up clone, but that some actual engineering went into it. I've got a great DynaComp clone that cost about that much too, and I just got the Joyo American Sound, which is an absolute steal at $30. It sounds way better than those Boss Fender pedals that came out a while back, which cost 3-4x as much.

You can get a clone of the boutique Honey Bee overdrive for about $40. You can get a clone of the infamous Klon for about $80. I'm kind of blown away at what's happened to the guitar pedal market. You used to have to spend real money to get even halfway decent sounding pedals. Now you can buy great pedals for pocket change.

Just an observation.
 

Zenyatta

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Yeah, its amazing what near slave labor does for costs.

Sorry, sorry, didn't mean to go there. Forget it. Yes, there are great offerings at both the low and high ends of the spectrum.

I think a lot of it was being made overseas 15 years ago too. As are almost all our non-music related electronics today.
 

Ira7

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I think a lot of it was being made overseas 15 years ago too. As are almost all our non-music related electronics today.
Japan and Korea--but not China.

China was the game-changer, especially considering when it took possession back of Hong Kong.

But another factor is the totally changed nature of sales and marketing these days, with the Internet. Companies don't need an army of salespeople (and their salaries) to get their products into stores. And they don't even need STORES any more to sell product.

I wish I understood the full dynamics of these new economics, but think about it:

Some guy tinkering in his basement in London can sell a thousand pedals a year to people from Dublin to Brooklyn.

It's really amazing.
 

telemnemonics

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Yeah, I saw what you were sayin'...
I bought my first MIC pedal recently, but a vintage one that's out of production, so no guilt there!!!
I have a number of limited production hand made by hobbyists in USA pedals that are ripoffs of proprietary boutique builders designs. Eeeeek! But Cheeep!
Course, the MIC pedal is a ripoff of a USA pedal too...

...Jeez, it almost seems like there are maybe a dozen pedal designs all getting rehashed by five hundred different builders.

With the fail rate of under $30 wave soldered pedals and the wide range of sturdy USA built pedals under $100, plus the used market, I haven't needed to buy many MICs, but it sure is a good way to see if you like one or another of the dozen basic circuits that are available for $25- $250.

The few pedals I've paid over $120 for after trying various lower priced family members have actually been better enough to warrant the extra cost.
Up toward $200 for boost/ OD/ dist starts getting hard to justify, but for AD I find cheaper price never does it for me.
In the end I've spent as much on multiple cheapies as the more expensive high quality pedal that actually did the job right cost.
 

Zenyatta

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Yeah, I saw what you were sayin'...
I bought my first MIC pedal recently, but a vintage one that's out of production, so no guilt there!!!
I have a number of limited production hand made by hobbyists in USA pedals that are ripoffs of proprietary boutique builders designs. Eeeeek! But Cheeep!
Course, the MIC pedal is a ripoff of a USA pedal too...

...Jeez, it almost seems like there are maybe a dozen pedal designs all getting rehashed by five hundred different builders.

With the fail rate of under $30 wave soldered pedals and the wide range of sturdy USA built pedals under $100, plus the used market, I haven't needed to buy many MICs, but it sure is a good way to see if you like one or another of the dozen basic circuits that are available for $25- $250.

The few pedals I've paid over $120 for after trying various lower priced family members have actually been better enough to warrant the extra cost.
Up toward $200 for boost/ OD/ dist starts getting hard to justify, but for AD I find cheaper price never does it for me.
In the end I've spent as much on multiple cheapies as the more expensive high quality pedal that actually did the job right cost.

Oh yeah, I get that there is still some compromise going on with my cheap pedals. But the big change here is that you can get something really good now for very little money. That didn't exist 10 or 15 years ago.
 

Obsessed

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I've been sayin' for awhile, we are in the golden years of pedals. They have come along way either MIC or boutique along with some excellent choices from higher volume USA builders. The selection is endless at this time and practically at any price point.

Personally, I've gone higher end boutique, but I think part of the reason is that I have narrowed my tones to a very specific array. I find the high end boutiques are really magical and probably has to do with really smart pedal designers that they themselves have evolved in the pedal world.
 

reddesert

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I don't think it's solely about labor costs in Country X vs Country Y, but about fabrication techniques and the degree to which even small companies or people making devices for small markets can get electronics contract-manufactured.

What I mean by this is that if you look at a pedal from the 90s and probably even early 2000s, it's made with through-hole components on a relatively simple PCB, possibly individually soldered. It doesn't look like a computer motherboard or card from the same era, which were already being cranked out by the zillion in a highly automated way.

If you look at a current pedal from one of the high-volume manufacturers (Joyo, sure, but probably other big names) it's got surface mount components, may have a multi-layer PCB, etc. It looks more like a computer PCB and the manufacturing process is surely more automated.

That plus greater automation in design software is likely driving the cost of electronics down even in tiny markets like mass produced guitar pedals, which must be a minuscule volume compared to many other consumer electronics.
 

24 track

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Other than the economic scale of the industry , some of the newer technology is amazing , I have an Eventide H9 Max American made , pricey yes , but totally upgradeable algorythms as many sounds as you wish and its bluetooth, fantastic technology , and i understand that now, any stomp box pedals from Eventide can be up graded with their controller app. There is one third party developer that has developed a controller for this pedal that fits on the lower horn of your strat and allows you to step through the pedals sounds and algorythms via blue tooth as well. Eventide allows you to link up 5 of the H9 pedals together, so that if one of them is the Max , and the other 4 of them are the base units you can use all of the algorythms from the Max and esentially tuning all of the pedals in the Max units, ( free algorythms upgrades for life if you own the Max). I'm not plugging for Eventide but Im astounded by the New Technology of the pedals , if you have the sheckles it worth looking at.
 

4pickupguy

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Free market and demand.
I expect we will see more companies making base platforms like the Neunaber Slate for the modulation side of things while the dirt units will get more specialized. Very fun times.
 
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milocj

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Some of it definitely has to do with the fact that "Red" China was off limits and only Taiwan was an option if you went outside of Japan.

I know some people who are electronics designers and then move production offshore. 20 years ago your design didn't get stolen by the manufacturer and pumped out under another name and paint color with zero R&D cost (or if it did, it was never seen on these shores).
 

Georox

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Other than the economic scale of the industry , some of the newer technology is amazing , I have an Eventide H9 Max American made , pricey yes , but totally upgradeable algorythms as many sounds as you wish and its bluetooth, fantastic technology , and i understand that now, any stomp box pedals from Eventide can be up graded with their controller app. There is one third party developer that has developed a controller for this pedal that fits on the lower horn of your strat and allows you to step through the pedals sounds and algorythms via blue tooth as well. Eventide allows you to link up 5 of the H9 pedals together, so that if one of them is the Max , and the other 4 of them are the base units you can use all of the algorythms from the Max and esentially tuning all of the pedals in the Max units, ( free algorythms upgrades for life if you own the Max). I'm not plugging for Eventide but Im astounded by the New Technology of the pedals , if you have the sheckles it worth looking at.

Amazing what only $699.00 will get you.:D
 

TheDams

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Cheap analog pedals got really cheap over the last few years, but they will be supplanted by cheap digital pedals

I don't know... so many guitarists swear only for analog. When it comes to gear, it could be a really conservative world (I am not criticizing here).
 

McGlamRock

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Even the Danelectro pedals back then were $60-$80 (the big metal ones that looked cool but in retrospect didn't sound nearly as cool as they looked).

I just sold my Danelectro Fabtone (the big, metal, red cased one) for $25. It still had the original box with the price tag on it: $85 (and that was back in 98' or 99')!!!

As others have observed, it's a great time to be in the market for pedals!
 

uriah1

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Caveat emptor.

You get what you pay for in durability.

Sort of like tubes today. I can buy a new one and it might be no problem.
Buy another one, and it loses its vacuum and craps out after 2 hours.
 

alainvey

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Caveat emptor.

You get what you pay for in durability.

Sort of like tubes today. I can buy a new one and it might be no problem.
Buy another one, and it loses its vacuum and craps out after 2 hours.
This is simply not always the case. If you buy a Biyang pedal for £30 you get the same or better durability than if you paid £80-120 for an MXR pedal.

The whole point of the last 10 years of budget guitar pedals (and of this thread) is that the budget market has upped its game in terms of quality and consistency.

Even where there is a marked difference in durability, it is difficult to claim that this is what justifies the difference in cost (because it isn't).
 

sclitheroe

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Here is the thing that blows my mind - a decent boutique pedal that I'll keep, and use, for the next 10-20 years, and will likely keep working for even longer, still costs less than a month's groceries for my household.

I find the cost of certain kinds of durable goods to just be astonishgly low when put in the context of non-durable goods like food.

Is food that expensive to produce and deliver to market, or are pedals way cheaper than they maybe should be?
 




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