I have to say, I hate the “boutique” name used for music gear. In today’s market, if you’re not mass-produced, then you must be boutique. Boutique has come to include everyone from the most fantastic, start up designers putting out quality gear at competitive prices to the overpriced, under-constructed klones that flood the market. It’s so unfortunate that most of the latter are so poorly constructed, they simply aren’t worth the the asking price. They’re not built to last, they’re not built and marketed with integrity and that’s a shame.
Be wary. Hand-wired does not not always mean Cornish quality. More often than you would like, hand-wired means fragile. This is not to say these “boutique” pedals don’t sound great. Some of them certainly do, but is it really worth your money if its so fragile?
Now I’m not going to name any names here. I’ll leave that to the independent bloggers and reviewers to shed light on, and I think they should. Musician’s should know what their hard-earned money is going towards, especially if its not worth what they are paying.
Alternately, I suggest we carve a new class of pedals out of all this. One worthy of buyer’s confidence, built to last with integrity and uniquely designed, not just uniquely marketed. For lack of a better term, I propose we make the distinction between the Boutique and the Premium, because here’s the thing. If you building products with integrity, you aren’t afraid to show the insides to back up your claims about wiring, and construction. You’ll take the time to explain and demonstrate how bulletproof your manufacturing process is, and you’ll back that shit up with a worthy warranty.
Of the current manufacturers, I see at least the following as the Premium class of effects , and worthy of your hard earned money. I’ll to update this list as I discover others.
- Caroline Guitar Company
- VFE Pedals
- Mr. Black Pedals
- Dr. Scientist
- Subdecay Studios
- Earthquaker Devices
- Neunaber Technology
- MI Effects
- Blackout Effectors