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#2988062 - 05/03/19 11:03 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: p90jr]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5826
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Originally Posted By: p90jr
Originally Posted By: picker
There's boutique and then there's boutique. I am the proud owner of an amp made as an experiment by a Serbian tech who lives here in KC. He gave it to me, and it works pretty great, so I can't complain if it doesn't have a warranty. I know that if it breaks down, he'll fix it, so I'm pretty set with it. That's Boutique with a capital BOO!
I also own a Quilter Power Block 300. This is the whole other end of the spectrum, which is to say, not even boutique. I got it brand new, so it had a warranty, but it's outlived it. So, now if it breaks down, fixing it is on me. I'm not particularly worried about it. I don't work it too hard, so I figure it's gonna be okay.
Considering that most warranties these days don't really last that long anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about the company closing down before it runs out.


Yes, it has become a marketing/gear snob buzz word that has lost all meaning, really...

Mesa and PRS were "boutique" operations when they were one guy doing all of the work in a garage, by hand, but they are major companies making assembly-line mass-produced products at this point. The term doesn't apply.

I played a gig last month in Birmingham, AL... when I walked out before the set to turn my amps on stand-by there was a guy rubber-necking all of the gear onstage... me being a jerk I instantly thought "oh, great... he's going to corner us for 'cork-sniffer' talk, later..." and he did.

My pedal board was:
Boss tuner
Janglebox compressor
MXR noise gate
(early hand painted) Greer Ghetto Stomp OD
Lovepedal Eternity Burst OD
Lovepedal JMP OD
Crowther Hotcake OD (I like different ODs, okay!!!)
Lizard Leg Flying Dragon Clean Boost
EHX Memory Boy delay/chorus
T. Rex Tonebug Reverb
Boss Tremelo predal

into the Supros.

He wanted to know why I used "Boutique amps" but didn't have any "boutique pedals?"

The Supros are PCB, some parts made in Asia, assembled by Pigtronix in NY. I don't consider them boutique amps...

The Janglebox, Lovepedal, T-Rex (hand built in Denmark, supposedly... I bought it because it was good and $30), Crowther, Greer and super especially the Lizard Leg, handmade in a garage by a guy in my town, are "Boutique pedals." When I told him that he said "no, I mean like Klon or Earthquaker... I've never heard of the ones you have." He then was confused when I said I had a pedestrian Klon KTR and some Earthquaker pedals but didn't need them for that act/gig, and that I reconfigure things for every act I play with...

But the "Boutique" thing is reminding me "Micro-Breweries!" What makes a micro-brewery? Is it the size of the brewery or who owns it? A guy sued Budweiser after his Shocktop Beer tattoo was laughed at by a bartender who informed him it was a Budweiser subsidiary... he claimed it was false advertising, but it is a separate smaller brewery where it is made... and he's an idiot for wrapping his personal identity around a product so much, geezzz....


So much lolz!
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#2988072 - 05/03/19 12:02 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
surfergirl Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/12/17
Posts: 196
Loc: Waialua, Hi
Kinda related or not. We have custom car shows at Ala Moana park and we attend occasionally. What I find interesting is there is no limit to what you can do to a vintage car, but touch one screw on a vintage amp and people go crazy.

Back to the subject. I am guessing that SMT and PCB are the same thing. I wish The Real Mc would return with some more info. I do know that the guitarist in my grandfathers band had a 1980's PCB Marshall that is still going strong today. He passed a couple years ago, but his son still has the amp. Considering the cost of a handwired amp most "average" players probably could not afford an amp if not for PCB technology.


Edited by surfergirl (05/03/19 01:09 PM)

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#2988112 - 05/03/19 08:23 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: surfergirl]
d / halfnote Offline
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Contact the "Real MC" by PM.
But you knew that already, eh!


Edited by d / halfnote (05/04/19 03:53 AM)
Edit Reason: typo in second word
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#2988139 - 05/04/19 12:07 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: surfergirl]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Registered: 04/05/02
Posts: 24962
Loc: The Great Spirit's Handprint o...
It's ultimately up to what you want- and need- and what you can afford, and get your hands on to try.

I'm just curious, surfergirl- why the MESA/Boogie Mark 5 Thirty-Five in particular? Have you played through one? Do you have reasons to believe that this model will particularly suit your needs, style, the sound you want? NOT that I think it's a bad amp or a bad choice at all, it's just that these things can be highly subjective.

There are a LOT of great amps out there now, yet there is a very short list of expensive "boutique" and "high-end" tube-amps that I feel that I'd really like to have if I could afford them, based on their very specific feature and tone details that would make them really suit ME. And whether my choices would suit you or anyone else here would be up in the air!


Now, one fine point about the better of many "boutique" and high-end tube-amps is that they are well made, and designed and constructed in such a way that they are relatively easy to service and repair if necessary, including re-tubing and biasing as/if needed.

That can't always be said of many "big name" production tube-amps, that are designed with easy and inexpensive mass-production in mind.

If memory serves, years ago, when Guitar Player magazine was reviewing the Bruce Zinky designed Fender Vibro King amp (or possibly one of the other amps he designed for Fender, such as the Tone Master head), a small, inexpensive component like a resister failed; being top-mounted with the components and their values identified in printing on the circuit-board itself, and probably with "Military Spec" through-hole soldering construction, it was very easily diagnosed and replaced and they went playing merrily along, giving the amp glowing reviews and special mention of its ease of servicing. Fender is not a "boutique" brand, but that line that includes those amps is a few notches above their usual wares.

As much as I've enjoyed it- when it's been working- my otherwise beloved Carvin 'Vintage 33' combo-amp is an ENORMOUS PAIN to do ANY work on AT ALL; so much so that when I asked a high-profile tube-amp maker/modder/repairer with very high-profile and well-heeled clientele about doing some work on that amp for me, he loudly and emphatically told me "No, no, no, NO, NEVER, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, NEVER AGAIN. EVER." Not for any price or prior agreement! Having taken it apart a few times myself, I can understand...
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#2988141 - 05/04/19 01:51 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5826
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Quote:
"No, no, no, NO, NEVER, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, NEVER AGAIN. EVER." Not for any price or prior agreement!”


I have had similar exchanges with some of the artisans I contract with for custom work, Caev- in all kinds of fields. And honestly? I appreciate that level of honesty.


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (05/04/19 01:53 AM)
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Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2988168 - 05/04/19 08:18 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
CEB Offline
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Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 13315
Turret hand wiring vs PCB design. It depends. Some of the finest amps are PCB. It often works best on circuits. I've seen hand wired amps that are shit. And visa verse. If you go 'Boutique' hand wired I stay away from anyone who sells kits.

Boogies are extremely versatile. I gig playing everything from Hank Willams to Weezer playing Boogie. Worst thing Randy did was putting that steel diamond plate front on the Dual And Triple Recs. It looks too metal. The amp is everything from pristine cleans to the high gain madness.


Edited by CEB (05/04/19 08:22 AM)
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#2988173 - 05/04/19 09:12 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: CEB]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Loc: The Great Spirit's Handprint o...
Originally Posted By: CEB
Turret hand wiring vs PCB design. It depends. Some of the finest amps are PCB. It often works best on circuits. I've seen hand wired amps that are shit. And visa verse.


You are exactly right. And there are a wide variety of PCB designs and levels of QUALITY. Heavy-duty "Mil-Spec" through-hole double-sided PCB construction can be very, VERY solid and very good electronically.

The most important ingredient in any recipe is always the chef.
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Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

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#2988183 - 05/04/19 02:13 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
surfergirl Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/12/17
Posts: 196
Loc: Waialua, Hi
I have been working in my moms store since I was 14, and bought at least a $100. CD a month. I can afford more, but $2000. is pushing my limit. I have not had the opportunity to try the Mark five 35. I may be coming to Long Beach some time this year. I will wait till then before I make a purchase. I have some other amps I will also try out. I never make impulse purchases except maybe a $100. pedal. If I do purchase at that time I can take it back with me and save at least some shipping cost.
As for what kind of sound I am looking for, Vox. My Super Sonic 22 gives my Fender tones. A Vox AC30 was my choice till I found out they used MDF board in their cabinets. I am not sure how they would hold up in the humidity here, and the weight. I thought somewhere in the 6 modes in the Mark five I could find that sound.

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#2988186 - 05/04/19 02:58 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: surfergirl]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5826
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
Your patience and self-control are an asset, here.

When I was a kid living in Manhattan, KS, I had hobbies that were not well supported in the local community stores. I had to save my $$$ and wait until we went to Topeka, Wichita, or Kansas City to make most of my new purchases.

When I got into electric guitar, that same mentality was applied to buying an amp.*. I played exclusively through a Kong Pandora Px4 or Px5 and headphones for 3 years before buying a Fender HRD combo. And it took me the better part of a decade to add an Orange TH30 head and 2x12 cab for playing heavier stuff. Both are perfect for what I wanted to use them for.**

So with all of that in mind, if it is at all possible, I’d advise waiting until you can get to CA to try some stuff out before making any final decisions. You’ll get a better feel for what’s on the market- and, most importantly- what would work for YOU after trying some more stuff in person.

In this particular case, I have to say that if you REALLY want a Vox AC30, few other amps are going to scratch that itch. “Close” probably won’t be close enough.

But if you’re honestly looking at “close”, you might want to try to find a Mesa Transatlantic 30 (or even Royal Atlantic 100) head, and pairing it with a nice cab. They’re discontinued, but the Atlantics were designed to switch between British and American tones with a flick of a switch.

In addition, Mesa recently introduced the Triple Crown amps, which are kind of an evolution of the Atlantics.



* not anything ELSE, mind you- I’ve got @30 guitars and 50+ pedals grin

** in all honesty, though, several of the other amps that were considered were their equals, and are slated for possible future acquisition.


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (05/04/19 03:10 PM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2988222 - 05/05/19 01:49 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
J. Dan Offline
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All I hoped to suggest is that there are all kinds of pros and cons to every manufacturing approach and you shouldn't blindly accept one over another. If you want to know manufacturing practices, engineering economics, or other things, I'm happy to share. But like I said, my personal experience isn't with the musical instrument industry, though the same principles apply. Carry on.
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Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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#2988231 - 05/05/19 06:51 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: J. Dan]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 12001
Loc: Northern California
@ Surfer Girl, The Mark V 35 goes for $2,050 at Sweetwater and is getting great reviews...a little too expensive for my budget but it looks like a great little tube amp! I'm sure they will have one when you visit the LA area at a local Guitar Center and you can give one a try...reviews and reputation are a good indicator and Mesa Boogie has both going for it. cool
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#2988233 - 05/05/19 07:00 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Fred_C Offline
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Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 2198
Loc: PA
@DannyA:

What the he'll do you do with "30 guitars and 50 pedals" and where do you keep them all? LOL
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#2988245 - 05/05/19 09:21 AM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Fred_C]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5826
Loc: Dallas/FW Metroplex, Texas
I play them when I get the chance, personal enjoyment only, no gigging.

Over the axes, @50% +- are in E Standard, and most of the rest are in NST. I have a couple devoted to other tunings, like DADGAD or Open C. Some are on the wall, some are in cases under my bed or closet or guest room.

The pedals? I have...no excuse. Think of me as a pedal magpie. grin They’re mostly in their boxes in a stack of milk crates when they’re not in use, but I also have a bunch under the guest room bed.



Edited by Dannyalcatraz (05/05/19 09:23 AM)
_________________________
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap”.

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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#2988287 - 05/05/19 05:08 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: surfergirl]
picker Offline
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Registered: 06/13/04
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Loc: Near 12th Street and Vine...
Originally Posted By: surfergirl
I have not had the opportunity to try the Mark five 35. I may be coming to Long Beach some time this year.


Are you talking about a Mesa Boogie Mark V 35?
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#2988298 - 05/05/19 07:06 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: picker]
surfergirl Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/12/17
Posts: 196
Loc: Waialua, Hi
Originally Posted By: picker
Originally Posted By: surfergirl
I have not had the opportunity to try the Mark five 35. I may be coming to Long Beach some time this year.


Are you talking about a Mesa Boogie Mark V 35?


Yes.

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#2988350 - 05/06/19 12:52 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: surfergirl]
p90jr Offline
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Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 3324
I don't know if you have a credit card or anything, SG, but Sweetwater has great interest-free instore credit cards, which would let you pay for the amp on time without cashing in your CDs if you still have your job. Building credit is good... keeping your cash or assets while paying something off is also good. I'm a believer in "don't buy things you can't afford," but if you can afford it and they're willing to charge that at a low amount each month while charging no interest...

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#2988355 - 05/06/19 01:03 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: surfergirl]
Scott Fraser Offline
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Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 5328
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: surfergirl
I am guessing that SMT and PCB are the same thing.


No, they refer to different things. All SMT circuits are in fact PCBs, but not all PCBs are SMT. Surface Mount Technology consists of components which are formed directly on the circuit board. In non-SMT Printed Circuit Boards, just the copper traces are formed on the board, with holes drilled for the pins of the resistors, caps, chips, etc to be soldered onto. The advantage to SMT is cheaper manufacturing. The advantage to old school PCBs is that you can fix a bad part by removing & replacing it. On SMT it requires scraping that component off, essentially destroying that part of the board, then soldering on a replacement. This is quite difficult & expensive. Usually when an SMT board goes down, that whole circuit is toast.
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#2988376 - 05/06/19 02:48 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: Scott Fraser]
surfergirl Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/12/17
Posts: 196
Loc: Waialua, Hi
I'm not a techie, so thanks everyone for helping me kinda understand guitar amp technology.

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#2988397 - 05/06/19 06:32 PM Re: Major brand or boutique guitar amp. [Re: surfergirl]
picker Offline
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Registered: 06/13/04
Posts: 13632
Loc: Near 12th Street and Vine...
Originally Posted By: surfergirl
Originally Posted By: picker
Originally Posted By: surfergirl
I have not had the opportunity to try the Mark five 35. I may be coming to Long Beach some time this year.


Are you talking about a Mesa Boogie Mark V 35?


Yes.


You can depend on them to be around beyond your warranty expiration date. And that's an amp that will serve you well for as long as you own it.
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