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Boutique Amps

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by gerlach1995, May 20, 2014.

  1. gerlach1995

    gerlach1995 Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    Coleraine MN
    I keep hearing about "breaking the bank" for a boutique amp but with, for example, the twin reverb and deluxe, the ads say you dont have to break the bank to get this amp.
    What is the difference and what would be a boutique amp.

  2. Rastus

    Rastus Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 1, 2014
    Boutique amps can be "special - run " or " limited edition " type amps that are usually hand-made & of limited supply. They're often revered since they'll have something "special" about them that other amps won't necessarily have. This may be new technology, revised amp design, specially made speakers etc etc.

    There are also low-volume manufacturers out there that can deilver quality gear for a price, & once a "known" personality starts using them, they become sought-after by people like us & then their amps may get labeled as such.

    Your average Fender / Marshall factory may well produce 100+ amps a day, whilst you may be lucky to see 1x boutique amp made a day !

    Hope this helps & is at least a little-bit accurate LOL !



  3. go49ners

    go49ners Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 2, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    When I hear the term "boutique amps" I immediately think of the builders who aren't mass producing amps, and they are typically building and wiring them by hand.

    It's just like any other product. Mass produced typically means assembly lines, automated machines doing the building, cheaper components to drive profits, etc. With a boutique builder there is (hopefully) more quality and care taken into each build and with higher quality parts and components.

    A good example would be a wooden book shelf. You can go to Target and buy a book shelf, but it's probably made of particle board overseas in China. Or you can go to a small, local wood shop and have a book shelf made for you out of real wood by hand.

    I'd love to own a few different boutique amps someday, but for now my Fender does the job just fine.

  4. Jonny Hotnuts

    Jonny Hotnuts Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 7, 2013
    I own a few 'boutique' amps; 65 Amps and Badcat.

    -Its not snake oil, they sound better then mass produced amps.


    My 65 amps Tupelo combo has an MSRP of 2500$ and uses 6v6 tubes (20 watts)
    For the same money you could buy 5 6v6 powered mass produced amps.

    Is it worth it???

    Not if your playing is struggling to make basic cord shapes! If you can play, a better amp has a considerably larger effect on tone then the guitar.

    It is the same as someone saying "I could buy 10 Squier Strats vs 1 Custom Shop".

    Remember......a 200$ guitar plugged into a 2000$ amp will ALWAYS sound better then a 2000$ guitar plugged in a 200$ amp. If you are struggling to play anything a million dollar amp wont make you sound better.


  5. NEStrataholic

    NEStrataholic Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 8, 2012
    Good discussion here on the factors going into something being boutique:

    What is "Boutique"?

    Stomp School: "Boutique or Not?" That is the Question

    Here are the "Top 10" amplifiers from the NAMM show in February 2014:

    NAMM Awards: Top 10 Best Guitar Amplifiers From The Show in 2014, We wish we could have taken ALL of these guitar amps home with us - Sonic State Amped

    The boutiques (depending on your definition!) in this list include:

    • Blackstar
    • Matchless
    • Orange
    • Supro
    • 65Amps

    Here is an excellent list and includes the following (and more) boutique makers:

    Custom, Boutique Electric Guitar Amplifiers Directory

    • 3 Monkeys
    • Allessandro
    • Allen Amplification
    • Bogner
    • Dr. Z
    • Fargen
    • Tone King
    • Two Rock
    • ValveTech
    • Voodoo Amps

  6. gonzo

    gonzo Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 4, 2009

  7. gonzo

    gonzo Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 4, 2009
    back when i got my mesa boogie mark2b, they truly were the first 'boutique' amps on any real scale...
    i had to order and pay in full, and then waited 6 weeks to get it.

    still my main amp.

  8. Alan0354

    Alan0354 Most Honored Senior Member

    Feb 2, 2011
    Forget boutique or mass produce, listen to the amp first, let the sound speak.

  9. sevycat

    sevycat Custom Shop Cat Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 8, 2008
    Newark, DE
    Not sure I follow, if your going to blind test amps then you need different levels/grades of amps to sample, so...

  10. juanjosebh

    juanjosebh Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 8, 2012
    Veracruz Mexico
    What Alan is saying is to stop listening with our wallets, go out and play you might like a Deluxe Reverb better than Tone King Imperial you gotta play em both to decide.

  11. Alan0354

    Alan0354 Most Honored Senior Member

    Feb 2, 2011
    Yep, just because it's boutique and expensive does not mean it sounds better to you. I tested a $2500 PRS against the Fender Super Sonic, the SS kick the butt of the PRS. This is at least to my ears.

    Don't put too much on hand wire, with good layout, pcb is just as good if not better than hand wire.

    There are very good reasons why most famous metal bands use Marshall and most country and blues bands use Fender. Because they are the most copied by the boutique companies.

  12. Rogue Bohemian

    Rogue Bohemian what? WHAT????? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 4, 2010
    Bacliff by Galveston bay
    My DRRI is essentially being built into a hand wired, boutique amp.

    It's based on '65 Deluxe Reverb original specs and takes a little stroll off the beaten path here and there.

    Here's a pic of one of those 2nd class, hand wired boards. Inferior in every way to the PCB versions.;):D

  13. mabley123

    mabley123 Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 21, 2010
    When I think of Marshall I don't think of Heavy Metal.

    I think Hendrix at Monterey/Woodstock/Filmore East, Clapton with early cream, and Bluesbreakers.

    also while its true PCB can be very good and consistant.

    Very few use heavy trace boards ect.

    Fender Sure Doesn't.

    If you have to have a PCB fixed. Sometimes its just cheaper to replace the amp too.

    In the long run youll never convince me PCB is as good or Reliable and easy to fix than PTP.

    ALso when I think Bluesbreaker amp, JTM 45 /100, 10,000 series Plexi, 12,000 series plexi.

    I think of 1 amp manufacturer and that is Metro Amps. And they also win all the shootouts when they are pitted against other manufacturers. Specifically Wallace, Germino. But they also make great amps just a different version than I want.

    Here is a pic of my 2nd class handwired board also. Im thinking of changing it to PCB.

    Attached Files:

  14. Rogue Bohemian

    Rogue Bohemian what? WHAT????? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 4, 2010
    Bacliff by Galveston bay

    COOL! You can give me that one when you go PCB!:D

    Doesn't that make such a pretty picture? Damn things are works of art.

    I want to see one of those machines stamp out a work of art as good.

    And since we're also talking manufacturers that qualify, I'll correct a blatant omission from the list with Divided By 13 amps. Truly one of the best sounding amps I've ever had the pleasure of hearing.

    I wish I knew how to make the ÷ sign. It's a pain spelling out divided by when ÷ would be so much easier. Not to mention correct. ÷13. That just looks good. I'll figure this out.

  15. Strato67

    Strato67 Former Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    PC amps have come a long way....I have some hand wired amps and some PC amps as be honest...they all sound good.I can use any one of them out live and do the job..If you can't afford a nice hand wired amp and have to settle for say...a BJ or should be able to achieve the same results..if need to hang it

  16. Jonny Hotnuts

    Jonny Hotnuts Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 7, 2013
    On the PCB note

    Here is a shot of the 65amps SoHo....

    No board at all here LOL!


    Its quite common to refer to 'Divided by 13' as '/13'. I will also agree they are awesome amps.

    Its funny how amp manufactures really started going the easy way out when new PCB wave soldering and mass production came into play. The new amps just didnt sound as good (may be a combination of cheaper components, crap PCBs or other cost cutting) so small 'boutique' builders started filling the void by making modern versions of classic circuit topology, refining the designs and using better components. THIS is why boutique builders started.....

    Now....Marshall, Fender and Vox are making 'handwired' versions and PTP reissues. They were late in the game in realizing that the cheap and easy way out doesnt always mean better and there is a real market that will pay extra to have a better and better sounding amp.


  17. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Dental Floss farmer Strat-Talk Supporter

    in my humble opinion there is something just wonderful about a simple hand wired circuit, that doesn't mean amps with pcb's are not great amps. I have both. I have played boutique amps that had pcp's and did not know it was. I think better components either way make the difference. That being said I played a 54 tweed deluxe today that was awesome, that had me gassing. I would not want to drag that around and have to worry about it, but that's what the blues jr is for.

  18. mabley123

    mabley123 Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 21, 2010
    I have 0 aversion to pcb amps overall.

    My buddies at Hallamplification make both PCB and PTP.

    But they use really heavy traces on their PCB's and are not junk. These are very high quality and sapre no expense.

    If I was going PCB I would get a Hallamplification amp. They specialize in low watt Dumble/Trainwreck type amps.

    Dana Hall was Personal Friends with Ken Fischer and was elected by the Trainwreck forum to build the Ken Fischer Tribute amp when Ken died. Dana spent much time at Fischers home. They make quality PCB amps and live 5 minutes from me.

    They are also well known on the 18 watt marshall forum and others. Richie is probably the best 18 watt marshall and Watkins dominator tech in the country.

    I have a 1st generation Cybertwin that absolutely kills. I take it to jams ect. everyone loves the tone of it and its very versatile.

    I will just hate It though when 1 day it fails and has to be repaired EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I also changed out the 12AX7's for 12AU7's as this is a common mod in the CT.

    You can get 1 for 500 bucks.

    You wont find a better amp for 500-600 dollars and it was made to gig too.

    But it aint my metro or my dual showman.

    But for 500 dollars give me 2 of them. I bought mine brand new 10+ years ago for 1300 dollars. It wasn't cheap.

    Cybertwin blows mustangs away and any other hybrid type amp. and CT is NOT a Modeling amp and is 100% analog preamp

    anyone that says they don't sound good hasn't spent time with 1. it is a tweakers dream..

    Wallace, Germino, Mojave also make great amps.

  19. Wordgrubber

    Wordgrubber Strat-Talker

    Mar 19, 2014
    Santana sounded like Santana playing through 200 watt PA heads. I've seen Tommy and Phil Emmanuel play through whatever POS was available and they still sounded like gold. Van Halen has used whatever amp the company that pays him tells him to use. Status Quo use old Vox amps built into Marshall heads and cabs. Angus Young's FOH sound is an old 45 watt Marshall through a 15" single. His stage amps aren't even mic'd.

    There is so much absolute BS floating around about amps that sometimes I want to scream....SRV was NOT great because of his amps. Nor was Hendrix, or Clapton (who has changed amps more often than I've shaved) or anyone else.

    Go find an amp that sounds like YOU want it to sound. Don't hear with your wallet.

  20. Strato67

    Strato67 Former Member

    Feb 19, 2011

    Bloody right mate..;) Its funny most players I know that are stuck on the three thousand amps are home players....don't think that Dr Z is going to make you the next Mark Knopler.. most backlines I have worked with give you a HRD or a better make it amps will work if you know how to set them...look at those old Peaveys....PCBs with heavy traces...most still working today...I guess what I am saying is the amp can nly do so much the rest is up to you...Now with that said my best sounding I own right now is my 67 Super...but it rarely leaves the house...My HRD3 does just fine and only cost 500 bills...If you can afford to get a handwired amp.. get the real deal ...not a copy..and you will hold onto it.