Are boutique amps worth it?

Bork

Member
Messages
13
I'm wondering if it's worth getting something fancy.
I look at it in two ways:
1) If the amp in question gets you your holy grail tone and it saves you from spending significantly more on a series of GAS inspired dead ends ampwise then yes, go for it.
2) Amps don't have to be very complicated or esoteric to be good, most of us have a grail tone based on something we've experienced. Only the fool hardy would slap down big bucks without trying something first. I have a couple of 5E3 clones which cost 90 quid each and for 90% of my needs, they're perfect. Then there is the gassing for something Super Champish or 90's Mesa Boogie just for playing pleasure. No way I can justify it as a non gigging player so I make do with pedals.
 
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Rmccamey

Member
Messages
108
Like boats and travel trailers, guitars are luxury items for the vast majority of people. It's "worth it" if it sounds good, feels good, looks good and makes you happy. If you are into boutique amps to make a profit, you might want to rethink your investment strategy.
 

RLP

Member
Messages
271
Give it a shot- if it sounds and feels good, the answer is "yes"; if not, sell it and be done with it. But figure out what you're looking for first. That's crucial.

Cheers
 

mlj_gear

Member
Messages
2,907
Another consideration:

Whether the guitars and amps are "boutique" or not, personally I'd rather have two good guitars and four good amps than four good guitars and two good amps. Many more bases covered that way in my experience.
 

Soothsayer

(Paul)
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,553
Just my .02 cents worth... for me Boutique was not worth it. I chased the boutique craze pretty aggressively a few years ago and realized that I prefer the tone and simplicity of a plain ol Deluxe Reverb Reissue. I tried some nice stuff on the higher end of the boutique spectrum like a Two Rock Classic, Redplate Black Verb, and Carr Rambler. While they were nice they weren't head and shoulders above IMO. For reference the tone Im always going for is that Landau style clean and dirt.
 

8len8

Supporting Member
Messages
13,154
Not for me any more, based on my experience with many:
- Long build times
- Can’t try out ahead of time
- Reliability issues
- Cost
- Tough to find a buyer when selling

Of course YMMV, but I’ve found that mass produced amps are my preference.
 

Gemini2

Member
Messages
1,542
I say it’s a personal decision and really comes down to if you have the extra cash to spend. But it is “worth it” if it makes you happy.

The lesson I learned is not to chase the darlings based only on their hype. Boutique doesn’t always translate to great tone your ears and fingers will automatically love. It’s more like a different flavor and feel that you may or may not bond with. If at all possible, always test drive before buying.
 

David Garner

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,709
My first tube amp was an Oldfield Club D’Lux, which is a blackface Deluxe Reverb clone with bias modulated tremolo and pull switches for bright instead of the bright cap you find on reissues. It is amazing and these days is my main gigging amp. I have also owned a Rivera-era Fender Concert, which was a cool amp that I quickly moved on from because it was gigantic and heavy, and a Mesa Express 5:50 which was less gigantic but nearly as heavy. I still have a 5:25 that is a great grab and go amp, a Marshall 18 watt clone with 2 Marshall cabs, and an AC30cc2 with UK Blues.

I can comfortably say the Oldfield isn’t enough better to justify the cost over the others. I can also say I’d rather have it than any of the rest. So much so that I’m thinking of selling them all and getting another boutique, probably a Princeton or Brown Deluxe clone.

$1500 buys a lot of amp on the used market. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend that on a good boutique amp, but only if you know what you want. I have 4 amps because I wanted to try them all. But I had the one for me all along.
So I did sell the AC30 and have a buyer for my Mesa Express, and I grabbed a Cutthroat Audio Down Brownie. Given that Fender doesn’t have a mass produced brown Deluxe, and given that this is SOOOO much more than just a brownface Deluxe, I’d say this one is worth it.

It really depends on what you’re after.
 

shredtrash

Silver Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Messages
9,737
I've owned a bunch of "boutique" amps. Some have been fantastic and others just so-so.

Currently have a Suhr Badger 18 that I like but don't love and I have a Mesa Boogie Mark V:25 combo coming in today. Is Boogie boutique? Probably not anymore but I still love Boogies, Fenders and Marshalls more than anything else I've owned except for the Dr. Z Maz Jr.
 

BigGreggoTX

Supporting Member
Messages
392
Old thread I know, but reminded me of a piece of advice I got from a fellow player. When I first got my Les Paul Traditional, I complained to him that it didn't sound how a Les Paul was supposed to sound. He asked what amp I was using and I told him. He said "you're playing a $2500 guitar through a $250 amp, dude." Lol. I went to GC that weekend and spent an hour there, walked out with a DRRI. Not boutique by any means, but now when I play, I hear a Les Paul.
 

Rmccamey

Member
Messages
108
Yes, I agree. I have one boutique amp in my sights but lead time is already an issue and I realize selling may be more difficult. I'm willing to roll the dice this once knowing that a Mesa California is my final destination!

Not for me any more, based on my experience with many:
- Long build times
- Can’t try out ahead of time
- Reliability issues
- Cost
- Tough to find a buyer when selling

Of course YMMV, but I’ve found that mass produced amps are my preference.
 

dcbc

Member
Messages
2,134
With that price range, you could order a Harvard (5F10) or similar from Jim at Lil Dawg to your spec and shipped to your door. I own quite a few more expensive tweed type amps from various builders and I regret not checking out Jim's handiwork sooner. The Harvard in a 1x12 I bought from him has just been fantastic.
 

Alan Dunn

Member
Messages
1,215
Carr Rambler owner here. Purchased it new two years ago for around $4200 [240v . Australian version] and I'd have gladly paid double that if I had to because no other amp I've played comes close.
It may not be the amp for everyone but it's the only amp for me.
 

lcfparty35

Member
Messages
473
I think I have a fairly objective answer, though I'm sure t's been said: if you really want something specific and it only comes in that price range and you have the money to spend, sure. And if you have tons of free cash lying around and your house in order (to the degree to which you are comfortable having it "in order") whatever, man, it's your money.

But buying a fancy amp just to see what the fancy amp game is like...I don't know, man. I think some of these amps are luxury items for luxurious people. I'm not such a person. I'm very happy with a PRRI I got new for a trade and a little cash. It still a nice amp, and expensive by non-TGP standards. I sometimes miss having a big amp, but I wouldn't spend more than what I did on the PRRI to pick one up, and hopefully less.
 

babbyb

Supporting Member
Messages
1,455
I have tried many times to replace my Carr Artemus with something cheaper, lighter, or not quite as loud. I'm not a professional and generally gig 6-10 times per year. I've tried to bump it out of place with upwards of two dozen amps, from Crate V30s and Peavey Classics to 3rd Powers and Dr. Zs.

Nothing has replaced the Carr. It sounds fantastic and I always know exactly what to expect from it, and how to dial it in quickly for any sound situation. It's also super reliable (never had a problem) and easy on tubes.

Considering I had numerous problems with a $1500 AC30CC2X before I got the Artemus, the ~$2k I spent on this fantastic amp has been well worth it over the ten years we've been together.
 

Gemini2

Member
Messages
1,542
I think I have a fairly objective answer, though I'm sure t's been said: if you really want something specific and it only comes in that price range and you have the money to spend, sure. And if you have tons of free cash lying around and your house in order (to the degree to which you are comfortable having it "in order") whatever, man, it's your money.

But buying a fancy amp just to see what the fancy amp game is like...I don't know, man. I think some of these amps are luxury items for luxurious people. I'm not such a person. I'm very happy with a PRRI I got new for a trade and a little cash. It still a nice amp, and expensive by non-TGP standards. I sometimes miss having a big amp, but I wouldn't spend more than what I did on the PRRI to pick one up, and hopefully less.
It’s an age old adage, people who have money generally have nicer things. But for some that’s difficult to grasp. I always tell people..I’m not practical, I’m poor!
 




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