I am in the market for a tube amp, I am doing as much research as possible upfront, but ultimately, you have to play them and determine what sounds best to you. There is truly no other way to judge, it is all your own ears. I don't want to think in terms of names, strictly trying to find the sounds that I want to hear and find the amp that produces them the best. For botique amp owners: 1. How did you get the opportunity to test out these amps? 2. Did you buy from a botique maker without having played through one? 3. Have you compared them with the amps they are modeled after and how impressed were you with the difference? Do you think there is a huge difference in quality and tone? I do believe that buying the best gear you can afford makes perfect sense. But in the case of these botique amp makers, you are usually talking double the price for new - and that is a significant investment. Also, you always read about the pros, and I know they have the gear they love, but, if Billy Gibbons plugs into a Fender Deluxe Reverb or a Marshall, it will sound like Billy Gibbons. I am playing in a band, and also like to record. I plan on getting something small for home recording (also use the modeling available), but the amp I am looking for will be for small club gigs, and a few outdoor summer parties. I am still in search mode, and I plan to try as many amps as I can in hopes of finding the right one.