The Modern Boutique Amp Lineage

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Arnold T. Pants, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. Arnold T. Pants

    Arnold T. Pants Member

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    A few recent posts over the last couple of weeks about amp companies and their amplifier models have sparked my renewed interest in boutique amps. These posts have led me to a couple of questions that I have been wondering about. First, in what year did the modern boutique amp craze start?

    I've been around the block a few times, and I've seen amp companies come and go. Many may say that Mesa Boogie started it all in the early 1970s, and I would tend to agree, but I am trying to nail down ground zero for, again - modern boutique amps, let's say in the last 15 to 20 years and for companies that are still around and in production. Everyone certainly has their own opinion who may have started it, - and that's cool!

    For me - it's Matchless. In my opinion, Matchless kinda started it all. The first Matchless amp I ever saw was on Late Night with David Letterman back in 1990 or 1991. If you were into amps, it was certainly an attention grabber - and you just couldn't miss it on stage!

    The second question I have is - in what exact year were some of these early boutique amp companies established and officially start amplifier production ? I know Matchless was founded in 1989, but how about some other companies.

    Thanks!

    - Arnold
     
  2. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    Early on, it was Boogie for me.
     
  3. realityczech

    realityczech Senior Member

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    Jim Kelley was ahead of the curve
     
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  4. Peppy

    Peppy Member

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    THD or Kendrick may have jumpstarted it, around 1989 or so, with their versions of the tweed Bassman. I think for the majority of players the Matchless review in Guitar Player in 1992 really pushed the modern "boutique" concept to the nth degree.
     
  5. openbar

    openbar Silver Supporting Member

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    Not bragging, but in the late 80's I wanted a real AC30, which back then was already extremely expensive. So I asked a local amp "guru" about just building a clone, what's the big deal? Of course he knew - custom made transformers and proper speakers don't come cheap. Funny now how many boutique amps are kinda AC30 clones.

    And at that time, Kendrick was the only "boutique" thing I ever saw.
     
  6. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    This sounds riight by my recollection.

    I do wish THD was still making the Plexi they made back in the early 90's - what a great amp that was! Easily one of the best sounding Marshall type amps I've ever owned or played.
     
  7. Arnold T. Pants

    Arnold T. Pants Member

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    O.K.,

    After some internet research and a few e-mails to some of the manufacturers listed, I have come up with this lineage so far. If anyone would like to add to it, please do!

    A few companies I am currently researching their establishment: Top Hat, Divided by 13, VHT, Bedrock,Carlson Amplification. - Thanks again, - Arnold

    Dumble - late 1960s
    Boogie - 1971
    Demeter 1980
    Trainwreck 1981
    THD 1987
    Matchless 1989
    Kendrick 1989
    Top Hat - ?
    Victoria 1993
    Komet 1999
    Two Rock 1999
     
  8. JamesHealey

    JamesHealey Member

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    gotta be THD or Matchless that kicked the modern ones off.

    Although Dumble & Trainwreck are the leaders of the pack.
     
  9. landspeed

    landspeed Member

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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2008
  10. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    While other companies certainly plied their wares years prior to their inception, I 100% consider the Mark Samson-era Matchless to be the most widely known original "modern boutique" manufacturer. I was SUPER into tube amps at that time, and Matchless was the first company that I ever heard the word boutique associated with in any way.

    The DC-30 was the amp that started this in my incredibly humble opinion.
     
  11. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    I can remember seeing an ad for a Diaz amp in the early '90s and that really struck me as "boutique". I think it may have been the first time I really understood that there was an entirely different league of amps being made out there. Of course I knew about Dumbles then too, but I didn't consider them "real" since I had no clue how to get one. I figured they were for stars only.

    Mike
     
  12. untoldguitarist

    untoldguitarist Member

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    I wish bedrock were still made. Even though I have a 1000 series which will hang with any $2000 plus head in these days.
     
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  13. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    The Diaz CD30 Club Classic remains one of the best amps I ever played. I stupidly sold it, to buy one of his CD100s, which was not at all in the same league, IMO...
     
  14. soldano16

    soldano16 Member

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    Hello!!!!!!!!!

    Soldano SLO anyone.

    1987
     
  15. Flameout12

    Flameout12 Member

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    Paul Rivera fits in there somewhere.
     
  16. tjauernig

    tjauernig Member

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    Boogie as far as production goes. But other than that, some unknown guy somewhere that decided to mod his Bassman or plexi long before any value was associated with them.
     
  17. Cranknfrank

    Cranknfrank Member

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    If we're talking "craze" then it all starts with Matchless. There were certainly other companies in the game before Mark Samson but the true craze started with Matchless. I also think John Jorgenson deserves a lot of credit for bringing back great guitar tones. With the Desert Rose band he initially had the old AC30's and then his Matchless amps with a pedal rig. He did play Letterman with his Matchless rig.

    Before then pedals were "noisy and uncool".

    Thank you Mark and thank you John!
     
  18. rhinocaster

    rhinocaster Supporting Member

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    I was aware of Kendrick before any of the other guys. It seemed like out of nowhere came this guy that was building handwired, tube rectified amps. Amps like we hadn't seen in a long time. I really haven't been interested in production line amps since then.

    I do think that Mesa/Boogie started the passion for custom/modded guitar amps. New ideas and new levels of gain available in an amp.

    I think that Kendrick showed people that there was definitely a market for hand made amps. The tweed designs were pretty simple and led many people to believe that they could build amps too.

    I think that Matchless created amps with crazy cool stage presence that brought boutique amps to the attention of most guitar players.

    Not that this view is accurate, but this has been the way that it's always felt to me.
     
  19. guitarvc

    guitarvc Member

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    +1 on the SLO. It was my 2nd amp ever. Even though I now use an Egnater Mod 50 as my main gigging amp, nothing sounds better to my ears than the lead channel of the SLO!!!
     
  20. Marz

    Marz Member

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