To 'Boutique amp builders'...why so many models?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Timmo, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    Having owned my fair share of 'boutique amps' over the years I'm always wondering why builders offer sooooo many different models while each builder has it very own signature sound to begin with.
    I understand the different power rating and speaker configs but beyaond that are all these different models really necessary?
    Seems to me the builders themselves are creating their own competition. :worried
    Train#reck & Dum*le offer 3 models each and no more correct?
    I guess they understand what I'm talking about.
     
  2. Bullhonky Deluxe

    Bullhonky Deluxe Supporting Member

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    I'll have to assume that the market for boutique amps is a slim market to begin with ... so ... why wouldn't a builder want to offer as many alternatives as possible in order to appeal to more potential buyers?
     
  3. clarkram

    clarkram Member

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    I assume that one reason is that an amp builder will say, "I need an EL 34 design because some guys only like 34s," ditto for 6V6, EL 84 etc. A lot of builders seem to try and cover all the tube flavors.
     
  4. danlineberger

    danlineberger Supporting Member

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    Why does Ford, Chevrolet, Honda etc. make so many models?

    To make money! Each person has a different tone they like, and I have not seen many single amps meet that specification.

    Well, maybe a THD...
     
  5. Jimmydeez

    Jimmydeez Supporting Member

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    It's funny I am usually asking the inverse questions.

    Why don't they have more models?

    I would love to have a low volume FRT-37 w/ a master volume.

    I think they make what they think they can sell and make a profit on. Pure and simple business.
     
  6. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    I understand the points being made here for the most part but I'm asking from the builder's point of view more than anything else.
    Wouldn't fewer models equal less R&D/time/employees/etc/etc hence more profit(s)?
    Less overhead all the way around I would think.
    I ask these questions because having owned 3 amps of the same builder ( all were really good ) I have to say that each one had the same tonal characteristics & tone signature of the one before. I am not knocking this builder but just using them as an example. I really feel that their amp was the SAME amp everytime but with a few different features.
    Features are fine as options to an existing model but do we need supposedly completely "different models"? I say probably not........
    Also, the example of autos vs boutique amps couldn't be further apart.
    Markets are vastly different........
     
  7. danlineberger

    danlineberger Supporting Member

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    Not really...

    Some people are just as serious about vehicles as we are about amps.
    We could easily buy a low priced amp as some one could buy a low priced vehicle.

    But we choose to spend more money on a "better" amp as some people choose to spend more money on a "better" vehicle.

     
  8. Occam

    Occam Member

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    I like companies that have a specialty. When a boutique builder makes too many models I start to wonder how many are designs that they really excel at and how many are ones just to have their bases covered in the market place.

    I think for some builders after years of making the same amp or 2 and as they gain more knowledge of amp design it's logical for them to experiment with new designs that will be just as good as their originals. I think one thing to look as is if their amp is a clone or tweek of an old design or a completely original design. I'm more comfortable with original designs because they typically have a lot more personality to them (usually good but not always).
     
  9. Occam

    Occam Member

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    But very few people will ever buy a boutique car. When you've got dozens of facrtories employing tens and hundreds of thousands of people it's easier and makes more sense to paint with a broad brush in the market. For a smaller maker if you spread yourself too thin you run a much greater risk of going under.
     
  10. danlineberger

    danlineberger Supporting Member

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    I guess everyone has their own opinion...

    Just expressing the way I feel.
     
  11. krash

    krash Member

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    well there are a couple of dynamics that might apply.

    First of all, the simple business of it. It's not so much more overhead, more R&D, more etc. that leads to different models. It's more about leveraging the same thing.

    For example, let's say I design an amp with one gain stage that's intended to get a lot of power tube distortion. Well, with very minor modification, I can punch another tube hole and put another gain stage in there, we're talking one on-the-fly variance in the sheet metal and about $10 worth of parts including the tube, and I have a high-gain amp. So for a $10 extra per-unit inventory cost, I have an entirely different market segment available. This is a vast over simplification but makes the point easily.

    OTOH you want your amp builder to be an innovator. That's the whole reason they are making amps you want to buy anyway. So they naturally are not going to sit on their hands. The very competitive spirit and need to create something newer and better is going to drive them to keep churning out new work ... even if most of it doesn't ever make it to the market, eventually they end up with one or two that they go "whoah, that's something else entirely!" and a new model is born.

    just some guesses on my part. hopefully some old and in the way boutique builders will chime in.
     
  12. jhc

    jhc Senior Member

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    Because every maker has to have his take on one or more Fender models, an AC30, an 18 watt, and a 50/100 watt plexi.
     
  13. PaulC

    PaulC Member

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    Kind of like how Marshall's 50/100 watt plexi is his take on a Fender:dude

    PaulC
     
  14. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    It could possibly be that 'boutique amp builders' are kind of into electronics and tone and building amps.
    Maybe some of these guys, after producing and selling a design that is identified as their signature model, might want to fool around with some other style, make something in that style.
    Sounds reasonable to me.
     
  15. jhc

    jhc Senior Member

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    fair point :)
     
  16. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    Well yes, and taking this point to the Nth degree........a Fender sounds pretty much like a Fender except for the power rating and speaker configs like I said earlier. A Marshall sounds like a Marshall and so on.
    I've always thought Fender made more models than necessary but hey, thankfully for us "vintage buffs" they did.
    On the new boutique side I just feel there is a bit of "overkill" if you will.
    Alot of this is just to create excitement etc. to sell yet another amp and I certainly don't have a problem with that BUT (like I said originally) Train#reck & Dum*le make 3 designs each I believe........seems to say everything I am.
     
  17. utterhack

    utterhack Member

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    Just the opposite, as far as R&D goes. Often a new product will begin as a one-off custom job for a specific client. Once all the sweat's been put in getting that variation right, I'd want to offer it publically rather than just let the design sit in a drawer somewhere.
     
  18. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    Yeah, I can see that.
     
  19. Scott_F

    Scott_F Member

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    That's it. You nailed it in my opinion.
     
  20. Madsman

    Madsman Member

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    I'm trying to think of some boutique amp manufacturers that make superfluous amp models, but I'm failing. Can you site some examples? I've not read the whole thread yet, so ignore this if you have already offered some.

    (edit)

    Now having read the whole thread, I'm assuming you're referring to either CAA/JST or Bogner.

    Both companies offer a flagship amp in several flavors, and a few other amp models. I can't fathom what the problem with this would be. I can't begin to understand why this would irritate anyone. Also, I'm kind of hoping these AREN'T the amp companies you're referring to, because I'm kind of hoping you can tell a clear difference between their models... meaning, I'm hoping that listening to them back to back, you could understand why they would offer varying flavors on a theme. If a company can make one amp that can satisfy metalheads, jam bands, fusion nerds, blues dogs, country folk etc, with just a few minor tweaks in a given direction, my personal response is "thanks."

    Plus, one REALLY OBVIOUS reason why this happens is that Company A sells an amp to guitarist 1, and fans of guitarist 1 want to run out and buy the amp. Well, if the company modded that amp, and the normal model is different than what guitarist 1 plays, the fans are going to bitch and moan when they buy the amp and can't get the same sound. So it's doing customers a service to offer these flavors. Some amp companies consider that to be in bad taste, but I sort of feel that if you can afford the time to mod the amps, and the customer is demanding to pay the money for that product, where's the problem?
     

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