When you buy a clone, you steal... from yourself

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by earthtonesaudio, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. earthtonesaudio

    earthtonesaudio Member

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    Like many consequences of life's decisions, I doubt this one ever gets much thought. The sheer number of threads debating the "gray area" of cloning/ethics should attest to how ill-defined this topic is in the collective consciousness.

    But ignorance is no excuse.


    When you buy a clone, you steal from yourself. Here's why. You vote with your money, and when you cast a "vote" for a knock-off, someone else loses a vote. Namely, the original designer who did the creative work. Eventually, the cloner wins and the original thinker loses.

    What is the long-term outcome? Sameness, uniformity, conformity, status quo. By "voting" in favor of cloning behavior, you're helping to put an end to new designs. Cloners don't design new things. They copy what is already popular.

    If the only people producing pedals were cloners, there would be no new designs, ever. Every "new" pedal would be the same as the "old" pedal, the only thing to change would be the marketing. Perhaps this is okay with you. Perhaps this is what you want? Not me. I enjoy variety, I find it a necessity. Every time you buy a clone, you diminish the number of choices you can make in the future. Do you want to sacrifice your ability to choose?

    So the next time you "vote" with your money, how about thinking first, and deciding if you want "more of the same" or a little of the spice of life?


    Thanks for listening,
    Alex
    (EarthTonesAudio)
    ***
    Some clarifications:
    1. By "clone" I mean a copy of something that is in current production. Clearly if the original is out-of-production, there is no conflict between re-maker and originator, only a conflict of ebay/secondhand markets.
    2. Let's state, for the record, in all seriousness, that all pedals are luxury goods, not a fundamental need of life like food or shelter. Therefore, no pedal is "cheap" and no pedal is "expensive." Any price is justifiable because no one needs a pedal to survive. This nulls and voids any and all justifications for cloning based on price.
     
  2. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    The problem is deciding what is a copy. Obviously, some clever (or not so clever) variant of the name ("uni-antler-horsey" for Klon...etc.) along with similar packaging, and marketing for the sound of another known pedal would be a clone. Same names or variation on special knobs, etc.

    And honestly, I don't know why more pedal makers don't "trademark" their pedals look, feel, name. I think they could have a leg to stand on on that. I know why they don't copyright, because they can't...most of the "new" pedals are variations on existing, public domain, known circuits.

    I mean, the Zendrive does things I haven't heard another pedal do (even the supposed "same" Gain Stage Red) but I am certain Alf used basic well-known circuit design, tweaked some caps and values, and got it honed in on the best cut frequencies, etc. I bought the GSR (but also two ZD's and I wasn't going to buying a third as two is one backup for me.) and I didn't think it was a clone (doesn't have voice knob, etc.) but I don't like it as much either.

    It's just tricky, some obvious clones, no way I would buy, a variation on existing technology for OD's, whatever, no problem.
     
  3. hazel-rah

    hazel-rah Member

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    not to mention the fact that you're stealing from the designer of the circuit...
     
  4. majorledhead

    majorledhead Supporting Member

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    CLONES, The other white meat.
     
  5. cj_wattage

    cj_wattage Member

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    And I think this is where a lot of unnecessary drama creeps in to any discussion of "cloning."

    There does not seem to be a consensus on "cloned" versus "modded" versus "derivative."

    To me, a part-for-part (values included) reproduction of a circuit would be a clone.

    Changing parts values around, converting a knob to a switch (or vice versa), adding a third clipping diode, dropping a buffer, and that kind of thing would be modded.

    And if, for example, you took a Big Muff, replaced the tone control with a three-band tonestack, dropped the third gain stage, and slapped a JFET boost in front, it would be a derivative circuit.

    But those are just my definitions, and I'm sure there are plenty who will disagree and that have their on semantic take on things.

    So to me, the Landraff Overdrive is a modded TS808. It's definitely not a clone, but still close enough in form and function to not quality as a derivative.

    I'm split on the Gain Stage Red. I can't decided if it's a modded Zendrive or a derivative of the Zendrive.
     
  6. aziltz

    aziltz Member

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    what if you make your own clone? I've made a few, for myself, and if the original was obtainable, or i deemed it worth the money, i would purchase an original to use. However, i don't believe anyone's being ripped off because I've rolled my own.

    another though, not everything with a op-amp and diodes is a TS.
     
  7. mistermikev

    mistermikev Member

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    new hear... hi all!

    interesting manifesto. let me point out some places where I think your argument is 'not as strong'.

    1) u don't have to spend much time on diy stompbox site to have heard that many of todays 'latest greatest' products are clones themselves.

    For instance, the fulltone fulldrive is supposedly based directly off the ts-9 with a few mods. The BBE green screamer, the boss sd-1, and many others are simple variations on the original design... according to what I've read.

    My point is: would you condemn the obvious improvements made on this original circuit based on the fact that at the core is a clone?

    Wouldn't this eventually limit the variety of pedals avail to us?

    2) considering the fact that it is difficult at best to continue to develop in the analog world... where options are few because so much has been done... wouldn't this eventually lead to all new manufacturers building digital?

    3) our own copyright laws, that we all decided on, kept the tube screamer design from being exploited by other developers for 10 years... isn't that enough protection?

    4) who develops new pedals? zvex? isn't one of his most famous designs based off of technology that wasn't originally developed by him? specifically the sho? -came from some mixing board schem? so we would condemn this pedal to have never existed? I mean, after all this would be a clone of that technology on some level. So where do we draw the line?



    I build clones for myself... and haven't sold one, nor do I intend to, but given the patent laws I would have no problem with someone else selling the exact same circuit with different pots, caps, resistors. It IS legal.

    AFA new development going extinct... Ppul will build new pedals cause other ppul will buy them instead of what may exist... so I don't buy the argument that cloners put anyone out of biz.



    Please try to keep in mind that this is just friendly debate here... please don't take any of my comments as anything more than that.
     
  8. lukeII

    lukeII Supporting Member

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    clones are like fake Rolexes i.e. they will always be a fake no matter how good it is or close to the original you think it is.
     
  9. cj_wattage

    cj_wattage Member

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    Definitely not. The Distortion+, DOD250, Rat, and DS-1 also have an op-amp and clipping diodes (as do others). It's the arrangement of those parts that makes the difference.

    If I see feedback loop clipping diodes with a dual op-amp and single tone control (with or without input/output buffers), I'm immediately thinking TS808 was the origin. That's not always correct, but it is most of the time when looking at boutique pedals.
     
  10. sidehatch

    sidehatch Member

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    Well said! I cant support a guy that copies a schematic to a "T" and then releases it for himself but as soon as a few caps changed and or clipping diodes are added in it becomes a different unit and has the right to exist.

    Compare this to the automobile. The design that lasted had 4 wheels , an internal combustion engine etc.

    Now almost 100 years later cars are by design the same. There have been cars with 3 wheels that were not practical and many inventions were unsafe.

    Now lets look at the acoustic guitar such as the dreadnaught then the paul,the tele,the strat.

    I dont want to play a 9 string guitar that is shaped like ???? and has 35 frets and who know what else.

    My point is cloning leads to refining and refining is good. Very good.

    I love my 91 PRS so much that I have played every gig with it for 18 years. i dont want to play an old gibson of the same design because I love the 5 way switching, Killer trem and the volume control placement.

    Remember gibson suing prs?'

    what about all the suhrs,andersons,grosh,nash, etc that build very refined strats and teles. Nothing wrong with that.

    So now apply it to the fx world. The fulldrive ,when it came out was an exact ts9 with a boost and a few cap changes.

    His OCD is a voodoo lab overdrive with a few tweaks.

    What about fuzz faces? I have a couple pedals that are tweaked fuzzfaces and tonebenders that arent in those big round fuzz face enclosures(thank god). I probably wouldnt play a fuzz if the originals are all I could get.

    Cloning=evolution=good IMHO

     
  11. nibus

    nibus Supporting Member

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    Attack of the clones

    [​IMG]
     
  12. mistermikev

    mistermikev Member

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    you make many good points.

    I would extend that view to include an exact clone... because one can make an exact clone with higher quality parts and it WILL be an improvement/evolution, but I can understand your reservations about extending it this far.
     
  13. Armchair Bronco

    Armchair Bronco Member

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    I agree with the OP 100%. However, I'll bet there are a fair number of people who use pirated software by making the claim that software is, somehow, different from hardware. I mean, Microsoft is The Evil Empire and Apple and LINUX are the good guys, right?

    Wrong.

    What's true for hardware (be it pedals or PC) is also true for software.
     
  14. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    Let's throw vintage JTM45's in the bin then, and stick to Tweed Bassmen... oooooh the nerve of that cloning SOB Marshall!

    Cloning makes our world go round.

    How is this topic not dead yet?
     
  15. aziltz

    aziltz Member

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    i've bread boarded enough circuits with feedback clipping-diodes to know that even that can have many, many sonic differences. What creates the sound is more about what frequencies are clipped, and how are they clipped.
     
  16. TieDyedDevil

    TieDyedDevil Member

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    I think it'd be exceptionally difficult to trace the intellectual property rights of many pedal designs back to their origins.
     
  17. larimar

    larimar Member

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    I hear what you are saying but being a DIY pedal fan I can't agree 100%. Besides, I think there is room for everyone in the pedal world.
     
  18. Squigglefunk

    Squigglefunk Senior Member

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    so all the "boutique" clones of muffs and rats are included right?
     
  19. cj_wattage

    cj_wattage Member

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    I didn't mean to imply that feedback loop clipping circuits all sound exactly the same. But I do think, after having looked at many circuits, that a whole hell of a lot of boutique overdrive circuits were derived from the TS808. And quite a few of them are also derived from the Electra Distortion, but that doesn't mean they'll all sound the same.

    What it means that somebody started off with a well-known circuit that sounds good, and then worked from there. I think that's a totally fine way to to go about things.
     
  20. sidehatch

    sidehatch Member

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    I apologize in advance for this statement if it hurts any feelings:

    *Most* of the people that have a problem with cloning (and websites like free stomp boxes ) are people that dont know much about electronics or those who know just enough to be dangerous witht their thinking.

    Once you start trying to clone something you realize that everything makes a difference in tone. Parts composition, Layout,tolerences. if you dont believe me make a Simple circiut from radio shack parts then make it using top of the line parts . Then experiment with a combo of high end parts and some low end parts that sound good in certain places.

    Blanket statements like "you are hurting yourself " is quite strange.

    Copying makes the world go around. Try to play a lick on you guitar nobody else has ever played! Try to play a chord thats never been played. HA
     

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