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4 Reasons to Bypass Boutique
Running a boutique pedal business is difficult enough as it is, but there is a certain type of customer that makes it unbearable at times.
They’re typically older men, maybe in their 60s, and they want the perfect pedal in 2 days for 50% off the asking price. They’re the type of people who think that every online business is Amazon. And I hate to tell you, but we’re not.
Boutique pedals are wonderful; each one is a labor of love from the builder. Every boutique pedal company’s Big Muff clone (for example) is unique. I’ve heard pedal circuits described as being like pizza. But boutique pedals have limitations compared to their larger corporate counterparts like Roland/Boss et al. These are limitations you might want to consider before buying boutique.
1) You need the pedal NOW.
Frequently, I’ll get emails inquiring about where someone’s order is only 72 hours after the order was placed. I will gently explain that I make every pedal to order because I don’t have the resources to keep pedals that might not sell in stock.
If you can wait, there’s a really cool handmade pedal in it for you. If you can’t wait, go to Guitar Center. They almost certainly have something that will do what you need.
2) You’re on tour and there’s a certain boutique pedal that’s key to your sound.
Equipment breaks, especially during tours. If a specific boutique flanger is key to your sound, you could find yourself shit out of luck when the effect breaks and no one in town carries a Doodoo Drawers Electronics Flangelicious.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t tour with boutique effects, only that you need to consider their irreplaceability before including them in your rig.
3) We are not Amazon.
If you’re unhappy with your pedal, it’s unlikely that I’m going to be able to give you a full refund instantly. I may not be able to offer you anything more than an exchange. If your pedal takes a week to ship out, it takes a week to ship out. “Two-day shipping” means “two days from when I dropped it off at the post office,” not “two days from when you entered your credit card number.”
4) You’re not willing to spend a lot of money.
The unfortunate fact is that boutique companies might not have the same resources that Boss or JHS have. Producing an overdrive as a small boutique builder is immensely more expensive than it is when you have in-house CNC machines, UV printers, and the like. We don’t get massive bulk discounts because we can’t afford to order 5,000 of some chip that costs two dollars.
With more established boutique builders, it’s rare that they have a pedal that costs less than $200. You may be able to find handmade pedals for cheaper, but these are often from people just getting started as builders.
Boutique pedals are wonderful. You get a great variety of takes on classic circuits, as well as some completely new circuits. However, dealing with boutique builders often requires patience and respect. Also money.