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Post #107 of this thread on another forum ......

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/i...es-handwired-even-mean-anymore.1980477/page-6

....... does not lead to much optimism. Highly respected builder of CarolAnn Amps is scaling back production to a 'building for friends' model because there is just no money in it any more. At least, not enough to make a living. He does not paint a rosy picture.

Maybe if your boutique company is assembly lining amps, a la Friedman, Bogner, Tone King with BAD, you have a fighting chance. Maybe not.

I don't think this will affect the big guys, but will probably thin out the boutique options, in the long run.
 

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Seems like there's just too many purist boutique amp builders now. Not enough purist players left who don't already have a bare bones boutique or vintage amp. I can imagine it's hard for the builders to keep up with the onset of digital rigs and competition between each other.
I went on an amp buying quest years ago and had a Frenzel, Bludtone, Ceriatone, and Celtic. Not sure if any of those companies exist outside of Ceriatone anymore.
I ended up keeping a Rivera K55 that can do a great Marshall/Fender thing in one box and a solid state Quilter OD200 for a grab and go and pedal platform. Both have all the features I could want, both sound great and both were well under 1k used.
Most boutique amps are priced out of the average players range. Most, as far as I can tell are selling either a slightly different take on or exact copy of either a Marshall or Fender style of amp. There are so many builders out there that it doesn't surprise me that there aren't enough guys willing to drop 3k or more on a plexi or vox or fender style amp for them all to have demand. Having a handwired amp made better or equal to the vintage amps they are based on probably doesn't matter to many people under the age of 40.
A lot of boutique high dollar amps I see don't come with basic features like an fx loop, master volume or sometimes even a TMB tonestack.
There aren't a lot of younger guys I know who want a 3k amp that has nothing more than tone, volume, and an input jack....regardless of how cool the headshell looks. The ones I know that can afford it spent their money on a vintage peice for that "vintage sound" but have an axe fx or helix rig or modern full feature channel switcher they actually use.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I wonder if the price of new boutique comes down or used goes up?
I can only imagine 'down'. Supply / demand is just going the wrong way, even with a few builders starting to opt out.
 

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Over the past 20 years I've been through many high end boutique amps. Probably more than 50 amps from builders such as Dr Z, Victoria, Tone King and Carr to name a few. I now own a couple of Allen amps and although it isn't what I consider high end like Tone King and Carr, at least for what they cost, they are my favorite amps. They do exactly what I want, didn't cost me a lot and basically I'm all done spending money on amps. I didn't dislike all those other boutique amps I bought. I was just having fun trying everything I could get my hands on.
I'm even selling one of my Allen amps not because I don't like but because I've chosen one of them to keep and it will do what I need for home playing and gigging 1 to 2 times a month. Maybe a lot of us old guys are getting to the same point in our lives and this is maybe going to cause the boutique amp bubble to burst at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Over the past 20 years I've been through many high end boutique amps. Probably more than 50 amps from builders such as Dr Z, Victoria, Tone King and Carr to name a few. I now own a couple of Allen amps and although it isn't what I consider high end like Tone King and Carr, at least for what they cost, they are my favorite amps. They do exactly what I want, didn't cost me a lot and basically I'm all done spending money on amps. I didn't dislike all those other boutique amps I bought. I was just having fun trying everything I could get my hands on.
I'm even selling one of my Allen amps not because I don't like but because I've chosen one of them to keep and it will do what I need for home playing and gigging 1 to 2 times a month. Maybe a lot of us old guys are getting to the same point in our lives and this is maybe going to cause the boutique amp bubble to burst at some point.
Reading the guy from CarolAnn, it sounds like the bubble has in fact started to burst. Time will tell.

Of those builders you listed, I would speculate that Dr Z and Victoria may be large enough to last a while, maybe indefinitely. At least they have the support of larger retailers, like L&M. Again, time will tell.
 

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Dr Z had announced that there will be no more colour choices on tolex, just black now.
That showed me that there's some sort of cost cutting/streamlining going on there.
 

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I've dealt with a few boutique guitar and amp guys over the years and most have mentioned that its hard to make decent money in the business.
 

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I think the amp market is so widely spread,that no one is getting rich.
I do see that a lot of players seem to want cheaper and lighter.
I am at the point in my life where lighter is on the top of my priority list for sure.
Quilter is a very small company that is making some cool product,but from all reports they are not even in the profit zone yet.
Milkman Amps came out with the little "Amp" and he sold out his first run.
Tell me the lightbulb didn't go off in his head when his initial run immediately got grabbed up.
I think the lightweight,quality,multiple use,hybrid amps such as the Amp by Milkman will become more and more popular.
I was just checking out this clip.

 

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Milkman Amps came out with the little "Amp" and he sold out his first run.
Tell me the lightbulb didn't go off in his head when his initial run immediately got grabbed up.
I think the lightweight,quality,multiple use,hybrid amps such as the Amp by Milkman will become more and more popular.
I was just checking out this clip.
And it's pretty awesome :D
I seem to be a sucker for bleeding edge. I'm not a big NAD poster but if anyone has questions, let me know. I'm not 100% sure I'll gig without a real tube amp. But I love having The Amp as a backup, and it's right there on my pedalboard. We're still in the honeymoon stage.
 

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a good tube amp is expensive enough as it is. with guitar based music on the decline, as well as live music, boutique amps are becoming irrelevant. sure, there are a few guys here and there still buying them, but for the most part, they just aren't needed anymore. you can buy a dam good amp off the shelf at almost any store these days. i still don't understand why the lunchbox amp fad faded so fast. a small low-watt head and decent cab is all most players really need anymore. there are alot more guys rockin madison square bedroom than there are playing jumpin jack flash at the local watering hole these days. next on the list to decline will be 100w heads and 4x12s. watch and see
 

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Many obvious things hurting the amp business (too many builders, digital modelers / profilers, decline of guitar-playing popularity in general).

Aside all that, I never did understand how the industry keeps churning out so many amps year after year anyway. Because it's not like the OLD ones are getting thrown in the landfill like old appliances, TV sets or PCs. Amps get re-capped, re-tubed, played. loved and eventually put on Kijiji or Reverb. Players still WANT the OLD ones! As much or moreso than new boutique, most of which are essentially clones of the old circuits anyway.

Still, I'm sad to read that from Alan of Carol-ann :(
 

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Boutique wasnt needed in the first place. It's a luxury item.

Like how Fender is still going, but the amount of fly by night luthiers offering too good to be true short runs then leaving with the $ continues to grow.
 

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I haven't had as many amps as some people here but I have owned a few. For home use I don't need anything fancy. I mostly use headphones. For live use, bar jams and private jams nothing beats the response of a tube amp for me. That said, I only have two amps I use live. One is a Fender Pro Junior and the other is a converted military PA amp. Between them I have about $1,000 tied up. They are easy to pack around and get the tone I want. I have had a couple of higher end boutique amps but when I realized how much money I had tied up in them for a minute difference in tone when heard in a mix live I moved them on. If you are recording or playing higher end gigs then maybe a high end amp is worth it. For most of us an off the shelf amp is good enough.
 

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I've had lots of boutique stuff dropped off at my house to try out and I love the sound of pretty much everything that comes through the door, I just don't love the price tag. I often dig the simplicity of some of the boutique stuff but I doubt those prices will come down enough for me to actually justify buying one to gig.
 

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Quite the whine-fest from that builder. Every industry is full of failed brands a million times over. There will be a market for boutique amps, but maybe not for that guy’s amps.
 
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