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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Following on from the nostalgia-fest of the what was your first pedal thread...what was your first "boutique" pedal (depending on how you define that nebulous term)?
Strictly speaking, mine was a Righteous Tones tubescreamer clone, but I hated it so much it barely touched down before hitting craigslist.
So, I'm going to count my Fulltone 69 as the first, to date it's my favourite Ge fuzz. That was closely followed by a Retro-Sonic analogue delay (the Canadian "EHCO" version:)
What about you folks?

My most boutique pedal has to be this: A clone of the old Boss Dimension C DC-2, but with true bypass and mixable modes, full stereo, made by John Fromel from the TGP. I have #3 of I think he said 50.

 

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I only got in to boutique pedals a few months ago. First one, Keely compressor, followed by a Wampler Hotwired overdrive, followed by a Diamond Halo chorus.
 
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Define boutique. Because I personally wouldn't call anything Fulltone does "boutique" -- it's available in large quantities and many locations and Fulltone is far from a small company. It's just expensive, top tier gear. Is my '80's CS-9 boutique? You don't see many of them around these days. So it's limited in it's use in the general population. Does that define "boutique"?

Edit: I clearly woke up this morning on the bitchy side of the bed. I don't intend to be argumentative but I really would like to know what you think "boutique" means. My feeling is its something different to everyone. Maybe it's best described as: That piece of expensive kit you always wanted and had a hard time finding.
 

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Define boutique. Because I personally wouldn't call anything Fulltone does "boutique" -- it's available in large quantities and many locations and Fulltone is far from a small company.
Well they were small when I bought my first 'boutique' pedal from them :D

Orange Fulldrive - serial # 412...bought in '95 or '96. Sold it a few years ago when i got a taste for less compressed OD's.
 

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Catalin Bread Super Chilli Picoso great buffer boost that I still have and use ,then It just snowballed!:rockon:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Define boutique. Because I personally wouldn't call anything Fulltone does "boutique" -- it's available in large quantities and many locations and Fulltone is far from a small company. It's just expensive, top tier gear. Is my '80's CS-9 boutique? You don't see many of them around these days. So it's limited in it's use in the general population. Does that define "boutique"?

Edit: I clearly woke up this morning on the bitchy side of the bed. I don't intend to be argumentative but I really would like to know what you think "boutique" means. My feeling is its something different to everyone. Maybe it's best described as: That piece of expensive kit you always wanted and had a hard time finding.
Yes, I kinda agree, and Fulltone was the reason for the "however you define that" disclaimer. I really think that Mike Fuller has set the bar though, so I still count Fulltone as 'boutique', despite the success and multiple thousands of units he's shifted over the years. He certainly started off as an individual builder and shouldn't be knocked just for his success.

I wouldn't call a CS9 boutique regardless of how hard they are to find -- who designed and built it? Ibanez. Not a person, a company. That for me is the dividing line. Righteous Tones gear is all built in a factory in China, but he still slips in under the bar as boutique-ish to me because of the lack of involvement of a monolithic entity...not that I'm claiming absolute authority on this. I think it's one of those things where it's easier to define what isn't than what is...Boss isn't, Line 6 isn't, Dunlop isn't. I'd call Catalinbread, Retro-Sonic, Goudie, BJFE, DAM, FoxRox, Paul Cochrane, and a host of others boutique. What about Lovepedal? he's shifting insane amounts of gear too, and he's using machine built boards now too. I don't like his stuff, and I don't much care for him either (I'm sure he's crushed!) but does LP count? All or only LP hand-wired? (I don't think Sean's doing his own wiring these days anyway, which is fine, he's a designer--and a great marketing guy obviously) . it's just a definition for convenience. I guess my definition includes the person with the initial vision still being actively involved in directing the company, rather than a board of directors-type situation with a bunch of MBAs and an engineering division ;)

So,what's your first boutique pedal according to whatever definition you use for that? Mine were the RT overdrive (which I hated; designed by one guy and built offshore in a factory), a FT 69 (Fulltone...), and Tim Larwell's delay. I've also got an Xotic AC boost (do they count?), a zendrive (yes, I bought another one - definitely boutique), a couple of analogman (he shifts a lot of units too -- is he still boutique?), an RMC wah (boutique), a couple of older Boss pedals (definitely not BTQ), DAM, BK Butler, some other stuff....too much other stuff actually. :food-smiley-004:
 
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I wouldn't call a CS9 boutique regardless of how hard they are to find -- who designed and built it? Ibanez. Not a person, a company. That for me is the dividing line.
Well, companies don't design anything -- people do and there were people (or even a single person) behind the CS-9 even if we don't know their names. And Mike Fuller sells his stuff through a company, it just doesn't happen to be as big as Ibanez. Very, very early on you might have bought a Fulltone "out of the back of his car" but he incorporated pretty quickly.

I think it's one of those things where it's easier to define what isn't than what is...Boss isn't, Line 6 isn't, Dunlop isn't.
I disagree here: The DC-2 isn't boutique? Rare, hard to get your hands on, expesnive, coveted. That's the very definition of a successful one-man-effects-shop, isn't it? Why can't Boss call that pedal boutique? Dunlop has a "custom shop" now: why can't we call what they produce boutique?

I think I have an answer and I'll get to it in a second. But first:

I'd call Catalinbread, Retro-Sonic, Goudie, BJFE, DAM, FoxRox, Paul Cochrane, and a host of others boutique.
If it's hand built I think that's a big help in getting called boutique. But I know some boutique manufacturers who use wave soldered boards and simply finish assembly and testing by hand. And a factory can certainly hand assemble products as easily as wave soldering them. So that really destroys "hand assembled" or "hand wired" as test for "boutique-ness".

And you say something interesting here:
So,what's your first boutique pedal according to whatever definition you use for that? Mine were the RT overdrive (which I hated; designed by one guy and built offshore in a factory)
This is the very definition of how Ibanez operates: someone designs their products and it's built off shore in a factory. The difference is: you can name the person who designed your RT overdrive whereas most can't name the people who designed the TS-9 or the CS-9. But I'll bet someone like Mark Hammer knows so that makes naming the person who designed the pedal a tough measure of "boutique".

Ahh, here's an idea: maybe being able to interact directly with the designer makes it boutique? If I can speak to the designer on the phone, have a conversation with him or her directly, it's boutique.

Could it be "boutique" is not so much about how it's manufactured but how visible and accessible the actual designer is. That's feeling like a pretty good definition to me.

I guess my definition includes the person with the initial vision still being actively involved in directing the company, rather than a board of directors-type situation with a bunch of MBAs and an engineering division ;)
We're converging here for sure. I think the salient point is that the designer is accessible by the customer. The above statement makes it sound like being a successful, well run company, destroys your "boutique" label. That you have stay below a threshold of success and muddle along in order to keep your mojo. Running your company well shouldn't be connected with "boutique" or or non-boutique. Is Way Huge no longer boutique now that Dunlop owns the name? I don't think you can say they're not a boutique manufacturer. They just have a good distribution channel and some backing cash now. Jeorge Tripps seems reasonably accessible despite being a Dunlop employee.

a couple of analogman (he shifts a lot of units too -- is he still boutique?)
More than shifting units the majority of what he sells is modded stuff. So how does a non-boutique Boss pedal cross over to being boutique? Because one man touched it in the process? Again: good support for the "can you contact the person" definition of boutique-ness. Mike imparts the aura of boutique-ness on a Boss pedal because once he's modded it you call him, not Boss, to discuss the pedal.

Yea, I'm pretty happy with that definition of boutique, you? That certainly takes a stock CS-9 out of the running. But mine was modded by Greg at Solid Gold Sound Labs recently. Does that impart "boutique" on it? I think so. So it wasn't bouique when I got it in 1992, but it is now.

:food-smiley-004:
 

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You want boutique? How about a hand built distortion pedal, by a senior high school student with some scrounged and some store bought parts including the electrical junction box for a case. He may have etched the circuit board too, I forget. Sounds very, very good.

I love it when students and former students of mine do cool things like this. No credit to me, all I do are the guitar lessons, they get involved with the side projects on their own. Another former student is a fulltime builder of acoustic guitars, and several have given me their recordings. All I do is encourage.

My other pedals? Factory stuff from Marshall, Boss, MXR, Seymour Duncan, Planet Waves, BBE, DOD, Radial, Dunlop. Nothing unusual.

Peace, Mooh.
 

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Joe Bodenhammer Bloody Murder OD.
 

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Orange Fulldrive - serial # 412...bought in '95 or '96. Sold it a few years ago when i got a taste for less compressed OD's.
Me too (not 412 though). I never could dial in the tone so that it sounded good. I sold it on eBay to a collector in Japan for about $60 more than I paid for it. Then, I got a hand-wired Menatone Red Snapper. That was a great pedal...then a ZVex SHO...also great.
 

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Don't know if the Radial Tonebones are considered boutique, but for me, the Radial Tonebone Classic was the one that got me started on a GAS induced buying frenzy.
 
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