When you search boutique effects pedals on Google one of the top entries that comes up is a blog post entitled “10 Reasons boutique pedals are overrated”. It is a rather (intentionally) misleading read. As a rebuttal we thought we’d throw our two cents into the conversation:
Firstly with any type of news article you must consider the motivation behind the message; in this case it’s written by a site whose business is selling cheap, mass-produced pedals so it’s in their best interest to convince the buyer they are wasting their money.
Their main points are twofold; boutique pedals are way overpriced and cheap knockoff pedals are basically the same thing.
The argument of being over priced is supported with false equivalencies; they reference the Klon as an example. The Klon is a rare, out of production pedal that has obtained a rather unique near-mythical status and is far from representing the cost of boutique pedals. While yes, it is possible to pay a lot for some boutique pedals the majority of companies are very well priced, with quite a number of brands offering hand made in the USA effects priced in similarly or only slightly more than the knock off brands.
Most boutique pedal manufactures pride themselves in using the highest quality components and stand behind their builds. High quality components translate directly to a high quality tone. Many of these same builders are so confident in their work that they offer a lifetime warranty – regardless of wether you are the original buyer or bought it second hand.
A lot of the buyers of these cheap pedals are the same people who tend to wonder why there are no American jobs any more, why all our jobs have gone overseas. In buying the knock-offs you are supporting and contributing to that exact scenario.
For many people the main rationale for buying the knock-off pedals is simply that of affordability. If this is the case, buy used – with most retailers having extensive pre-owned selections it is very easy to pickup a quality made pedal at a very affordable price. As we mentioned previously many of these pedals come with lifetime transferable warranties because the builders feel that strongly about the quality of their work and their use of quality materials. You end up with a better pedal, a better tone and you support the artisans who are pushing things forward instead of the thieves profiteering on the work of others.
To sum things up, if you care about the quality of your tone buy quality gear; new or used according to your needs or situation.