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.

  1. You get what you pay for: This is the real bottom line. If a mass produced, copycat mini pedal is half the price of a hand made “boutique” pedal but only comes with a 30 day warranty and you end up replacing it in the first year have you truly saved any money? How are these companies able to sell them for so cheap? Very easily really, it’s a simple combination of cheap components and even cheaper labor. They use the cheapest available parts and they are mass-produced by workers paid very low wages. The people building these pedals don’t play guitar or have any interest in the quality of your tone, it’s just an assembly job. Build as many as you can, as cheap as you can, as fast as you can. Tomorrow they might be churning out calculators but today it’s a guitar pedal. 

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.

  1. The second major point the article makes is actually somewhat true; their point is that these China made pedals are basically the same. In a lot of cases they are the same and that is because the large majority of them are direct rip-offs of something created and developed by one of these smaller handcrafted builders that the article seeks to sway you from. They reverse engineer the circuits from the smaller builders who put in the time and effort developing the originals – effectively stealing their work and intellectual property. This is the extent of most of these companies R&D programs. The smaller builders usually can’t do anything about it because it is almost impossible to sue a large company on the other side of the world so these companies are free to copy and clone as they like.

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.


Coast Sonic