I came across this post on Facebook / Gear Talk group yesterday and it caught my eye. So the post states that boutique pedals are all using cheap Chinese PCBs. This is a quote – “Big companies are selling boutique amps and pedals, claiming they are so exclusive, made like a piece of art, but actually it is all chinese cheap pc board, like everything else. It is getting hard to identify the real good stuf from the scam. You guys probably heard about the Friedman/Wampler/Egnater case.” A video was posted enforcing this thought. Check it out below and I’ll continue after.
This video really bugs me on multiple levels. There are wide sweeping assumptions and generalizations here. The comments also bugged me with the same generalizations stating brands that never break, etc. All brands have the possibility of issues.
When people give me pedals to work on/fix, I often get asked if that’s due to abuse or problem with the manufacturer, etc. My line that I say all the time, and pardon my language – “Shit breaks”. When I say that, I mean, that parts will, can and might break. It could be due to manufacturer techniques, quality control, component failure and user abuse.. or just bad luck.
When people talk about cheap Chinese PCBs, I personally like made-in-the-US PCBs myself, but I can’t think of a time where a PCB ‘failed’. That’s just stupid people, saying stupid things. I’ve seen PCBs crack (due to abuse) but an untouched, random failure on a PCB?? Come on.
What commonly breaks on pedals? Pots, switches and jacks. Am I right? What are those parts? The parts that get used, stepped on and generally abused on a constant basis?
In my community, I’m the guy that often gets asked to fix pedals. It’s fun, I like problem solving, and generally easy to fix. I’ve fixed really expensive boutique pedals. I’ve fixed cheap crap. I’ve fixed vintage stuff. Shit breaks. It’s not a scam where boutique companies are trying to pull something on you. Boutique companies are passionate about what they do. They often are small to very small businesses trying to carve a living out of something they love to do.
The video also complains that he’s contacting the retailer about replacement – and dropping some attitude about the lack of response or lack of returned product. The beauty of boutique companies, you can contact them directly. Many of them have their own warranty or repair policy, and are eager to get you up and running. Talking to the middle man just creates work for the middle man.. I would go direct when you have issues.
This conversation is like going to a small restaurant and getting a bad meal. Generally, in the past you got great meals, but that one time you got a bad meal. Then saying, I’m only going to McDonalds, because I got a bad meal at this fancy small business restaurant. They suck. I got scammed by that restaurant. You know how much lettuce costs.. and the piece of meat and they overcharged me. I can get the same at Mickey D’s for a 1/4 of the price.