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Author Topic: 5w boutique solid state amp?  (Read 20107 times)

J M Fahey

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2011, 09:23:07 PM »
Quote
So you don't think any guitarist would dig a high quality simple to use amp in the 5-10w range?
Yes !!! They do !!!! That's why numerically the most sold amps in the World are beginner's ones, between 10 and 15W.
And most of them sound very good.
Plugged into a 4x12" they are scary.
Just try it yourself.
The only problem is nobody wants to pay more than around 60/80U$ when new, or 20$ used.
A Celestion Vintage 30 costs $120/140 in the cardboard box, a good 4x12" from 600 to 1200 U$.

teemuk

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2011, 07:04:48 AM »
^^This.

And from an all-around practice amp, many seriously require more versatility than volume and tone control. Hence Line 6 Spider series, PODs and whatever somewhat inexpensive units that can increase the versatility by great deal are so popular.

Champs, Valve Juniors and the rest really sell more to the "I need a cheap amp and it must be tube" -crowd. These are likely the kind of crowd who also thinks that anything in addition to two knobs is too many, "will suck tone", and so on...

askwho69

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2011, 08:35:58 AM »
wanna read more on this :D

joecool85

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2011, 08:53:28 AM »
^^This.

And from an all-around practice amp, many seriously require more versatility than volume and tone control. Hence Line 6 Spider series, PODs and whatever somewhat inexpensive units that can increase the versatility by great deal are so popular.

Champs, Valve Juniors and the rest really sell more to the "I need a cheap amp and it must be tube" -crowd. These are likely the kind of crowd who also thinks that anything in addition to two knobs is too many, "will suck tone", and so on...

I would be interested it trying to capture that crowd, but sans tube.  It may not be possible...but who knows?

I suppose someday when I win the lottery I'll have to start up a small amp company and see what happens.
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teemuk

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2011, 09:47:07 AM »
Well, as said, the only way to know for sure is to get to it. I wouldn't have high hopes but it may be that you surprise positively.

As is, you might try e.g.

- Creating this amp design and then marketing it in forums with youtube and audio clips.

- If these generate enough of the "I got to have that, how much?" -type of interest start selling the thing as a kit, or even more simply as plain PC board. Write some kind of document of putting the thing together, basically what part goes where, required specs for those parts and so on. It doesn't cost you a small fortune or involve too much of your time to have someone manufacture you a batch of boards and then post them to people and charge adequately. Moreso, a failure to estimate the demand realistically won't land you in a total bankruptcy and leave you hated by bunch of people who never received any amp from you. Seen it happen all too many times in the "boutique" scene. When it starts to be a business it's no longer about making amps anymore. Tons of other issues come to the picture. If you start small, in the worst case you end up few dollars short and have a bunch of PC boards that you really have no use for. And you can consider that as a "payment for education in running an amp biz".

But anyway, the design you aim to make is simple so it's reasonable to expect that quite a few people can indeed build it (in oppose to e.g. 3-channel 250-watt amp with MIDI, etc.) and since its something hand-made by themselves it will also have some sentimental value, which funnily has a habit of converting to "good tone". Likely you should make it clear though that you are by no means obligated to providing any "tech support" to your products. You only sell a board or a kit and if the customer can't put it together it's his problem, not yours. Because there's bound to be a lot of that. ...Not to mention people simply pestering you about mods or asking stuff for free.

- If this is the next big thing in guitar amp world that many seem to want perhaps you can lure in investors to support a full-production of the amp, perhaps an even more "luring" reissue of it, sold to those who got to have one but can't cope with a kit / board.

So far I haven't really seen any boutique guy having much luck on selling low power SS guitar amps* but you'll never know if it only stays as dream. Honestly I just think your chances aren't too good with this kind of venture. A chip amp kit may have tons of more interest and I seriously doubt that Brian or any other similar board vendor "make a killing" with what they do.

*That Little Lanilei / Mahaffay guy being the exception. His amps are hybrids though and he sells them as "all-tube amps" (with solid-state power amps on small print). Even he actually broke through to the boutique scene by manufacturing a Leslie clone speaker.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2011, 09:49:09 AM by teemuk »

J M Fahey

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2011, 02:44:07 PM »
A sobering truth is that you can get a *tube* 5W amp at major shops for U$ 99.
Where does that leave you?
I'm talking not about amp quality, which can be excellent, but market niche.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 09:28:05 PM by J M Fahey »

JayFett

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2011, 08:58:02 PM »
*
teemuk, or anyone, what do you think about the Retro Channel RR1, and the ZT Lunchbox, amps?

They seem to be doing well as a 'new breed' of boutique high powered SS guitar amps.
It sure looks like a developing market there.

teemuk

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2011, 01:49:56 PM »
Neither of them really qualifies as an example of what's discussed in this thread..

Retro Channel is not a low-power solid-state amp with just a volume and tone control. The design is actually a very good example of solid-state amp selling to a niche market; almost everyone is whining that it costs too much for a solid-state amp and making comparisons to similar tube amps.

ZT Lunchbox is not a low power amp either, featuring an approximately 60W continuos average power and quite a lot higher instantenious power ratings (closer to 200W if I remember right). It's also really far from being traditional "boutique" as they are mass produced in China and, frankly put, rather cheaply too: The heatsinking and ventilation of all the ZT units I've seen so far is inadequate at best and the power transformer looks totally underrated for the job of supplying a 60W amp. It looks more like something you'd find from a 20-30W practice amp. Most of them had overheating problems right from the start due to that. Hardly a good example of "top notch" build quality one should reasonably expect from a "boutique" product.

Both mainly generate interest because they pack a good sounding - and moderately powerful - solid-state amp in a small and lightweight package. So do Crate Powerblock and EH Magnum, both being also quite interest-generating products and definitely not boutique by slightest bit.

"Doing well"? Well, it's too early to tell. Let's evaluate that after few years, shall we. If they're still around then maybe they are quite successfull and doing well. Most of these companies mainly just come and go, generating few months of interest at markets, and then fade out of minds of people. ZT and Retro are not the first or last attempts to come up with a "boutique-ish" solid-state product.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 01:54:51 PM by teemuk »

JayFett

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2011, 12:21:20 AM »
*
Thanks teemuk... all interesting observations.

There are some decent-sounding under-20-watt mass produced SS amps out there.
I can't say any of them sound 'killer', though.

If you can develop a simple SS amp that "sounds just like a tube amp", and put it in a nice cabinet with a nice speaker and sell it for two-thirds of the price of a similarly configured tube amp, then I suspect that one might be able to do a decent boutique business.

J M Fahey

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2011, 04:57:08 AM »
*Maybe*, why not?, although I guess the 2/3 price would not be the deciding factor.
Boutique amps are not sold on price but on perceived quality, exclusivity, snobishness, you name it.
I find lower price a problem, not an asset (in this particular case).

joecool85

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2011, 11:03:48 AM »
A sobering truth is that you can get a *tube* 5W amp at major shops for U$ 99.
Where does that leave you?
I'm talking not about amp quality, which can be excellent, but market niche.

Where can I get a $99 USD 5w tube amp?  I'll go get one today just for giggles.
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teemuk

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2011, 12:22:53 PM »
Ebay...? The cheapest Valve Junior head at current bid state seems to be $25.

joecool85

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2011, 12:30:48 PM »
Ebay...? The cheapest Valve Junior head at current bid state seems to be $25.

Yeah, but I've not seen them sell for less than $150 by the ending bid.  I did find a "Kustom" 5w all tube head at musiciansfriend.com for $99, but not sure on quality and it's not a combo.

I think at this point I'm with you guys on the idea of it is unlikely anyone would want such a basic 5w amp for anything other than a stupidly cheap practice amp.  I'd love to prove everyone wrong, but don't have the time or money to even try right now.
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JHow

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2011, 01:03:26 PM »
...Where can I get a $99 USD 5w tube amp?  I'll go get one today just for giggles.


Musicians Friend has these on sale now...

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Kustom-Defender-5H-Guitar-Amp-Head?sku=423624

Kustom Defender 5H Guitar Amp Head Features:

Volume control
1/4" input
Power button
One 12AX7 preamp tube
One EL84 power tube
Three speaker outputs (4, 8, and 16 Ohm)
One knob does so much on this 5W head. Order now and get tube sound for a killer price.


joecool85

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Re: 5w boutique solid state amp?
« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2011, 02:04:54 PM »
...Where can I get a $99 USD 5w tube amp?  I'll go get one today just for giggles.


Musicians Friend has these on sale now...

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Kustom-Defender-5H-Guitar-Amp-Head?sku=423624

Kustom Defender 5H Guitar Amp Head Features:

Volume control
1/4" input
Power button
One 12AX7 preamp tube
One EL84 power tube
Three speaker outputs (4, 8, and 16 Ohm)
One knob does so much on this 5W head. Order now and get tube sound for a killer price.

This is the amp I referenced in the post right before this.
Life is what you make it.
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thatraymond.com