Big fan of mini pedals here at CP. It's 2016 so pedals need to take up less space. While there is time for big pedals when there are a lot of knobs, a lot of pedals just have 3-4 knobs and can be squeezed now into a compact and lighter size. You can stick a pedalboard in your backpack now.
Here's an article by Total Guitar Magazine that lists 31 of the best Mini Pedals and surprise surprise roughly 1/2 of them are in carried by us!
I'll come out and say it: it is hard being a pedal pusher. The pedal market is soooooo saturated now with every conceivable pedal that it is hard to keep up. Every week there are new pedal lines being cranked out by everyone from obscure factories in China to hipster joints starting boutique pedal brands with a soidering iron and some stickers.
For Cheaperpedals all this variation means the competition is stiff. A lot of Chinese trading companies who know nothing about pedals are setting up shops on Amazon and Ebay to drive prices into the ground for Chinese made pedals. They don't pay import custom taxes nor shipping freight to America. They're just shipping boat loads to Amazon and having them do fulfillment and trying to make a buck or two while doing as little as possible. They think: are customers really going to go to the hassle and cost to send a pedal back to China? Hopefully not.
But ya know, that's cool. We welcome the challenge here at Cheaperpedals. Eventually everything evens out. If we work our asses off to bring you the best pedal advice, selection, delivery time, and service then we get customers who appreciate that and support us. Our first year has been kicking ass and taking names. Otherwise we suck and die. But we aren't about sucking. Year two is going to be even better and cheaper. We're about bringing you some insanely good gear for under a $100. We're also planning on upgrading some of our site, and new discounts for loyal customers.
Waaaarrrggghhhhh! Pedal orgasm.
Check out some of the new pedals on site:
Electro Faustus Step Child
This pedal is a personal favorite of mine because it's so damn simple do one has bothered to put one out. Ever want your guitar to stutter? I do. Some guitarists use their toggle switch to use as a kill switch, but that's bad for the guitar, and hard to coordinate. This pedal just kills your guitar signal instantly you step on it and once you let go, your signal goes back through. Awesome with huge raging mountains of distortion behind it and then to have it suddenly pulsate on/off at the control of your feet. Damn cheap too.
Red Witch Violetta Delay
Red Witch pedals are some of my personal favorite for a cost/value point. Not big sellers because they are pricier than some of our pedals, but they are really top notch studio quality gear. The Violetta is an amazing delay pedal whose "Mod" control gives a beautiful analog flutter to your delay sound. It's kind of hard to describe. You just have to hear it, but being a delay freak, I really recommend those looking for an analog sound when color and texture are important.
Noisemaker Donner Party Fuzz
Big, no, huge fans of Noisemaker Effects. American made pedals by hand, that straight up kill boutique pedals costing $200. Of all their pedals I love the Donner Party best. Ridiculously awesome fuzz for $66 bucks. Biting, nasty (but still controllable non-splaty fuzz). I've spent more money on gas. Or dog food. Or on a bad date. Seriously, give it a try.
Ok nuff pushing. Love you guys. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or suggestions! Follow us on FB. We promise not to stalk you......much.
Excited to tell you guys about a new US based manufacturer that has been added to the site. Noisemaker Effects is a boutique maker that makes hand made, unique sounding pedals at an unbelievable price. Matt, the founder, and I have the same philosophy: players should be able to get some original sounding effects at a rock bottom price. He designs and builds all the pedals himself, and they look and sound like stuff worth three times as much.
Noisemaker pedals cheapest offering comes in at $46 which is pretty much the cheapest hand made pedal I've ever seen. Most other fuzz and overdrive pedals are in the $66 range. Wow. And wonderful to support a US based company. Will be doing a reorder soon as some of his pedals have already sold out!
Recently a customer wrote me an email asking whether companies like Joyo were paying royalties to the companies their pedals seem to be copying Here's the original email:
I have a question for you. I was discussing the Joyo pedals and someone brought up the point that if they are ripping off someone's design without paying that there is an ethical problem here. Do you know if Joyo has an arrangement with MXR or the others they are cloning? If they are simply a subsidiary that is good but if they are stealing design then I will not likely buy another pedal from them.
I think this is a very valid question for a lot of customers and want to finally address my take on this issue.
Most Pedals are Clones
The big secret in the pedal business that most manufacturers never want you to know is that most pedal companies are cloning existing designs. Ever notice how each company has at least one of each kind of pedal? Do you really think these companies are starting with a blank slate each time they produce a new pedal? No. Most of them use some existing design or schematic freely available on the internet. I would hedge that at least 50% of the overdrive pedals on the market are some sort of classic Tube Screamer copy. Most standard pedal effects have been figured out. There's only so many ways to make an analog delay repeat your original guitar signal. So many of the companies who are making a big fuss about cloning, if you open up their pedals and truly look at the circuitry, you'll find it remarkably similar to someone else's before them.
The Line Between Cloning and Modding
There is a very fine hazy line between cloning and modding pedals. For example, the Fulltone OCD pedal is simply a hot rodded Tube Screamer with more gain and different EQ. Does Fulltone or any other company pay Ibanez? No. Keely Mods are another example. They take an existing classic pedal and make a small modification to it, which they claim to improve it. Good business model, and perfectly valid. So what if a company like Biyang does the same thing? Their OD-10 overdrive takes a Tube Screamer, adds a toggle switch to give three modes of overdrive, and changes the EQ bit. Is this a mod or a copy? Why are people so clear to distinguish what Robert Keeley does as "good" versus Chinese pedal company? Because it is Chinese or because it is inexpensive? In fact many boutique manufacturers do the exact same thing and charge you $200 for that privilege.
Only with Pedals is Copying Even an Issue
With most consumer goods, cloning isn't even an issue. For example, look at guitars; there are a million Fender Stratocaster copies out on the market. Same body shape, same single coil pickups, 5 way toggle switch. But do people ever make an ethical fuss about this? No. Because Fender is still the original and makes a lot of money because they still make great guitars, and the resale value of the original is better. Likewise, in the pedal world Ibanez still makes a ton of money from their "reissues" of the Tube Screamer. Each year there are more and more of these reissues, and collectors and enthusiasts continue to throw money at them. And how can you even claim exclusive rights to something like an EQ pedal?
Where Does Your Money Go?
So what mostly what one is paying for with originals is the brand name and resale value. With boutique pedals you pay for the added cool factor, fancy pedal case, and possibly point to point wiring. You may be paying for some added value such as smaller sized pedals like Mooer pedals or some component upgrade. You are paying for many things, but very little of it is for use in designing the pedal. With some exceptions such as Devi Ever who creates some unique pedals and gives away her designs freely, most pedal manufacturers do little R&D.
Understandably, my opinions can be claimed as biased or at least a conflict of interest. But just consider my points. If you still disagree that's fine. It's a free country. It's a free market. You spend your money where you want. I think it's important for all of us to vote with our pocketbooks.
Excuse me if I'm going to offend you. You may be someone who really really likes boutique pedals. (But then you probably wouldn't be on CheaperPedals.com!) I actually like some of them too. I just spent too much money on too many boutique pedals that were not worth it. I started to question all the hype and trust my own ears and judgement
1. Where's The Value?
Off the bat boutique pedals are ridiculously expensive. Ranging from $200-400, the money used to buy one of them can get you an excellent beginner guitar. Two of them will buy you an amp. Three of them will buy you a professional grade electric guitar. If someone on the street asked you to pay a couple of hundred bucks for a small painted metal box with a bunch of transistors inside you'd give him a funny look and walk a bit faster.
2. Low Tech High Prices
Manufacturing and technology have made staggering leaps in the last half century. Today we are able to fit a phone, computer, music player, and camera inside a small hand held device and walk around with it and interact with people all over the the world using it. An absolutely amazing invention! But have pedals advanced significantly since the 1960s? No. Essentially we're still paying the same amount of money for a new iPhone as we are for a 50 year old piece of technology: a cake sized piece of metal and knobs with a circuit board powered by a 9V battery. A freaking 9V battery! Technologically speaking, an effect pedal is an ancient low tech product. So why are we paying so much for them?
3. Lack of Innovation
How many boutique pedal brands out there are truly innovating? Does the world really need another Tube Screamer mod? Or do we need a fancy $200 "boost" pedal whose only job is to lift your signal? The truth is the majority of boutique pedal makers are regurgitating the same kinds of guitar effects that have been around for 50 years. The truth is that there are only a few boutique manufacturers pushing the boundaries of what pedals can do. If we are going to pay so much for a pedal, let's at least expect them to create some new sounds once in a while!
4. Marketing Machinations
It's the business of business to create new reasons for consumers to buy their products. Pedal manufacturers are no exception. In my own lifetime, the pedal market has gone through a series of trend changes. In the 80's newer digital technology was considered much better sounding than old analog ones. (see image on left) Then suddenly that got old. Someone had the bright idea to say the old analog models actually sounded better than the new ones. Vintage analog! Ok then the old models' prices shot up as people bought them all up. Companies dredged up these old designs and reissued them. Tube Screamers and Big Muffs being the most obvious offenders. So their total lack of innovation was/is actually being used as a selling point!
Fast forward to today. Let's take the old designs, copy them, mod it, give it a really cool paint job, call it boutique and charge an extra hundred bucks for it. Can you imagine this happening in any other industry like cars or PC's?
When an item is scarce, the law of supply and demand dictates that its cost should rise. For the same reason that vintage gear is more expensive than new gear, boutique pedal suppliers charge more because their products are scarce. They sometimes even produce limited numbers of their pedals to drive up demand even more via low supply. Take the case of the infamous Klon pedal. The owner lowered supply in the name of "quality control" and the public ate it up. The rarer and more expensive they got, the more people wanted to own one. They are now going for over $1000 dollars on Ebay. Proof that some people are too dumb and too rich for their own good. On the other hand, mass producers are trying to sell their products to the most people possible which drives down costs in manufacturing and margins.
6. Gear Snobbery
Snobs are everywhere. We probably all know people who are wine snobs, art snobs, music snobs, and of course gear snobs. There will always be those people whose chosen role it is to define what is good and bad for other people. In the end, if you gave Jimi Hendrix a crappy pedal to play through, he'd still be...well Jimi Hendrix. And give a gear snob the best pedal ever made and they would still be...a gear snob. Is it the music that matters or is it the gear?
7. That Missing Something
As guitar players we're never quite satisfied. (Actually this is part of the human condition.) We're forever trying to scratch a tone itch that never goes away. Boutique pedals are convenient brick sized pieces of hope that we're plugging into everytime we buy one. The truth is no pedal will truly solve all our tone issues. The problem may lie in our gear or our own playing. Buying the right pedal, whether a boutique or a budget Joyo will only help us get closer to an elusive goal.
8. Judging A Book By It's Cover
As a red blooded man, I'm a sucker for a pretty face. I like beautiful hand painted boxes that make me fall in love with my eyes. Mass produced pedals are usually not much to look at. Remember the old frumpy DODs or Ibanez pedals? Compared to a sexy little boutique number, they are hard to get excited about...visually speaking. I'll freely admit to making many a bad guitar or pedal purchase based just on appearances and regretting it later. I'm sure I'm not alone.
9. Expensive Does Not Mean Good
It's a natural judgement to believe something that costs more is better. Nobody wants to buy the cheapest thing in the showroom. The truth is there are great boutique pedals. There are also great budget pedals. There are terrible boutique pedals. There are also terrible budget pedals. Each stompbox should be judged on whether sounds good and is built reliably. Many famous guitarists still use cheap pedals such as the Boss DS-1 (~$50) in their pedalboard. So just because a pedal is inexpensive doesn't make it bad, and vice versa. I challenge anyone to take a Tone Gauge Overdrive or Biyang OD-8 pedal and test it next to a boutique overdrive pedal and tell me there is any quality gap. You may even find they are better...
10. Let's Be Unique! Ok Boutique!
An unfortunate consequence of being in a consumer based society is we often define our identity from our belongings. Nobody wants to be part of the herd, especially artistic creative folk like musicians. Face it, a guitar player with a pedalboard full of generic Boss pedals doesn't seem quite as cool as the one with cool rare vintage and boutique gear. We want our gear to give us some identity, and not sound like everyone else. I know I definitely feel way cooler when I tell my friend about my limited-edition vintage hand soldered point-to-point russian germanium transistor fuzzbox versus my $50 Chinese mass produced pedal. Sound familiar?
In closing, my intent is not to disparage all boutique pedals. There are some manufactures who are making innovative guitar and bass effects (see Devi Ever) and creating value by truly earning their keep. And there are also some lesser known budget brands like Mooer and Biyang creating great quality effect pedals for a lot less. Amid the hype, if we use our own better judgement then we know what we are getting ourselves into.
Let's spend our money wisely and have fun doing it.
--And here's a link to an impartial third party with some similar thoughts
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