11-20-2007 09:00 AM
Here are the things I'd like to say for your consideration: 1. At the risk of stating the obvious, I have absolutely nothing to do with the prices of my units sold used on Ebay or anywhere else. For the record, I'm in complete agreement with those people who feel that the prices that some of the units have brought, and apparently continue to bring, are simply absurd, and I hope that any of you reading this will weigh in with a correction if someone ever claims in another thread that Finnegan is ego-tripping on what his units go for used, as I've read a few times here and there and simply decided to let go. Yes, it's gratifying that a lot of players really like the thing, a thing I killed myself for almost five years to design and bring out, but no, I don't feel that spending $6- or $7- or $800 on a used unit when I'm selling them new (yes, with a turnaround) for $329 is all that rational. As I was just typing "$6- or $7- or $800" I found myself revising those figures downward in my mind just to where I, personally, felt rationality kicking in, and you know what? I couldn't peg it to a particular figure. Around ten years ago, when the business was just starting to become the freight train it's been ever since, I happily plunked down $2000 for a near-mint late-plexi 50-watt head . . . in red, with the gold logo; a '69. Does it sound better than the 1970 small-box 50-watter, black with aluminum panel, that I'd previously bought from the same guy for $475? They sound a little different, but I wouldn't say the red one just plain sounds better. Did I behave rationally spending $2000 on it, top dollar at the time? As a few of you have said, essentially, who the hell knows? What I can tell you is that it pleases me a lot to have it, and I think it would do so as much or almost as much if it were now worth $1000, say, instead of whatever ridiculous sum it actually is worth. Quick note for anyone of the B-and-E persuasion: the few nice/valuable guitars and amps I have are elsewhere in secure storage, not where I live. 2. Some of the components in the circuit could be characterized as off-the-shelf, and some couldn't, but even if they all were, I don't agree with the guy who claimed - repeatedly - that a high-school kid could build something that sounds the same. No-one, whether high-school kid or wourld-class engineer, has to my knowledge been able to really replicate the sound of the circuit in the eleven-plus years the unit has been out, and believe me, it's not for lack of trying; I'll have a little more to say about this below. 3. Here's an essential point - or at least I consider it an essential point - that some people who have posted on this thread seem to be either missing or pointedly ignoring: when you buy something along the lines of a pedal or amp or guitar or what-have-you that's at all original in design, YOU ARE NOT SIMPLY BUYING THE COMPONENTS THAT WENT INTO IT. You are buying, essentially, the result of someone's vision, expertise, and hard work in putting those components together in a particular way to achieve particular objectives. You are buying something built by someone who understands it from the inside out because he or she or they DESIGNED it, and to expect, on the other hand, to get the same results from the same circuit with the same components, unless it's built exactly the same way in every important regard by someone who thoroughly understands what is and is not important and why certain things have to be done in particular ways - that is, by the designer, and not by someone who has invested a few hours trying to knock a circuit off - well, both my intuition in general and my experience with this circuit in particular tell me that's not realistic. A quick example: a few months ago, just to satisfy my curiosity, on a statistically-significant number of non-production boards (I build, listen to, and keep boards all the time) I made the tiniest change imaginable - you'd snort derisively if I told you what it was, and certainly my expectation was that I wouldn't be able to hear any difference from the sound of the production boards. But guess what? There was and is a perceptible difference, and I proved that to myself with blind testing - having someone else mix in the experimental boards with a large number of production boards and then put all these boards, one by one, on my testing jig for me to listen to while I was ten feet away in front of the amp facing the other way; I identified every one of the experimental boards but one. I'm not trying to impress anyone with how good my ear is - after all these years with just the one product, I think it would be pretty sad if I couldn't hear the subtlest nuances - but rather trying to drive home a very straightforward point: even the smallest changes are at least potentially audible, and if someone - the would-be knocker-off - does even just a few of those small things in ways the designer learned the hard way not to, then the same results won't be obtainable. All of the really good amp and pedal designer/builders get this, the really good pickup designer/winders get it, the high-end audio designer/builders get it, and I would suggest that it's in the interest of the consumers of these and any other such products that you/we get it as well. 4. The point made about how putting the guts of one of the units in a plastic Radio Shack case would affect unknowing listeners' perceptions of the sonic attibutes of the circuit brings me right back to blind testing: the ONLY way, as far as I'm aware, to factor out auto-suggestion and really determine whether or not you're hearing what you've thought you've been hearing, is to do extensive blind testing - hours- or days- or weeks-long, with someone else doing the switching, preferably in real time, between however many alternatives in such a way that you yourself can pick up no cues/clues of any kind as to which is which aside from the sound coming out of the amp; either you guess right much more often than not, in which case you can feel confident that there is a discernable difference, or you don't, in which case you can't.
11-20-2007 09:01 AM
5. Although they certainly have to save up for a little while to do so, full-time pro players who don't make much money buy units from me all the time, and believe it or not, I have always tried to keep the thing as affordably priced as possible given that I have to make some kind of a living at something that I now have over fifteen years of my life in (design work began mid-1990, and production began the end of 1994). Here are a few relevant facts: with the custom-cast enclosure, custom-made pots (not off-the-shelf, and I have to order them in thousands quantities to get the per-piece cost down to only fairly outrageous), custom knobs, custom sheet-metal bottom, and super-high-quality everything, whether custom or not, the material cost of the unit - the aggregate cost of everything that physically comprises the unit - is, by my best estimate, SEVEN-TO-EIGHT TIMES that of virtually every pedal I've seen that's built with all off-the-shelf stuff and housed in a standard diecast or clamshell enclosure. Until my price increase in June of last year, unless I'm really mistaken many of my competitors were making more profit per pedal selling what they make at wholesale prices in the $129-149 range than I was making selling mine direct at the full retail price of $279. With regard to that price increase, please consider the following: date of previous price increase to $279: February or March 1998. Date of price increase to $329: again, June 2005. Interval: call it 7.3 years. Amount of increase in June of last year: $50. Fifty bucks as a percentage of the previous price of $279: 17.92%. Annualized price increase from February or March 1998 to June 2005: 2.45% (17.92 divided by 7.3). And . . . with very few exceptions, everything I have to buy to build units with just keeps creeping up in cost, year after year after year. Please understand that I have no problem with anyone feeling that the unit is simply too expensive for them, that either they can't afford it or simply don't feel it's worth what it costs. I do have a problem, however, whenever someone claims - either disingenously or because they're unaware of the foregoing - that I'm simply reaming my customers and laughing all the way to the bank; hopefully you can see that this is not the case. 6. With regard to the so-called "Klones", I've never heard either the Austin Gold or the Power Driver; I've been told by several guys that they didn't feel that the former sounded very much like the Centaur (please note that I'm not dissing that pedal or offering any opinion of my own at all, simply noting that I've been told a few times that the two sound different), and I know nothing about the latter, not even who makes it. I have heard the Maxon OD-820, and because it's made by a huge Japanese company, and one that seems to be trying on some level to rip me off (cf. the marketing of the pedal as a clone of mine, somewhat effective marketing it seems), I don't see any reason to shy away from telling you all that I truly hate the sound of it. Somewhere around here I have three or four pages of detailed notes on the listening I did (yes, including some blind testing) when someone loaned me theirs, but suffice it to say that I don't feel that it sounds anything like the Centaur and I don't feel it's a good-sounding pedal, period. For me, the worst part of this situation with the OD-820 being perceived as sonically either the same as my unit, or at least very close, is thinking about the God-knows-how-many-times a player has heard another player playing through one and thought "So THAT'S what the Klon sounds like." Oh, almost forgot - like to know the circumstances under which that one was loaned to me? A guy, a full-time pro player, called me a couple of years ago, told me that he'd bought it because he'd been told that sonically it was the same as mine, and that he hadn't wanted to wait for mine, and that he'd had it for a few months, played a bunch of shows with it, and liked it but didn't love it. Then, apparently the night before he called me, his band was on a bill with another band they'd never played with, and the guitar player in that band had a Centaur, and in hearing that guy's sound he concluded that they weren't at all the same. He ordered a unit, and while we were talking he said that until he received it he was going to park the Maxon and go back to something else he had (can't remember what), so I told him that, for obvious reasons, I was interested in hearing what it sounded like and asked him if he'd be willing to send it to me to check out for a few days. He said sure, and that's how I got to put the OD-820 through its paces. 7. The Centaur's circuit, as has been noted online by several people who have reverse-engineered it, has absolutely nothing in common with that of any Tube Screamer. I'm on record, and have been since way before the Centaur came out, as not being a fan of Tube Screamers or, subsequently, those of the many Tube Screamer-derived pedals I've had occasion to hear; I think they all have a number of specific shortcomings sonically that pertain mostly to the basic topology of the circuit. In a very real sense, in setting out to design what eventually became the Centaur, I was trying to design the UN-Tube Screamer, a pedal the circuit of which addressed and corrected every sonic problem I felt was present in them. As time went on during the design process other goals and criteria evolved, but "UN-Tube Screamer" was my original overarching objective with regard to the circuit. Let me emphasize that I'm fine with anyone liking the Tube Screamer or any other pedal better than the Centaur; it's difficult for me, however, after four-and-a-half years of really grueling circuit design to come up with something completely original, to be fine with someone just casually assuming that I and my design partners copied any part of the Tube Screamer's circuit, or any part of any other circuit, for that matter. 8. To those of you who have posted on this thread expressing an interest in reverse-engineering the Centaur's circuit, and for those who in your posts have basically challenged someone else to do it, I have several things I would like to remind you of: I have fifteen years of my life in this, including almost five during which I not only didn't make a penny at it but whittled my life savings down to nothing at the very end in a do-or-die effort to get the thing out before I went broke. This is how I make my living, and I have no other way at present of making a living. From the beginning, I've tried to design and build something really special, and I work very, very hard in trying to make every unit as good as I can make it. I have never gotten rich off of the Centaur, nor will I, no matter how hard I work. I'm not going to plead with you to refrain from destroying my livelihood, but I am going to appeal to whatever sense of decency you may have. I appreciate the time taken by anyone and everyone who reads this long post, and I hope that some of you will bookmark or save it so that you can paste any part of it you feel to be relevant in another thread. I will try to look at this thread sometime in the next couple of days if I can to see what people's reactions are to what I've written. Thanks, Bill Finnegan Klon __________
11-20-2007 09:01 AM
11-20-2007 09:04 AM
11-20-2007 09:22 AM
Does Vex actually make them himself? I thought he didn't - I don't see how he could, he's got a lot of products.
11-20-2007 09:47 AM
11-20-2007 09:47 AM
11-20-2007 10:06 AM
11-20-2007 10:06 AM
i look at stealing designs as something that is equal across the boards. Ibanez, Boss, ect. never protected their designs, so their designs are openly cloned. Gibson and Fender didn't protect their flagship models and now clones there are abound. Rickenbacker though has always protected its deigns, that doesn't mean people haven't stolen their designs, but whenever it is public they try and put a stop to it. if a company or individual maker puts the effort into protecting their work then i respect that and would think others would too, but if they just let it slide and don't do anything then they have no room to complain when cloners profit off of their work.
11-20-2007 10:21 AM
11-20-2007 10:40 AM
To the guy that posted all the rantings of the Klon guy; $329 is too expensive for how the Klon sounds, $279 is too expensive for how the Klon sounds. If that guy wanted to sell them in hammond boxes, he could sell them for $120 and make plenty of profit. You are paying for a fancy box.
Also, what is the point of that guy saying that all the supposed Klon clones sound like crap? Of course he is going to say that. I could take the guts out of a real Klon, put it in a hammond box, and put extra goop on the PCB and the guy would say that sounds like crap too.
11-20-2007 10:43 AM
isnt the wooly mammoth a clone of some other pedal?
11-20-2007 10:49 AM
11-20-2007 11:05 AM
+1. The stompbox industry is really incestuous. Some major manufacturer products are VERY simple tweaks of a competitors product and some are so close that they can be considered equivalent/clones. A basic clipping overdrive for example is a fairly generic thing, so really competitors are going to vary (and hence distinguish themselves) by part selection, quality of components, optional features, and component values that affect sound (like filters, etc) rather than via revolutionary ckt topology innovations. There's also of course the ever present brand mystique and legend when it come to music gear, too. This is all Okay, IMHO, and the market will determine how many of these things can viably be offered and just how much value some of these factors contribute (and hence how much they're willing to pay ). FWIW, lots of industries work this way and to some degree the copying fuels innovation, IMHO.
I thought clones were ok with us? how many times have we heard 'rat' clones recomended on here? or is it ok, to rip off proco, but not Zvex? double standards anyone?
11-20-2007 11:35 AM
This is the thing. How do you objectively measure that? You certainly do have to include that in the price - but isn't it a little big headed to presume that people are "true visionaries" and others that sell their pedals for cheaper aren't? I'd rather just pay for 1) What goes into it, 2) What it does than any of this "Arteest" pricing. I don't feel most amps are justified in their pricing, either. They're rip offs, or at the very least don't offer enough in the way of lower wattage equivalents, but if you want that Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier tone you HAVE to get a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, pretty much.
YOU ARE NOT SIMPLY BUYING THE COMPONENTS THAT WENT INTO IT. You are buying, essentially, the result of someone's vision, expertise, and hard work in putting those components together in a particular way to achieve particular objectives.
I'm really starting to agree with this now. Especially since he banned me from his forums even though I've been nothing but helpful there. And I just can't justify $330 for a one trick pony pedal like an Ooh-Wah. I'd rather get the filter modeler. I'm really stuck, though. If I don't like Zvex, what do I do with my Fuzz Factory? I built a lot of cool sounds around it, and now I don't feel like using it. How do I disassociate the pedal from the manufacturer?
I, personally, am one of those few people who think that ZVex is a pretentious ass. I've seen the schems and cloned fuzz factories/wolly mammoths (for personal use, and to give to friends in my band) and I can say honestly that zvex's prices are more a result of the cult of personality around the man and his pedals than from any real quality. Sure, they've got clever circuit boards, but they 100% ARE NOT WORTH 300$ a pop! The thing I think is really sad is that the man himself is so anti anybody posting schems, building clones, etc... It's kind of like Alembic basses, the name trancends the product. __________________
11-20-2007 11:39 AM
I'm really stuck, though. If I don't like Zvex, what do I do with my Fuzz Factory? I built a lot of cool sounds around it, and now I don't feel like using it. How do I disassociate the pedal from the manufacturer?
11-20-2007 12:42 PM
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