I know what you’re thinking: Oh no, another boutique gear snob. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve bought brand-name stuff in the past, and will continue buying it if I like it. However, given a choice between two similar types of gear, and similar pricing, I will invariably go with the boutique gear maker, and not because of the usual reasons such as: handmade, handwired, higher quality, etc.
The main reason is because I can have a personal relationship with the manufacturer. When I call them up, I almost invariably speak to the owner/builder of the gear I’m interested in or buying. I can hear their stories behind their gear, and most importantly, get their insights on how to apply their gear in the best way possible.
For instance, I just got off the phone with Jim Wagner of WCR Guitar Pickups, whose Godwood pickups I wrote about wanting yesterday. I have a few guitars that have ‘buckers in them, but I was actually thinking about swapping my Duncans out of Goldie once I get her. But Goldie’s ‘buckers are coil-tapped, so I was wondering if I’d be able to use the Godwoods with her. Instead of consulting with one of the online forums, I decided to give WCR a call.
Jim has a really engaging manner, and when I mentioned that I wanted the Godwood set, he actually recommended getting the “American Steel” set which includes one Crossroads pickup and a Godwood. He said it is his most popular set because it gives folks the benefit of having these two great pickups in their guitars.
That’s another thing I like about dealing directly with a manufacturer. They totally believe in what they’re doing, and stand by their work. Customer service isn’t relegated to a call center overseas. I get to deal with the maker – you can’t get better information than that!
And consider this: A lot of boutique manufacturers these days are cutting out the traditional middleman. You have no choice but to deal directly with them. But considering the personal relationships you can establish, and the much higher level of support and customer service, you’d be a fool to not seriously consider going boutique when looking for your next piece of gear!
In any case, if you’re interested in doing your latest tweak, you should consider WCR Guitar Pickups. I just can’t wait to get my set!