First thing today, I was going back looking for something I thought I had posted and was having trouble finding it. Mostly because of the titles I give these posts. In a past life, I had a blog where the titles were all just random and didn't really have to do with what I was talking about. That kind of carried over to this one. Starting with this post, the title will have something to do with what I'm writing. Now more to what I wanted to discuss today.
I've had a bit of a moral dilemma lately. I may've talked about this before, and really think that I probably did. But I couldn't find it easily when I looked a few minutes ago. That dilemma revolves around klones and clones and straight up copies.
In the past, I have obviously not had a problem buying klones and clones of different things. Specifically pedals. After all, I've talked about the how some of the various klones have compared to my Klon and how various clones have compared to my Tube Screamers. And, for ease of talking, for the rest of this here, I'm just calling them all clones.
Each of the clones that I've bought in the past, have skirted calling themselves that in some creative way, but they made no bones about what they were. Some of them might add something to the original and some were pretty much the same, but almost all of them would say "based on a mythical beast of a pedal" or "based on a screaming overdriven amp" or something like that. But their enclosures were always different. They might be primarily green if it was a TS-type, but they had different names, and, looking at it across the room, there was no question that it was not the original pedal upon which it was based.
Enter this company whose pedals I've bought a couple of times lately. The first pedal I bought the first of this year. I bought it specifically because I was perusing Amazon looking at pedals, and I saw what I thought was a pedal I had been trolling for an incredible price. Granted, for the price, I knew it was a copy because of the price, but that price. Then I realized that the name on it was different. Everything else about the pedal was the same as the original, including the font on the name. It was one of those instances where you could set it across the room next to the original, and you probably wouldn't be able to tell which was which.
In curiosity, I looked up the company's website, and it was even worse. I downloaded the instructions, and they were an exact copy of the original pedal's instructions. On the website itself, it even said that it was an exact copy of the pedal it was copying. For the price (about 20% what the original pedal was selling for), I bought one. I was really curious how they were getting away with such a blatant copy of the pedal. And I, honestly, expected for them to get shut down pretty quickly because it was so close.
I got the pedal, and it sounds really good. As I told a buddy, it may not actually sound as good as the original, but, even if it's close, I totally get why the original pedal costs $350. As penance, I haven't bought one of the originals yet, but it's on my Reverb watch list, and as soon as I see one used for $250 or less, I'm going to buy it. That's what I would've done anyways if I hadn't bought the copy.
Fast forward to a month ago. I was on their site again just looking. I saw a pedal that I had never seen before, and actually thought it was an original pedal. Granted, it's an overdrive with two sides, and neither side was an original, but they were both clones of already well-cloned pedals. So I figured they just had done the usual copy thing and then stuck the two pedals together, but as a pair, I had never seen the pedals together. Then I saw in the description that they had made a twist to one side that sounded really cool. So I bought one.
I should've known better. It came in, and I took a look at the instructions to see the if it mentioned the best way to get the twist to work. As I read through them, I got the distinct feeling that, like the other, they had copied them from somewhere else. So I started googling, and, within a few minutes, I found that the pedal that I had thought was an original was another $350 pedal that they were selling for 20% of that. Not only that, but looking at the original pedal, once again, it looked identical to the original, but they didn't even change the name this time.
And that is where my dilemma started. In the past, I've always said that everybody copies everybody else in the pedal industry, but that's ok so long as they're being honest about it and the copy isn't trying to pass itself off as the original. This new pedal company has crossed that line. And that's not really my dilemma.
Now I'm torn on the clones I've always bought. Where does that copying line start and where does it stop? Why do I think it's ok to buy an East River Drive from EHX but not one of these copies from the company that I will not name here today. Is it because I already have a couple of different Tube Screamers? Would it still be ok to get that EHX pedal if I didn't have the TS pedals already? Is it because the EHX pedal has, seemingly, the same circuit but it's in a different box? How is that really different than if they used the same circuit but in a green box that looked like the original? A copy is a copy is a copy, right? Or is it?
I'm asking myself these questions now because there's one other pedal that I saw on that website. It's actually another dual pedal that I've bought from a couple of companies lately. Two overdrives of different flavors put together in a way that folks like. But, like that second pedal, with an added twist that the others I've recently picked up don't have. So I googled the pedal, and, sure enough, it's supposedly an exact copy of another $350 pedal (I'm noticing a trend here). The only difference is that it has this company's logo in the place of the original company's. Once again, they didn't even change the name.
I might get it to try it. I might not. I don't know. I'm still torn somewhere between, yes, it's a copied circuit that I have half a dozen versions of in there and they're copying it so closely that it seems they're trying to fool folks into thinking it's the original. But then, for 20% the price of the original, everyone seeing it has to know that it's not the real thing, right? Also, it's being manufactured in that country that copies everything, and customs isn't stopping them when they come over here. And they're coming over in large enough quantity that there's at least one store I know of that stocks them and sells them.
So what do y'all think? How much of a copy is too much of a copy?
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.