Hand Wired Amps
When at guitar & amp shows, I often get asked if my amps are like a particular major brand or model, or if I have something similar. I appreciate what they want – a familiar amp, but built by hand and not mass-produced with low-cost components and/or labor in a foreign land. They want a hand made, hand wired guitar amplifier that will provide great tone as well as durability. I get it.
I could do that, pretty easily. Buy an amp kit at wholesale, assembly it, and then sell it for a mark-up to cover my labor and build costs and allow a profit to keep my business going. I choose not to do that; there are plenty of places where you can buy a “boutique” clone… if a clone can be “boutique”. That’s not me. I suppose it could be, but I’m already busy building my own amps.
That being said, I have models that are ‘similar to’ or better yet ‘inspired by’ those old favorites. Here’s how.
My signature amp, the Texas Tone 12, was inspired by a rebuild of an old Gibson amp from the mid 1950s. I made numerous changes and improvements, enough so that it’s not the same amp, or even a clone. I changed the gain structure, the phase splitter, the tone stack, the power tube bias, and the tremolo circuit to a pulsating tremolo that’s been dubbed the Hypnotic Slam Effect.
Another popular model is the 5881 powered Texas Tone Ranger. This amp was inspired by an old Marshall EL84 18 Watt amp, but actually shares very little with that amp other that general layout of the controls and block diagram. The list of changes and revisions is too long to list here, but suffice it to say that it’s an all-new design, loved for its versatility to play loud or quite, clean or dirty, or many variations.
The well-received Texas Tone 30 was broadly based on (“inspired by” I like to say) the tweed Bassman/JTM45 design. I re-voiced: the Bright channel to a Lead channel; the phase splitter; the Presence control; power supply filtering; and changed the output transformer and lowered the noise floor. It’s not the same amp as its inspirees.
Next, I mention the Studio Series – the Reverb 1×12 and the JRS 2×10. These use a totally unique circuit that takes the general block diagram of the tweed Bassman and creates a amplifier that’s clean until driven, takes pedals well, has near-zero ciruit noise (hence the “Studio” designation), and has a natural compression when pushed, can be played wide-open, and isn’t too loud for the studio or small venues. They can do jazz, county, rock or blues as is, or any style with your choice of pedals.
My latest is a small, lightweight amplifier based on the Ranger. Small enough to carry “one load” to gigs, loud and versatile enough to play those gigs. It takes pedals well, yet can stand on its own without them.
I build amps that are inspired by great amps of the past, to inspire guitarists of today and of the foreseeable future.