Except for my 6th-12th grade years, I’ve live in Austin my whole life. In the real world I’m a computer systems engineer, part of a team that keeps things running for hundreds of thousands of end users. I learned to play guitar in 1971 when I was in high school, and my younger brother learned to play bass at about the same time. We played through a 50W Bogen tube PA amp, and a stereo High-Fidelity open-backed speaker cabinet with a single 12″ speaker. My first real amp was a Peavy Musician head, and my brother and I built a couple of single 12″ closed-back speaker cabinets, into which I put EV speakers.
I’ve used a number of amps over the years – Peavy Musician and Bandit 65, a 1958 tweed Fender Champ, silver-faced Fender Pro Reverb and Princeton amps, Music Man 210-65, 1981 Fender Deluxe Reverb Amp, and a Crate Palomino V16, my current amp. The Champ got a simply wonderful sound when coupled with a Strat; I loved that tone!
Being somewhat of a handyman, fix-it guy, and tinkerer, changing pickups in my guitars was a natural thing. I went through a number of electric guitars before settling on a Fender Telecaster. The only original parts on my 1998 Tele are the body and neck. Everything else has been changed.
The Palomino lacked Tremolo, so I built a tremolo pedal. I wanted a little boost when finger-picking over a full band, so I built a clean boost pedal. I wanted a compressor to help calm things down so I built one of those, too. Then, when I needed a pedal board, I built one.
The Crate Palomino has been customized, rather than modded. I changed out the short stock reverb tank for a long spring tank in a bag. I added a cooling fan, cooling fins on the EL84s, an Eminence Texas Heat, and cream-colored chicken head knobs. Coupled with my Tele, the guys I played with like my sound, and I got numerous complements on my tone.
Rather than mod my USA-made Palomino, I started looking for another one to mod. I ended up getting a cabinet and speaker without the amp. Having trouble finding an amp to mod at the cheap price I was willing to pay, I ended up building an amp. Not only did it work, it works well and sounds good.
This is pretty much how I got to where I am. I research and study amp circuits, come up with what I think is a good one, and build it. Not working from a kit, I draw my own schematics and layouts.
Next in line are three new pedal boards, a clean boost pedal, a couple of mini-amps, and a new tube guitar amp. Stay tuned.