The journey begins. Actually it started almost 10 years ago. I was at an open jam in Chaska MN and the house guitarist, Jeff Johnson, had an Epiphone Jr. Running through a single 1 x 12 cab and he was getting some great tones. I sat in and jumped on his modified single ended amp, now running an EL34, along with home brew Clon clone and was immediately hooked. It sounded fantastic! I thought to myself that given my Electronics background, I certainly could do something like this myself. I quickly downloaded a “How to modify Epi Jr.” tutorial and I was off to the races. I started with small tweaks and component upgrades and by Epi head #4, I was basically gutting them and completely rebuilding them. I had not yet developed a build style though. I really wouldn’t want you to see the inside of those amps but they did sound good. There was even one where I hacksawed the board in half and just used the power supply half of the board.
Next, I started to build amps for myself from the ground up. They were a little cleaner on the inside but still quite kludgy. However, during this time, I really started to focus on component choices and I found that some just sounded better to me than others. I did a lot of experimenting to get a handle on what I like to think of as “sonic prescriptions”, which have helped me move towards the sounds I wanted to hear for my own playing experiences.
Occasionally, I would find a vintage hand-wired beauty or modern boutique amplifier and buy it – if I thought the sounds were superior and if I thought I could learn something from the Masters. I’ve owned or still own numerous Carr, Dr. Z, Fender, Marshall, Savage and Louis Electric amps to name a few. Each has their own sound and build style. These all offered a learning opportunity but none were as informative as Merlin Blencowe’s site and books, The Valve Wizard. This is must reading for any hobbyist and up and comer – truly. Hats off to you sir!
Over the past several years, I have really honed in to my own unique build style/sounds and feel I’ve progressed to the point where I am now comfortable throwing my hat in the ring. So here I am. Let the journey begin!