I’d been playing guitar for a long time when I got my first tube amp in 2008 – a 1977 Fender Champ. It sounded killer and I wanted to experience some of the other legendary vintage amps circuits as well. However, I quickly found out most of those vintage amps were outside by price range as they cost several thousand dollars. I did some homework and thought I could put one together myself so I built a 5E3 Deluxe. As soon as the solder was cooled off on that first build I was hooked.
Of course one thing leads to another and soon I ended up with a full tech workbench trying to figure out what makes all this stuff tick. I also really wanted to do all my own cabinets so I setup a small wood shop where I build the cabinets and apply tolex.
Once the first cabinet was built, things started to snowball. “Hey, you built that one amp, can you look at my amp that isn’t working right?” “Oh, I heard you fixed that one amp, can you check mine out?” After a few years of that once the word has spread you end up with your garage as a storefront and steady stream of customers.
I also love how amplifiers are a great way to use a wide range of skills that all lead up to one finished product. It combines wood working, electronics, metal fabrication, template design, graphics – the list goes on. There’s also more obscure things you learn on the way like upholstery, becoming friends with the guy at your local nuts-and-bolts store, measuring router bits, and making jigs – things you wouldn’t necessarily dream of when you first plug in an electric guitar, but things you learn to love along the way. The best part is that when you’re done and you flip the switch you’ve created something that’s alive and makes music.
I live and work in the Lansing, Michigan area with my wife and family, and perform repairs for Elderly Instruments.