Zakk Wylde used the GP-1000 on both the
No Rest for the Wicked CD and the tour.
George Lynch, Paul Gilbert and Loudness used
my modified Marshalls and my Metaltronix
M-1000 amps. And yes, both Allan Holdsworth
and Scott Henderson use GP-1000’s. First
Allan got one, then Scott contacted me to
get one like Allan’s. King Diamond’s Pete
Blakk and Andy LaRocque also used GP-1000s
throughout their major CDs and tours.
The author’s collection of GP-1000s includes two very early ‘ 87 models, a “transition” model from late ’ 87, and an ’ 88 model.
Photo by Jessica Green.
alongside the mountain of rackmount processing gear: delays, harmonizers, reverbs, etc.
The GP-1000’s original circuit seems to
have a Fender inspiration.
a tube rack preamp in the late 1970s.
Perhaps it would it be more precise to
say that the GP-1000 was the first mass-produced rack preamp?
It’s my understanding that you had recommended the use of an Aphex Aural Exciter
in conjunction with the GP-1000. Can you
elaborate on this?
At the time of the GP-1000’s conception, I
was custom-building Fender Deluxes and
Twins for a lot of the L.A. studio television
crowd—like Buzzy Feiten, John Goux, Steve
Lukather. And when I was asked to build the
GP-1000, It was natural to follow the design
of what the rack players wanted at that time.
It definitely was the first mass-produced guitar preamp. The attitude of the time was that
you could not put 12AX7s on their side, that
something horrible would happen. I thought
that was just rubbish, plus size was a real factor and nobody at the time wanted a preamp
that took up two rack spaces.
Was there a particular Fender amp that
served as the inspiration?
I own a Lee Jackson GP-1000 with no
channel-switching jack and no relay on the
circuit card. Do you recall making some like
these? What was the intention?
Boy, you have been doing some digging
haven’t you? We only suggested that and
used them for one artist: Zakk Wylde. In both
his studio and live rigs, we used the Aphex
units between the preamps and the power
amps. He didn’t want anyone to know, so
we blacked out the fronts of the Aphex units
in his rigs so you couldn’t see them in his
racks. The Aphexes added this huge bottom
end that you can hear on No Rest for the
Wicked... sorry, Zakk!
One of my most popular amps at the time was
a completely rebuilt hot-rodded Fender Deluxe
Reverb. Just about every studio player had me
make one for them, even a young Steve Vai
had me make him one while he was working
on Flexible, So I would say the first GP-1000
was a direct family member of the Deluxe.
Did any particular players serve as an inspiration for tone of the GP-1000?
Man, you got a really early one. That would
have been within the first one hundred made. I
was moving as fast as I could with the market.
If Bob Bradshaw needed a feature, or Andy
Brauer needed something tweaked on it,
because both of them where making custom
studio and touring rigs for players, I would
make the change on the next production run.
My audio inspiration has always been me. I
started playing guitar when I was little and
started playing professionally at 18. I Played
all over the Hollywood Sunset scene for many
years, developing my sound. I was approached
by many players at the time, such as Randy
Rhoads, Warren Di Martini, George Lynch, who
wanted to know what I was using and how they
could get the sound I was getting. It wasn’t till
I was tired of eating ketchup sandwiches that I
decided to start building custom gear for them,
which was the start of Metatronix.
You have claimed that the GP-1000 was
the first rack preamp. Is this correct?
Roger Mayer displayed a tube rack pre-
amp in the pages of Guitar World in 1985,
and I believe that Alembic may have had
One of the defining characteristics of the
GP-1000 is its very effective six-way Mid-
Shift rotary switch. How did you come up
with it? Paul Rivera did something similar
to modified amps in the early ‘80s. Did he
get that from you?
Actually, I got that from him. I worked
with Paul Rivera for several years, building
custom amps and pedalboards at Rivera
Research. I always liked the idea of the
extended mids, and it allows you to tailor
your sound to your guitar and pickups.
Besides the well-known endorsees, who
were some of the other users? Are there
any other users, like Allan Holdsworth
and Scott Henderson, that many people
Lee Jackson with Zakk Wylde’s live rig, “The Widow Maker.”
Photo courtesy of Lee Jackson.
I recall that when the GP-1000 was
released, perhaps some players didn’t
understand what to do with a dedicated
preamp. It was all still very new. There
were bewildered comments that there was
no bypass switch. Of course, it was your
intention that this be a standalone preamp
and not some glorified distortion box.
How did you deal with that?
At the time of its release, it was pretty
straightforward. You would use as many of
them as you would want channels. Remember,
this was the ‘80s and channel switching was a
new thing—not very many amps had it. Plus
the GP-1000s were used in rack systems, so it