someone who can play guitar to do your
demos.” People ask me, “What is the most
important thing in an amp?” Actually, tone
is more of a recipe—a combination of the
player, pickups, guitar, amp, and effects, and
how they all interact.
How did you make the transition from
repair to manufacturing?
Back around 2005, I was prototyping the
original idea using some transformers and
an old dual-EL84 Sano amp I gutted for the
chassis. As I kept tweaking my design, it
sounded better and better. I got some great
feedback from players who tried the amp. I
loved the way it responded. I had been gigging through a bunch of other amps and
suddenly I had one that felt different than
anything I’d used before. That became the
Roaring 20—my first production amp. Then I
got hooked up with my first artist endorser,
Earl Slick [David Bowie, John Lennon].
How did that happen?
Our first dealer was Black Creek Guitars in
New Paltz, New York, which is Earl Slick’s
backyard. At the store, they told him, “You
have to check out this new amp, we know
you’ll love it.” He played through it and
bought it on the spot. The owner called me
up and said, “Earl Slick just left with your
amp. I think you should talk to him.” Slick told
me he loved it, but he might need a higher-output version for some gigs. That’s why we
decided to build the 40-watt Roaring 40.
Does it have EL34 power tubes?
No, both models have EL84s. The Roaring
40 has four EL84s with a half-power switch,
so you can run it at 20 watts. After design-
ing the Roaring 40, I approached Slick about
doing a signature model. That’s when I came
up with the Slick 18. He wanted a small, low-
wattage amp he could really crank up in his
home studio without annoying the neighbors.
A week after I brought it to him, I called and
asked, “What do you think? Are there any
changes you’d like?” He said, “Nothing. I
think you are in my head.”
What other models do you make?
We have the Outlaw, our high-gain amp for
hard rock and metal. It uses a pair of 6550s
and pumps out about 70 watts. The Outlaw
has lots of gain, but with the clarity I always
felt was missing in high-gain amps. They
sound mushy and overly compressed to me.
We avoid that by having a type of high gain
where you can hit a chord and all the notes