They’re absolutely all-tube. Some other
makers use diode-clipping distortion in
their amps, but I find that all-tube distortion
has a more organic feel, with greater harmonic content.
What components go into a Splawn amp?
Splawn amps are available in
a variety of racing-themed coverings, as
shown by this black-and-white-striped Quick Rod.
out and then bring in their own gear for
me to mod.
When and why did you go from modding
amps to building them?
What sort of mods did you provide?
My most common mod involved completely
rewiring the preamp to an all-tube, four-gain
stage, which made for lots of headroom,
rich harmonics, and sustain. Some customers
also wanted things like a half-power switch,
an effects loop, and a footswitchable solo
boost—mods that would make their amps a
bit more versatile.
In the early 2000s, Marshall had a pretty
substantial price increase, and that turned
some customers off. So, I started sourcing
out parts and building my own amps from
scratch. The first amps with my name on
them came out in 2004.
When I first started modding amps, I went
through a lot of different brands of capacitors and resistors to find the components
that sounded best to my ear. I don’t want
to give away our brands, but I use the same
parts in my own amps. We’ve stuck with all
the same components since we started to
try to keep the amps as consistent as possible. We don’t cut any corners. It doesn’t
matter if they go up in price, we just have
to keep using what we know to be the best
parts we can get our hands on, since they
contribute so much to the sound. I also use
Heyboer transformers. They’re the secret
weapon—most of my tone comes from
those transformers, and they’re also a great
company to do business with.
www.premierguitar.comThis 4x12 cab is loaded with 12" custom Eminence Small Block speakers, which are based on the Celestion Heritage Greenback. Splawn also uses custom-made Eminence Big Block speakers based on the Celestion Heritage G12H30.
How’d you get your name out there in the
A couple of customers put audio clips of
my modded amps on internet forums, and
that’s when I started getting calls from
people all over wanting to send me their
amps for updating. Some players wanted
to get the sound of one of my modded
amps, but didn’t have any equipment to
send me, so I started to buy used amps
on eBay to modify and resell. But after
awhile I ran into a problem where I could
no longer find amps at the right price
to justify modding them, so I ended up
getting hooked up as a Marshall dealer.
Since I got the amps at cost, I’d take
a couple of different brand-new models—the 1959SLP and JCM800 reissues—
modify them, and sell them for the same
price that other dealers sold standard