Before we get to what led you to your
remarkable commitment to authentic
vintage tone, which guitarists inspired
you as a player?
Some of my favorite guitarists are Jimi
Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen,
Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, and Neil Young,
although the list could go on and on.
Yes and no. Each one of those artists has a tone
that represents them, and some have many
different tones. Jimi Hendrix’s tone was always
evolving. Eddie Van Halen was a big influence
on me, but I was more a fan of what he had to
say on the guitar—his voice. Thinking about
some of his great tones came later.
shop Peavey Wolfgang. Both were purchased as gifts for me from my mother
during my senior year in high school.
This setup made it effortless to play in
the style of Van Halen, Vai, and Satriani.
To this day, I favor it for certain tones.
Did those players also shape your concept
of tone and what you’re trying to achieve
sonically with your period-correct replicas?
What was your first tube amp?
The first real tube amp I had was a Marshall
JCM2000 TSL602 2x12 combo, and my
first quality electric guitar was a custom
The TSL602 and TSL601 1x12 are
nice amps, but they don’t seem to get
that much love from gearheads. Did
you mod yours at all?
No, I like it the way it is. People get
caught up in modifying things. I modified my Tube Screamer every possible way
you can, but for my personal taste, I like
it stock—the way it was originally made.
I actually almost got rid of my
TSL602 at one point. I traded it in at
Guitar Center in Philadelphia but after
a couple of weeks I thought to myself,
“Man, I think I want that back.” I went
back and went through all these different
TSL602s, but none of them sounded like
the one I had. I did end up getting my
original back, though—I had it sourced
back through Guitar Center. That amp
has sentimental value, too.
What are your benchmarks for good tone?
The recent JTM45/100-inspired amp I
created from scratch gives me the tone
of Jimi Hendrix’s first album, Are You
Experienced? I think the tweaked setups
of Hendrix’s wah pedals on his recordings are benchmarks. I also like Neil
Young’s Rust Never Sleeps concert. His
Fender Tweed Deluxe has a varied distortion character, and then there’s that
Firebird pickup in his Les Paul.
What prompted you to start making
your own amps, pedals, and guitars?
I was unhappy with the sound from my
equipment compared to the music I was
listening to. I began to tear apart and
modify numerous Fuzz Faces, guitars, and
amps. Through countless years of research
and studying old tube electronics college
textbooks, I gained knowledge. I knew
if I wanted the sound to be right, I had
to build it myself—and I did it without
a computer or the internet. I used the
classic tones of studio and live recordings
by Hendrix, Cream, and others as benchmarks. It was done through trial and
error, just using my ears—just playing the
guitar and comparing it to classic tones.