Low-watt combos continue to be the name of Swart’s game
INSPIRATION CAN come at you from all different angles. For Wilmington, North Carolina’ Michael Swart, chief gear guru at Swart Amps, it can come from something he found in the street, at a thrift shop or in the destruction left by a hurricane. After a storm hit the coastal area a few years back, a storage building next to his house was destroyed. Swart took that adversity and parlayed it into a new-build, two-level shop — the first floor houses his amp/pedal workstations along with a stray scooter or two and a vintage VW bug from collecting days past. The second floor is a testing lounge complete with comfy couches and a tiki bar.
The shop area looks like many garage-converted spaces we’ve seen in the past. There is a STR Tremolo chassis on the workbench for a series of modifications. Next to it is the shop guitar — a 1994 Ibanez Talman TV-750. The space is decorated with bits of eclecticism all around — stickers, old stereos, gig flyers, even the original white board from mid-90s listing orders in from the brands first dealer, Fat Sound Music.
“I put stuff up in the shop just randomly that kind of inspires me,” explains Swart. “I won’t be thinking about it at the time, then I’ll be sitting in my chair and look around, and be like ‘Ah!’. I know it looks like a bunch of junk, but it has its purpose.”