Amps

Matchless Amplifiers: Boutique for life

Matchless Amplifiers: Boutique for life

IT WAS MILESTONE DAY the day we rolled up to Matchless Amplifiers’ headquarters in Los Angeles, but you wouldn’t have known it just by idly stopping by. The shop was quiet, but busy as most of the craftsmen and women that work to make the established builder’s line of boutique amps moved between their stations and lunch.  more...
John Thompson is one Bad Cat

John Thompson is one Bad Cat

IT’S BEEN A long, strange trip for Bad Cat Amplification. The only part of the story that is truly clear is that there are a fair number of twists and turns in the tale. Each of the involved parties has told different histories of the boutique brand since hitting the scene around the turn of the millennia. The story can be traced back to boutique forefather Matchless Amplification and its 1999 bankruptcy.  more...
Hello Portland! A tour of gear shops in the Rose City

Hello Portland! A tour of gear shops in the Rose City

DREAMS OF THE west coast usually center on the warm and more glamorous climbs of southern California, with its miles of scenic beaches dotted with quaint, comfortable coastal burgs offering equal amounts of sunshine and serenity. Let’s face it, as you move north along the Pacific Coast Highway things start to get dicey. The sun fades in a cloak of persistent gray and a general gloom becomes the harbinger of the days ahead. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest!  more...
M.I. knows MI

M.I. knows MI

YOU MAY know Sydney-based MI Audio for their popular and ever-expanding range of effects pedals, but Aussies have long known that they also make exceptional amplifiers too... and thanks to a trip to Winter NAMM this year, many more have been made aware of their high gain heads and classic combos. The MI in MI Audio stands for Michael Ibrahim, founder and electronics genius behind the brand who, from a very young age, was exposed to electronics as both of his parents were electrical engineers.  more...
The Summer of 65

The Summer of 65

DAN BOUL got his first tube amp in 1978. It was a ‘71 Marshall 2x12 combo. He immediately took it apart in an attempt to decipher what made it tick. He met guitarist and long-time friend Peter Stroud in Atlanta in 1987. Both worked at music store there and would buy amps that came in on trade. It was this process that allowed the pair to cut their teeth on amp design. Later, when Stroud needed an amp to take on the road with Sheryl Crow, the duo sat down and designed the ‘London’, an amp based on a pair of favored low-watt combos from the past.  more...
The NAMM Notebook: 2013 edition

The NAMM Notebook: 2013 edition

WELCOME TO sunny southern California! Er, well... not exactly. NAMM show week in Anaheim was a chilly, wet affair effectively putting the damper on the show’s big plans for its new outdoor promenade leading to the main entrance. The stage was set the morning of Day 1, but stood empty. The weather would eventually break and allow a scheduled run of concerts, including the first evening’s headliner Tower of Power. But what happens outside plays second fiddle to the happenings indoors.  more...
Morgan is batting 1.000

Morgan is batting 1.000

WHAT STARTS out a hobby... soon becomes a business. This evolution happens a lot with the entrepreneurial-minded craftsman, and is a very common tale in the boutique musical instrument business. Now, taking the giant leap from the guest room to the board room rarely happens, but graduating from the garage to the office park is a much more traditional progression... and that’s where California-based amp builder Joe Morgan finds himself today.  more...