At Blumentritt Amplification, based in Austin, Texas, we build by hand fine tube amps for the guitarists who care about tone. Our amps are designed to be Distinctly Different, with a low noise floor, great sound, reliability, and good looks on stage.
Texas Tone™ Amps are new, original designs, inspired by great iconic amps of the past. That these amplifiers are unique, and not just another guitar amp, is reflected in Guitar Radio Show host Mark Daven's comments that "Many times I'll play amps and you can't tell one from the other. These are very distinctly different sounding amps. They made me play differently. I started approaching the instrument in a different way as I played each one.” You will, too!
Why old-school tube amps? When it comes to overdrive in a guitar tube amplifier circuit - how clipping and symmetry change in response to changing input levels is what guitarists call touch sensitivity - and what separates tube amps from solid-state or even digital guitar amplifiers. Experience for yourself, and you'll say, as did one happy owner, "...dude, THE BEST amp choice I ever made!"
Anyone who would ask why we have invested so much in mid-20th century technology has never played one of our guitar amplifiers!
I build tube amps because I enjoy building them and for the Glory of God - to
praise Him with strings. I spent years playing in a variety of bands, and always on a quest for great tone. I once told a band-mate that if you have the right tone, you can play anything. I recorded with one of the early Music Man 210-65 amps, a mid-'70s Fender Princeton, and a Crate Palomino V16. I played live gigs with all three of those, plus a mid-'70s Fender Pro Reverb, and two Peavey Bandit 112s in stereo. Always, however, I found something lacking.
The last in the line was the V16. By that time, I was ready to try my hand at building my own amp, as I'm a hardware guy from way back. Before I could drive, I modified HO scale slot cars. I spent 7 years as an auto mechanic. In my 30s I sold maintenance hardware, including to numerous central Texas music store amp repair shops and guitar techs, and before that I worked for an electronices distributor, selling Malloy capacitors, RCA tubes, and TRW carbon composition resistors. I had once done a field repair on my Music Man amp when the On/Off switch broke right before a gig. I opened up my RCA tool caddy, grabbed a screwdriver, diaganol pliers, and a soldering iron, and fixed it in time for the gig. I'm a hardware guy.
After much reading about tube amps and corresponding with other amp repairmen, I had a schematic based on a modified Gibson GA-16T amp that became the basis of the original Texas Tone 12. I asked a working guitarist to test it out, and he gave me great input, complemented me on the great tone - especially the pulsating, cascading tremolo. I still gig with that amp.
I value the input of working guitarists, and my designs reflect this. After all, Your Tone Matters.
As a seeker of great tone, I like to eliminate unwanted noise from the amps. Noise such as hum and buzz doesn't need to be there. Many old amp designs are noisy for a variety of reasons, the two most common being lead dress and poor grounding. Texas Tone™ amps use proven electrical engineering grounding principles. Power ground is separated from circuit ground. Circuit ground is at or near the guitar input and each circuit grounds to its supply capacitor. On higher gain amps, noisy power section grounds are separate from preamp grounds. This eliminates much of the unwanted noise.
Another common source of noise is poor lead dress. CBS had to change the circuit designs of Fender amps because they changed the employee incentives away from quality and towards speedy assembly. Proper wire routing went out the window, and extra capacitors and resistors had to be added to those famous blackface circuits to compensate for the oscillations, hum, and buzz. This is one of the resaons those black-faced amps are so revered.
In a Texas Tone™ amp, all wires are carefully routed to avoid spurious noise pickup. All AC wires are tightly twisted pairs. I don't build my amps to look beautiful inside - some builder use parallel wires, bound together with cable ties, and run tight right angle bends. It looks beautiful, but it's not the best way to eliminate noise. I also make extensive use of shielded signal cables. The saying is that I use pilot lights on my amps so that you'll know it's on when you're not actually playing!
Due to my own prejudices, I like to use high quality components, not the cheapest items. You'll find Sozo, Mallory, Sprague, F&T, Xicon,and JJ capacitors. Resitors are chosen for low noise and stability, not because
it's what Leo used. Wire is MIL-Spec high temperature/high voltage wire. Transformers are USA made by Magnetic Components, Classic Tone, and Heyboer. What's the point of a hand-built amp with cheap components that may drift or not hold up to high temperatures and/or high voltages?
Likewise, I don't use Fender-style eyelet boards. Almost all Texas Tone™ amps use turret boards, wired and soldered to NASA standards, because tube amps are subject to temperature and vibration extremes. Some Texas Tone™ 12 amps utilize tag boards. Wires are mechanically connected before soldering to ensure a long-lasting connection. When you pay for a hand-built tube amplifier, you shouldn't have to worry about reliabiltiy.
For more information, or to place an order, send me an inquiry