FAQ

All the things you wanted to know...

How much will this cost me?

Custom builds vary widely, and you are always best to call us and discuss your project.  Prices can range from $700 up to $2500 and beyond.

Standard bench rate for service and modification is $70/hr.  Simple modifications and basic maintenance may only take an hour or two.  More involved restorations could take eight to ten.  Contact us, we’ll discuss your needs and give you an estimate.  If we find anything that will change that estimate we’ll let you know before we proceed.  Nothing is done without your approval.

 

What about parts?

Any parts used for restoration or repair are charged to you at retail cost, or a little better.  For most repairs and modifications, there is no charge for consumable parts.  For big builds or restorations there is a ‘shop supply’ fee which covers all consumable materials (wire, solder, hardware and fasteners etc…) used in the whole project.

 

How are your amps built?

One at a time, by hand, to order.  We drill and stake all the turret boards, assemble the chassis, stuff the boards and wire everything up, one joint at a time.  After biasing and play testing, the amp is tweaked for tone and whacked, poked and prodded with sticks to make sure everything is solid.  It’s then burned in for several hours and then checked for any bias drift one more time before shipping.

 

When can I expect my amp to arrive?

For builds this can vary, and when you place an order you will be given a precise timeline.  However in general, you can expect 4-6 weeks before your amp ships.  Delivery time after that depends on the shipping method you choose.   Allow 2 months from the time of your order to the time you fire it up for the first time.

For service, restoration and modification, generally speaking you can anticipate 2 weeks from the time we receive your amp till the time we ship it back.

Of course local pickup/delivery is also an option, and obviously shortens your wait time by a substantial amount.

 

What if something goes wrong?

Every amp we build comes with a 5-year warranty.  Repair, modification and restoration work is warranted for 1 year.  What this means is that if your amp fails inside the warranty period, for any reason that can be attributed to faulty assembly or bad component it will be repaired at our expense.  About the only thing we don’t cover is abuse or service by non-certified ferrets.  We will still repair these issues for a fee.

 

What if I’m not happy with the tone?

We don’t offer refunds as every amp is built to order.  However if you’re not getting the tone you want out of your amp, you’re not happy and that doesn’t make us happy.  We want you to be happy.   So we will offer one tone tweak free of charge (you just pay shipping costs).  Any additional tweaking will be subject to an additional fee.

 

So, you’re not into ‘esoteric’ components… What DO you use?

For most work we use Mallory 150 film capacitors, and polystyrene for small value caps.  Filter and bypass caps are either  Audio-Grade Nichicon, F&T or JJ.  We use carbon film resistors, metal film in sensitive stages and metal oxide or wirewound for power supply stages.  Transformers are generally Mercury Magnetics products unless otherwise specified.  Speakers are more or less exclusively Eminence.

For restorations we can try and source original NOS components where possible.  Otherwise reproduction caps are usually Mojotone Dijon or Vitamin T.

We use lead free tin/silver solder, proper 1/8″ G10 glass epoxy board and standard turrets, wire is usually TEFZEL tinned copper Mil-spec for anything where vintage look and feel isn’t required and waxed cloth unistrand pushback whenever it is.  All our manufacturers are RoHS compliant whenever possible (which is almost always)

Of course, in most cases, if you’re looking for something specific we can find it.  Give us a shout and discuss if this is the case.

 

Why do you use (brand)?  Aren’t (insert brand here) more (insert generic tone descriptor here)?

Simply put, in our experience the brands we have chosen represent the best tone, reliability and value for money.  In the years we’ve used them we’ve never had a single failure,  and the tone is always solid.  By contrast we’ve ordered from a very well known ’boutique reproduction’ manufacturer and had some serious QC issues on more than one occasion.  And we aren’t convinced there’s enough tone difference to justify the higher price.   Also our manufacturers are RoHs compliant.

 

Do you only use Eminence speakers?  Why not (insert popular brand)?

Eminence Guitar speakers are built like tanks, offer a wider tonal variety than any other speaker manufacturer around today, offer more innovation in design, are built entirely in North America, RoHS compliant, priced amazingly well, look awesome and—most importantly—sound awesome.

We’ll also use speakers from Weber, usually when you’re looking for accurate vintage reproductions.

 

Let talk tubes.   What do you use and/or recommend?

Without trying to open a huge can of worms regarding the benefits of current production v.s. NOS tubes We’ll simply say this:  We love NOS tubes, and on the whole there are few current production tubes that can match NOS for reliability.  That said, the TONE of current production tubes is really quite good, and in some cases every bit as good as NOS (different perhaps, but just as good).   So in short, we like them both, but are a bit pickier about current production stuff.  As you may have guessed, it still all comes down to value for money.

In our builds, we’ll usually choose from any of the current production brands depending on the tone you’re after.  TungSol, Mullard, JJ, Preferred Series, TAD, Winged C (when they can be found) will all show up in any combination that fits the bill.

All that said, we can source just about any tube current or NOS you want.  So by all means we take requests!

 

You keep mentioning this RoHS thing.   What’s the deal there?

The RoHS directive was adopted in the early 2000’s by the EU.  You can read about it in detail here, but basically it’s more or less designed to address the problem of the somewhat alarming amount of toxic or otherwise harmful substances contained within electronics.   More specifically it restricts the amount of 6 specific substances most commonly used in electronics production that are harmful to the environment (such as lead, mercury and cadmium) and the things that live in it (such as people).

 

So you’re trying to be green?

Yup.  That’s the general idea.   Manufacturing electronics, and most especially restoring and repairing vintage electronics has the potential to be very environmentally unfriendly.  Vintage tube amps contain relatively large amounts of lead (both in the solder and the components themselves), and the electrolyte in old filter caps can often contain oil with concerning levels of toxic and persistent PCBs.   By making every effort to reclaim lead solder removed from old amps, as well as properly storing and disposing of other hazardous components like old filter caps we can avoid dumping these harmful and persistent substances back into the environment.   By applying the RoHS guidelines to our new builds we can keep our products as ‘green’ as possible, and do our small part to move the market away from using less environmentally friendly products.

Another point of note, the building that our shop is located in has recently taken advantage of the Canadian Government’s ecoENERGY Retrofit program, and has increased it’s EnerGuide rating substantially.  We use CFL or LED light bulbs in all shop lighting and do our best to shuffle the bulk of our energy usage to off-peak times. (The local hydro company actually called us the ‘poster-child’ for time of use billing!)

 


Who are We?

Founded on the idea that you can have boutique tone and build quality without having to pay boutique prices.  We build, repair and restore tube guitar amps with a focus on doing excellent quality work, for fair prices.  We know that tone is all about proper design and build, not about exotic parts and fancy boxes.  It is our firm belief that whatever product or service we provide, you will always get the best tone and value your money can buy.

Our Shop Is Green

We haven’t colonized Mars just yet, so as it stands, this is the only home we have!  We do our best to minimize our footprint here on this planet.   We use lead-free solder and RoHS compliant parts in all builds and repairs.  In addition we reclaim all old lead solder and any hazardous parts (like PCB-oil containing filter caps) and ensure they are properly disposed of or recycled.