When and why did you go from modding
amps to building them?
In the early 2000s, Marshall had a pretty
substantial price increase, and that turned
some customers off. So, I started sourcing
out parts and building my own amps from
scratch. The first amps with my name on
them came out in 2004.
Are all your amps all-tube?
They’re absolutely all-tube. Some other
makers use diode-clipping distortion in
their amps, but I find that all-tube distortion
has a more organic feel, with greater harmonic
What components go into a Splawn amp?
When I first started modding amps, I went
through a lot of different brands of capacitors
and resistors to find the components
that sounded best to my ear. I don’t want
to give away our brands, but I use the same
parts in my own amps. We’ve stuck with all
the same components since we started to
try to keep the amps as consistent as possible.
We don’t cut any corners. It doesn’t
matter if they go up in price, we just have
to keep using what we know to be the best
parts we can get our hands on, since they
contribute so much to the sound. I also use
Heyboer transformers. They’re the secret
weapon—most of my tone comes from
those transformers, and they’re also a great
company to do business with.
Are your circuit boards point-to-point or
Our amps feature both types of circuit
board. From years of doing mods, I’ve
learned that to get the sound I want, all of
the critical gain stages have to be point-to-point. But for some of the switching circuits,
power sections, etc., we use printed
circuit boards, which don’t detract from
the tone and are a lot more durable out
there in the field. Printed circuit boards
can also save a lot of time—something
that’s crucial when your operation is as
small as mine.
Electrical tech Josh Mauldin solders a PC board.
Brian Einsiger wires a 4x12 cab after having applied the Tolex covering.
How small is your shop?
Four people, including myself—the same
crew since the beginning. I have one guy
who helps me in the shop, stuffing and
soldering the boards. I do the rest of
the wiring, all by hand, and test the amp
through the burn-in process—all of which
takes me about six hours of work per
amp. And I’ve got two guys in our shop’s
cabinet section: one who does the woodworking
and another who does the finishing
work with Tolex.
How many total hours go into making a
It’s difficult to say, since we’re four people
working on different amps at the same
time, but I would estimate that about 12
hours of work go into each amp, cabinet
included. It takes us so long because
we don’t use any amp kits. Everything’s
done by hand, and all of the sockets and
switches are chassis mounted—there’s
nothing board mounted. It’s a time-honored
technique that’s worked really well
for us. We seldom hear about problems
with our amps.