Chase with a
Marshall stack and
repro with reverse neck,
reverse pickups, and
pickup. Notice the replica
gold slim vents on top of
the amplifier head.
There’s certainly no shortage of boutique
manufacturers and DIYers
offering their take on the iconic gear of
guitardom. Marshall plexis from the ’60s,
vintage Fender Bassmans and Strats, old
Electro-Harmonix Big Muffs, and finicky
Echoplexes, among many others, have
served as inspiration for countless new
builds and reissues. However, exact replicas
are virtually impossible to produce because
most of the parts that went into these
instruments are now virtually impossible to
source in reliably replenishable quantities.
Sure, you could cannibalize a vintage workhorse
if you had one lying around—and,
of course, there’s the burgeoning new-oldstock
(NOS) tube market for your glass
fix—but generally speaking, you’re out of
luck if you’re after 100 percent authenticity.
That’s why you have to be prepared to
shell out the big bucks when you seek out
vintage classics on eBay or Craigslist. And
even if you do manage to snag a vintage
gem, unless it’s an über-rare, kept-in-the-attic-for-decades prize, it will likely have or
need replacement components.
Enter Kyle Chase of Chase Audio, an
ultra-obsessive tone freak who builds replica
amps, effects, and even guitars using only
NOS parts—or, when those are impossible
to come by, using custom parts
made to period-correct specs. Yes,
NOS is Chase’s MO. In fact, he’s
so intent on building authentic,
museum-quality replicas that he
spends exorbitant amounts of time
sourcing parts that are seemingly mundane
and interchangeable—like wire and fuse
holders—from around the world. He’s so
fastidious that it took nearly eight years to
complete his first Marshall JTM45/100
replica. His other builds include replicas
of Fender Champs and Strats, Vox Clyde
McCoy and Grey wahs, vintage Cry Baby
wahs, Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Faces, and
Echoplex preamps, among many others.
Because of the difficulty of finding the
stuff Chase works with, he’s an underground
phenomenon—you’re not likely
to find information about him on forums,
because only the absolute geekiest of gear
freaks know of him … well, until now. His
creations are finally starting to circulate.
For example, his McCoy wah replica will
be featured in an upcoming guitar-tone
instructional DVD by Favored Nations artist
For the most part, Chase’s outfit is a
one-man operation. His shop is located on
his family’s property, 13 acres of isolated
forest on the highest part of a mountain
near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The
advantage of this remote locale is that
Chase can crank his creations to Madison
Square Garden levels without getting visits
from the cops. Although he’s already quite
accomplished as a builder, Chase continues
to channel his energies into the pursuit of
sonic nirvana, and to that end he’s currently
pursuing a bachelor’s in electrical engineering
with an emphasis in electronics.
Before we get to what led you to your
remarkable commitment to authentic
vintage tone, which guitarists inspired
you as a player?
Some of my favorite guitarists are Jimi
Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen,
Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, and Neil Young,
although the list could go on and on.
Did those players also shape your concept
of tone and what you’re trying to achieve
sonically with your period-correct replicas?
Yes and no. Each one of those artists has a tone
that represents them, and some have many
different tones. Jimi Hendrix’s tone was always
evolving. Eddie Van Halen was a big influence
on me, but I was more a fan of what he had to
say on the guitar—his voice. Thinking about
some of his great tones came later.
What was your first tube amp?
The first real tube amp I had was a Marshall
JCM2000 TSL602 2x12 combo, and my
first quality electric guitar was a custom
shop Peavey Wolfgang. Both were purchased
as gifts for me from my mother
during my senior year in high school.
This setup made it effortless to play in
the style of Van Halen, Vai, and Satriani.
To this day, I favor it for certain tones.
The TSL602 and TSL601 1x12 are
nice amps, but they don’t seem to get
that much love from gearheads. Did
you mod yours at all?
No, I like it the way it is. People get
caught up in modifying things. I modified
my Tube Screamer every possible way
you can, but for my personal taste, I like
it stock—the way it was originally made.
I actually almost got rid of my
TSL602 at one point. I traded it in at
Guitar Center in Philadelphia but after
a couple of weeks I thought to myself,
“Man, I think I want that back.” I went
back and went through all these different
TSL602s, but none of them sounded like
the one I had. I did end up getting my
original back, though—I had it sourced
back through Guitar Center. That amp
has sentimental value, too.
What are your benchmarks for good tone?
The recent JTM45/100-inspired amp I
created from scratch gives me the tone
of Jimi Hendrix’s first album, Are You
Experienced? I think the tweaked setups
of Hendrix’s wah pedals on his recordings
are benchmarks. I also like Neil
Young’s Rust Never Sleeps concert. His
Fender Tweed Deluxe has a varied distortion
character, and then there’s that
Firebird pickup in his Les Paul.
What prompted you to start making
your own amps, pedals, and guitars?
I was unhappy with the sound from my
equipment compared to the music I was
listening to. I began to tear apart and
modify numerous Fuzz Faces, guitars, and
amps. Through countless years of research
and studying old tube electronics college
textbooks, I gained knowledge. I knew
if I wanted the sound to be right, I had
to build it myself—and I did it without
a computer or the internet. I used the
classic tones of studio and live recordings
by Hendrix, Cream, and others as benchmarks.
It was done through trial and
error, just using my ears—just playing the
guitar and comparing it to classic tones.
Left: Authentic replica JTM45/100 amplifier, angled pinstripe cabinet and tall pinstripe cabinet to exact
dimension and radius of the originals. Featuring EC Collins’ True “Bluesbreaker-Pinstripe” grille cloth,
essential for the authentic look and most importantly the tone. High grade quality Baltic birch wood and
vintage pine internal bracing and sound post. Photo-by-Andy.com.
Top: Authentic JTM45 gold plexi panel with proper font and layout. NOS gold Marshall-style knobs.
Photo-by-Andy.com. Bottom: Authentic white polystyrene rear panel with proper gold script “Super Amplifier” & MK III font. NOS Bulgin power socket. NOS Radiospares dime-slot bakelite panel-mount fuse holder.