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more... GearAmpsGear HistoryAugust 2013

The North American Guitar Amplifier Museum

National Guitar Amp Museum

That was ubiquitous in the ’80s—the refrigerator-sized rack and stereo cabinets.
I remember when you could buy a Marshall head for 200 bucks a piece, every day of the week—as many as you wanted—because the older guys who had all that stuff thought they had to do the new thing. I think there was a bias against tube amps—they were not in vogue. At guitar shows back then, sometimes a guy would bring an old tube amp, a tweed or something small, and set it under the table in case someone wanted to hear a guitar. We’d go and say, “Want to sell that amp?” and they’d say “I guess. What will you give me for it?” They were focused on the guitars. At the time, a 1950 Fender Telecaster or Broadcaster guitar was worth what, five grand? And even then, people were asking “When will the insanity stop?” Yet the amp that would have been part of the same vintage rig wasn’t worth $200.

It was just an afterthought at that point.

Nachodsky: Yes. But the amps caught up pretty quickly over time.

Rinaolo: Back then nobody seemed to realize the amp was the other half of it.

How many amps do you have in your collection now?
About 175.

Nachodsky: The last official count was about 160, but we’ve added since then.

Rinaolo: We added the new East [Amplification] Studio 2—so we’re at 176! [Laughs.]

Whether you feel the need for tweed or like your Fullerton tones in brown-, black-, or silverface varieties, Invisible Sound’s back room is stocked with all the Fender flavors you could ask for—from Champs and Deluxes to Twins, Tremoluxes, Bassmans, and Band Masters. And then there’s the cabs with everything from 12" JBLs to 15" behemoths. If you’re looking for something nastier, there’s always the Sovtek, Sound City, and Marshall plexi heads and the straight- and angled-front Celestion-loaded cabs. Photo by Tina Nachodsky

And they’re all available to use in your studio. When you’re recording, does it make your job easier having access to all of those classic amps?
That’s a double-edged question, because it depends on the player—their experience, their guitars and equipment, and what they’re used to working with. I wouldn’t say it makes it easier, but it always makes the result better. And the other thing is, we’re not snobs. If a guy comes in and says, “I usually use this cheap, solid-state practice amp and I’ve built my sound around it,” I say “Bring it in—we don’t have that, and we could spend six hours trying to make some other amp sound like what you have.” I may have my opinion on the sound and/or the gear they’re using, but what matters is that we’re ready to go and they’re comfortable.

Rinaolo: But for the right person—a player who’s a little bit more into his sound—it’s great having a crayon box of colors at your fingertips. Sometimes you play a song and you get out there to play the lead and it doesn’t fit with a Marshall plexi, but when you plug the same guitar into a Vox AC15 it just sits right in the mix. Having that palette to choose from really makes a difference—not to mention the different drums and microphones we have. That gives us the ability to go in a lot of different directions. We also do re-amping, so if you want to send in a clean track, we can re-amp to any one of the amps and send the new track back to you.

Vintage mics galore! Invisible Sound’s microphone collection includes several shelves full of old and new models from Neumann, AKG, Shure, Sennheiser, Sony, Electro-Voice, and Oktava, as well as this shelf full of enough chrome-grilled vintage RCAs to please Elvis, Harry Connick Jr., David Letterman, and Casey Kasem. Photo by Tina Nachodsky

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