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Builder Profile: Chase Tone

Builder Profile: Chase Tone

Left: NOS 1960s original Radiospares carbon fi lm and carbon composition resistors. NOS 1966 Mullard Mustard coupling capacitors. Original Marshall 1960s PVC stranded wire—green, blue, yellow, purple, white, black and red. Original Marshall 1960s PVC Pink stranded wire, as well as original thicker diameter 1960s Marshall pink wire for pot jumpers/input jacks, per original spec of this era amplifi er. NOS rare arched-logo RS silver mica capacitor. NOS Radiospares silver mica tone stack capacitor. NOS custom made perforated Paxolin board from the UK, with original Radiospares split turrets. PEC military-grade stainless steel body, steel shafts, and gold contact potentiometers.
Right: NOS tube sockets. NOS BY137 bullet diodes. NOS BY114 Mullard top-hate diode for bias supply. High quality Rifa brand electrolytic capacitors. 1960s original Radiospares black wire wrap. NOS tube sockets. Cliff UK jacks. New Marshall impedance/voltage selector for reliability. Custom transformers from Merren Audio—through years of extensive testing they were the only transformers that accurately reproduced the original sound.

What about the cabinets? Do you make them yourself?
Yes. I couldn’t find Marshall cabinets or ones on the market today that had the look or tone of the old ones, so I started building them. My father is a carpenter and stonemason. Together, we started dovetailing and designing cabinets from scratch out of Baltic birch plywood, and soon we are going to use a slab of pine that’s a few hundred years old for builds based on the tweed Bassman and tweed Twin.

What’s the price range for your product line?
My Vox Clyde McCoy wah replicas range from $300–$500, and my Vox Grey wah replicas normally range from $500–$650, depending upon what actual NOS components are used. The Grey wah replicas are handwired on old Radiospares circuit boards, with all NOS components, including inductors. For amps, it depends on the build and whether cabinets are involved. To put an average price figure, I’ve been offered $4,000 to $5,000 for the recent JTM45/100-inspired build. But that one is my personal amp. It means something to me and isn’t for sale.

If the price of your NOS-equipped amps is partly influenced by the use of NOS parts, what happens to its value after the amp is used and the parts are either no longer NOS or are replaced by modern components? For instance, is the $5,000 amp worth less when the parts, which directly influence the cost, are no longer present or new?
No, I don’t feel using the amp makes it lose its value. But, yes, any component replaced with a modern part can alter the original tone of the amp. How much of a tonal difference there is, I can’t say. It depends what part you are talking about.

I also want to say that I don’t just copy old tones. I like to move ahead and look forward. I often use original tones as something to aim for. I feel there is a fine line between someone who chases that “brown sound” that so many do—and who also go about it the wrong way—and someone who uses the original tones of the greats as a springboard. I feel that recreating original amps and tones is only the beginning. It’s not the end goal most of the time. I think it would be very boring if everyone just copied someone’s playing style or tone.