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Clockwise from top left: a 1968 Marshall Major head, a silver-sparkle Kustom 4x10, a ’60s Ampeg J-12 Jet, a late-’40s/earlyl-’50s TV-front tweed Fender Deluxe, and a 1963 Selmer Zodiac Twin Thirty Truvoice 2x12. Photo by Tina Nachodsky
With all the hype surrounding new technologies today—with digital this, sampled that, modeled tone signatures, and profiled sounds—it’s nice to find an establishment like Invisible Sound Studios in Baltimore, Maryland, a place where musicians thrive on getting sounds the old-school way—from a nice guitar and a great amp. After all, that’s how most of the classic recordings were made.
Invisible Sound was founded by Dave Nachodsky and Joe Rinaolo, two guys who happen to own an absolute treasure trove of cool old amps. So many that part of the building has come to be known as the North American Guitar Amp Museum. It’s a working museum for musicians who want to lay down tracks with a mindboggling collection of amps you just don’t see everyday—such as a mid-’60s Selmer, a 1966 Ampeg Portaflex SB-12, a 1960 Magnatone Troubadour, a JMI-built Domino/Vox AC4, and a ravaged KT88-driven Marshall Major.
With its vintage posters and CDs, checkerboard floor, ‘50s endtable, plush couch, and a tuck-and-roll Kustom cab with four speakers in a vertical array, Invisible Sound’s lounge exudes a hip yet homey vibe perfect for chilling between takes in the equally vintage-vibed tracking rooms. Photo by Tina Nachodsky
Nachodsky and Rinaolo’s amp collection has grown considerably over the years. The heads, cabs, and combos now line the walls of at least two large studio rooms, and in most places they’re two rows deep, if not more. Most every piece is readily available to add tone, drive, and color to the recording experience. In addition to the necessary recording gear—including a remarkable collection of vintage microphones—the amp collection sits amongst piles of vintage drums, stompboxes, and processing gear, including a couple of very cool plate reverbs! We asked Jeff Bober—who co-founded Budda Amplification and now runs East Amplification, in addition to writing our monthly Ask Amp Man column—to sit down with Invisible Sound’s Nachodsky and Rinaolo to discuss the collection, explain how it got started, and describe some of their favorite amps.