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What's the Two-Rock Sound?

Rhett and Zach kick off the episode with a chat about which video games they’re loving and Rhett’s cross-country adventures with his wife before Eli Lester, owner of Two-Rock Amplification, joins them for an in-depth exploration of his amp-building philosophies.


Lester walks Rhett and Zach through his origins in amp-building, repairing instruments and amps in the back room of the shop where he gave guitar lessons. He played in rockabilly bands and had an affinity for old ’50s and ’60s Cadillacs that needed work, but he couldn’t afford to pay someone to fix them up, so he had to learn to do it himself. In his freshman year of college, he’d buy old amps and rent books from the library to figure out how to repair and mod them. Eventually, his voracious fandom of Two-Rock amplifiers helped him connect with the brand’s founder, Bill Krinard.

On Two-Rock’s building philosophy now, Lester says his approach is more about feel more than sound. “We build them for the artist, not the audience,” he says. Two-Rock’s obsession with delivering high-fidelity sound goes into every piece of the amp; Lester says each part is manufactured to spec in California, and part of the brand’s high price tags is thanks to how well they treat their employees. “We’re all tinkerers and geeks,” Lester grins.

Thanks to Sweetwater for sponsoring this episode! Head to sweetwater.com for your musical gear needs.

Later, Lester explains how they design high-wattage amps that don’t blow your eardrums, and how Two-Rock is “tipping their hat” to Dumble-style amps. Building amps for a job is indeed hard work, but Lester wouldn’t have it any other way: “I just get to build my dream guitar rig, that’s all I do.”

Steve Carr’s first amp build was a Fender Champ clone. It didn’t work on the first try. Luckily, that didn’t stop him.

Photo by Charles Odell

The North Carolina amp builder is famous for his circuit-blending soundboxes, like the Rambler, Sportsman, and Telstar. Here, he tells us how he got started and what keeps him pushing forward.

Steve Carr started building amps because he loved playing guitar. He and his friends cobbled together a band in Michigan City, Indiana, in high school in the mid-’70s, and the gear they played with seemed like a black box. In the pre-internet days, getting information on amp voicings and pickup magnets was difficult. Carr was fascinated, and always wanted to know what made things tick.

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Yungblud's first signature features a mahogany body, P-90 Pro pickup, and SlimTaper C profile neck.

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On this season finale episode, the actor and musician leads a Prine-inspired songwriting session about how few tools we have in our collective toolbox.

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John Mayall in the late ’80s, in a promo shot for his Island Records years. During his carreer, he also recorded for the Decca (with the early Bluesbreakers lineups), Polydor, ABC, DJM, Silvertone, Eagle, and Forty Below labels.

He was dubbed “the father of British blues,” but Mayall’s influence was worldwide, and he nurtured some of the finest guitarists in the genre, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Harvey Mandel, Coco Montoya, and Walter Trout. Mayall died at his California home on Monday, at age 90.

John Mayall’s career spanned nearly 70 years, but it only took his first four albums to cement his legendary status. With his initial releases with his band the Bluesbreakers—1966’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton; ’67’s A Hard Road, with Peter Green on guitar; plus the same year’s Crusade, which showcased Mick Taylor—and his solo debut The Blues Alone, also from 1967, Mayall introduced an international audience of young white fans to the decidedly Black and decidedly American genre called blues. In the subsequent decades, he maintained an active touring and recording schedule until March 26, 2022, when he played his last gig at age 87. It was reported that he died peacefully, on Monday, in his California home, at 90.

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